Eastwood Productions


Wedding FAQ

Ceremony Music Suggestions   |   Reception Music Suggestions   


This guide will assist you in selecting the appropriate music for your wedding. Music for weddings can typically be divided into three phases: the ceremony, the cocktail and/or dinner hour, and the main reception. Oftentimes they have contrasting musical styles to reflect the different atmosphere of each stage.

The Ceremony:
Usually the music begins fifteen to thirty minutes before the start of the ceremony to set the atmosphere as your guests arrive.

Here are some options to consider: solo organ, harp, classical guitar, flute and guitar, organ plus vocalist or trumpet, woodwind trio, string quartet, brass quintet, woodwind quintet.

How do we choose selections for the ceremony? Check with the officiating clergy for any musical restrictions they may have and also for their recommendations. Many record stores have a wedding section containing CDs of music suitable for wedding ceremonies. Wedding planning books and bridal magazines often have wedding ceremony song lists. One excellent method is to ask your musical group for suggestions. This works well because they will provide you with selections that they know, like and play well. They oftentimes have suggestions you wouldn’t think of. And, of course, some people opt for traditional selections: Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from “Lohengrin” (“Here Comes The Bride”) for the processional and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the recessional. See our wedding ceremony musical suggestions.

Cocktail/Dinner Hour:
Often the music is subdued and is strictly background music. Options include solo piano, guitar, and harp. Consider having one or more of the musicians that will be playing for the reception play for the cocktail hour. That’s usually the most cost effective option. If the full band will be playing during dinner, consider volume and dancing. Sometimes caterers prefer to not have any dancing while dinner is being served.

After the meal, the focus is often on dancing. See our wedding reception musical suggestions for the bride and groom dance and parent dances.

Preliminary Decisions:
How important is the music? Do you want it to be in the background, the focus of the event, or somewhere in between? What kind of atmosphere do you wish to create: subdued, sophisticated, informal, formal, upbeat? Then consider the musical styles that compliment that atmosphere: swing, pop, rock, top 40, folk, classical, salsa, etc. Whose tastes do you want the music to cater to: bride and groom, their parents, the guests, all of those? Consider making a list of songs that you’d like to have played. Then you can then compare that to the play list of the band or dj.

Time Considerations:
For receptions, four hours is standard for a band. Time in excess of four hour is typically considered overtime. Be aware of “crossover” times: bands sometimes play two engagements in a day (e.g. 1 - 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. - midnight); if your reception is from 4 - 8 p.m., a band can only play one engagement that day, so be prepared to pay more.

Location Considerations:
If your wedding is being held outdoors, what are your contingency plans in case of inclement weather? Will you have a tent or will the event be moved indoors? Remember that dry ground is necessary if electricity is required. Consider the effect of direct sunlight and wind on the guests and performers. When do we begin looking for musical groups? As soon as you’ve decided on a date (or perhaps earlier). Music for weddings is often reserved six months to a year in advance.

How do we find the appropriate musical groups?
At similar functions you attend. Ask people whose judgment you trust: friends, neighbors, and associates. Ask your wedding planner or consultant for recommendations. Call entertainment agencies. Check advertisements in your local entertainment publications. Some entertainment newspapers, e.g. The Boston Phoenix, publish a band guide that lists hundreds of bands, djs and entertainment agencies. Check the yellow pages under bands and orchestras, entertainment agencies, musicians, disk jockeys. Call your local musician’s union. Ask the function manager at your venue and your officiating clergy for recommendations. Call the music department of local colleges/universities or music schools: many have a referral office. Ask other bands. Utilize Internet sites such as www.booklivemusic.com. Do you have friends, relatives or acquaintances that perform? Consider carefully whether you would want them to!

Is it better to deal with individual musicians/bands or through an entertainment agency? There’s no hard and fast rule. Entertainment agencies normally have many different groups and can sometimes save you time in finding the most appropriate group, within your price range, that’s available. On the other hand, they are often geared to traditional wedding bands and may not provide the personalized service that you may get dealing directly with the musicians.

How do we select a band or disk jockey?
Ask them questions, review their song lists, review their audio or videotapes, see their live performances, call their references, etc. In the end, make certain that you’re confident they’ll do an excellent job and that you’re comfortable dealing with them!

Here are some items to consider. Is their volume level appropriate? Is the personnel you saw or heard the same that will be at your wedding? What is their stage presence like? Is there a good emcee? Are they willing to learn any special songs for your wedding? Can they adapt to the atmosphere you’ve selected: low key, informal, formal?

Expect to pay a deposit of from ten to fifty percent, with the balance normally due on the day of the wedding. The contract should include the date, time, location, group name, number of musicians, and any other items that are important to you.

If you plan using these guidelines, you will have music on your wedding day that is unforgettable! We hope this guide was helpful to you.

Should you have any questions regarding music for your wedding, feel free to contact us at any time.

Copyright © 2003 Eastwood Productions