Soft contemporary, Motown, jazz, alternative, salsa, funk… these are some of the music styles you may be asked to choose from for your wedding. Now those last couple aren’t typically the type of music you hear during a wedding ceremony, but that’s okay! Music is just one of the many wedding details that you can completely customize to fit your and your fiancé’s style. Gone are the days when every woman about to be wed glides down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride.” You may want to keep some of the traditional songs, but you can choose to switch it up a bit and use the same classics but with a different arrangement. You can choose live music, a DJ or a combination of both! Music helps set the mood of your entire wedding from the time guests start to arrive, to the I-do’s and through the final farewell. Check out these tips and tricks to make sure everything from your song choice to dancing goes great on your perfect day.
There are many times throughout the ceremony and reception that you will be asked to make a song choice. Starting with the pre-ceremony when guests arrive and start to be seated. Usually for this you will choose a style of music rather than a list of songs. However, you may want to have a specific song that plays while guests are being seated, maybe something similar to what will be playing when the vip guests are seated to create an easy flow. The VIP guests are typically the grandparents of the bride and groom, parents of the groom, and the mother of the bride, who are escorted to the front rows of the ceremony seating. Traditionally the groom’s grandparents are first, followed by the bride’s. Then, the groom escorts his mother down the aisle, with his father following behind. After the groom’s parents are seated, the mother of the bride is escorted by a male member of the family. With so many different types of families these days, this is another aspect of the ceremony that you can choose to make your own. No matter what the order or who is escorted by whom, the song selection can be something that reflects the love and influence that these guests have had in your life. Personally, I like instrumental versions of recognizable songs. “Here Comes the Sun” and “A Thousand Years” are just a couple of examples of songs that those being seated may enjoy. Depending on how many VIP guests you have, you may need to choose a couple of songs or find one that is longer or can be played continuously. After the VIP guests are seated, the bridal party, including any ring bearers and flower girls, come next. These are the people that you and your fiance have hand picked to stand beside you on your special day. Hopefully they are just as excited to be a part of your day as you are to have them there. Choose a song that will remind them to smile and calm any nerves they may have. Finally, it’s your turn! All eyes will be on you so choose a song that is special to you. This can be a song that is special to you and your escort. For example, if your dad is escorting you, maybe it’s a song he used to sing to you when you were a baby. Or, choose a song that always makes you think of your fiance and the love you share. A helpful tip is to listen to this song a lot the week before the wedding. If you know you will be very emotional, playing this song on repeat before the big day will help get out some of those emotions ahead of time, You want to make sure you can actually see the aisle while you are walking, and this trick will definitely help. If you plan on having any special music during the ceremony, such as a friend or family member singing, make sure it is a song they are comfortable with and that they attend the rehearsal. You don’t want to have any hiccups on the big day, and this is one of the areas where practice makes perfect. The last of the ceremony song choices is the recessional. This is the perfect time for a fun celebration song! After months and maybe years of planning, you are finally married and ready to party!
There are plenty of song selections to be made for the reception as well. Starting with the grand entrance, when the bridal party enters the reception and then the newlyweds are announced for the first time as a married couple, this is another time when you can have fun with your song selection. Maybe you will choose one song for the entire bridal party and another for you and your new husband. Or you can choose a different song for each pairing of the bridal party. Some people give out props to the bridal party, such as hats or cute signs to hold that go along with this fun song. Throughout the reception, there are other festivities that you will select music for, such as the first song to open the dance floor, music during the bouquet and garter tosses, cake cutting song, and music genre during dinner. And, of course, there are the special dances. The bride and her father and the groom and his mother are traditional choices, but depending on you and your family, you may have different dances. Whichever special dances you do, make sure to give the other person the option to choose the song. Chances are, they have been thinking about this day as much as you have and already have a special song picked out. And, even if they don’t, they will admire that you were respectful to ask. The other very important song choice is your first dance song! Maybe this is a song that played at the restaurant during your first date, or the title song of you and your fiance’s favorite movie. Whichever song you choose, it will be special to you forever and will always remind you of the joy you felt during your wedding. It is also helpful to have a song request list and a do not play list. If they are any songs that your wedding day would not be complete without, make sure to tell the musicians and/or DJ. They want to make sure your day goes perfectly just as much as you do. Along that same line, definitely speak up if there is any music you really don’t like. Most people would rather know ahead of time than accidentally play a song by that one artist who always makes you cringe. Music is such a fun part of the wedding celebration, and is usually one of the wedding planning aspects that your fiance will be more excited to help out with.
Once you know what type of music and songs you want to play during your wedding, you should decide if you want to use a live band or hire a DJ. There are pros and cons to both. A live band can make the event feel more dreamy and romantic but they may have a smaller repertoire of songs that they are able play. DJ’s are great because they usually will act as the MC of the reception. A good DJ will be able to judge the room and get people up and moving if the dance floor starts to feel empty or choose the perfect tune to keep the party going. However, having a recorded music throughout the entire event may not give quite the same vibe as a live band would. The choice of how to facilitate the music really depends on the mood and theme you want for your big day. If you are throwing a rustic chic backyard wedding, hire a single acoustic guitar player or harpist to play during the ceremony and break out the family DJ for party time. If a big, lavish, fancy wedding is more your style, choose a live band to play throughout the event. Or if you want your wedding to be a continuous, fun party, get a DJ to pump up the volume. Whichever you choose, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Music is a big part of the day and can really set the tone of the celebration. It is important to have a band or dj that you know will be able to convey what you want that tone to be. If you have the opportunity to hear them ahead of time, take it! Even if you have to sneak into a high school prom a la “How I Met Your Mother,” it will be worth it to help take out some of the stress of planning. And always, always, always make sure they can play your song. If you aren’t able to hear a band play live or see a DJ in action, it is still important to meet with them before making a decision. Even if it is just a phone call, you can usually tell if you jive with someone after a brief conversation. Don’t forget to look at reviews as well. Many wedding planning sites will have lists of musicians and DJs in your area with reviews from brides who were in the same spot as you once. Hearing good reviews can help give you peace of mind that your musicians or DJ will be able to help give you the wedding of your dreams. Another good resource will be your venue. Most venues will have a list of music vendors that they have worked with in the past and recommend based on reviews from the couples who used them. And sometimes, you can only hire from their list of vendors, so make sure to check before doing too much outside research. Once you make this decision along with your song selections, you will be done with a huge part of planning the big day…almost.
Along with music usually comes dancing. Some people are naturally talented in this area… others, not so much. If you are one of the latter, you may want to invest in dance lessons. It may seem a little silly or unimportant but it can be a little nerve-wracking when everyone’s eyes are on you and you suddenly have two left feet. Even if you decide not to take formal dance lessons, it is still a good idea to practice dancing to your song with your fiance. You can watch YouTube videos that teach dancing or blast your song and dance around your living room. It will be a fun distraction from the stress of planning, plus it’s a good way to break in your wedding shoes before you walk down that aisle!
The last important thing to remember about wedding music is to have fun with it! Don’t stress too much wondering if your mother in law will like the song you chose for the cake cutting, or if your grandparents will think the music is too loud. By the time the reception comes around you will be too excited about showing off your new husband to worry about every single song. Just remember to have fun and party like it’s your wedding day, because it is!