Musical Matters: 

Starting Your Marriage on the Right Note

Ceremony Selections
Most wedding ceremonies include music as part of the program, with the standard format consisting of:

-The Prelude: Entertains guests as they are seated and wait for the ceremony to begin; sets the wedding's mood

-The Processional: Full of drama and pageantry, accompanies the wedding party's grand entrance and walk down the aisle

-The Recessional: Joyful and festive, accompanies the wedding party's grand exit; sets the reception's mood

Additional options include:
-Interludes: Songs and accent music that accompanies the ceremony (ring exchange, lighting of unity candle, etc.); sometimes featured as a separate function (the bride and groom's song; to honor a deceased relative, etc.)

-The Postlude: Lively music played after the recessional as guests depart; sets the reception's tone

If you're at a loss for ideas, your wedding officiant will most likely have some song suggestions. Additional sources for musical inspiration include the ceremony and reception's site (church, great outdoors, Las Vegas, etc.), site directors and/or musician(s), music stores, local music instructors, wedding planners, and the Internet. Before making a final decision on your ceremony songs, be sure to check with your officiant to ensure that there are no religious restrictions on any of them.

Reception Music
Like your wedding songs, the music played at your reception sets the mood for your celebration. An important factor to consider when selecting the music for your reception is the type of wedding you're having (formal, informal, traditional, garden, etc.). When choosing your music, keep in mind that most likely guest ages will span a lifetime. If possible, try to accommodate this by offering a variety of music that crosses generations, say from Big Band and Elvis to reggae and rock. As time passes and the crowd thins out, opportunities to let loose and rock the house will abound.

Make plans in advance with your bandleader or disk jockey about the background music you'll use during their breaks, as well as any announcements (introduction of couple, cutting of the cake, etc.) that you'd like them to make during the reception.

Live Vs. Memorex
Another factor to consider when choosing the music for your wedding and reception is whether it will be performed by live musicians or prerecorded. Often the site will help determine this, as it may require the use of in-house musicians or have limited facilities (too small, no electricity, noise ordinances, etc.) for live performances. If outdoors, be sure your musicians, their instruments and equipment are sheltered from elements such as intense sunlight or rain.

Number Crunching
Cost should be part of your consideration too. Factors affecting this include the type of performer(s) you have (soloist, vocalist, band, disk jockey, etc.), the number of performers, the day of the week, and the time of day. Bands usually cost $1,300 to $10,000, disk jockeys $400 to $2,000, and vocalist/instrumentalist/ensemble performers about $50 to $250 per hour per person. Your church's musicians and talented family and friends may also be less expensive options for you.

Sign on the Line
Before you make a final decision on any of your performers, be sure to see them in action. Once you find someone you like, make it official by signing a contract for his or her services. Remember that many wedding and reception performers are booked well in advance, so the sooner you start making your musical arrangements, the better.


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