Whatever your budget, and wherever the wedding’s to take place, you can make yours the one where everyone has such a good time, no one wants to leave. Just remember that it’s not how much you spend that counts.
Many elaborate, expensive weddings are dull, and lots of simple, backyard/home weddings are magical. It’s all in the planning …and we’re here to share our wedding music expertise so your wedding will be fun and exciting and ‘feel’ great.
In this article, you’ll learn a simple 3 step process to help you create the perfect soundtrack for you, together with a ‘script’ for your wedding – your guarantee that the wedding will happen the way you’ve planned it….the way you’ve always dreamed it would be.
Step One – Create an outline of your wedding – a ‘wish list’
When you think of your wedding as a film and all the different parts as ‘scenes’, you’ll want to make an outline of each ‘scene’ of the wedding, from the Prelude through the Reception. Write out one or two 3 x 5″ cards for each ‘scene’ .
For example, for the Prelude you would include what’s going to happen as your guests arrive. Think about whether you’ll want to have food served, and approximately how long it will last, etc. Now you can add some tentative selections of music or even just note the possible ‘feel’ of the music you’d like to have playing during the Prelude. If you don’t know yet, leave that part out for now.
Don’t sweat the details just yet.
Get all your ideas and your fiancé’s down on paper…later you can change, condense and refine your outline. Here’s an example: For the Pre-processional, first make a list of the special people not in the main processional, but who may need to be escorted to their seats before, like elderly relatives. Now write down the music you’re thinking of playing as they’re walking to their seats, and how much time you think it’ll take. Do this for the Processional and all your ‘scenes’ on through to the reception.
Take Your Time.
This is a process that will take some time because you’ll be discussing every scene with your fiancé and, most likely, both your families. Eventually, you’ll be deciding more than just musical questions. Because music will be such an important part of every aspect of your wedding, you’ll be figuring out food and/or cocktail logistics for before and after the ceremony, who’s to walk down the aisle, who’s not…and so on. Also, each time you interview a band or DJ, or even sit down with a friend, or your family, you’ll get more ideas that you may want to incorporate into your outline.
Once you’ve pretty much completed this process (either on your own or with your DJ or Band) and written down all the important information for each ‘scene’ and the order you’d like things to happen at the wedding, you’ll be ready for STEP 2… your final planning session with your band/DJ, or whoever is helping you with the music on the day of your wedding.
In “HOW TO SET YOUR WEDDING TO MUSIC”, (the complete wedding music guide and planner) we advise hiring bands or DJs who will promise you at least two planning sessions. One to help you create the outline, and one two weeks to finalize everything two weeks before the wedding.
For a more detailed description of wedding ‘scenes’ and suggestions from the experts for each scene, Visit What To Play & When To Play It” – (Take a musical tour through the ‘scenes’ of a wedding). For complete list of song suggestions for each ‘scene’ of your wedding, please visit our Wedding Music Library.
Step Two – Write a ‘script’ for your wedding
Your goal is to have a written script finished around 2 -3 weeks before your wedding. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Your script should have – written out – word for word what you want your DJ, Bandleader, emcee (or friend) to say, what music is to be played for each part of the wedding, and approximately when it’s to be played and for how long.
Make sure you include the names (with phonetic pronunciations) of everyone participating in each special moment at the ceremony and at the reception. Don’t count on remembering verbal instructions at the wedding…there’ll be too much going on.
Making a Final Draft of Your Script
Around 2 weeks before your wedding, you and your fiancé should have a final meeting with your bandleader and/or DJ, (ideally the second meeting with them) or whoever is helping you with your program. This is the time to go over your outline and make everything specific. Together, you can figure out how much time to allow for each part of the wedding…each ‘scene’… along with the music you’ll want.
This final draft of the script for your wedding program will include the sequence of events, announcements, toasts, what to play and when to play it, and for how long, and who’s to take part in every ‘scene’, etc.
Tips to Remember
You don’t have to list every single song the DJ or band is going to play during the whole wedding. If you’re having a cocktail reception after the ceremony, you could agree to have a certain style of music played. DJs usually have great selections of music to choose from, so you can give them a lot of leeway as long as you’ve agreed on the style and the ‘mood’ you’d like…or even a particular CD you like for each part of the wedding.
