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Wedding Music 101... with Maddy from String & BowMar 05

String & Bow

You’ve OFFICIALLY reached ‘bridal overwhelm’ status – decisions about lighting, flowers, ceremony chairs, reception cutlery, bridesmaid (and fiancé) management, cake tastings, seating arrangements… and we haven’t even gotten to the dress (OMG, the DRESS)… not to mention the ever-challenging (and changing) guestlist…

Heart Palpitations? Reaching For A Glass Of Red?

Talk to any ‘to-be-wed’ human and chances are, at the very mention of any of these details you will witness what is commonly referred to as the ‘pre-wedding eye-glaze-over’.

So it’s hardly surprising how many couples forget one simple, but very important factor:

What will set the scene for the ceremony?
What will chill your guests out upon arrival?
And what will enhance the most breathtaking moment of all – when the bride appears down the aisle ready to be wed to his/her true love?

That’s RIGHT, It’s The Universal Language Of Music, Of Course.

I have been playing music at weddings for the best part of 20 years (Yes, I started young) and believe me, I have some stories to tell.

Music has the power to make or break a moment, and of course, transform it into one which you and your guests will remember forever.

And because it may seem like just another ‘thing’ to tick off the list, here’s a simplified guide to helping you choose the best music to fit the vibe throughout your big day. You’re welcome 😉

Step 1. Setting The Scene:

What type of tunes do you want to set the scene for the whole day?

You may want elegant classical played by a solo violin, string trio (3 musicians) or quartet (4 musicians); or perhaps an acoustic guitarist playing chilled-out, folky covers (perfect for a more relaxed ‘Byron-style’ wedding).

One of String + Bow‘s most popular offerings at the moment is where we mix both of these options into a Violin & Guitar Duo, shifting easily between these two genres. But ultimately, it’s entirely up to you.

Step 2. Key Tear-Jerker Moments In The Ceremony:

You now have all of your guests settled, and excitedly waiting for the bride to arrive – it’s time to consider the ceremony music.

Remember this one key thing: EVERYONE loves a good ‘happy cry’ during a wedding ceremony…  so much love in the air, so many friends and family… and all of them there to celebrate you guys and your amazing love story.

There are a few key moments in the ceremony that traditionally require music. These are:

Processional: Yep, the bride-to-be’s biggest moment. This is the moment when all eyes are on you and just how incredibly happy and gorgeous you look.

Classic songs for this moment include ‘Pachabel’s Canon’ or of course, ‘Here Comes the Bride’, but really, I have come across hundreds of other good options – if it’s a song that means something special to the couple, chances are it will work perfectly.

Oh! And just a word of advice – Bear in mind that you, and maybe the bridal party, will have to actually ‘walk’ to this music, so perhaps, save the dubstep for later 😉

Signing the Register: This is the time for formalities, as you sign the papers to make everything official, so it’s always nice to give your guests something lovely to listen to during this process.

Again, choose something you both love yourselves, or better still, perhaps you have a loved one who can sing or play something during this time?

We always recommend choosing two songs for this time, as it can be a lovely chance to high-five your new husband/wife for the first time after the vows, and you never know how snap-happy your photographer will be – this moment is a great opportunity to capture some winning shots that capture the raw emotion of the moment.

Recessional: You’ve done it… you’re hitched! Now, just take a moment to really imagine exactly how amazing this moment is going to feel, and then aim to choose music to do justice in reflecting those emotions.

Musicians will continue this one until you have reached the end of the aisle (however short or long), before transitioning into other music as you greet your nearest and dearest for the first time as newlyweds. There’ll be lots of hugging, laughing and elated disbelief at the fact you’ve just gotten married, and of course, more happy tears!

Musicians will then continue on with music depending on what you have instructed them to do. It’s always lovely to create a sense of flow by continuing with music up until it’s reception/ champagne-time.

Step 3. End Of The Formalities And Onto The Party!

There are a few different ways to do this one:

You may go off for a photo shoot and meet up with your guests later on, in which case, we recommend letting the musicians play for a little while as the guests filter out of the venue.

If you remain at the same venue and move straight onto the reception, canapés and live music can create a lovely flow-through.

You may want to change genres, eg: move from classical during the ceremony into jazz at this stage, or perhaps move from some gentle folk music onto something a little funkier. Whatever you choose, remember again, that this is YOUR day, celebrating all the things that have brought you both to this amazing point in time.

We frequently put together a live playlist of a couple’s favourite songs, dotted through with other similar music we have in our repertoire. If you have decided to go with guitar or a guitar/violin duo, a subtle way to amp it up a little is to switch from ‘unplugged’ to ‘plugged in’ so that we can turn up the volume a little more for…

Step 4. Celebrating You Guys, The New Husband/Wife, Husband/Husband, Wife/Wife!

If you choose to have live music for your reception celebrations, awesome… your guests will be delighted.

Generally when playing at a reception, musicians will play 45 – 50-minute sets with a 10-minute break in between. At String + Bow, we can provide music for these musician breaks from an iPod, put together either by you guys – or by us.

As for the music played during the sets, you may choose to change genres each set, ramping up the party notch by notch. You could also decide you want to build up the party with an evolving band.

I’ve played at weddings which started with solo violin (for the ceremony), adding some guitar for during canapés and a DJ, bongos, and saxophone for the dancing..  now THAT was a sure-fire dance floor starter!

As I’ve mentioned earlier, whatever you choose, please remember these things:

It’s YOUR day, so, however crazy, nerdy or non-traditional your music preference may be, please, just GO FOR IT.

Music speaks volumes and brings people together like nothing else, in much the same way that you guys have by choosing to celebrate your love and life together – so let your wedding music options reflect this 100%.

And please… ask for help! Whoever is providing music for you on your wedding day should be available to guide you through ANY decision-making you need to do. No question is ‘too hard’ or ‘silly’… it’s our job to make this process as easy and enjoyable for you as we possibly can 🙂

and finally…

Relax, breathe and take it ALL IN with a smile.. all the stress of planning and organising the day will totally and completely float away on a cloud of bliss the moment your wedding day rolls around.

It will be, no matter what, absolutely AMAZING. When you put your lover, your family and friends, food, drink and good music together, it’s a guaranteed recipe for the most magical day you could ever dream of.

Good luck and enjoy the ride,

Maddy xoxox


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