Planning your wedding ceremony music:
Since you goggled your way to this blog, you're probably somewhere in the process of planning your wedding music. Music definitely can add a really special touch to your ceremony. A few of my clients contact me already knowing exactly what they want their ceremony music to be. Some haven't given it a thought. If you're like most , you're somewhere in between.
In any case, an important part of the service I provide as a wedding guitarist and singer is working with couples to plan their music so it flows smoothly and enhances the tone and feeling that they envision.
After working through the planning process with hundreds of couples, I can share some of my thoughts on choosing your ceremony music.
PART 1: How many songs do we need ?
Let's start by listing the basic components that could be included in your ceremony music. You probably won't be including all of these, but some combination should work for you.
***Prelude Music : This is the background music that is played as guests arrive and are seated. This is typically instrumental .
***Processional(s): These are the entrance songs that most folks are thinking of when they think wedding music, and this will probably involve the most planning. For now, let's think about how many songs you may want.
You could have up to three separate processional songs:
1. One for the seating of parents/grandparents or any other honored guests; This is often simply the final song of the prelude, or, often, these folks will enter to the same music as the party.
2. A processional for the Bridal party; for your bridesmaids ( sometimes with groomsmen) and often with ring bearers and/or flower girls.
3. A bridal processional . This is your musical moment. This is usually a separate song, but if you are having a small bridal party you might want them to enter to the same music as the bride...possibly with a pause before the bridal entrance...after all, we want it to be clearly "all about you" at that moment.
You will probably combine these possibilities into one or ( most often) two processionals .
There's a lot to consider in planning processional music, including some factors you may not have thought of. So we'll consider all that in a separate upcoming post on processionals...so check back for that.
*** Background music during specific ceremonies: Consider whether you might want background for ceremonies such as unity candles, sand ceremonies, or communion
*** A full musical piece within the ceremony: If you have a special song, this can be a good way to include it. Usually a full song, something of special significance to you or your family , almost like a reading.
*** Recessional: This is the song to which the bride and groom and the wedding party exit. Some folks like to keep it stately and elegant, while some like to go upbeat and fun to start shifting the mood.
***Post-ceremony: This is the bookend to the prelude music. There is usually time for a song or two as the guests exit the venue or if a receiving line forms. It's hard to predict what your guests will do here; some will probably sprint for the cocktail hour bar, but often, especially with an outdoor ceremony, many guests will linger around the area for awhile .
...So your ceremony music will likely be some combination of these elements. As you talk with each other, your musician, and your officiant you'll get a feeling for what you want to include.
In my next posts, We'll look at what factors to consider in choosing music for each specific part .
Some things we'll address: Timing, cueing, and positioning
traditional vs. contemporary,
instrumental vs. vocal,
...especially as all these relate to processionals.
In the meantime you can visit my website and look at some of the songs that I have been playing regularly. www.dwightsongs.net
You also might want to check out The Knot's article on "Wedding Music Basics":
Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar
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TheKnot "Best of Weddings" and WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"