How to Plan Your Wedding Music by Sharon Planer

Whether you have a traditional or non-traditional ceremony, you will want the music to reflect your style of wedding. Here are some suggestions to help you find your musician, music and preparations for planning your music. 

Congratulations on your engagement! Now it's time to make your wedding plans. Remember, this is your special day...your musician should be willing to take the time to hear your ideas and to give you suggestions to help make your ceremony the unique and wonderful event that you want it to be. 

If planning the music for your wedding seems overwhelming, a professional musician will be able to guide you through the process and can take care of all the details for you. 

How to find the right musician(s) for your wedding

Word-of-mouth recommendations can provide you with great leads. Get recommendations from local music stores. Do an internet search for the type of musician you are looking for. The place where you are having your ceremony or reception may provide you with suggestions. Check with other facilities that hire musicians for their recommendations. Select a number of musician(s) to contact. Go hear them perform live. Ask for sample demo recordings. Ask them for references. Talk to references who can vouch that the musician(s) do a great job and are prompt and responsible. Do they provide a free consultation to help you plan your music? Do they have a set repertoire or are they willing to learn other songs? Do they play the style of music you are looking for? Are they willing to accompany vocalists or other instrumentalists if necessary? Will they attend your wedding rehearsal? What backup plans can they offer if they are not able to perform for your ceremony? Ask for a sample contract. Compare prices. Do they charge by the hour, by the job? Find out the total cost to you including mileage, set up fees, rehearsal, practicing with other musicians, learning new music, etc. Once you find the musician(s) that best represent your wishes, you will probably be asked to provide a deposit in order to secure the date for your wedding. 

Finding music for your ceremony

Once you have selected your musician(s), you will want to meet to plan your ceremony music. Your musician(s) should be able to offer advice and provide you with a variety of music to choose from. Be sure and tell your musician(s) any special song requests that you have. It can sometimes take 4-8 weeks to special order music, so it's important to do this well in advance of your wedding. The musician(s) will appreciate some time to learn the music as well. Here are some free resources. Your local or central library will likely have wedding music resources including sheet music and sound recordings. Do an internet search. Many of the wedding web sites have lists of ceremony and reception music, some of them allowing you to listen to samples. The major online bookstores have books and wedding CD's, some of which you can listen to samples. Of course you can purchase resources as well. Local bookstores will have text, sheet music and CD's. Local music stores have a wealth of sheet music and CD's and can offer wonderful advice. Discount chain stores sell wedding sampler CD's as do card shops and wedding shops. 

If you are having a traditional ceremony, you will want to confer with your musician(s) regarding the following: 

Prelude Music. Your musician provides music to set the mood while the guests are being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin. 

Parents and Grandparents Song.  Sometimes bridal couples want a special song played when the parents and grandparents are seated. 

Bridal Party Processional. This song is played when the bridal party walks in. 

Bridal Processional. This song is played when the bride walks down the aisle. It can be a continuation of the bridal party processional or it can be a totally different piece of music. This music is usually grand and festive. 

If you are having Unity Candle and/or Rose Presentation, music is often performed. 

Signing of the Wedding License. If this is part of the ceremony, music provides a nice background. 

If you are having Communion or Mass, music is often played or sung. 

Recessional. This music is played at the conclusion of the ceremony when the bride and groom make their exit. This music is usually bright and lively. 

Postlude Music. Your musician provides music for your guests to enjoy while the guests are being ushered out. 

If you are having a non-traditional ceremony, you will want to meet with your musician(s) early in your planning stages, so that all of you will have time to locate and select the music that will reflect your style of wedding. 

If you prefer using recorded music for your ceremony rather than hiring a musician, check that your wedding facility has adequate sound equipment available. Ask if a sound technician is available. 

You're almost done! There are just a few more details to cover

1. Does your musician need to provide his/her own instrument or is the instrument available at the ceremony location? For example, if you hire a pianist, find out if there is a piano available and how much it costs to reserve. What is the sound quality of the instrument? How often is it tuned? Your musician should be taking care of all these details, but you'll want to make sure that is the case. If a piano is not available, you may wish to rent one from a local music store or find out if your pianist will provide a portable piano. 

2. Do you have vocalists that will need accompaniment? Let your ceremony musician know. 

3. Some clergy and churches are selective as to the type of music they allow, be sure and check this out with the person officiating at your wedding. 

4. Some facilities and churches have sound technicians, and some even require that you hire one for your event. You would want to hire a sound technician as soon as possible to insure his/her availability for your event. 

Congratulations! You have chosen your musician(s), finalized your music selections and covered the details. You can relax knowing that your musician(s) will create the perfect setting for your wedding ceremony. 

Copyright -- December, 2002, by Sharon Planer sharon@pianistforparties.com 

This article is used with permission.