Music is an integral part of both the wedding ceremony and the reception. Music often conveys emotions that are difficult to put into words. Additionally, songs and music help us to remember certain key moments more easily. That’s why we often associate rites of passage with the sound track of that time in our lives.

Because music is such an important part of the wedding, you want to take the time and necessary precautions to avoid wedding day music slip-ups. As with most parts of the wedding process, preparation and planning – as well as some reputable word-of-mouth recommendations – can make selecting musicians and song choices for your wedding much smoother. Consider the following:

The Ceremony

Can you picture the bride and her attendants walking down the aisle without any music? Many couples give careful consideration to the reception music and leave the ceremony music to chance – not a good idea.

Ask your house of worship if they have any rules regarding song selections, as well as regulations on house or outside musicians. Then work your music selections according to these guidelines. While traditionally brides enter to “Here Comes the Bride,” stricter houses of worship may not allow this tune, or brides simply may prefer something else. Classical, hymnal or other processional music is often appropriate. Just keep in mind the tempo and length of the song so that it will match the gait and size of the wedding party.

Chances are the ceremony musicians will be different from those who are playing at your reception. Therefore this may require a little extra planning. If your house of worship provides the musician(s), arrange to sit down with this individual to talk about styles and what to expect. Also arrange to have payment or a tip provided for his or her services.

The Reception

You will likely have more wiggle room with your choices at the reception, depending upon the venue. Brides and grooms usually use live performers or DJs who play pre-recorded music. Some performers offer a combination of both.

Consider the style of your wedding. Will it be formal or informal? Traditional or contemporary? Aim for music that suits the style or theme of the wedding. A full-piece orchestra may seem out of place at a casual party.

When you are choosing music, consider your tastes, but the tastes of your guests as well. While you won’t be able to please each and every person, the wider the range of music you have available, the greater the chance of people getting up to dance and enjoying themselves.

Contracts

Once you decide on your ceremony and reception musicians, it’s important to sign a contract and work out payment agreements. Having the information in writing protects you in case the musicians don’t deliver what was expected. Here are some points that should be covered in the contracts.

• Price, deposit amount, additional charges (travel, food requirements, etc.), and overtime rates.

• The number of musicians who will be attending and what instruments they play, in the case of a wedding band.

• Names of specific people you want, such as DJ, lead vocalist, emcee, and what compensation will be made if these people are not available.

• Date and hours they’ll be working.

• Additional services, such as dramatic lighting, dancers or party favors.

• Number of breaks and how the break time will be covered, such as with recorded music.

• Style of dress or costumes.

• Specific music requests and list of your wedding attendants so they’ll have the right names if announcements are being made.

Be sure to ask friends, relatives and others for musician recommendations. When you attend weddings, take the cards of performers you enjoyed. Contact prospective performers early on to ensure your wedding date is available.


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