The power that music has to influence mood and atmosphere is often taken for granted. Musical preference is enormously subjective, which can make it all the more challenging to create the soundtrack of you wedding. A heavy metal band at an evening reception is unheard of, but then if this is what a couple likes to listen to, who’s to stop them? How does your venue guide your musical choices? It’s also important to consider your audience and what tone your music is setting. It may be useful to consider the stages at which music can occur, whether that be live or canned, and how it may be appropriate to alter the style or genre according to the stage of the day.
Imagine your wedding day almost like a piece of theatre or a film. The theme music alters as the plot-line progresses. Here is a typical schedule for a wedding day and some ideas on how to appropriately incorporate music into these stages :
Arrival of Guests
Put yourself in your guest’s shoes. Have you ever been to a wedding where you arrive to a virtually empty room, you’re feeling a little nervous about socialising and the room is virtually silent? Think about how you would like your guests to feel at this stage. A String Quartet certainly has a sophisticated elegance, as does a harpist, both are perfectly in keeping with a stately home or castle wedding venue. But this is also a great opportunity to showcase your favourite songs, film themes, romantic classics. It’s the time of day people are potentially most attentive. Craft your playlist carefully and enjoy doing it.
The entrance of the Bride or Groom is momentous, therefore there is a lot of pressure to find music that signifies this moment. There’s the danger that if the music is too downbeat people find it morose, too long and it’s awkward, too ‘out there’ and it’s drastically out of place. When listening to potential entrance music think of why you’re marrying your partner, the love you share and the hope of a future together. Watch this space for a blog of Processional Music ideas…
The Signing of The Register
Technically speaking, this takes all of five minutes. Just a couple of scribbles on the dotted line and the deed is done. But, of course, photographers like to capture this moment and traditionally you get a heck of a lot of posing with various members of the wedding party, which drags it on a bit. Consider the length of your music at this stage and again how you would like your guests to feel. If you choose a ten minute long symphony orchestral piece it could lead to you awkwardly hanging about at the altar waiting for it to finish. Equally, if your mate plays a quick ditty on the classical guitar then has no more material, your guests will be left to little more than silence. Keep it light, engaging and carefully timed.
Traditionally, recessionals are rather grandiose, full of flamboyance and jubilation. They don’t call this the first dance, but it is your first musical moment as a married couple so make the most of it. Think anthemic, celebratory and joy-filled. Consider the space of your venue and the acoustics of the room. Make the most of the stone walls of a church and boom out a glorious organ anthem. Be wary that “Celebrate Good Times” might fall flat in a small registry office. Again, watch this space for a blog on Recessional Music ideas…
Depending on your preference, this is the stage of your day when guests could potentially be standing around for rather a long time. Personally, I think this is a perfect moment for live music. Something which entertains as well as sets the tone. Consider a Jazz quintet, barbershop quartet or even a mariachi band! Either way, don’t leave your guests in stone cold silence, navigating the pitfalls of small talk with Aunty Gladys!
Your venue may cater to this stage, with ready canned ‘dinner music’. You may think it unlikely that anyone will notice the background music, but they will if it’s a playlist of your favourite film soundtracks or music of the 1920’s, or any other particular theme. It’s one of those personal touches that can be easily over-looked, but really makes a difference if you can make time for it. Music says a lot about who you are.
The First Dance
Another pressure moment, the First Dance at a wedding is an unusual etiquette and one which gives many brides and grooms sleepless nights and cold sweats. Ballroom dance lessons prior to a wedding first dance has become popular a trend and practically speaking it makes a lot of sense. This style gives structure to movement and the basic steps are relatively easy to navigate. Alternatively, throw off any fears of serious dancing and simply get on the dance floor and wiggle about! Why not make this tradition silly and fun and also reassure your guests that they need not comply with formality? Have FUN with your first dance selection and let the MUSIC guide and INSPIRE you.
Band vs DJ. ALWAYS the Live Band vs The DJ debate, of course many people have both, but most wonder whether to bother with a band that costs ££££’s in the first place. Either way, the thing that dictates this choice is…THE DANCING. I’ll say it once, I’ll say it many times, consider your audience. Current Club Headbangers might go down a treat with your mates in their 20’s, but Aunty Gladys was really looking forward to a boogie as well and now is really put off. Jazz and Soul bands are a real all-round crowd pleaser. There are numerous specialist music agencies who put trained and talented musicians together to form amazing bands. See the end of this blog for suggestions.
Late Night Celebration
The whisky has come out, the high heels are off and someone has fallen asleep in the hedge. But a few loyal and brave hangers-on are still burning on the dance floor. This might be your opportunity to whip out the trance club hits OR for an old stool gramophone. That’s right, these days you get Vintage DJ’s who play only shellac discs on 1930’s original gramophones. Despite how much alcohol may have been consumed, it’s often the very tail end of the night that’s remembered. Don’t let the music peter out, but rather give your wedding video the epic ending you always hoped for.