Wedding Ceremonies/Receptions: Live Music?

I was asked to participate in a book being written by harpist Anne Roos that will be called “The Bride’s Guide to Musicians: Live Wedding Music Made Easy and Affordable”. It will be published by Hal Leonard sometime next year.

Below is the Q & A. I'm sure it will all be edited down, but it's good information in and of itself.

1. How AND why do you encourage brides to include live music for their wedding festivities? What do you feel are the benefits of a live music performance at a wedding, versus using a DJ, a stereo or iPod, or no music at all?

"I always encourage brides to have live music for their wedding ceremony, certainly. There is nothing that compares to the sound of real instruments being played at such an incredibly intimate and “once-in-a-lifetime” event. The sound of recorded music is sterile during a ceremony, and you never know if the person “pushing the button” will have the volume at the right level, or the correct song cued up."

"As for the cocktail hour and wedding reception, I always encourage them to find the absolute right ensemble for them. This is not always the typical wedding dance band, but something that is truly meaningful and relevant to them, and their guests. The musicians are interactive and lend an energy to the event that cannot be replicated by recorded music. If the bride want the original song performed, then they can use an iPod or hire a DJ for those specific times, as well as to play during breaks."

2. How do you find musicians to recommend to brides?

"I have an entertainment and talent booking agency that was born because I was getting called so much to perform as a violinist and jazz vocalist. I have over 500 musicians in my database, and I hand select the right musicians for each event and client."

3. If a bride wants live music, but she’s on a tight budget, what kinds of suggestions do you offer her so that she can still include live music at her wedding?

"I always suggest a soloist if nothing else over recorded music. A violinist, flutist, harpist, or even a cellist, guitarist, saxophonist can play the melody of any song ever written beautifully!"

4. What do you think a bride should look for in choosing a great musician, band, or ensemble?

"Look for their history, past performances for wedding ceremonies specifically because they are much different than playing through a straight hour of background music. Then check their website out and listen to their samples. Speak to the leader and get a sense for their professionalism and interest in your event, and talk with them about repertoire. If anything feels wrong, then move on to the next group. Referrals are always the best!"

5. What do you feel a bride should ask musicians before she decides to book them?

"What time they plan on arriving, what their set-up time will be, and if they’ll send a contract. This will set the tone for the event and make sure everyone has the correct timing in agreement. Everything should be agreed upon before a contract is signed, and a deposit paid, as they are usually non-refundable."

6. What suggestions do you offer to a bride if she cannot find the specific instrumentation that she is looking for?

"Instrumentation is important in a lot of cases, but if the instrument can be replaced with another like-sounding instrument or an instrument in a similar range, they should be encouraged to consider that. For instance, a violin and a flute play in the same range, and have a similar ability for execution of a piece."

7. What suggestions do you offer to brides about how to communicate with musicians so that everything goes smoothly on her big day?

"A bride should have every detail planned out with the leader of the group including the following:

  • Exact Physical address and directions to the venue

  • The name or location within the venue where they are to perform

  • Load in time, location and instructions

  • What kind of furniture, amplification and protection from the elements are needed?

  • How many attendants are processing before the bride including ring bearer and flower girl?

  • Exact repertoire for the ceremony (and suggestions and guidelines for the prelude music)

  • How long after the recessional piece do they want the group to perform for as people are leaving the ceremony site?

This will insure that everyone knows what’s expected of them."