You may not initially realize the importance of your wedding ceremony music, but these special songs have a big job to do! They help to set the tone for the ceremony itself, they create an ambiance, and they give extra meaning to significant moments that occur during the ceremony. To help answer some questions – and maybe even give you some new things to consider – Steven of Steven Vance Violin & DJ Music is sharing his expert advice for selecting your wedding ceremony music. From where to place the musicians to what type of songs are appropriate, these tips will help you say “I do” backed by the best soundtrack!
Among the many other things you need to think about, you might not realize that there are a number of factors to consider when getting your wedding ceremony music right. While it may seem like there are a million details, your musician or DJ can help you to make it absolutely perfect.
What are the key ceremony music choices you’ll have to make?
In some order of importance:
- The Bride’s Procession: This is your big moment!
- Bridesmaids’ Procession: This is only if you want a separate selection from yourself. For some very short aisles, this may not be practical.
- Moms’ Procession: Again, this applies only if you want a separate selection from yourself but it may not be practical with some very short aisles. Some combine the moms and the bridesmaids and then do a separate selection for the bride.
- The Recessional: This is at the end of the service and is usually bright and celebratory, announcing “Let’s get this party started!”
- Selection(s) During the Ceremony: You may want music for a unity candle lighting, presenting roses to the moms, etc.
- The Prelude: A selection of 5 – 6 tunes as guests arrive to set the tone and create the atmosphere you want.
Now that you know what music selections you will have to make, here are three very important things you’ll want to consider.
1.) Indoor or Outdoor
Most sacred settings, like a church or synagogue, have built-in music and sound system options. A lot of couples come to us because they want to limit or eliminate the organ. Adding a violin, harp, flute, cello, guitar, or vocalist can enhance the music at your ceremony. Make sure you know the music restrictions of your faith! For example, the Catholic Church rarely allows any popular music to be played and Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (“Here Comes the Bride”) is usually forbidden in the Jewish service.
In a hotel, club, or banquet hall, music restrictions are diminished but you will have to think about microphones for the officiant and musicians. Many hotels have an A/V department but there is an extra charge for that service. Your DJ may be able to handle this but be prepared to pay extra for the earlier set-up that would be required. Some live music performers may be able to provide a mic into their sound system but most acoustic performers would not offer this option.
In an outdoor setting, the music and sound issues are the same but the key is access to power. No power = no sound system. Very few musicians or DJs offer a generator but that could be rented separately. You may not need sound at all outside if your guest list is small and your officiant has a strong voice. My counsel is it is always better to have it and not need it than to later wish you had sound.
2.) Contemporary or Classical Music
Are you thinking “Canon in D” or “A Thousand Years”? Bach and Beethoven or The Beatles? There is no wrong answer. As I mentioned earlier, in some settings there may be restrictions but you should try to get as close to what you envision as possible. Generally, a DJ can provide virtually any song that can be downloaded. It’s more complicated for live music. Most classical favorites are readily available but, for example, a string ensemble needs to have an arrangement for that specific set of instruments to properly perform a piece. Many arrangements you may have heard by the Vitamin String Quartet have not been published so they are not for sale. Some ensembles can have an arranger work one up for an extra charge. Vocalists need some sort of backing, which could include organ, piano/keyboards, guitar, or a backing track. Make sure you know the comfort level of your singer working with other musicians or with a track.
3.) Where to Set Up the Music
The obvious answer is where it can be best heard. An important factor to consider is sight lines; the musicians need to see what is going on with the procession. Generally, the best spot is toward the front where they can see the entrance area. But in some spaces, being in the back can work, too. If it’s a huge church, often there is a choir loft but all of the guests – and you – are up front. Putting the musician(s) at the front will allow the guests to enjoy hearing the music more and the visual impact of seeing the performers do their thing adds value. A choir loft is extra tough if there is no organist or another person to cue them because they can’t see what is going on underneath them and they are trying to read music at the same time.
In an outdoor setting, you should keep them close to power (if they need it) and shade. Remember, the musicians or DJ are out in the sun longer than anyone. Besides them melting, the instruments are vulnerable to going out of tune and even risk serious damage in direct sunlight.
If you love the idea of adding a live musician to your wedding ceremony (trust us, it’s a good idea!), you can find more of Steve’s work in our Burgh Brides Vendor Guide.