Make Your Reception Unique with Music

On your wedding day, nothing sets the mood, stirs the emotions or touches the heart more than music. From the solemn, beautiful sounds of the ceremony, to the background melodies of the cocktail hour, to the lively dance tunes that energize the reception, music brings the romance to your day.

Music For Your Ceremony
The very first step in determining the music for your ceremony is to consider what you want, or what you envision, for your day. Do you want a vocalist? Do you want several musicians there, or just a pianist? It’s helpful to take notice during any weddings you attend while engaged, of what you liked (or didn’t care for) when it came to the ceremony music. Once you and your fiancé have some ideas in mind, seek out wedding musicians by visiting bridal shows, reviewing local bridal publications or online sources such as premierbride.com, or asking for referrals from your ceremony officiant or recently married friends. Or, consider working with a talent/booking agency, which can offer experienced, convenient, one-stop-shopping for all of your wedding music needs. Once you’ve found some options, arrange meetings to hear them play in person – if you haven’t heard them live already.

Once you’ve determined your ceremony musicians, they can help you select the songs to include in your wedding ceremony – how many, when, and so on. They are usually quite experienced when it comes to weddings, and will be a great resource. (Your officiant will be helpful here as well, so be sure to involve them also.) If you have specific songs in mind already, you’ll be able to hear a preview of exactly what they will sound like on your wedding day. And if you need some ideas, your musicians will be able to guide you and offer plenty of options.
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Music For Cocktails and Dinner
The key element during cocktails and dinner is conversation, so the music playing during these times should set the mood, but not intrude. You have three options here: use the musicians that played during your ceremony, use the band or DJ that will be playing at your dance reception, or hire different musicians for this part of the day.

If you do decide to have live music, chamber music, classical guitar or perhaps a jazz ensemble are all good choices, and can create a subtle background of entertainment without overpowering conversation. A well-seasoned pianist is another excellent choice, since he or she can supply a wide range of musical styles and perform your guest’s special requests. Or, if you are having a DJ for your dance reception, they can usually provide the cocktails/dinner music as well.

Music For Your Dance Reception
You’re married, cocktails and dinner are over, it’s time to kick up your heels and hit the dance floor! This truly is one of the most critical wedding decisions you’ll make, because nothing can make or break a wedding celebration faster than the entertainment. Fortunately, most wedding vendors are talented professionals, and with the tips included here, you’ll be able to confidently select an excellent entertainer for your big day. Your first big question to answer will be “do we want to have live music (a band or orchestra) or a DJ”? While there are pros and cons to both, it really boils down to personal taste and budget.

Using live music – a band or orchestra – provides a certain festive energy to the evening, and is a wonderful option if your budget allows it. The key is to find a band that specifically does weddings, so that they can offer the versatility you need for a good event. Any live entertainment includes breaks, which can interrupt the flow of your evening, so try to come up with a solution that ensures that music is always playing. If the band is large enough, see if the band members can stagger their breaks so that someone is always playing. Or, hire a pianist or DJ to play during the breaks. Also, good, popular bands or orchestras will usually be more expensive than a DJ. They are well worth the expense, of course, since good entertainment is such a critical element of the wedding, but it just doesn’t fit everyone’s budget. And if you can’t afford a GOOD wedding band, then consider a DJ.

A DJ can provide a huge variety of music, something for everyone, and is generally less costly than a live band or orchestra. And, no breaks! Here are some of the keys to finding a good wedding DJ: 1) If possible, see them live, in action. 2) Find a vendor that is a good fit with you, personality-wise. Looking for a fun, crazy, get-jiggy-with-it party animal? Or a more upscale, elegant, formal entertainer? 3) Communication is critical. Clarify what songs and events you do and don’t want included, the order of events and other details ahead of time.  4) Ask for, and follow up on, several references.
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The Nitty Gritty Details
You’ll want to begin researching your reception musicians early in the planning process, so that when you find someone you like, availability is less likely to be a problem. Consider how they sound as well as their personality and style. Whether you hire a band, small orchestra or DJ, your selection of musicians will be a guaranteed success as long as you provide a wide variety of music. From 50s doo-wop to disco, pop or rock, diversity is the key so that every guest attending can hear something they enjoy.

As with any wedding vendor, be sure that everything is very clear and in writing: the fees, cost and details on overtime, start and end times, alternate plans if a musician is sick that day, and so on. If any of your vendors don’t use a contract, then put all the details into a letter and copy it, sending one to the vendor and keep one in your files. Confirm all the details with your musicians about a week before the wedding.

Once you’ve done your homework, selected excellent musicians for every part of your wedding, and nailed down all of the details, you can rest easy. Until, of course, it’s time to start working on your dance moves…

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