Anyone who's watched an epic movie or Broadway show knows how much the right music can make or break a performance—and your wedding day is no different! As much as your wedding day is about love, relationships, and family, technically, it's a well-choreographed and planned out theatrical performance. Investing time and energy in picking the right music, instruments, and order of entertainment will enhance every step of the day. Here are some step-by-step observations and recommendations to make your journey through creating a wedding entertainment timeline easier.
The first place to start the pre-ceremony. It's that slightly awkward time as wedding guests begin to gather. Nothing is happening, people are greeting each other, and they're staring at an empty ceremony backdrop. Regardless of the type of entertainment you have chosen, your ceremony musicians can do a lot to set the mood before you make your way down the aisle. Whether your ceremony is traditional or more modern, there are instrumental pieces to enhance the downtime. Talk to your ceremony musicians about a genre to fit the moment and let them go from there.
The wedding processional has three significant pieces. Typically, after seating the families, there's the entrance of the wedding party, the groom, and lastly, the bride. In most cases, one piece of music is selected for the family, another for the wedding party and the groom, and then finishing with something special for the bride.
A wedding ceremony in a house of worship may dictate some of the dos and don'ts for musicians, but your officiant will let you know early on in the planning process if you can have secular music or if you must play sacred music. Regardless of the situation, the music selection is often based on tempo. You want a piece slow enough that no one feels like they're running down the aisle.
The bride's entrance is a focal point of the wedding, and you want something in a tempo where she can take her time and be seen. Popular bridal entrance selections range from "Hallelujah" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to more traditional "Canon in D" or the "Bridal Chorus" also known as "Here Comes the Bride."
The last music selection in a wedding ceremony is often for the kiss and recessional. The is a joyous occasion, and the music, regardless of the genre, should be light and cheerful.
Cocktail music should be soft and light. It's background music for the conversations going on and continuing the upbeat mood. It's a fun time to infuse a little personality—think light jazz or acoustic guitar.
Interactive or performance art are fun touches for cocktail hour as well. It's a great time to have some fun in a photo booth, have a caricature drawn by a local artist, or something unique like a fire dance or close-up magician. The sky's the limit, but gearing it toward small intimate groups rather than everyone at once tends to work best.
The wedding reception is what most people think of when talking about wedding entertainment. It's party time, and music set the scene! Truthfully, it's a celebration in three acts—introductions, dinner, and party—each has its own time, tone, and needs.
The wedding party's introduction should have a fun, upbeat tone. They're the opening act for the newlywed's first appearance as a married couple. So, choosing something lively and cheerful to let them have some fun as they make their entrance is ideal.
Pro Tip: Write out your wedding party's names phonetically if someone has a difficult name to pronounce. If you have people with complicated names, you might consider a friend or family member standing in with the MC.
The introduction of you as the newlyweds is the focus of this part of the night and comes as two pieces—something fun and festive, but also something that can be easily transitioned into your first dance song.
In many cases, welcome speeches, toasts, and a blessing might follow your first dance. One of the most critical aspects of this portion of the night is having a good MC. Whether it's a DJ, a band member, or a separate person who does the introductions, you need a strong performer!
The focus of this point in the reception is good food, drink, and conversation. You want quiet background music. This may be the time when your band or DJ is offered a dinner break and will wind down to some preprogrammed music or solo instrument. Much like the cocktail music, you want to be able to talk over it, but you notice when it's gone.
Parent dances are often infused into this portion of the night between the first course and main entrée. These, much like your first dance, are tender moments, and more often than not, a slower tempo song. Choose something that signifies something to both you and your parent for an extra meaningful moment.
After dinner, the party kicks into full swing! Most times, the dancefloor is opened with something more fast-paced to get people up and moving. Your band or DJ will build a party with highs and lows to transition into things like your cake cutting, bouquet, and garter toss. While the dance floor is open, it's also a great time to reopen the photo booth or bring back caricature artists for people who want to grab a drink and step away from the action. Let the pros work their magic and blend some song selections that get people up dancing. Reading a crowd is a massive part of what they do!
A little knowledge, picking the right pros, sharing some of your favorite music, and letting the pros do what they do best ensures you'll have a great party!
Hero photo courtesy of Julia Franzosa Photography