Wedding Music and Entertainment; DJs; Musicians; Entertainment Bureaus
Music plays a vital role in setting the tone and the mood for both the ceremony and reception as well as enriching the moment. The events within your wedding induce emotion. Accompanying them with the right music will enhance the experience, turning the moment into a lasting memory. Carefully determine which music to use and who will provide it. Discuss the options with your fiancé and family to ensure the music you choose provides heartfelt moments, and the joy of celebration.
Define Your Style
Before making decisions, determine what music best suits the style of the wedding. At a formal, traditional wedding, modern or hip-hop music is not appropriate during the ceremony. Make sure the music reflects the personality of both you and your fiancé. This is your day! Focus on the music that inspires you and represents your individuality.
Define Your Budget
Music choices can either save money or explode the budget. To keep costs down, choose to use pre-recorded music at times during the wedding or, if money is not a concern, consider hiring a live 12 piece band. Whatever the avenue, stay within the specified budget and find the right musical option to provide the sound you are looking for, without breaking the bank.
Musical Wedding Moments
There is no rule that states when and where music must be incorporated into the wedding. How much or how little is utilized is entirely up to you and your groom. Some moments however, have traditionally been accompanied by music. Consider these as you make musical decisions.
Ceremony: The style of music played during the ceremony is a personal choice. It can range from pre-recorded music to string quartets, organists to a 5 piece live band with a vocalist. The decision is yours and what you feel best suits your style.
Depending on where the ceremony is held, some limitations may apply. Churches and places of worship often provide a predetermined list of songs they will allow. Be sure to check with your officiant or location manager prior to making any song selections.
Size up the ceremony location to conclude what musical elements work best, ensuring the music can be heard. If the location is small, the number of musicians should be limited or if the venue is large, more musicians are needed to carry the music. Historical landmarks or outdoor venues provide acoustical challenges for live music. Chirping birds or crashing waves provide competition for the music. If using pre-recorded music, make sure there are enough speakers surrounding the venue, guaranteeing everyone can hear. As you consider music choices, keep these conditions in mind to ensure music sets an appropriate tone and no one struggles to hear it.
Traditionally, classical music is the preferred choice for the ceremony, especially for a formal or religious ceremony. Modern or current music is incorporated in informal or casual weddings. There is no rule to follow, but stay within any guidelines the venue may require.
Music for the ceremony is traditionally broken up into sections. Each section can represent a different song or you can use a combination of two or three songs throughout. Perhaps you have a favorite song you know you want to use or consult with musicians to help make the choices. Ask family members and friends what songs they like, or consult their thoughts on songs you're considering, to get a second opinion.
Prelude: Prelude music should be playing as ushers show guests to their seats. The song should be slow and quiet, as guests may want to greet other guests and the mood should be reserved as they wait for the ceremony to begin.
Processional: Processional music plays as the wedding party enters and takes their places. The tempo should be a slow to medium pace as to not rush the walk.
Bride’s Walk: The music should change as the bride enters and walks down the aisle, celebrating her entrance. Several traditional song choices are available but any song can be used. The degree of grandeur can be subdued or pronounced, depending on the personality of the bride.
Ceremony: To avoid down time, play music during key parts of the ceremony. This could include lighting of the candles, readings, communion, etc. Selections should be slow and quiet maintaining the reverence of the moment. Some couples choose to have someone sing during these times or include soloists as part of the ceremony.
Recessional: Recessional music plays while the wedding party exits the ceremony. The tempo should be upbeat and celebratory.
Postlude: Postlude music plays while guests exit the ceremony. Again, the tempo should be upbeat and joyous.
Cocktail Hour: Music for the cocktail or social hour should be covered by the DJ or band you hired for the reception. To save money, you can play a compiled CD of pre-recorded music. Guests will want to talk to each other, and celebrate the event that just took place. Therefore, the music should be soft in terms of volume but you can get a little fun with the selections.
Reception: The choice of music during the reception requires a lot of research and consideration. There are definite advantages and disadvantages of a DJ verses a live band. This analysis is saved for a different section below.
Prior to the wedding, at least one month, sit down with whoever is handling the music and provide them a list of songs for special reception moments. These moments include the first dance, bride and father dance, groom and mother dance, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss, garter toss, final dance, and the bride and groom leaving. Provide them with an agenda based on the order of each event. If they also play the master of the ceremony, include names and relations of each individual participant, to aid them in making announcements.
The music for the reception should cover a wide spectrum of generations exciting guests of every age. The goal is to get everyone, regardless of age, out on the dance floor. The selection list should also include a variety of slow and fast dances to mix it up.
Also provide a list of "must play" songs for the reception. This should include a list of your favorite songs, or songs that have meaning to you as a couple. Along with this list, include a list of "don't play" songs you want to avoid hearing. Keep the list to a minimum to provide flexibility to those handling the music and allow them to entertain the crowd. Don't provide too many restrictions that could leave them handcuffed.
Some venues, particularly those in residential areas, may have noise restrictions you need to consider. A curfew may be in place outlining when the music will need to stop. Check for these types of restrictions with your location manager.
