Whether you lean toward the contemporary or the traditional, the first step toward picking the right music for your wedding is to know the stages of the ceremony and the mood you want to create for each.

The Ceremony

Music for the ceremony is not limited to when the bride walks down the aisle. First there’s the prelude, about 15 to 20 minutes of light music while the guests arrive and are seated. Then the processional as the bridal party enters. Next, the bridal march. Last, there’s the recessional as the bride and groom walk back up the aisle and the postlude as the guests depart.

For the ceremony, the two most important choices you have to make are the type of musicians you want to play and the tune for the bridal march. Always popular are a piano, organ or string quartet. However, a woodwind ensemble, classical guitar or harp is a common substitute. Strings are great for outdoor occasions because the instruments are portable and don’t need amplification, but you should be aware that some string musicians may refuse to play if there is moisture in the air or the temperature falls too low.

A Melodic Transition

If you are having a cocktail hour between the ceremony and the reception, you have several options. If the reception and ceremony are at the same location, consider hiring the musicians from the ceremony for the cocktail hour, too. However, if you’re hiring a band, the band may also include a jazz trio or another type of small instrumental group in their pricing. Sheryl A. Garman, president of Perfect Weddings, says this is a great way to get two types of music for the price of one, while also mixing up the beat during the cocktail hour.

Then, once your guests are seated for dinner, don’t let the entertainment fade away. Garman says post-dinner dance or specialty-singer shows always are a hit. “There are salsa dancers, flamenco dancer, mariachi bands – there’s a lot you can do,” she says. Sometimes the hosts want swing lessons for their guests or even performances by impersonators of famous singers. And this is all before the party really even gets rolling.

Let’s Dance!

The last big choice you have to make is between a band and a DJ. Overall, expect approximately 10 percent of your wedding budget to go toward music, but here is where prices can vary widely. Live music always is exciting, but the cost of a band ranges from a few thousand dollars to many thousand dollars. If you want to hear your favorite hits exactly as they were recorded, DJs typically charge anywhere from $500 to $2,500. Mixing live entertainment with a DJ is a trendy option if you have the desire and it fits into your budget.

Whichever you choose, though, make sure either the bandleader or the DJ understand your preferences. “If you don’t like opera or you don’t like rap, make sure you let them know,” Garman says. “I, however, don’t like to see couples giving a band or DJ every single piece of music they want played. Let the DJ or the band do their job and gauge the crowd.”

©CTW Features