Your Wedding Music
Monday, January 09, 2017
By Danielle Paus
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The Ceremony Musician

The challenge of finding, communicating with and selecting a musician (or musicians) for your wedding ceremony can be overwhelming for many couples. I’m writing this post with general advice when you are interviewing and deciding on your provider for the most important aspect of your wedding day- the ceremony!

Because of the many details, variables and specifics of the wedding ceremony, you want to find a provider (or ensemble) that is not only musically qualified, but also aware of the many elements of the ceremony and able to deliver.

Live Musician or DJ?
These days, there are no rules for weddings- and the detail of your ceremony musician is a chance to either save money, or splurge- both are fine!

Assuming you have hired a capable and competent DJ for your reception, it is usually not much additional money to ask him/her to cover the ceremony. In this case, you want to make sure your DJ
*has experience doing so
*is clear on the structure of the ceremony and cuing

The benefits of having a DJ “play” for the ceremony is if you want an exact song selection as performed by the artist, it can potentially save you money, and streamlines communication with one less vendor. (my feelings on hiring a reputable coordinator for your wedding day in a future blog post! hint: GET ONE!)

When dealing with the professional musician, there are some things to be aware of:

*Just because you hire a conservatory-trained musician, this does not mean he/she is experienced with the complexities of the delivery of the music for a wedding ceremony. Ask specific questions when interviewing:
-How many weddings have you played?
-Do you have reviews/references?
-What does your contract look like?
-What are your parameters around playing outside?

*Professional musicians can be moody- and busy with (in their minds) more “important” artistic endeavors. You want to find a musician that is invested in his/her craft as a wedding provider, and can actually play! Ask other vendors, your wedding coordinator, or venue for recommendations. Does the musician answer your emails promptly? Does he/she have sound clips? Does he/she ask you pertinent questions that exhibit experience in the wedding industry?

The Musician
Some brides have always dreamed of having a wedding with a live harpist, and for others signing on with the church organist that is included in the fee of the church rental is totally acceptable. Again, this is all really a matter of personal preference, budget and how you as a couple envision the particulars of the day. The ceremony is THE most important and complex part of your wedding. One small snafu from one vendor can set in motion a chain of events that could potentially make the day less-than perfect. This is also the time-frame when your guests are paying attention (and sober!)

Instrument specifics depend on personal preference. String quartets can be beautiful and impressive. Harp is a classic wedding instrument and organ, trumpet, piano are other traditional choices. If your wedding is outdoors, this may automatically limit your choices.

Again, be sure that your musician has experience with weddings. Solid and clear cues with communication are absolutely VITAL to guarantee smooth delivery. For me personally, I go over details again, and again, and AGAIN with everyone involved. Even so, there are always curve balls and you want a musician that is experienced and prepared to roll with the punches.

My thoughts
The music at your ceremony creates a sonic environment for you as a couple and your guests. This is an important day in your life! What represents you best?

As a harpist, the space I create in the prelude music is one of calm contemplation through classical and baroque music. For the recessional and postlude, I want happy, upbeat selections that celebrate your new union. A fun way to personalize the ceremony is to select a meaningful song and have your musician arrange it- I really love doing this and I feel that is adds a special and personal touch to the ceremony.

No matter what musical route you decide, you want things to go smoothly. Be clear with your communication, hire or delegate someone responsible to cue, and finally enjoy every moment!

Final questions to reflect on as a couple

-How do we envision the music?

-What represents us best as a couple?

-What fits in our budget?

-Is there a “special” song that is meaningful to us?

Interview your vendors carefully and select those that you trust and connect with!

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