Planning your wedding can be stressful and unless you’ve been involved in the process before in any way, it can all be a bit mind-boggling. You can of course seek help from your wedding planner, or by visiting various wedding fayres and even get tips from married friends and family, but are there enough sources for helping you set the right mood using music?
I’d like to give you a helping hand by giving you examples of how you can use music to enhance your entire wedding day. In the same way that Hollywood uses musical masterpieces to pull at your heartstrings and get your heart racing, you can also create a soundtrack to move you; in every sense of the word. You can even create musical bookends to highlight the start and end of each key moment throughout the day — the most obvious example would be the wedding ceremony.
Recently I’ve noticed that many of my clients hadn’t considered hiring a live musician during their wedding ceremony. Not at least until I’d asked the question. When we think of live music at a wedding we normally think of maybe a harpist in the afternoon and a band between 9pm and midnight.
If you’re hiring me as your church singer, I would insist on you choosing the songs for your wedding ceremony. This is undoubtedly the most momentous and intimate occasion of the entire day and it’s therefore vital that you personalise this moment with your own song choices. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sucker for a mushy love song (I’m all for that!) or if you prefer a tongue-in-cheek, happy ditty — the point is that it’s your choice!
Typically, most couples tend to opt for a tear-jerker on their entrance to the ceremony; then two maybe three similarly slow, touching numbers during the signing of the register and a jolly number to take you out of the ceremony. Almost every song that I’ve sung during the ceremony gets shortened to a verse and a chorus to make it fit in time with the bridal march or the signing of the register so you’re not twiddling your thumbs waiting for me to finish a four-minute ballad. It’s best to keep it short and sweet!
Congratulations! You’re finally married. Now what happens? Well, naturally everyone heads for the bar right? Well, not everyone. You’ll be taken off to the hanging willow tree by the lake or down to the sandy beach for photographs, so your guests will appreciate some entertainment while they’re waiting to greet you as newlyweds.
I would normally keep the music to a background level. I’m not trying to blow anyone’s ears off and certainly won’t be encouraging any applause. I know that most of your wedding guests won’t have seen each other in a long time so they’ll want to talk and catch up on old times.
I would normally sing up to the point where you head to the dining room for your sit down meal or Wedding Breakfast as it’s often referred to. But please remember this is purely a guide; you can of course, carry over the music just after your meal to create those bookends I spoke about earlier. If you book me for two hours then why not break it up into one hour before food and one hour after?
Your evening guests will generally start to arrive anywhere between 7–8pm and the party will start to have an exceptional buzz about it and things will start to feel more relaxed. The ties are being loosened, the dinner jackets well and truly redundant and you’ll be getting ready to toss the bouquet.
So, this is where you can build the music up to reflect the vibe. By slowly introducing an upbeat playlist, you’ll have everyone’s feet tapping and ready to dance before you know it. But let’s not forget the important first dance…
Performing your first dance is the icing on the cake for me. Singing for you on your special day is an honour but this is that one moment when everyone that you love is there, seeing you both take to the floor for the first time. There’s always something really special about the first dance. It’s also a nice time to reflect for a moment… take a look around you… all your friends and family have joined you to see you in all your glory. Trust me it’s awesome!
Whether you choose a 3, 4 or 5 piece band, a solo singer or even a DJ, make sure you have as much involvement in the song choices as you can.
If you choose a band, they will give you a list of songs to choose from their repertoire, but better still they should give you the chance to suggest a handful of songs that they can learn and play. If you’re booking in advance, this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for them. I always ask my clients for a wish list of around 20 songs with a view to perform a good 8 or 10 out of the list. If you and your band are not agreeing on a healthy number of songs, then you may have to question if they are the right band for you.
My golden rule for booking any band or artist is to make sure you go and see them live beforehand. You’ll get first hand experience of their performance, presentation and personality.
If it’s a DJ you’re booking, the same sort of rules apply. Give them a list of songs that you want them to play or avoid playing — if you can’t stand a particular artist or song, tell them!
“Why not send out your invitations along with a note asking your guests to RSVP with a couple of song suggestions. It’ll give your guests a nice feeling that they’re being included in the preparations and they’ll get to hear their requests later in the evening!”