Music is a major part of your wedding and reception and should be planned and selected carefully. Music helps create the atmosphere. Special songs will make the wedding uniquely your own. The music should be determined by you and your fiancé, keeping in mind the type of guests attending, the budget you have to work with, and any restrictions placed on you by the church, synagogue or reception site.
Usually two different types of music are desired. Soft, romantic music sung or played during the ceremony. Entertaining or dance music is played for the reception. In some cases the same musicians may play both types. This is more common if the wedding and reception are in the same location. The alternative is to have one set of musicians or the church organist and soloist for the ceremony, and another group to play for the reception.
Before making any definite music arrangements or selections you should check with your church or synagogue to see what restrictions it may have. Today there is a wonderful variety of music. Combinations of instruments are available, such as harps and violins. You are not limited to a single soloist or organist.
The music should start about a half hour before the ceremony, usually instrumentals to set the mood, with a solo sung just after your mother is seated. This lets people know the processional is about to start. The processional will begin usually with an instrumental, sometimes a solo, which has a good regular beat to walk to.
Once the attendants have reached the altar, the music that announces the bride is played, commanding everyone's attention as you walk down the aisle. This selection can be traditional or contemporary and either an instrumental or a solo.
One or two songs may be played during the ceremony -- any more would be too many. Finally there is the recessional, which should be more upbeat and of a slightly quicker tempo.
Reception music can be any of a variety of types, depending on the mood you want set. You may want something a little softer for the first hour while guests are proceeding through the receiving line or enjoying cocktails, and then have the tempo pick up as the evening goes on. Or maybe you prefer solely violins, with no dancing. The types of musicians may range from one individual (such as a pianist), to a small combo of mixed instruments, to a larger orchestra of eight to 20 people.
Don't forget the ages of your guests. Try to select musicians who can play a variety of songs, from slower traditional numbers to 50s and rock and roll to faster contemporary music for dancing. It's a good idea to make a list of songs you would like played and give it to the band leader. Try to have a good mix of fast and slow songs. The band leader will be able to help you arrange and select appropriate songs, if needed. You should also discuss the timing of important announcements, such as the grand entrance, the first dance, cutting the cake, and throwing the bouquet and garter.
Recorded music is becoming more popular today. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the equipment and the people operating it have become much more professional. With the cost of live music so high, it's an economical alternative at about half the price. Other advantages are that it provides continued music, and the space requirements are minimal. Recorded music also provides a wide variety.