Music sets the mood, enhances memories and can help make or break an event such as a wedding.
Ever wanted to have a personal soundtrack, like they do in the movies? This is about as close as most of us will get.
There are many opportunities to utilize a soundtrack on your wedding day, some of these songs will breeze by in the hype of getting ready, while others will have special memories attached to them forever more.
Getting ready playlistNow I for one was a bunch of nerves the morning of our wedding (and hopefully you will hear more about that if I EVER get around to writing it all down) and music has a big effect on my mood. So perhaps a play list would have made a difference... dunno. Sure there was a radio on in the car and background music at the hair dressers but nothing that had any real significance to me.
If I ever have an opportunity to be part of something like this again I (or someone close to me) would like to make a motivational play list. Not something you would take to the gym necessarily, although some of the songs would overlap. It would be made up of tunes that motivate you, lift your mood, are significant and keep you focused. I would leave out any songs that might make anyone emotional, as there will be enough of that later.
A good sing-along with friends is always good, to kill the nerves. Even if you are feeling anxious "fake it, until you make it", the singing; no matter how poorly, always lifts my mood.
Some calming music may also benefit the group, hopefully making a serene bride, giving time for thought and reflection. However, caution is advised and timing needs to be heavily moderated, as the emotional dynamics can quickly change.
As with all things in life a good balance of serious and silly is in order. Capture silly moments of laughter and dancing shared with best friends, but don't get too swept away. Allow some focus and structure to ensure everything is going to schedule.
CeremonyThis is the time to use the songs closest to your heart.
Practice walking to these songs to see if the pace is suitable for what you are after, if they do not suit your processional (walking down the aisle) song, you can use them in other parts of your ceremony or just change your version to suit.
Take your time walking down the aisle as it will give you time to savor the moment. My dad had to remind me to slow down and I'm so glad he did. It let the photographer and guests capture these moments and make your husband-to-be eager to be by your side. Practice walking the aisle with your whole entourage, it may take more or less time than you think to get those little legs or wobbling high heels to the alter. This can all be practised at the rehearsal.
If a song has special meaning to you but the lyrics or electric guitar solo are not quite appropriate, you can do some research into an instrumental or acoustic version. These small alterations can make the heaviest or most explicit song still sound utterly romantic. If you are blessed enough to have talented friends or professionals to perform a few songs at your ceremony this could be the perfect touch. If not, dont fret. With the likes of Youtube and Soundcloud there are many talented artists around the world who are at your finger tips, some of whom may have created your perfect cover or they might take requests.
You have at least three opportunities for musical embellishment in your ceremony: The Processional, the Signing of the register, and the Recessional. Depending the duration of your ceremony you may have many other moments that require a backtrack, ie. a sand ceremony, a reading or song by an honoured guest.
These are the songs that we chose:
Processional - "You and Me" - Lifehouse
Signing - "River flows in you" - Yiruma
Recessional - "Eight days a week" - The Beatles
Ceremony TechnologyAlong with the timing of these songs, also check out the acoustics, what might be loud enough for a room may not travel as far on a breezy day outside. This goes for speeches as well as songs. Will the speakers be battery powered and still put out the correct volume? Check.
Can the nervous bride hear her entrance cue from down the end of the aisle? Check.
Will you have microphones as you're saying your personal vows. Sometimes with these emotional moments the most well spoken person can squeak like a mouse. Even though this moment can feel very personal, a lot of your guests will really want to hear what you say and how you say it (when your voice breaks or the breath you take before saying " I do") You may also appreciate it later on when re-watching the video footage. There are pros and cons of using a hand or lapel mic. Small attached mics are more discreet but can crackle throughout the whole ceremony due to wind or slight movements. Whereas larger mics are more intrusive but may produce a better quality sound.
Have a designated person who knows how to operate the technology nearby, if something starts to interfere with the speaker and it squeals its better to have them nearby. Also our signing song was a perfect length when played twice, this is not something we could have planned but our friend controlling the Ipod was able to accommodate and phase out the song when we were ready.
Reception MusicThis is the way to re-introduce yourselves as a married couple to your guests. Depending on your schedule this can be a great opportunity to get the party started with your reception entrance and then have it lead into your first dance, or make it just a quick fun walk to the head table.
Reception entrance -All day and all of the night - The KinksWe chose an upbeat oldie which resulted in a number of our guests starting to sing and clap along.
Although this song didn't hold any great deal of significance before we were married, it sure does now. Any time "All day and all of the night" (along with all the rest) plays, there is a knowing smile that is shared between us, taking us back to that day.
First dance - You're my best friend - Queen
This is a song that has been special to us for a long time, and the first dance just seemed to suit it best. We encouraged our guests to come up near the end of the song to enjoy it with us. This song lead into a few other old classics (ie Rolling Stones) and the dance floor was busy throughout the rest of the evening.
Dancing PlaylistNow, I'm not going to get into the age old debate of DJ vs. Band. I see the merit of each. We chose to have a DJ as we wanted to have a broad range of songs played the way we know them, but I have also been to other events where a live band has been amazing and really "made" the party.
If you are choosing either of these options then a lot of the work will already be done for you, if however you have chosen to select your own playlist make sure you chose a range of music, audience appropriate with something for everyone. Not everyone will appreciate RnB, Hiphop, Metal, Pop, Classical all night long, if you need to put your mark on the musical world make sure you mix it up. Also keep in mind awkward lyrics, switching from a nice song that has your dear old rellies swinging to, to something modern with questionable lyrics can be a bit jarring. From personal experience, the popular Cee-Lo Green's song "F**k you" sounds great in the clubs or cruising in the car, but dancing with your parents and young cousins..... not ideal. Just saying.
There were lots of songs that we couldn't fit into our wedding playlist and some that I have only discovered after the fact. I thought I would list a few below in case you are looking for something a little different (that hasn't been played at every wedding you've been to for the last few decades) or you haven't been able to find anything "perfect" yet. Here are some of my favourite finds that I came across before and after the wedding; some are well known, some are random Youtube finds.
Ben Rector - "White Dress"
Robert Gillies - "The Proposal"
James Morrison - "You Make it Real "
Train - "Marry Me"
Danna Richards - "Chasing Days"
Christina Perri - "A Thousand Years"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Hard to Concentrate"
If you want to share your favourite wedding/love songs, or have suggestions for others, I would love to hear them. Please share them in the comments below.