DJ Verses Live Band|
Wedding Music and Entertainment; DJs; Musicians; Entertainment Bureaus
This could be the toughest music choice you’ll make. You may already know which one you prefer, and the decision is easy. If you are still mulling it over however, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. Each one brings a unique feel to the reception. The good news is there is no wrong choice. Either option provides an entertaining experience and a great evening for your guests to help celebrate the wedding day.
Regardless of the option you choose, consider the following as you contemplate the decision.
Size of the Venue: Depending on the size of the location, the limited amount of space available may force your hand. A live bands requires a stage and more space than a DJ. Make sure there is enough room around the dance floor for both options and don't place them directly in front of any tables. The noise could be excessively loud for guests making it an unpleasant experience. If planning a large reception with a number of guests, a larger band is needed to ensure everyone can hear the music.
Budget: A larger band means a larger budget. The more pieces needed, the higher the price. Perhaps the budget is already stretched and you need to keep costs in check. Typically, a DJ costs less than a live band. There are some pricy DJs as well, if you prefer the top of the line DJ and entertainer at your reception.
Timing: Like any quality vendor, the best need to be booked early. Popular bands and DJs are well sought after and can be booked up to a year in advance. If there is someone particular you want for the wedding, secure them as soon as possible.
Where to Find Them: MyYP.com, the Valley Yellow Pages online directory, is an excellent source for finding musicians and DJs locally in your area. It contains a wide variety waiting to help ensure your wedding is filled with beautiful music.
References: Ask family and friends for recommendations on which vendor they know and prefer. Talk with recent brides and find out who they used and what their experience was like. Keep your eyes and ears open at weddings you attend. If you like who they have used, get their card. Think back to receptions you attended in the last year. If any musical memories stand out, call the bride and ask her who she used. Reception venue managers can also offer recommendations, as well.
Set up an Appointment: Schedule an appointment with a short list of both DJs and live bands. Sit down with them and get a sense of their personality. You will spend a lot of time with them, especially if you have them act as an MC. Make sure they have an energetic and upbeat personality. Ask them how long they have been in business and make sure they have worked other weddings. Find someone who knows their way around a wedding and what is expected at the reception. This is especially true if you want them to host the reception as MC.
Listen to Their Music: If considering a live band, attend an event they are playing. See how they interact with the crowd and if they keep them entertained. If you can only listen to one of their CDs, make sure the musicians on the recording are the ones who will play at the wedding. You do not want to choose them based on the recording, just to find it will be a different set of musicians that play the wedding. DJs should provide a CD mix of what they typically play at weddings. If possible, attend an event where they are mixing and watch how they interact with the crowd. When selecting a DJ focus on how he works with the crowd since the music he plays is standard artist CD songs. Don’t make a decision before hearing them at work. If they are unwilling to provide you with even a CD, move on to another selection.
Call Their References: Both parties can to provide you with references to call. Be sure to call and ask them about their overall experience. What did they like most? What do they wish had been different? Would they recommend them to family and friends?
Check Their Attire: Ask them what they plan to wear when they perform at the wedding. You don’t want them showing up in casual attire and baggy pants when the wedding is formal. Let them know how they should look and make sure you are comfortable with what they plan to wear.
Advantages of a DJ
DJs typically cost less than hiring a live band. Their range of music covers more genres and at a wider depth, depending on the extension of their CD collection. If special songs are required and the DJ does not have them, oftentimes they will purchase them for you. The songs they play are the artist’s original version which may be more appetizing versus the spin a live band may place on the tune. They are strong entertainers and often bring special effect elements like bubble machines, smoke machines, and special lighting. Playing the master of ceremonies role is expected and they have extensive experience handling key moments such as toasts, dancing and other activities.
Disadvantages of a DJ
DJs lack the pop and energy a live band can bring as it is only them behind the equipment. A stereotype is sometimes carried over from the 70’s and the disco era regarding them as a bit cheesy. A lot has changed over the years to eliminate this and it should be seen as a quality choice.
Advantages of a Live Band
There is nothing like live music. A band can bring energy and excitement recorded music cannot. Choosing a band with a unique sound can enhance the evening and make it a truly memorable experience. Live bands bring a level of sophistication, especially at formal weddings.
Disadvantages of a Live Band
Live bands are more expensive than DJs, especially if the band is larger. Song choice may be limited, but typically they cover a number of eras and genres. If you require a song outside their repertoire, they may be willing to learn it for the wedding. If requesting them to learn 10-12 songs, this may prove difficult. A band needs several weeks to learn a song. Songs may also sound different than you are used to hearing. If you want to hear the song as it appears on the radio, then a live band is not for you. Bands also require breaks that will need to be filled so there is no dead time. Sometimes they bring a DJ to fill the void.
Consider a Combination of Both
If budget is not a limitation, consider using both a DJ and a live band. They can both switch off based on time or songs or you can use them together. The DJ can play while the band is on a break or the band can accompany the recorded music. Having the drums and brass playing live to the original version of a song provides an infectious energy and excitement to the event.