Wedding Music: Frequently Asked Questions

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Couples often have a lot of questions when planning their wedding music.

To help make the wedding planning process a little easier, we’ve complied the following list of the most frequently asked questions:

Matthew Lister Wedding Guitarist

Q: When should I play music during my wedding ceremony?

A: Music is played during three moments in the wedding ceremony: the prelude, processional and recessional. Prelude music is played 15-30 minutes before the wedding ceremony starts, processional music is played while the bridal party is walking down the aisle and recessional music is played after the ceremony is over and the bridal is making their exit. Sometimes music is also be played during specific moments in the ceremony, such as a sand ceremony.

Q: When should I book a musician/DJ for the wedding ceremony?

A: Musicians/DJs should be hired between nine months to one year before the wedding day. Some musicians/DJs will make accommodations though for last minute bookings if their schedule is open.

Wedding Music Frequently Asked QuestionsQ: Should I hire a live musician or a DJ for my wedding ceremony?

A: This all depends on the couple and what they want for their ceremony. With a DJ, you can play the original song in the original voice of the person who sang it but you’ll often have to abruptly cut songs short while transitioning to other moments in the ceremony. A live musician can taper a song off when transitioning to another part of the ceremony or slowly segue into another song all together.

Q: Should I ask to hear the musician or DJ perform before I hire them?

A: Absolutely. You want to make sure the musician/DJ can actually deliver what they promise. Request an audio track or video of them performing. Most professional musicians will have music samples of their work available for potential clients. If you can’t find a video of the DJ performing, ask to attend one of their upcoming events.

Q: How much does a wedding musician cost?

A: Wedding musicians can cost anywhere between $100-$1000, depending on the musician, location, etc. Soloist are usually the least expensive and bands or quartets are the most expensive. For more info on hiring wedding musicians, check out our article: How Much Does a Wedding Ceremony Musician Cost?

Q: What is the prelude?

A: Prelude music is performed before the ceremony, while the guests are arriving. This music is typically background music that sets the tone of the wedding and keeps the guests entertained while they wait for the ceremony to start.

Q: When should I start playing prelude music at my wedding?

A: Prelude music is usually played 15-30 minutes before the wedding ceremony starts.

Q: What type of music should I play during the prelude?

A: Prelude music is often pleasant, lighthearted background music. Love songs or just songs with pretty melodies make great prelude songs. Some examples of popular prelude songs are:

Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 – Johann Sebastian Bach
Air on a G String – Johann Sebastian Bach
Romanza – Anonymous
Sonata in A – Domenico Scarletti
Water Music – George Frederick Handel
The Harmonious Blacksmith – George Frederick Handel

Q: How many songs should I play during the processional?

A: Generally, two songs are played during the processional: one for the bridal party and one for the bride. An additional third song may be added for the bridal party if the party is abnormally large or if they have an unusually long walk. Once the bridal party finishes walking down the aisle and the bride appears at the top of the aisle, the musician or DJ should start playing the bride’s entrance song.

Q: What type of music should I play during the processional?

A: Processional music should be serene, regal, and majestic. It marks the bridal party and the bride’s big entrance. This is one of the most important moments in the ceremony and the music should reflect that. Processional music should also have a slow or moderate tempo so the bridal party can walk down the aisle at a leisurely pace. Some examples of popular processional songs are:

Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin – Richard Wagner
Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Johann Sebastian Bach
Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1 – Johann Sebastian Bach
Arioso – Johann Sebastian Bach
Air on a G String – Johann Sebastian Bach
Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
Clair de Lune – Claude Debussy
Trumpet Voluntary – John Stanley
Gymnopedie No. 1 – Erik Satie
Guitar Concerto in D Major, Largo – Antonio Vivaldi
Water Music – George Frederick Handel
The Prince of Denmark’s March – Jeremiah Clarke
Wedding March, from the Marriage of Figaro – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Prelude from Te Deum – Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Trumpet Tune and Air – Henry Purcell

Q: What type of music should I play during the recessional?

A: Recessional music should be triumphant, celebratory and joyous. It often has a fast tempo and an upbeat feel to convey the feeling of happiness and joy that the couple feel at that moment. Some examples of popular recessional songs are:

Ode to Joy – Ludwig van Beethoven
Water Music – George Frederick Handel
Rigaudon – Andre Campra
Spring (La Primavera) – Antonio Vivaldi
Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Felix Mendelssohn
The Harmonious Blacksmith – George Frederick Handel
Fanfare-Rondeau – Jean Joseph Mouret

Q: How many songs should I play during the recessional?

A: Usually only one song is needed for the recessional since it is a fairly short moment in the ceremony.

Q: What factors should we consider when selecting wedding music?

A: One of the most important factors to consider is the venue. Many traditional wedding venues, such as a church or synagogue, don’t allow certain types of music so it’s best to find out ahead of time what they will allow. For more information, read the following article: How Location Plays a Role in Your Wedding Music.

Q: Do I have to sign a contract for a wedding musician or DJ?

A: Yes, it is in the best interest for both the couple and the musician/DJ to sign a contract before the wedding. That way, all of the terms and conditions are clearly spelled out and there is no confusion about what is expected. It will also retain the musician/DJ for the day of your wedding and prevent them from backing out last second. For more information on wedding music contracts, check out the following article: The Wedding Music Contract.

Q: Do I have to pay a deposit?

A: Most wedding musicians and DJs request that you pay a deposit upfront. The deposit amount is usually half of the full musician/DJ fee. This payment is a promise that the musician/DJ will be paid for his or her services and it retains their services for your wedding day. The remaining balance is usually paid with seven business days of the wedding.

Q: If I hire a live musician, will he or she need amplification?

A: Amplification is usually for outdoor performances but it is also recommended based on the audience size, type of instruments, room size and etc. Be sure to ask your wedding musician ahead of time if amplification is required.

Q: Do I need to meet the musician/DJ in person to work out the contract and details?

A: It is not necessary to meet with the musician/DJ ahead of time since all of the details can be worked out via phone, email or mail.

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