We may be a bit biased, but we think that music is one of the MOST important parts of a wedding. It’s likely (even if you can’t personally carry a tune in a bucket) that some of your most significant memories are given a touch of color by a special song. No surprise, but we adore that “je ne sais quoi” that music brings to life, and we whole-heartedly believe that it should be a meaningful part of your wedding. After all, we want this particular day to be one you’ll remember for a while.
With the stress of venue tours and marriage licenses and suit fittings and out-of-town relatives (and on and on), music may seem like the last detail you want to add to your list. However, it can be just as important as the theme of the venue to the overall atmosphere of your event. Imagine you’re having a nice meal at a fancy French restaurant – white tablecloths, the whole shebang – and they’re playing country music. You’d probably notice and you’d probably be distracted enough to think it was out of place. The point is: Music sets such an important tone that it can either nicely complement its surroundings or divert from them.
That being said, we know not everyone has significant experience selecting music for a wedding. What kind of repertoire is suitable? Is there literally a law that says you have to use the Wedding March? How do you sync the music to the processional? Luckily, we’ve been around the block when it comes to weddings, so we have compiled a few of our top pro tips when it comes to planning the musical elements of your ceremony:
Tip 1: There is no set-in-stone ceremony setlist
Your mom might argue with us on this one, but there is no law about what music you have to use for your ceremony. Don’t get us wrong – we think tradition is beautiful, and if the Wedding March fits your vision for the day, then that is the perfect piece for your walk down the aisle. But if Mendelssohn isn’t your style, there’s no need to force it (again, think country music in a French restaurant). The beauty of string instruments is that they are versatile and can play a variety of genres; they can even alter their tone slightly to make a rock song sound classical (Intrigued? Read our Rock n’ Roll ceremony inspiration here).
That being said, the possibilities are endless when it comes to selecting the music for your ceremony. We suggest first deciding on the atmosphere you would like to create: Consider the theme of your venue, the style of your wedding party’s outfits, the dress code for the guests, etc. How do they all tie together?
Once you have decided on the atmosphere, think about what genres or artists would complement that ambiance. Do you have an open bar and lawn games before the ceremony? Then you might consider upbeat pop and rock tunes for the prelude. Are you a true romantic with a stunning white wedding planned? Then Stand By Me by Ben E King might croon you down the aisle. Are you getting married in a church? Maybe you need to select Sacred, church-approved pieces.
We know that this part can be overwhelming. There is SO much music to choose from – where do you even start? Don’t hesitate to connect with us, and we will work with you to find the music that is perfect for your wedding. We have lots of experience-based insight into what music will make your processional run as smoothly as possible.
Additionally, feel free to glance through our repertoire list to get the wheels turning.
Tip 2: The number of musicians you hire will make a difference
This is a difficult subject because, unfortunately, more musicians mean spending more money. However, we are not exaggerating when we say that even ONE instrument can make a significant difference in the sound of the ensemble. There’s the obvious reasoning that a bigger acoustic ensemble will be louder, and thus won’t be buried as easily while guests are talking and mingling. The less obvious explanation is that the bigger the ensemble, the more notes of a chord can be played, giving the music a fuller, lusher, and more elaborate sound.
When it comes to covering pop and rock tunes, additional instruments will not only make the song more recognizable, they will also make the cover more interesting to listen to (consider that there is often, at minimum, vocals, vocal harmony, guitar, bass, drums, and keys in your favorite bands … and we need to figure out how to represent all of those parts with only four instruments!).
This is why the string quartet is our main ensemble and, traditionally, the most common formation of string instruments. With the quartet, we can place the bass line and rhythm in the cello, internal harmony (like the keyboard or guitar part) to the viola, upper harmonies (like backup vocals and guitar) to the 2nd violin, and the all-important melody in the 1st violin.
Tip 3: Don’t try to time the processional music
We actually see this quite often: A couple doing complex math (we mean that figuartively, but sometimes it’s literal!) to try and time the processional song precisely with the party’s walk down the aisle. Take it from the pros: it’s not worth it. There are so many things that could go wrong during the processional – like your ringbearer deciding to cry at the top of the aisle for 20 seconds – that there is no graceful way to truly time the music. Your musicians will appreciate as much flexibility as you can give them since they have the difficult task of reading music, playing an instrument, and keeping an eye on the wedding party while silently communicating with each other when to start and stop.
If you have a specific reason for timing the music – maybe you’d like a bigger sound while the bride walks or you really like the chorus of the song – feel free to reach out to us and we can help come up with a plan to add these elements while still allowing for some flexibility.
PS - While we're on the subject, be sure to check out our blog on how to make your processional go as smoothly as possible.