Having a string quartet, an acoustic guitar and vocalist, a yodeler (if that’s your thing) or any kind of live music for your ceremony is great and definitely worth the investment. They can offer great advice about song choices, they are experienced at working with celebrants and venue managers to follow cues so that the music starts and fades out at the exact right time, and live music generally does wonders for atmosphere and maximum feels. However for some, the expense of hiring live musicians is just too much.
Around half of the couples I marry opt to play recorded music through my PA system for their ceremony.
If that’s you, this post is designed to help you get the most out of the music during your marriage ceremony.
5 Steps to Marriage Ceremony Music Magic
Music can really make or break a marriage ceremony. After all the planning and rehearsal, the last thing you want is for your DJ to accidentally play AC/DC’s Highway to Hell as the bride walks down the aisle. Here are my tips for removing human error and making the most of recorded music in your marriage ceremony.
- Choose Your Songs
The number of songs depends on what elements you’re including in your ceremony – I always tell couples what’s required.
As a general rule, you’ll need…
- Processional (Bride’s entrance) – 1 x song
- Signing of the paperwork – 2 x songs
- Recessional/End of ceremony – 1 x song
For some couples, choosing music is easy and it’s more a question of which of their many favourite or most meaningful songs to include. However, some couples really struggle to choose the right songs. If that’s you, check out this post on choosing meaningful music for your ceremony.
- Choose Your Device & Music Service
These two go hand-in-hand. My recommendation is to use Spotify or iTunes. Of course you can use other similar services, but remember that you’re going to be asking someone to play DJ on the day and you want to be sure that they’ll be able to use it easily.
My PA system can connect to any device with a regular headphone jack using a standard audio cable (which I provide).
If you’re using Spotify, you’re likely going to choose your phone to play your music through. If you’re using iTunes you have the option to use an iPod.
If you choose to use Spotify you’ll need a Premium account that allows you to download music and play it offline.
At this stage, I don’t use Bluetooth, as I don’t quite trust it not to drop out and I don’t use USB as it’s much harder to control, therefore has more chance of human error occurring.
If you do decide to use your phone, make sure you put it in airplane mode before the ceremony and remove the passcode. The last thing you want is someone calling over the loud-speaker during your ceremony or your DJ not able to unlock your phone to play the next song.
- Create Your Playlists
I recommend creating a playlist for every separate time music is featured in the ceremony. Give each playlist a names that is really obvious and number them so they appear in order in the music library.
Your playlists should look something like this…
I play background music while guests are arriving to provide a bit of atmosphere. However some couples are really into their music and want to create a pre-wedding playlist of their own. This is totally fine – just make sure the person with the device arrives before the guests do.
If that’s you, your playlists will look something like this…
And if you are using recorded music for your whole ceremony you will likely follow with something like this…
- First dance
I also recommend removing all other music that is not being used on the day from the library. The less the DJ has to scroll through to find what they’re after, the better.
I recently came across the Wedding DJ app. I haven’t used it myself, but if your app-way inclined, it could be worth checking out.
- Choose Your DJ
Next you need to choose a reliable, relatively tech-savvy person to manage the music during the ceremony.
Don’t choose immediate family as they will want to sit right up the front and focus fully on the ceremony.
And don’t assume that because you’ve chosen someone that you believe is tech-savvy that they’ve necessary used the type of phone, device or music service that you’ve chosen before. Make sure you check that they are familiar with the device and music service beforehand and if they’re not, give them ample time to have a practice so that they feel confident on the day.
And remember that tech-savvy isn’t the only requirement for DJ. You want someone who can focus, can take instructions and will stay attentive throughout the ceremony waiting for their cue. They also need to be punctual and willing to arrive a little early on the day.
I sometimes get asked why I don’t manage the music myself. The answer is that I prefer to have the PA system to the side or at the back so that it isn’t an ugly feature in all your otherwise beautiful photos. This means it is too far out of my reach for me to control. Also, I have too much in my hands already holding the device that I read from and the microphone.
5. Leave the Rest to Me
So what happens on the day? If I haven’t already met your chosen DJ at the rehearsal, I will get the groom to introduce me to them on the day. I then give them a little run through on how to use the PA system (I have a big silver sticker on the volume control so they will never get confused about which knob to turn), what volume to use, how to fade in/out and the cues they need to follow. We then do a quick sound-check. This all only takes a few minutes and then they can chill until the ceremony is due to begin.