If you have a few selections you absolutely love, put them on a ‘MUST PLAY’ list and when they’re to be played. If you hate a certain song, or style, put them on a ‘DON’T PLAY’ list!
Here’s How To Coordinate Your Script
This is the part of your planning that will give you the most peace of mind.
Remember that a wedding is much more than a party.
It’s a party plus…. It’s filled with significance, meaning, memories…and emotion. It’s filled with a group of people from almost every part of your life…and your fiancé’s. Usually, guests are of all ages. Keeping them all involved is a challenge… and you want to have them involved from beginning to end, focused on each special moment. Why?
Because keeping your guests involved is what makes the difference between a great wedding and a dull one.
The whole purpose of a script is to make sure your guests feel included and part of it all, because the more they’re included in special moments, etc., the more they’ll enjoy themselves. In Step 3, we’ll show you even more ways to accomplish this all-important part of your wedding.
So, to guarantee a great wedding, you’ll need to make sure that once every announcement and every piece of music is written into the script, every professional involved in your wedding has a copy. That means copies of the script are given to the caterer and head waiter, the musicians, the photographer, videographer, and the person (family member or friend) delegated to helping you the day of the wedding.
At the wedding, you want everyone on the same page at the same time.
When you’re being introduced for your first dance as Mr. and Mrs., the last thing you need at that moment are the waiters serving the salad.
Don’t assume anything.
Don’t let your band or DJ tell you “We’ll take care of everything…don’t worry”. Make sure you see a printout of the final script. Too many wedding disasters have involved couples who ‘assumed’ their band or DJ had everything handled. ‘Foolproof’ your wedding by making sure your DJ (and everyone else) has that ‘script’.
An important tip
If you’re not having a DJ or Band, you’ll need someone in charge to keep track of time, to turn on the CD player, the mike, the speakers, etc. Delegate a friend or relative as your ‘day-of’ the wedding coordinator to follow your script. Even with a Band or DJ, delegate one person to be the one your bandleader , DJ, caterers, photographers, etc, all turn to when they have questions or something unexpected comes up. Whatever you do, DON’T do it all yourself.
Step Three – More ways to make your guests feel comfortable, included & special
This is where you add the ‘Special Effects’ to your ‘film’.
To make your wedding really great, the most powerful thing you can do is to consider your guests. The more you think of their comfort, and their experience, the greater and more positive the response you’ll have to your wedding.
Here are some more basic tips from “HOW TO SET YOUR WEDDING TO MUSIC”, the complete wedding music guide and planner.
Warm personal touches mean a lot.
Acknowledge relatives’ birthdays, or the person who introduced the two of you. Thank those who’ve traveled a long way to be with you. Make sure you write these announcements out with your emcee, bandleader and /or DJ when you finalize your script. Knowing your details are handled in the script and with your ‘day of’ person, you can forget about details and relax. Reach out, ‘make the rounds’ and mingle with your guests as often as you can in between events and during dinner.
Remember that not everyone is part of a couple – single people need up-tempo music to get them to the dance floor alone or in groups.
This is where most DJs can be helpful. Their collections have tons of music from all eras and for all dance numbers. Let them guide you in making choices for the dance portions of your reception.
It’s important to play music from different eras that appeal to other age groups… what we call ‘multi-generational’ music.
Lots of older friends and relatives will appreciate swing music, 60’s rock n’ roll, 70’s disco, etc. Put these extras in the script and make sure your Band or DJ will be able to accommodate these styles.
Find out a few of the first dance songs that your parents, closest friends and family played at their wedding.
Play them as a surprise tribute…everyone will love it. Classics like “Unforgettable” never go out of style.
Vary the sound level of your music.
Part of the fun guests have at a wedding is meeting interesting new people and seeing family and friends they haven’t seen for a long time. So it’s important to play more muted music during dinner and in between dance sets so that people can socialize and not have their conversations drowned out by the music. This is a must to go over with your DJ as you finalize your script together. Dinner music should be dinner music, not loud alternative rock. There’s plenty of time for that later.
Everyone likes to feel special.
A great way to make someone feel special is to give them a personalized gift. At weddingmusiccentral.com, we’ve taken this a step further and created Personalized Gift CD singles with special songs as tributes to each special person.
Here’s a link to see actual designs and listen to special songs for gift-giving:
Go to Personalized Gift CDs Now…