Wedding Ceremony Music Overview
We all know how important music is to the overall feel and vibe of the wedding ceremony. For example, the perfect music played during the prelude can create an atmosphere that is elegant and exciting. Or the song that is played while the bride walks down the aisle can make everyone cry (including the groom).
Short doesn’t mean less important.
Some say because the wedding ceremony is short - less time, energy, effort, and money should be spent on the ceremony. I beg to differ. I believe the ceremony is indeed the most important part of the wedding. Without the ceremony - the awesome, fun, exciting, crazy, (too) tipsy bridesmaid reception party would not take place. Two people becoming one is a big deal.
Break it Down
At different times there are different “feels”. Music plays different roles at three different times during the ceremony. We’ve broken them up into three categories.
Before the ceremony (Prelude)
During the ceremony (Processional)
After the ceremony (Recessional)
Let's take a look at the first time frame...
Before the ceremony.
Whether you are having an outdoor wedding in the rose garden or your ceremony takes place in a two hundred year old chapel - you want the same thing. Also, it doesn’t matter if you want classical music, love songs, contemporary Christian, indie rock, jazz, or church organs. You are all wanting the same vibe before the ceremony.
What you are wanting to do here is set the mood and the tone of the event. You want the sound to be calming yet exciting - if that makes sense?? Calming meaning - the instruments are soft like a violin, cello, acoustic guitar, or piano. But exciting meaning - something grand or big is about to happen.
[To sum it up - the beginning of the ceremony needs to sound like the beginning of a movie]
During the ceremony
OK - Everyone has settled into their seats. Here comes Grandma, Mom, and the gang. There needs to be a shift in music to show everyone that “This thing has started”. You can grab everyone’s attention by doing a couple things.
Play the music louder (This is where a great DJ comes into play)
Choose music a little “less chill”
During the ceremony you have a couple parts to think about.
When the parents and the wedding party walks in.
When the bride walks in.
A song if you are doing unity candles or sand (remember silence = awkward)
If someone is reading scripture or speaking- have soft music playing while they walk up to the mic. (Think the Grammys awards speech)
You may want a different song for each part, but I have seen one song used for several parts. For example, the DJ can set a several cue points for a song and jump to different parts of the song that has different feels.
Just last week Nice Guys DJ used the song “Kisses and Cake” by John Powell for the parents, bridal party, and bride by setting cue points at three different times.
Listen to the song below at the three cue points and hear the difference. 00:00, 01:52, 03:46
After the ceremony
You may kiss the bride... I now announce you Mr. and Mrs.!!! Yay!!! Boom, everything has instantly changed.
In this short time frame everyone's mood has shifted from nervous/excited to relieved/joyful and seriously ready to party. It is an amazing feeling to be a part of a wedding ceremony. It is one of the few times you get to experience so many emotions in such a short amount time. Seriously think about it - it's like watching the World Series in 25 minutes.
Using that analogy (even though that might be a stretch) - - but using that analogy - after you have won the World Series, you want the soundtrack to be amazing. And just like the beginning of the ceremony we wanted the music to sound like the beginning of the movie. You guessed it - You want the end of your ceremony to sound like the end of an awesome movie. There are many songs that would work for the wedding ceremony exit that actually are movie endings.
When you are choosing your song, you want to ask yourself “Could I see credits rolling to this while the couple holds hands walking off into the sunset with a smile on your face?”
As a DJ I enjoy getting to be a part of the ceremony. A lot of times people will go with the DJ route if they are looking to cut costs. But I think the DJ for the ceremony can also be a classy elegant experience. Period can create a classy and elegant atmosphere.
I've seen it too many times where the strings are so quiet that no one can hear them. And the bride and groom forgot - even though they had hired cellist - they forgot to Mic the officiant. I would suggest a DJ for all ceremonies - even if you have a string Quartet.
How many songs do I need for the ceremony?
Before the ceremony = 6 to 10 songs
During the ceremony = 2 - 3 song
After the ceremony = 1 song