Wedding Daze

Wedding Entertainment

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Wedding professionals agree that good entertainment is the key to having a successful wedding.

When hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony, reception or any special occasion, start your search as soon as your date is set. Professional musicians, orchestras, bands, DJ's and soloists may be booked a year in advance. Here are some guidelines to use when making a decision about the type of music you want and whom to hire:

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  • The music should compliment your special event and not be too overpowering. Take into consideration the size of the venue and the acoustics.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for and check references of the performer you are considering. Chances are, if other people have been pleased with the musician, you will be too.

  • Take the time to audition musicians. This will give you an overall feel for their style of music and ‘on-stage presence'. Auditions can be in person, over the phone, by cassette tape or video. Audiotapes let you sample the style and expertise of the musician. Video additionally allows you to see the appearance of the performer. Make sure you like the quality of the music and that it is appropriate for your event.

  • If you have a particular selection you want included be sure to discuss this in advance with the musicians. Make sure they can honour your requests and will have enough time to get the music and rehearse.

  • For wedding ceremonies, always check with your Officiate before making selections. Some faiths or houses of worship do not allow secular (non-religious) music or particular selections. Knowing this in advance of hiring a ceremony musician will help you determine who to hire. Also, if you are getting married in a church, check with your Officials to make certain hiring a ceremony musician outside the congregation is permissible.

  • Discuss your expectations with musicians. Musicians should dress and present themselves according to the theme of your event. Be very clear on what duties you expect of the musician, such as when to play a certain selection. Be as detailed as possible, and get everything in writing. Don't leave anything to chance.

  • Amplification is important for any sizable events. Ask if the musicians are providing their own sound system and be sure it is electrically compatible with the venue or is battery operated.

  • Most importantly, look for a harmonious working relationship. If the musician is not responsive to your needs during consultation, keep looking.

Having trouble deciding on the type of entertainment you want at your wedding reception? Below is a list of the pros and cons of Bands and Disco's so you can consider what elements matter to you most: 

BAND Pros: Wedding Bands

  • There is nothing like live music in terms of sound quality.
  • You choose a band based on your own tastes and therefore the music will be more personalised to what you and your spouse like.
  • Live music can be more exciting and can get the crowd more involved.
  • A band can vary the speed of the songs, depending on the mood of your guests and the atmosphere you wish to create.
  • Different instrumental or vocal solos can also be played throughout the evening.

BAND Cons:

  • There is only a limited amount of songs a band can play.
  • The songs never sound the same as the original recordings.
  • If the musicians need to take a break, the music stops as well.
  • Bands can sometimes cost a lot more than a DJ.
  • It can seem more like a concert instead of an accent to your reception.  (Sometimes bands like to play loud even if you ask them to keep the volume at a reasonable level).

The best way to hire a great DJ is to pick one that you have seen and heard before or one that is recommended by friends. However, this is not always possible.

DISK JOCKEY Pros:

  • A DJ comes with a choice of hundreds of songs. Therefore, the DJ can play songs to cater to the varying tastes of several generations.
  • They will often cost much less than a band.
  • While the music is playing, the DJ can get out on the dance floor and rev up the guests.
  • Your special dances will be played exactly like you've heard them before.
  • There is no reason to have a break in the music.

DISK JOCKEY Cons:

  • Contracts can be misleading in terms of who will really be at your wedding.
  • It may take more effort to get the crowd engaged (versus a live performance).
  • Some guests may think a DJ is too casual for a formal reception.
  • You might not like the styles of music that are being played.

•  Once you have a list of DJ's talk to them. Pay attention to their professionalism on the phone and ask for literature and referrals.

•  Your wedding will most likely require music to satisfy all ages and musical tastes so ask about variety and the policy on requests.

•  Find out about equipment. A DJ should have professional sound equipment - not "home consumer" gear. If lighting is important to you, ask about these special effects.

•  A good DJ will take the time to explain how they will handle the details of the introductions, first dance, toast, blessing, cake cutting, bouquet & garter and special requested dances. They will be able to communicate well with you and should be willing to listen to your ideas and meet any special needs.

•  Your DJ should be familiar with most of the music you want and should know how to organize the reception within your guidelines. Try to determine if your DJ has the ability and willingness to "read" and motivate the crowd.

•  Most reputable DJ's will be willing to provide you materials, song lists and informational planning sheets.

•  Some will be willing to meet with you. Take advantage of these opportunities, as it will give you a chance to share your ideas, get suggestions and meet the DJ in person.

•  If a video is available, request to see it. Also be sure to check references and recommendations. Auditioning a DJ at a stranger's wedding in not usually practical. Remember, a good wedding is an individually customised event lasting 4 hours or more. To properly observe a DJ's show you need to stay for the entire time. 

The DJ may be providing activities and music as requested by the bride and groom and this may not be of the style or type that you require. Also, a good DJ is busy during a reception and usually cannot take time out to explain what is going on and why. Some DJ's also consider it tacky to invite strangers to a wedding just to solicit new business. You wouldn't want that at your wedding.

The perfect DJ will be affordable, experienced and have good references. He or she will know music, communicate in a friendly and helpful manner, and should be interested in what you and your guests want.

A professional DJ will be well attired; mix music types well and blend motivational dances & special activities with your requests. Your DJ should do it all with style, microphone presence and proper volume. The best weddings are classy yet fun, well-organised and well run. Above all, you want your wedding reception to be memorable, fun, worry-free and a good time for you, your family and your guests.

WEDDING MUSIC FOR THE CHURCH

Also see Booking a String Quartet for addvice on what to look out for when booking a String Quartet

Entering the church - 'Bridal March'

Entering the church most church organists will suggest the traditional and rather stately 'Bridal March' from Wagner's Lohengrin but you might like Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.

Signing of the register

This can take ten minutes, so you may like a good soprano singing an Ave Maria. Gounod's heavily romanticised, but very beautiful arrangement of a Bach solo keyboard work is probably the most popular, but Catholic Weddings still tend to opt for the more understated serenity of the Schubert. If you have a really good soprano or chorister you might like to emulate Royal weddings with Mozart's motet Exsultate, jubilate', 15 minutes of celebratory vocal fireworks for a high voice with a famous closing Alleluia. Perhaps the most sublimely beautiful of all vocal wedding favourites, Mozart's 'Laudate Dominium, from his Solemn Vespers has a soprano or boy treble solo soaring gloriously above a choir. All of these works can be accompanied by, or arranged for, organ piano. Our personal choice would be Britten's exquisite arrangements for two-voices and piano of Purcell's 'Sound of the Trumpet' lasting just three minutes or a tenor signing Franck's 'Panis Angelicus'. You could combine this with Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' or something non-choral, anything by Bach; perhaps of a solo cello suite, would be the ticket.

Leaving the church the processional

The most famous piece of music associated with weddings is, that favourite processional, the 'Wedding March' from Mendelssohn's' Midsummer Night's Dream. Prince Charles chose the fourth of Elgar's magnificent 'Pomp and Circumstance' Marches. But if that is too grand, Widows 'Toccata' is a wonderful way to leave a euphoric congregation. For more information: Try one of the popular monthly classical music magazines like the excellent Classic CD magazine published by Future Publishing, available at all good newsagents.
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