Wedding Music Planning For Your Special Day


If Music Be the Food of Love, how do you plan it for your Wedding?

Congratulations, you are getting married….that is the great part!

Yes, but now you have to plan for the Wedding Date, Dress, Wedding Flowers, Ceremony Location, Venue, Rings, Food selection, Guests List, Seating Arrangements, Invitations, Honeymoon Plans, Limo’s, and so on. That is the not-so-great part!

The Wedding Planning experience can be both uplifting, and frustrating. It can often feel like, “the best, and worst of times”, to paraphrase Charles Dickens. There are, so many decisions, and so little time.

This article will address Wedding Music Entertainment, help you in your decision process, and hopefully reduce some stress.

Wedding Music Entertainment,…or not?

Unlike other aspects, Wedding Music Entertainment (Bands, DJ’s, Musicians) is not a “must have”, for your Special Day. It is truly an option.

So, first of all, do you desire Music of any type, for your Wedding?

If, “no”, you have one less decision to make, stop reading… and about that Dress!

If, “yes”, we have a bit of work to do: do you want music for your:

A) Ceremony
B) Cocktail Hour
C) Reception

A, B and C,….or just A,B, or C….. (there are nine possibilities here)

And if you chose any of the above, do you want Live Music (Musicians, Bands), or Recorded (DJ) Music?

Your Wedding Ceremony

Your Wedding Ceremony, will undoubtedly be the most personal part of that Special Day.

Live Musicians are preferred for Wedding Ceremonies. They enhance the ambiance and emotional setting. And being human, as opposed to recorded Music, they can react quickly to changes in the environment.

For example, as Bridal Party members, enter and leave, a ceremony area, Live Musicians can very naturally alter the music tempo (speed, feel, etc.), to keep in sync with changing walking steps (older folks tend to walk slower, and young folks – especially when nervous, walk faster). Watching an accomplished Musician effortlessly perform this task, is truly an art in itself. (experienced DJ’s can also do this electronically with recorded music, but it just does not feel as, “natural”).

Therefore, if you desire Ceremony Music of any kind, my suggestion, is Live Musicians (either solo, duo, or trio). And instead of the classic organ, you might want to try something different….flute, harp, piano, violin, cello, horn, or guitar.

Also, if someone in your family has musical talent, by all means invite them to perform a song…it will become a much more memorable experience for you, them, and your guests.

Your Wedding Cocktail Hour

Wedding Cocktail Hours are usually given the least thought regarding music planning. Why? Well first of all, you (the Bridal Party) are typically not there (for most of it anyway). This time (just after the Wedding Ceremony) is usually allotted for Picture taking with the Wedding Photographer….most often in a different area. That is all fine for the Bridal Party, but don’t forget about your guests!

For both those that attended the Wedding Ceremony, and those that did not, the common meeting ground, in anticipation of your return from Picture taking, is the Cocktail Hour area. It is here that they will, try an hors d’ oeuvre, have a drink, and begin to mingle.

Now I may be a bit biased, but there is nothing more inviting, than soothing music as one enters a room…it creates a certain, welcoming, ambiance. It sets the mood. It says to your guests, “yes, come on in, there is a celebration happening in here”!

Which type of Cocktail Hour Music Entertainment should you choose for your guests?

Live Bands, unless a small Classical, or Jazz trio, could be, “overkill”, for a Cocktail Hour. A Solo Musician or DJ would be more reasonable.

I have attended great Cocktail Hours with Musicians, and great Cocktail Hours with DJ’s. It is again, very subjective, but some people feel Musicians, tend to add a certain, “Elegance”…

A key point to remember is that this is the “prep time” for your Reception. Until they have satisfied their hunger for food, drink and talk, most guests are not going to be in a partying mood initially. This is fine, because remember, you are not there! So in choosing Cocktail Hour Music, be it Live Musicians or a DJ, keep it, “low-key”, at this point…nice background, easy listening melodies, no head-banging sounds, at least, not yet.

Your Wedding Reception

The Bridal Party has finished picture taking, your guests have loosened up with a drink or two, so let the Reception begin!

From that special first dance, until the Party’s end, you definitely want either a DJ or Live Band providing the Musical Entertainment.

Although some DJ’s are great at getting parties really hopping, Bands tend to be more dynamic. And let’s face it, nothing sounds like Live Music. However, Bands can be very expensive. Especially, if there are more than four members…you are talking in the “upper” thousands dollar range.

In addition to being more affordable (typically about 20 -25% the price of a Band), some DJ’s also offer Karaoke Services, where guests can sing along with songs on stage, and obtain their, “moment of fame” (there is a least one “ham” at every party). It can be lots of fun for all, and makes for some memorable photos.
So in summary, while both Bands and DJ’s are great for Reception Music, if your budget is tight, DJ’s are much more affordable.

How to select your Music Entertainment

By this point, you have made most of the Music Entertainment decisions for your Wedding. Your next step is actual Entertainer selection (Musicians, Bands, or DJ’s).
Fortunately for you, (not so for Entertainers), the law of supply vs demand is in your favor…there are many to choose from.

Obviously, if at all possible, try to see, and/or hear, the Entertainers perform live, perhaps while attending a club, restaurant, or friend’s Wedding.

If you really enjoy their performance, don’t be shy about approaching them; most Entertainers are very friendly people, and will welcome your inquiry. Ask for a business card, and if they would be willing (or are available) to perform for your event. Also many Musicians typically have their CD’s available, for either a nominal charge, or sometimes complimentary.

Next to actually hearing Entertainers in person, recommendations from friends and family can be quite helpful. Just be a bit skeptical, if a friend, of a friend, of a friend, has a brother-in-law, that sometimes plays the tuba (or whatever). Ask how long they have been performing, and request names of recent performance venues. Also ask for a video or audio file of their work.

And of course, there is always Google. Like anything else, you can search for Musicians, or Bands or DJ’s in your area, and get many sites. The problem is that every Entertainer’s web site, will mention how wonderful, great, and spectacular they are; every site begins to look the same. So how do you choose?

Reviews, reviews, reviews!

I cannot over emphasize the importance of customer reviews, especially for Entertainers. Even though most Entertainers are honest people, and really believe they are serving customers to the best of their ability, their customers don’t always agree.

For example, I know a Wedding band in New Jersey that is top notch…musically that is. They are a nice group of guys, and really aim to satisfy their clients. However, they honestly believe loud sound pressure levels improve their performance. Even if guests ask them to, “turn it down a bit”, they will reduce the levels temporally, but get them back up after a few songs. Their web site is very impressive, but interestingly enough, no space has been allotted for customer reviews. Now why might that be?

Reviews, reviews, reviews! Make sure to read them before deciding.

And finally, check with the Catering/Reception Venue that is hosting your event. They work with Music Entertainers, for all types of events, and can often make some recommendations. Or, if you already have a particular Entertainer in mind, ask the Venue personnel if they have ever worked with that Entertainer, on prior events (note: this can also work the other way….if you are undecided on a Venue, and have chosen an Entertainer, they might be able to offer you feedback on the Venue….how good was the food, service, etc.)

“If Music be the food of love…..”

Humans are genetically “wired” for music. All of us have experienced how music can change our moods, unconsciously set our bodies in motion, make us laugh, cry, etc. Almost every society that ever existed on this planet, had/has some form of music, as part of their culture. Music has been used to enhance spiritual events, bring rain, stop rain, improve crops…and just make people feel good, for centuries.

There are lots of things to consider regarding your upcoming Wedding. While no one has all the answers, hopefully this article has given you some helpful ideas regarding Music Entertainment, for Your Very Special Day.


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