Ceremony Music Tips from Prelude to Recessional
By Frank Guertler with Bunn DJ Company
DJ’s love the part of a wedding reception when all the guests are out on the dance floor having a blast. Finding the right playlist to keep the party going all night long is what a DJ lives for! But what about the most important part of the wedding day? What about the ceremony? Before you can boogie the night away, you’ll want the right sound and music while saying your “I do’s.” Here are a few things to think about when planning your big day.
Your guests came to see you get married. They came to share in your celebration and hear you and your significant other express your love for each other. Unless you’re planning an extremely intimate ceremony you’re going to want to make sure that your guests can hear what you and your officiant are saying. You definitely don’t want them tuning out and playing with their phones if they can’t hear the ceremony. You see this happen, especially with those folks past the first 4-5 rows!
Even if you’re hiring musicians they typically won’t be bringing microphones for you and may not even be amplified themselves. You’re going to want at least one wireless lavalier (hands-free) microphone for your officiant (with one available for you or your partner if needed) and a handheld wireless microphone or two if you’re planning on doing a reading or having a singer. Also, when you have microphones it makes it a lot easier for your videographer to get a clean recording of your vows from the DJ’s mixer.
How to Choose the Right Songs
The first thing to think about is your prelude or guest seating music. The older guests love to arrive early for the ceremony and it’s important to have music playing before they start to arrive. Your prelude music should also match the tone of the early parts of the evening. For example, if you’ve chosen jazz standards for the cocktail hour/dinner then playing slower vocal or instrumental jazz during the prelude would be appropriate. Then again, if your recessional song is an indie rock track like the hit Portugal the Man song “Feel It Still”, you may want to consider some lighter indie music for the prelude. The idea is to make sure your music flows in a way that makes sense.
The next thing to think about is the wedding party music. Depending on how many people are walking down the aisle before the bride, it’s important to pay attention to the songs you’re choosing and how long they are. The walk from where the bride and wedding party begin to the altar will vary from venue to venue, so you don’t want to pick one song for the entire party and have it run shortly before everyone makes it up front! However, if you have a really short walk, don’t pick too many songs – having too many short snippets of songs playing back to back tends to sound disjointed.
Timing Your Songs
PRO TIP: When you visit your venue’s ceremony area, have one person simulate the walk to the altar from where you’d start the procession and time it. That way when you’re planning your music, and who you have walking down the aisle, you just multiply that many people/couples by the time it took to complete the walk to the altar, and that’s how long the song needs to be! For example, if you have six bridesmaids and six groomsmen walking separately and it takes 15 seconds each to reach the altar then you’d need a song that’s at least three minutes long. Keep in mind also that if you have older people or children in the ceremony procession, you may need more time. For larger wedding parties we typically recommend one song for family and groom/groomsmen, one song for bridesmaids and, of course, one song for the star of the day…the Bride!
Communication, Communication, Communication!
With YouTube and Spotify being used a lot these days for song selections it’s very important to let your DJ know the exact version of the song you want and where to find it so there is no confusion. If the song you have your heart set on is something you found on YouTube send your DJ the link. Clear communication with your DJ goes a long way in making sure your ceremony music is exactly what you envision!
Frank Guertler is the owner and one of the DJs at Bunn DJ Company in Richmond. You can find him on Instagram @bunndjrva or @djfrankierva. To learn more visit www.bunndjcompany.com.