Sure your dress should be to die for and your wedding color palette is critical, but at the end of the party it's the music that makes your wedding memorable. After all, music is a key factor during almost every moment of the day, from the walk down the aisle to the cocktail hour and your reception finale. More important, it's a reflection of your personalities. Whether it's searching for the perfect string ensemble for your ceremony or picking a big brass band for a swinging reception, the music matters. So make it count. From volume control to song choice, here's what to watch out for.
Starting the Ceremony in Silence
Because of the focus on your big entrance, it's easy to forget that chunk of wedding ceremony
time before you appear. There will likely be 20-30 minutes where your guests will be waiting for the service to start -- don't try their patience with absolute silence. Music Must
Be sure to book your ceremony music for at least 45 minutes before you begin your processional. This prelude music should be consistent with the other songs chosen for your ceremony, but don't feel the urge to go strictly classical. Pop songs are a popular option, from James Taylor and Sarah McLachlan to Coldplay and Maroon 5.
Skipping the Sound Check
With destination weddings
growing more popular, brides and grooms have to consider making remote locations microphone-friendly. Be sure to carefully assess the setting when coordinating with performers. Crashing waves could easily drown out a string quartet or trio of flutes, and a windy mountain peak could render even the strongest voice silent. Music Must
Put this on your checklist of questions to ask the location's event manager. He'll have experience with the space and know its acoustic limitations. It's important to be flexible. Though you may have your heart set on a harp, losing the music entirely will be far more disappointing.
Offending your Officiant
It may be your wedding day, but unfortunately it's not your church. When it comes to ceremony music, many churches and synagogues have certain rules and regulations that will affect your choice of tunes that can be played as you walk up the aisle.Music Must
It's common for religious congregations to prohibit either secular songs or ones by a composer with a reputation for anti-Semitism. Some may also ban electric music entirely or take issue with an orchestra at the altar. So speak to your wedding officiant before you have a classical version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" composed for your wedding's ceremony.
The Unending First Dance
You may have fallen in love to "Free Bird" but imagine how long nine minutes and eight seconds will feel alone on the dance floor. Pay careful attention to your love song's length before committing to it for your first dance. Music Must
Time your song and practice dancing to it. Even four minutes can kill you if you're just rocking back and forth. If your heart is set on a certain ballad, look into having it cut down to a reasonable length. You can either work on this with your DJ, find a local music studio, or if you know your way around iTunes, you can download the song and do it yourself.
The Painful Past Song
While you should trust your DJ or band to guide the music, it's a good idea to provide a short must-play list and, perhaps more important, a short do-not-play list. You certainly don't want a song with painful associations to pop up unexpectedly. Music Must
Start by consulting with your DJ on what types of music you like and dislike. Then sit down with your FI and go through your music to create the must-play and do-not-play lists. You are each allowed veto power, of course. If you decide to use a band, give them ample time to review your list, in case they have to add a song to their repertoire. If your must-play list gets too long (say, more than 10 songs), create a third list. This can be more of a wish list of songs you'd like to be played only if your guests respond positively to them. Hand over the lists and then leave the rest up to your DJ. And don't micromanage (that's why you hired him!).
Blowing Out the Speakers
Despite the presence of alcohol and all your college friends, a wedding shouldn't resemble a frat party. Club-level volume during the reception will frustrate older family members and make it impossible for your guests to talk to one another.Music Must
When coordinating the playlist with your band or DJ, be sure to give input on volume for the various transitions: low for chatting during dinner, loud for the final song, "Livin' On A Prayer." On the wedding day, leave yourself stress-free and ask a bridesmaid or your day-of consultant to keep volume on her radar. One of them can serve as the point person for dealing with the DJ based on your requests.
Playing Punk Songs During Dinner
Sure you want to hear everything in your iTunes collection, but don't destroy your sit-down dinner because you had to fit "I Wanna Be Sedated" in there somewhere. Music should fit the mood of the moment. Music Must
Stick with instrumentals or soft ballads during your cocktail hour and then transition into the dance party with whatever suits you. An expert band or DJ will know what songs fit each moment. Work with them to pick an appropriate number of dinner-friendly selections so your guests can digest without the pressure of Van Halen screaming "Right Now!"
Rocking Out to R-rated Songs
Yes, these are more liberal times, but be careful not to confuse progressive with perverted. This is your day, and you shouldn't focus on pleasing everyone with your musical selection, but there's a glaring line you should avoid crossing. "Humpty Dance" -- fair. "The Thong Song" -- pushing it. Music Must
Beyond blatant profanity, really consider the song's lyrics and meaning. There may be a very innocent inside joke behind your choice of "The B**** Is Back," but Aunt Mary from Minnesota will be on the outside, and so will your flower girl. Keep it to a sensible PG-13 for best results among all age groups.
Too Much of a Good Thing
You both may truly love late '80s hair bands, but five full hours of Def Leppard and someone might actually go deaf. A night of Nirvana or a rap-based reception is just as bad. Music Must
Including your favorite genre is perfectly fine, but do so in moderation. Your wedding is a celebration of your relationship -- one that likely involves music -- but it's also a gift to share with family and friends. Keep them in mind when developing your playlist. Throw your parents a thank you with Frank Sinatra's "Chicago," or Huey Lewis & The News here and there. Seeing them enjoy the night will be well worth a little Bobby Darin.
-- Jessie Rosen
See More: Wedding Music + Dancing