BY STAN WIEST
It is completely normal for stress to become a factor in selecting wedding music- but it can also be eliminated by careful planning ahead. I will also be going over areas and downfalls to avoid to help make your wedding music planning a wonderful experience. I am a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants and these are topics I cover in my seminars to consultants.
The first area to be careful with is the wedding ceremony music. Many brides select "Pachelbel Canon" or "Canon in D" (the same music) for their ceremony. If you are using a string ensemble you must use three string performers. The Canon is a three part piece of music-meaning three performers (combination or strings or with flute) have to be used. Anything less will cause the music to "not sound right" at the ceremony.
If you are on a budget use a string trio instead of a string quartet. The music that can be played is almost identical. If you use a harp make sure it is a Concert Grand Harp. Many performers use the Celtic Harp- it is small-fits into the back seat of a car-is very convenient to transport but the sound does not carry. If you are having an outdoor ceremony the sound of the small harp will be lost. A harp can perform any music-no limitations (Pachelbel Canon is fine). Another suggestion for cost cutting-if you are using a band have the keyboardist from the band play for the ceremony. Again with a keyboardist there are no music limitations.
If the ceremony is at a church -before you make any music arrangements-check with the pastor - to find out if the church will allow you to bring in music. The church may also have limitations on the music that can be performed. If the pastor denies your request-just let it drop. It will be useless to pursue the issue. You will also have to pay for the church organist even if you do not use that performer. If you are having a Full Mass you will need the church organist for the PSALMS. These music selections change every week and only the church organist will know them.
If you are having a ceremony music program printed up - first check with your musicians to make sure they can play the music you have selected. Also go over the proper specific names (spelling) of the selections and the composers of the music you are using.
Cocktail hours should only be soft, background music. String Ensemble, Harp, Harp and Flute, Harp-Flute-Cello, Flamenco Guitar, Keyboard. Strolling Violin- are among the best instruments for a cocktail hour. For a more lively cocktail hour consider Strolling Mariachi or Steel Drums. Make sure to check with you caterer as to any sound/noise ordinances that may affect your cocktail hour music selection. Some catering locations do not allow amplified music outdoors.
The reception music is where many problems can be avoided if you are careful. One of the biggest problems is the typical comment "the band is always on a break" The typical band plays 20 minutes then takes a 20 minute break -either having a keyboardist play or putting on a CD. You get the full band for 30 minutes per hour. This is called "continuous flow" music. Always arrange for "continuous music" and specify you want the full band to perform 55 minutes per hour. This way you get 1 hour and 40 minutes more playing time during a 4 hours reception. This makes a tremendous difference.
Due to the state of the current economy many 9 and 10 piece bands are out of the budget of brides. Five and Six Piece Bands with up to date equipment (synthesizers) can sound like a 9 and 10 piece band -without having to pay the price of 9 or 10 pieces. Many bands have 3 or 4 vocalists who do not play any instruments. Each vocalist sings one or 2 songs per hour-yet the bride is paying full price for only a partial performance. Make sure that the vocalists also play instruments. One female vocalist (who does not play an instrument) is fine. All the others should be also playing instruments-keeps your cost factor down.
A trend that is becoming very popular is the Band/ DJ combination. A band that has the DJ set up within band (you do not have to hire a separate DJ) can give you the best of all worlds- the elegance and excitement of live music as well as hearing the original artists on CD. You also get totally non stop music for the reception-no breaks or down time.
If you are having a best man say a toast-keep it short-under one minute. This is an area that becomes a problem for many receptions. The best man who suddenly decides to tell stories, jokes etc. causes a delay in the food order being taken. Besides losing the guests it also delays the kitchen and will cause the timing of the reception to be off.
Remember that guests will always remember the quality of the music you select- long after the reception. This makes the biggest impression on your guests. The music should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom. Every guest should be able to say
"the band played my kind of music" regardless of the age group of the guests and grandma should never have to say "I could not talk because the music was so loud"
A.STAN WIEST MUSIC
www.longisland.com Wedding Band Expert