Live Music, Disk Jockey or Solo Artists?

How do you choose the music for your wedding ceremony and reception? Today, couples are breaking outside the box of traditional wedding music. They've come to realize that it's their wedding, and there is no right or wrong music to walk down the aisle or to play during their father-daughter dance at the reception. Not only does this make for a unique and memorable wedding, it also makes couples even more confused than ever.

So, how do you begin to choose your music, live entertainment, disk jockey, quartet, solo artist, or musical compilation? Well, as we learned from the Sound of Music, we "start at the very beginning."

1. What is your budget? You'll have to divide your budget for live entertainment between the ceremony and the reception. Usually the reception is the more expensive of the two, since it's usually longer and most musicians and DJ's are paid by the hour.

2. What kind of music do you want at your ceremony? Traditional or modern? If you want traditional, many churches have an Organ or Piano player that can be included (for an extra fee) with your church reservation fee. Or, you can hire a piano player for the ceremony for about $100 per hour. If you want a more modern take for the ceremony music, figure out what type of music you want played and hire a solo artist or band that can play it. I chose some Enya music for my ceremony and a friend learned the piano rendition of the music and was accompanied by a violinist. It was beautiful and unexpected. And no, I did not hire a vocalist to attempt the musical artistry of Enya.

3. What kind of music do you want at your reception? The location of your reception can restrict the type of music played. Is the location big enough for the setup of a live band? Is there a stage? A dance floor? Do you want a reception with dancing or a more formal dining event with piano music in the background? You'll have to ask yourself these questions before you proceed to the next steps of choosing your live entertainment.

Choosing your live entertainment
When choosing your live entertainment, remember they are being hired for more than their musical entertainment abilities — they will usually double as the MC (Master of Ceremonies.) They should be enthusiastic and experienced at performing during wedding receptions and very conscious of the time, since both couple and the guests tend to be distracted.

Hiring a Band
Before spending your precious wedding planning time on band auditions, make sure your venue can host a live band. Ask the venue how many tables will be set up based on your guest list, where the dance floor will be (if applicable), and if there is room for a band's setup.

Also, how long is your reception? Since a band is live entertainment, they tire more easily. Ask them how long they will be able to play, and if they need breaks, make sure the breaks are lined up with the cutting of the cake, a slide show, bouquet toss or some recorded music to fill in the gaps. You don't want your guests thinking the reception is over. A live band will usually announce they are taking a short break, but will return soon.

As far as the type of music goes, a band can only play what they know. Make sure they know the type of music you want at your reception. Some bands only specialize in country, rock, jazz, etc., while other bands can play a little of everything, making for an excellent alternative to a DJ. Sometimes a live band that can play anything makes for the best "party" receptions because they can get everyone to participate.

Make sure you see them perform, don't rely on a tape. They've probably spent time in a studio, recording multiple takes. A tape or cd does not give you a good idea of their LIVE entertainment capabilities. Hold auditions, see how they perform and evaluate their personalities. They will be the voice and the face of your entertainment at your reception.

Hiring a DJ

A DJ is a great alternative to a live band, especially if you want all your favorite songs played. Just remember, a DJ is only as good as their music collection. Ask about their collection of music, and how it's organized. Most DJ's should have their music organized on their computer or an ipod of some kind, tell them what kind of music you want, any favorite songs you have, songs you hate, and to make up a playlist for you to see. Always approve the playlist before the wedding, and let them know if you want your guests making requests. Although it's fun for your guests, you don't want any surprise songs at your reception.

Hiring a Solo Artist
This doesn't mean a one-man band. I'm talking about a pianist, violinist or a wedding singer. If you are going for a more traditional atmosphere, a solo artist might be your best bet. If you choose a pianist or violinist, they will probably be used as the "background" live entertainment, meaning, they'll be the background music in a mingling atmosphere. I chose to use a pianist for the first 2 hours as guests arrived and they began to hit the food. But after the 2 hours, the events started; cutting the cake, first dance, father-daughter dance, and then the party music began to play. However, due to budgeting issues, we chose an entirely different route for our reception music. We burned 4 hours of cd's, with all our favorite songs, and in the order we wanted them to play.

Burning your own CD's

Burning your own music onto cd's or using a playlist from your ipod is a great alternative if your budget doesn't allow for live entertainment or a DJ. Choose the songs for the couple's first dance and father-daughter dance, then make a playlist with all your favorite music. Don't forget to assign someone, a friend or relative, to manage it. They wont be required to be a DJ, but someone has to play the couple's first dance and father-daughter dance songs, then make sure the rest of the music plays as planned. Plus, you'll have to hire an MC, or have a friend or relative take on this challenge. Some couples think this isn't necessary, but someone has to keep the wedding moving and get the attention of your guests by announcing the important events.

Summing up
Well, that's all I have. I chose to use a solo artist for the beginning of my reception, then I burned cd's for the remainder of the event. I've also been to wedding with both a DJ and a live band. All of these choices can be a hit or a disaster, so do your research, ask for references, make them auditions and approve playlists. Don't forget, it's your wedding, so you can do no wrong. Make it memorable and fun, and remember, you can't hear the music in the photographs, so if the music does go wrong, you don't have to hear the music over and over again. Good luck.

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Anonymous BlueT said...

One thing that is also important is your budget before you even think to find a band

5:26 PM  

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