Updated: Sep 17, 2020
Should you and your partner say ‘I do’ to live music?
Quick spoiler alert: the answer is (and will always be) a big old yes.
For a more detailed breakdown of the when, where, why, how (and answers to some of your live-music-during-the-ceremony questions), we recommend you sit back, crank your favourite romantic song and read on.
.... And just like that, it’s time for our VERY FIRST blog post. To get the blog-ball rolling, we thought we’d start at the top with the main event and reason for the season … the wedding ceremony (and the beautiful live music that goes with it).
It’s a privilege to do my job. I get to play music all around the world at wondrous weddings, celebrating love and singing lovers down the aisle, with my gorgeous husband Jamie on the double bass beside me. I feel extremely lucky.
And, I adore performing. Each song steals a bit of my heart and a little piece of my soul - and as an emotional lady (I feel all the things), I can’t help but be drawn to the timeless romance of the wedding ceremony itself. Which is why I want to share some of my thoughts, advice and experiences with you, to (hopefully!) answer a few of your questions, guide some decisions and help you to choose the perfect soundtrack for your ceremony.
First things first - why should I choose live music?
As a wedding singer, my life is live music. It’s my passion, the thing I love most and the thing that gets me out of bed (and often into a taxi and onto a plane). So, it may be fairly obvious that I’m all for it during a ceremony. However, I’m not the only one! Whether you have a string quartet or a solo guitar, a seven-piece jazz band (or little old us) – live music creates a calm, lush vibe and adds so much bliss-ness to your day. Want your ceremony to feel personal and unique? Choose live music. Want a dreamy atmosphere and (happily) weeping guests? Choose live music. Want incredible sound that’s not compromised by sub-par speakers? Choose live music. Want to relieve Uncle Brian of his agonising, high-stress ‘press play when we give the signal and don’t forget to fade-out when I stop walking or else the ceremony will be ruined’ duties? You know the drill – choose live music.
Professional musicians remove the stress of possible timing, technology or Uncle Brian-related fails. Let them know what you want (and exactly when you want it) and they’ll put everything they have into perfecting their performance and nailing the timing, leaving you with more time to focus on what really matters … marrying that delicious creature at the end of the aisle.
When should the live music play – and how many songs should I choose?
Generally speaking, you’ll have a few different songs throughout your ceremony. A typical ceremony includes a walking down the aisle song, a signing of the register song and a song to walk out to (as married people! Woah!) There’s also the option of a mid-ceremony song, which I’ve described in more detail (in its own little section) further down the blog.
It’s really important to choose songs that make you feel all the feels - songs that bring back good memories and celebrate all the living and loving you’ve done as a couple. You might want to walk in to a heartstring-tugger, sign the register to something sweet, then walk out to something more fun and upbeat. Whatever you do, make it personal, make it memorable, make it yours. Music lives in the soul – so if it feels right, then it is right.
Along with your chosen tunes, I’d recommend 15-30 minutes of pre-ceremony music to give your musicians the chance to warm up and keep the crowd entertained while they wait for your lovely self to float down the aisle. Music throughout the canapés (if you’re having them) is always a nice touch, and if you’re relocating to a new spot at any stage, make sure your musicians are kept in the loop - and are given enough time to relocate!
What about equipment? I’ve only just learnt what an AUX cord is … HELP.
Equipment doesn’t have to be stressful! For us, if we’re playing a wedding close to home then we provide all the equipment we need. If it’s somewhere more remote – like a forest without power – we have an amazing rechargeable speaker that we bring. If we’re off to an exotic destination wedding, that’s where we’ll need a bit of help. But don’t panic – venues often have equipment on site (although you might want to double-check quality), or if you have a wedding planner, just put them in touch with your musicians to organise everything they’ll need. If you’re planning it yourself, then the same applies – just contact your performers, ask for a list of what they’ll need and then talk to the venue (or a helpful youth at a tech-shop). Works every time.
Who walks out to my walking-out song? Do I have to share it with the bridal party, or can I have my own? What about the page-kids?
There is no right, wrong or standard answer for this one – but I’ll lay out a few thoughts that might help clarify your options and help you to decide.
If your aisle is long – say, in a lush garden or a large church – then it’s pretty safe to have a separate song for the crew who’ll be walking before you. Bridal party and page-kids walk to one song, then you glide along to your own.
If your aisle is on the shorter side (between three – ten metres) then it would pay to think about a few of the specifics first - like how many bridal-party-aisle-walkers you have. If your aisle is short and your bridal party small – I’d suggest keeping it simple with one song for everyone. Humans need a little bit of time to develop feelings – it’s not always instant – so it’s better to let your audience get emotionally invested in one glorious song, rather than jolting them too quickly out of one and into another.
Another thing to consider is where you’ll be when your bridal party walks. Will you be hidden from view, or standing in plain sight? If your audience can see you waiting – then you can probably see them, too. In this instance, I’d suggest one song for everyone, as seeing the crowd + nervous energy = a Usain Bolt down the aisle. If you have a barrier between you and the crowd (a closed door? A wall? A nice hedge?) then you can buy yourself a bit more time. Your musicians can give the first song the time it deserves, then begin your second song and then you can appear when when you’re ready.
If you want to test this, pop on the original version of the song you want played and visualise yourself at your wedding. Imagine Tobi Tobi has just started playing 'Can't Help Falling in Love’ (an absolute classic), and your best friends are walking ahead of you, down the aisle. How long does it take them to get to the end? Are they walking fast or slow? Say we’ve only reached the end of verse one and they’re already at the end of the aisle – would you be sad to end the song there? If it’s a yes, then there’s your answer. One song done well sounds perfect for you. And remember things tend to move faster on the day. With all the nerves and excitement, it’s highly likely your aisle-walk (and your song) will be over sooner than you think.
What is a mid-ceremony song? Should I have one?
A mid-ceremony song is pretty much as it sounds – it’s a song designed to break up some of your readings, sermons or speeches. They’re a big thing in Europe, and are starting to appear in Southern Hemisphere weddings too. If you’re interested in the idea, I’d recommend just having one or two. Choose songs special to your relationship, or songs that make you both feel good. Keep it short – no more than two minutes of each song (enough to feel the feels, not enough to send minds wandering) and use the time as a moment of reflection – a chance to breathe, to look around at your gorgeous family and friends, and to give your partner a big saucy wink / gaze lovingly into their soul.
Final thoughts …
Your ceremony will be filled with incredibly special moments – moments with and for you, your partner and the people you love most. These moments were always going to happen … but with the right musicians, it can feel as though they’ve been elevated and celebrated. Music makes life’s moments beautiful.
As a musician myself, I do everything I can to bring magic to the day. And a lot of the time, this is made possible by speaking directly to you – the stars of the show. Many acts are booked through agents, which can be helpful and sometimes necessary, but I’m a big believer in forging a connection with my couples and getting a feel for who they are and what they want. More and more musicians are now operating without agents, so if you like the sound of someone – reach out to them! They’ll love it. And if they don’t – there’s plenty more insane talent out there, just waiting to hear from you.
If you’d like to know more, or if there’s anything vital I’ve missed, please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.