How much should we spend on music?

Many wedding planning experts recommend spending about 10% of your budget on music. This includes the sound equipment at the ceremony and reception, plus the band or DJ fees.

When should we book our wedding entertainment?

Great wedding bands and DJs book up fast. Ideally, you should book your entertainment 8-12 months prior to the big day in order to avoid disappointment.

Will the band bring their own food?

That’s very unlikely. Although you don’t need to invite the band members to sit with your guests and eat the same meal (which could end up costing a fortune), you should make sure that a simple meal has been prepared for them. Most caterers offer special packages with affordable meals for band members and vendors. Trust us, musicians get cranky when they’re hungry and you don’t want a cranky drummer at your reception.

If you don’t have any mates who are musicians who might be able to cut a deal for you, your next best bet might be hiring a DJ. Hiring one DJ, rather than a full band, cuts down costs in the area of fees and meals. It also means that a wide range of music can be played, rather than just one genre or style.

At which moments during the ceremony should music be played?

As guests are being seated, it is a good idea to play pre-ceremony music. The style of this music depends on the mood you intend to set. A traditional choice would be classical music but if you want to break away from tradition, something more upbeat is perfectly acceptable. The processional and recessional walks down the aisle call for a song – again, you can choose how closely you’d like to stick to tradition. Soft music is also often played while the marriage register is signed – this can be a good opportunity for your musically-talented friends to perform a sentimental song.

Can live music be played during the ceremony?

Of course! If you’d like a band to play the ceremony music, there is nothing stopping you. Just make sure that you have enough space for them to perform at the venue, without getting in the way of the proceedings or photographers. These days, some couples choose to play recordings of the traditional bridal march and classical songs, for the most part of the ceremony, and then have a friend play a more personal song, live, during the register signing.

Do I have to walk down the aisle to the Bridal March song?

Although the Bridal March is the song which is traditionally played during the processional, there is no rule or law stating that it is compulsory to do so. Think carefully when choosing your processional song, though. You may love a song today, but will you still love it 40 years from now, when you are watching your wedding video with your grandkids?

What are the most important factors to consider, when choosing our wedding music?

You and your partner should love the songs – that’s an obvious one. The music should all tie together with the overall theme and mood of the wedding – a waltz followed by hip hop may cause confusion, just as classical music at an informal beach wedding may not be appropriate. Another thing to consider is whether or not the music has a timeless element to it. A song’s popularity changes like the wind – especially the aptly named genre of pop music – that’s why it’s important to either choose a song that has stood the test of time or one that you believe will stand that test. Choose wisely or, years down the track, you might regret your wedding music choice.

We’re having a very traditional, sombre ceremony. Can the reception have more of a party-vibe?

Absolutely! It is often appropriate to have a more sombre mood at the ceremony and jubilant atmosphere at the reception. The two are not irreconcilable, so don’t worry! Just be careful not to mix too many sombre songs with celebratory ones as this may confuse guests and set a strange tone for the reception. Even with a very traditional white tie ceremony, you can get down and boogie to some very contemporary songs, if you’d like – it’s all about setting the mood and keeping the flow of that mood through wise song selections.

At which moments during the reception should music be played?

Most couples dance their first dance shortly after dinner, and then the guests are welcomed to join them on the dance floor. This is the main time slot where music is played at the reception. However, some couples choose to play a special song during the bouquet toss, their entrance and exit at the reception, as well as playing soft background music during dinner. It is sometimes a good idea to have music playing while the guests arrive and are waiting for the bridal party to finish up their nuptials photo shoot, too.

If we dance a very traditional bridal waltz for our first dance, do we have to play classical music for the rest of the evening?

Not necessarily. The first dance is a wedding tradition and, as such, it is sometimes appropriate to play traditional classical music, even if the rest of the evening doesn’t follow the same style. The thing you need to be careful about is chopping and changing between genres. Sporadically playing classical tunes, in between modern pop songs, could feel a little awkward.

What kind of music should be played during the first dance?

This is up to your discretion. As mentioned above, classical music is traditionally played for a bridal waltz but it really depends on whether or not you are a stickler for tradition and what dance style you are planning to adopt. Many couples have a song which they refer to as “their song” – this is always a popular choice. If you don’t have a sentimental song like this, try to find something that evokes the emotions and feelings you have for each other and that you will likely be feeling on your big day. Having said that, Anxiety by Pat Benatar is not the best option, despite how you might be feeling right now.

What kind of song should be used for the father-daughter/mother-son dances?

Try to find a song that symbolises the parent-child love that you have for one another (romantic songs are a no-go) or that symbolises your parents’ pride in this moment. Sentimental songs are always a good choice – perhaps a song that was playing on the radio during a significant bonding moment or a song that reminds you of a special memory with your mum or dad.
Should all of the dances, during the first dance, be danced to the same song?

If you’d like them to be, they can be danced to the same song – if you can’t find a song that is long enough, the band might be able to play a special extended version of the song. Otherwise, you can play different songs for the different dances – ensuring that some sort of flow is maintained, of course. Alternatively, you could ask a DJ or musician to compile a medley of a few different songs, which flow seamlessly together, into one mega-track, for your first dance.

Our guests are of varying ages. What style of music should we use?

This is a tricky one as young adults won’t necessarily want to jive to the tunes that get grandma’s feet tapping, and vice versa. You have a few options. One would be to play music from different eras, but make sure that there are a few elements that tie all of the different songs together – this could be a genre, such as jazz throughout the ages; or it could be a lyrical theme, such as ‘love at first sight’. Another option might be to play mostly older songs, which even the youngsters will recognise, and bring a retro vibe to the party. On the other hand, you could choose timeless songs, which are able to be danced to by people of all ages – this includes modern songs, which have a familiar beat, that your aunts, uncles and grandparents will be comfortable dancing to – trance and electro is probably out of the question.

Should the band or DJ bring their own equipment to the venue?

You will need to discuss this with the venue staff as well as the band or DJ. Many venues supply basic sound equipment which can be utilised. The musicians will often need to bring their own instruments, and DJs often need to bring their own turntable. They may want to bring additional speakers or sound equipment too, but you should discuss this with the venue staff first, as some venues have sound restrictions.

by Lauren Sargeant