Ceremony Music: 5 Tips For Hitting The Right Notes


Music has become an integral part of the wedding ceremony, and couples invest lots of time choosing the perfect songs. When you are planning an on-location wedding, you will need to take into account many considerations in your choice of music. Here are some tips when using either live musicians or recorded music for your wedding ceremony.

Blistering heat or cold is also awful for keeping instruments tuned. The expansion or contraction of the strings is devastating to the music. Live musicians will typically  want to have a shaded area during a sunny day. So, if there is no natural shade, you may need to rent a small covering for them. I had a couple that had agreed to have the ceremony indoors if it was cold. However, when I arrived at the event, they had decided to hold it outside despite the cold. The jazz trio was not pleased about the change. The double bass player refused to take his $10,000 instrument outside. The guitar player’s strings immediate contracted and went out of tune. The bride was left with a cold saxophone playing her entrance music. Cold brass does not play well, either.

There is nothing that replaces live musicians. The great advantages of live music are its moving quality and that the musician(s) can keep playing or stop with the action happening on-location. There is no need to fade a piece when the bride arrives at the front. The musician(s) just stop at an appropriate place in the piece. They can also repeat sections if the entrance, signing or exit takes longer than anticipated.

There are special considerations when using live musicians. You need to accommodate the space for their performance. I had one couple at a local restaurant where the jazz trio was with us at the front of the room. Unfortunately, with the double bass, they occupied more of the space up at the front than the wedding trio of bride, groom and me.

For outdoor weddings, weather can wreak havoc on musical instruments. Wind is sure to ruffle the sheet music no matter how many clothespins they have on the stand. Many musicians have riders against playing in the rain. Many thousands of dollars worth of wood instruments with rain is not a good mix. Of course, playing electrically powered instruments in the rain is dangerous.

Recorded music is convenient, and you have a greater selection to choose from. You’ll need to make sure that there is a power outlet near you for either the DJ equipment or CD/iPod player you have brought on-location. If not, then you’ll need a battery-operated unit. Let your DJ know about the power situation beforehand, so that he is prepared. Again, rain and a DJ ‘s electrically powered equipment don’t go well together. Make sure you do a sound check well before the ceremony so that you know how loud the music needs to be in your space. Your CD/iPod players may not be powerful enough to fill the venue with music – especially if you are in an open space.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many uncles, cousins and friends play or sing for the bride and groom. They are sometimes not as polished as the professionals. However, the personal touch is wonderful. The ultimate prize goes to a groom who bravely played his acoustic guitar for his bride’s entrance. When I gave him the signal, he played Pachelbel’s Cannon as she walked down the aisle. This was his first look at her and… he missed a few notes. The feeling was awesome. We all cheered his courage and performance when he finished. The look of love in his bride’s eyes was priceless.

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