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Wedding Musicians Music has the power to alter mood and emotion; to create ambiance and unite. Choosing your wedding day musicians can ...

How to Choose Your Wedding Musicians

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Wedding Musicians
Music has the power to alter mood and emotion; to create ambiance and unite. Choosing your wedding day musicians can seem a daunting task, with a wide variety in musical styles and performance techniques, how do you choose a performer or band than will best suit your occasion? Our author has played at hundreds of wedding celebrations; each one unique yet sharing some common threads; here’s her advice for choosing the right musicians for your special event.

1. Decide on when you want music to be played on your wedding day. Here are some suggestions:

Before the ceremony - as guest assemble in the ceremony venue.

The ceremony – as the Bride enters the ceremony venue, the lighting of unity candles, signing the register and as the newlyweds exit the venue.

The cocktail reception – as guests clamour to congratulate the newlyweds, as the photographer get underway and as the happy couple and their guests begin to relax into the celebrations of the day.

During dinner – ambient background music is the perfect choice.
Following the speeches and formalities – music at this point signals the end of ceremony and the beginning of evening celebration.

At the evening reception – as the day/evening progresses it is traditional to switch from ambient music to party entertainment either through live music or more commonly a DJ.

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2. Define your wedding day. Are you having a religious ceremony, perhaps a church wedding? Some wedding venues, especially churches, are particular about what music they will allow at their venue, so check first with your celebrant. Is yours a modern wedding with a less formal and/or non-religious focus perhaps in a hotel, abroad, on a beach or registry office? Many modern wedding have a balance of both, a religious ceremony followed by an informal, relaxed celebration. Ok, now you’ve decided when you want music to be played and what types of music might be appropriate, let’s move on:

3. Choose your songs. Choosing your wedding day music can seem a daunting task. How do you express your emotions without "over doing" it? How do you respect the musical preferences of 2 or 3 different generations? Opting for acoustic music can often help to bridge the gap between intimate ambiance and modern music. The popularity of acoustic music has increased dramatically in recent years with artists across the globe and from all genres finding beauty in abridged expression and produced their intimate offerings. Acoustic music has the power to simplify even the most complex music and deliver a fresh, modern and understated version of your favourite songs. Acoustic musicians are highly talented, they have to be, after all there’s no big backing sound for them to hide behind! Acoustic wedding music brings a relaxed and unique ambiance to your wedding day without overpowering it; remember it is YOUR day, not the musicians showcase! 

4. Short list your musicians. Choosing the right style: Acoustic music is extremely popular for weddings because it is unimposing and subtle, can be adapted and is flexible. Other popular styles include Classical or Jazz music played on a piano/keyboard or by string musicians. More traditional ceremonies might opt for a solo soprano or tenor singer. When short listing musicians you should have a clear idea of the styles of music they offer and a detailed set list, sometimes called a repertoire. TIP: a larger repertoire usually indicates a more experienced artist(s). It is not unusual for very experienced musicians to have more than 300 songs available and these should cross a diverse range of musical styles.

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Opt for a professional: Professional musicians should have a detailed website; they’re professional business people! A professional’s website should include the following information: images of them playing live, audio samples of their music and maybe even video samples of their live performance. A detailed set list so that you can see what music they currently play. A simple method of contact.

Where and when they work – professional musicians are full-time and will often travel far and wide to get to your wedding!

Check out their level of experience – how many wedding have they performed at? Weddings are unique and often a musician has to quickly move from one venue to another – wedding celebrations take a great deal of planning and organisation for the musician – experience matters!

Searching for musicians: The web is the best place to search for professional musicians. Use a reputable search engine to help you. Say, for example, you have decided that you want acoustic wedding music and you’re getting married in the Algarve – search wedding music Algarve or maybe acoustic wedding music.

View websites, not forgetting to use the pointers above to help you assess whether you’re dealing with a professional musician or not. * Once you’ve found musicians’ websites use this checklist: How many songs and song styles match well to your song choices? Will the musician(s) learn a song especially for you? AVOID ones that won’t. How long do they play for? Weddings are unique and musicians often played extended sets – let’s look at this point in more detail: Say, for example, you want music at your ceremony, at the cocktail reception and through or after dinner, it is very unlikely that the traditional sets of 2 x 45 minutes will suffice. AVOID musicians who stipulate that they play 2 x 45 minute sets! In the example above you would need up to an hour at the ceremony, 60-90 minutes at the cocktail reception and 60-90 minutes during or after dinner – that’s up to 4 hours for the musician; which is why the experienced musician has such a large repertoire! Tips for assessing audio and video examples of a musicians work: AUDIO: do audio samples fairly represent the music that can be delivered? For example: say you’re viewing the website of an acoustic duo – does their music sample have instrument sounds that wouldn’t be appropriate on your day – a drum machine in church! VIDEO: Does the website show video samples of the act playing live?

TIP: avoid musicians who position themselves in the front line of your wedding ceremony. This is YOUR wedding day and you should be the primary focus – not your wedding musicians! YOUR day should not be a talent showcase for the musician – ceremony musicians should always be situated at the back of your ceremony venue and not be seen using the alter as a stage area!

5. Contact your shortlisted musicians. Contact information should be readily available on a musician’s website. Give as much detail as you can to ensure you get the most appropriate advice. Minimum information should include the following: Date of wedding , Wedding venue with full address, Time of wedding (musicians need to be at your venue at least 1 hour before you arrive to set up and sound check). When you want the musician to play and for how long. If you have a special request – make sure that they will be able to perform it. How many guests.

TIP: not all musicians have suitable equipment for large venues! Don’t be afraid to ask the musician what equipment he has and check the suitability for your venue or wedding party size. Are references available from previous clients?

6. Make your final choice. Make sure you are happy with your selection. Some people prefer to talk in person with a musician – it helps to build understanding and confidence. Prices vary – expect to pay a good duo around £250-£300 for a ceremony only. £450-£550 for a ceremony & cocktail reception and £700 – 900 ceremony, cocktail and either dinner or after dinner music.

7. Keep in contact. Ask for a full set list. Select your songs. Discuss any special requirements. TIP: Leading wedding musicians have played at lots of weddings. Their experience is valuable and readily available. Ask for help and advice when choosing your music.
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