Music and Your Wedding Ceremony – So many the choices…

A playlist can be just a general vibe or a very personal thing. Much has been written about musical selections for weddings, but the emphasis is usually on the party. Along with decisions about how music will pump up the party, how will it get you down the aisle?

I am in a somewhat unique position to address this topic. As a Celebrant, I have heard a wide variety of ceremony music because of the hundreds of ceremonies I’ve officiate; but in an earlier time in my life I was a musician and composer. I can see it from many perspectives, so I have complied some tips to consider your ceremony.

If you are using a DJ for your reception, he or she may be able to provide music for your ceremony for a reasonable additional fee. Often DJ’s have a smaller set-up just for ceremonies, and that is perfect when the ceremony and reception are at the same location.

Weddings by Paris - a great local DJ.

Similarly, if you have a band playing your reception, one or two players from the group may be able to play the ceremony. If you want a different style of music for the ceremony and the reception – be sure the musicians are comfortable with your selections.

With live music, amplification and volume issues are crucial. When we think about bands, we might think about them being too loud, but at an outdoor wedding ceremony, the opposite could occur. Without reflective surfaces, music dissipates, and quieter instruments may not be heard. I’m sure you would like your guests actually hear the music, so let the musicians know the situation. They may need to amplify, especially if it is an acoustic guitar, or a harp, for example.

Putting the ceremony musicians towards the front of the ceremony space can be very effective. Having the music coming from the same direction as everything else just makes sense to me. It can be a nice visual as well, depending on what they look like of course. I know a harpist who dresses so beautifully, and it looks really cool to see her there. Maybe I’m getting too picky here.

Photo: Garth Woods

If you are going for something a little more adventurous, consider bagpipes, or why not have a saxophonist or fiddler lead you down the aisle, just as the piper might? Ethnic music, such as Klezmer for a Jewish wedding, Celtic for Irish heritage, or Gypsy music, evocative of Eastern European backgrounds, can be terrific. World music is more popular than ever, and the possibilities abound. African, Latin, Middle Eastern – it’s all accessible.

With recorded music comes unlimited choices. You might use different styles for your processional and recessional, such as classical for the processional and a pop tune for the recessional.

I love bagpipes! Photo: Stroudsmoor Photography Studio

Think about the lyrics (even in an instrumental version) and how they express something personal. Imagine your guests having that ‘ah-ha’ moment when they figure out the words to the song they’re hearing.

I often request music to be played quietly during a ritual. It adds a wonderful feeling to a wine sharing, handfasting, or unity candle. It creates ambience, and fills in those quiet parts helping everyone feel more relaxed.

Make an entrance! Photo: Rob Letter

Music for the ceremony should add beauty and joy to your wedding day. Aldous Huxley said, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”



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