I guess one of the main / only decisions to make when it comes to your wedding music is whether you want to go with live music or not. Obviously being a musician, I would love to think that everybody would want live music at their wedding. However there are several factors to consider and ultimately you've got to go with what you want because...well...it's your wedding?!
So #1 - What vibe do you want to create?
By the time your wedding comes around I would have hoped you'd have a pretty good idea about what you and your partner enjoy when it comes to music. Do you enjoy going to live gigs, do you prefer clubbing or being in a bar with some chilled background music? What style of music do you enjoy?
Of course on your wedding day you have to take your guests into consideration; I'm not suggesting if you and your partner are into techno music you turn your wedding reception into a rave. However, you need to enjoy the day/night too and if your idea of a nightmare is hearing a DJ knocking out cheesy pop music, don't book a cheesy wedding DJ. It seems obvious, but it's amazing how many couples have booked a particular band or DJ because their parents suggested it or because their friends said that's what they should do.
So firstly, decide on the vibe you want to create.
#2 – Don’t cut corners with your entertainment.
Organising a wedding isn't cheap (I know) and although you can cut a few corners here and there to save some pennies, there are some corners that you just shouldn't try and cut. Music is one of them. I was amazed to read in a recent article how poorly music ranked on a Bride's priority list; below stationery?! Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure wedding stationery has its merits, but I'd love to see it keep your guests entertained all evening. They would have to be some pretty impressive place cards!
If you really want a live band but your budget does not allow for it, consider a duo or a trio. I would definitely recommend quality over quantity and I guess like most things in life...you get what you pay for! So considering for the most part, it's the music that is going to be keeping your guests entertained all night. Is it really something you want to take a chance on?
Which brings me to #3 - Check it out for yourself.
I have been booked countless times through recommendations which I think is often the best way to book a musician. However, I would strongly suggest going to check it out for yourself. I always encourage couples to come along to one of my public gigs to make sure I'm right for their wedding. Granted some wedding musicians do not play public gigs, but at least have a good nosey on their website and check out some of their videos before making a decision.
#4 – Create a memorable soundtrack.
A movie can have a great script, amazing actors and a beautiful setting but it’s always going to fall short without a killer soundtrack! Music really does help to elevate those important moments throughout your special day.
There are certain key songs that require your input, such as the Bridal Entry Song and the First Dance. And there are other moments throughout the day that really benefit from having songs played such as during the Signing of the Register, Recessional song and a tune for the Bridal Party entering the Reception. All of these songs I would suggest you either choose yourself or discuss with your musician / DJ.
As far as the evening / party music goes – I would try and avoid micro managing this too much. Unless you are planning on having a DIY playlist (which I wouldn’t particularly recommend), you will have booked a professional musician or DJ to take care of this. So trust them and let them do their job. All top wedding musicians and DJs have tried and tested songs and can read the crowd in order to keep the dance floor pumping. However, this is by no means to say that you shouldn’t have any input into the songs that are played. I personally send my couples my song list and ask if there are any songs that they definitely do /do not want me to play. I then ask them for a handful of special requests. If I know how to play them live I will put them in the set. If not, I add them to a playlist for during breaks or I offer (what is turning out to be my most popular option), a half live / half DJ set.
If you would like a rundown of how I generally structure the music on a wedding day you can read more here...
#5 – Leave it to the professionals.
On the day of your wedding the last thing you want is to be worrying about certain elements (i.e. is the musician going to turn up? Is the music ready for the bridal entrance? Did I just see my new wife disappear into the toilets with the lead guitarist???)
I suppose the best way to combat this is to book smart (this goes for all vendors). Book a professional musician who regularly performs at weddings and/or prestigious events. You want somebody there on the day who is competent at their job and who will not crumble under pressure. It's a wedding; not everything runs to plan and I think it's priceless having somebody on hand to oversee the music and completely take that stress away from the bride and groom.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is...book me. I'm experienced, reliable and I won’t run off with one of the bridesmaids!
Lee Gray was awarded Solo Wedding Musician of the Year at the 2020 Global WeddingAwards. Lee has performed at hundreds of weddings across New Zealand and is considered an expert in the industry.
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