Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito discusses wedding music, playlists, and turning moments into memories.
A few weeks back I asked readers what that wanted to see on the blog. The team at Soyulla Artists said, "Music, of course! An often-overlooked topic among the many other beautiful things to consider for the big day."
I could not agree more! Music is so much a part of our daily lives that it often gets overlooked as one of those things that will just be there because, well, it just always is. But a thoughtful selection of ceremony music and a well planned play list can elevate your wedding and ensure that certain moments will never be forgotten by you or your guests.
Today, anyone with a laptop or iPhone could fancy themselves a "DJ" but it takes thought and skill to really create a set list that will move and inspire people. Here are some things to consider:
1. Setting the Stage with Seating & Ceremony Music
One of the first sensory experiences your guests will have at the wedding is the music they hear upon arrival. Classical music let's people know that they are about to experience a traditional, formal affair. Contemporary love songs and instrumentals are great for couples with a more modern vibe and fashion forward way of thinking. Theatrical songs such as movements from Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis are dramatic at stirring.
For the ceremony itself, the options are endless. While I love classics such as "Here Comes the Bride" I am always moved when couples select songs that mean something to them. When I got married my bridal party walked out to the instrumental love theme from The Notebook, which was the first movie my husband and I ever watched together. The tune was familiar, but in that "where have I heard this" kind of way that made the moment about us, and not the movie.
One thing I recommend people stay away from is anything that is on the current Top 40. Unless there is a direct connection to you as a couple, it will ultimately sound dated and you may end up hating the song after it's been played for the 3 millionth time on the radio.
2. Important Moments, important Songs, and the importance of a Timeline.
There are few greater calls to action than when the music changes. Guests notice immediately, and their attention shifts to whatever the song calls for. While planning your wedding be certain to work with your master of ceremonies and musical team to coordinate which songs you would like played at which moments. In some cases you can be fairly general. For example, as that they play "sultry jazz" during the cocktail hour and "old standards" while guests are dining. Other milestone moments call for specific music played at a very specific time, and in a certain way. Be sure to select songs for the following: The bridal party announcement into the reception, your first dance (obviously), parent dances, and the cake cutting.
There are two other music moments that I always suggest couples include. The first is to get everyone dancing. I recommend calling all guests out to the dance floor for a group photo. Then, once the photographer gets the shot, the music erupts into a big dance number that all generations can enjoy. Everyone is up already, and the dancing will happen naturally without any of that awkward, "Should we dance?" stuff happening.
The other is the last song of the night. Again, I like to have something that all generations can connect you and enjoy. Some couples want something slow and sentimental. In this case, I've suggested "That's What Friends Are For" and gathered the entire group of guests in a circle around the couple. The can go and shake hands, hug and kiss everyone, and it really ends the night with the couple being surrounded by love and light. Other couples want to blow it out big and have a high energy finish. If you're like me (Italian and from New York!) that means Donna Summer's "Last Dance" or the newly remixed Chicago song "Don't Stop Believin''" which I am kinda crazy about.
Have each song noted on the timeline across from the moment it's meant to celebrate, and create a playlist for yourself in advance so you can hear how all of the sounds play off of each other. Then, if you'd like, you can even burn it as a favor, upload it, or share it with your videographer for use in your highlight reel, etc.
3. Live Music vs Band
It's an age-old question, isn't it? To some, only a full band will do. Others prefer a DJ for high every, lights, and the ability to mix music styles & genres throughout the night. So which is best? In all honesty, I have been to wedding with killer DJs. I've been to weddings with amazing bands that absolutely rocked the house! And I've been to weddings and other galas were the entertainment was less than what you would want. The biggest factor in your decision is going to be that intangible thing that either clicks, or doesn't. Your musical team will naturally turn into the Master of Ceremonies, calling your guests to move through the timeline, leading them to the dance floor, the cake, the bar and beyond. Be certain that your personality clicks with the leader, and that you establish early on if you want them to interact with the crowd, or if you prefer them to be more reticent on the mic.
Personally, I like a mix of live and electronic music. There is something that a band brings to the table that simply cannot be reproduced. But even the greatest band - especially the greatest band - needs a break. And at those times having a top quality DJ step in and really take the party to another level with club-like sound and lighting. In fact, it is a spectacular way to have a "changing of the guard" so to speak....Live music and dancing with family and friends, and then a killer DJ for the late night "after party" that runs into the early hours of the morning!
What music are you planning on for your wedding? Whatever it is, dance your heart out and make some memories!