As soon as you get engaged, your head’s going to be in the clouds, floating around on the breeze in a happy daze. This is natural, and exactly as it should be – but it could lead to some truly disastrous oversights. Some things are a given – you’ll probably remember your partner’s ring, you most likely won’t forget to send out your invitations, you shouldn’t let ordering a cake slip you by – but there are a great many seemingly trivial details you could all too easily overlook when it comes to choosing and organising your wedding music. Music heralds the most prized traditions of the whole ceremony, from the entrance of the bride, to the first dance, to the best man’s speech. It can grab your guests’ attention and get them excited for these special moments, or, if mishandled, give them the wrong message or cause them to miss them altogether.
So here are a few things that could go wrong, what happens if they do, and how you can go about preventing them.
Too much or too little variety
Hey, it’s your wedding, so everyone should listen to your music, right? Not right! Sticking to one style of music, such as country, 80s pop or R ‘n’ B will make your guests feel like they’re stuck in a rut – the same rhythms, the same vocal stylings, the same sounds for hours on end. You’ll probably even grow tired of it yourself. They say variety is the spice of life, and such a statement has never been truer than when you’re trying to entertain a diverse range of wedding guests – young, old, mainstream and alternative. Make sure you cater for everybody by throwing in some up-tempo dance tracks, some slower burners, some classic oldies and some current chart hits.
That being said, too much diversity in to short a space of time can kill the vibe dead. You don’t have to be a professional DJ to know that jumping from a mid-tempo rock classic to a pumping 90s house track isn’t a good idea. People settle into a groove while they’re dancing, so you’re going to want to group together a few songs with a similar feel at any given time over the course of the evening. If your guests are enjoying themselves on the floor, give them a chance to carry on; if you change the vibe too drastically, you’ll find they’ll struggle to adapt and will probably wander back to the bar.
Not enough preparation
We’re not saying you haven’t put in the hours to make your big day unforgettable, but some moments you may have thought were a given can still go wrong if not explicitly explained to your musicians and officiants.
During the ceremony proper, there are several key moments that you may well want to highlight with emotional bursts of music – but these can go badly wrong. Imagine how terrified the groom would be if ‘Here Comes the Bride’ started playing way too early and he has to stand there wondering if she’s going to show up; imagine if, after you’ve officially tied the knot and share your first kiss as a married couple, the button-pusher-in-chief misses their cue, and instead of an uplifting love song, your magical moment is ruined by stony silence.
And later on, when you’re at the reception, you’ve got so any other moments that you’re going to want to make a big deal out of – the cutting of the cake, the best man’s speech, the dad and daughter dance – which can also go wrong. Your guests could be having such a fun time dancing that they miss the event all together – much you the dismay of you and them. You’re going to need to meet up with your MC or the whoever’s fronting your wedding band in advance to make sure they know exactly what you want to happen and exactly when they’ve got to announce it – remember, you’re forging memories that’ll stay with you forever, so don’t leave anything to chance!
What’s more – if you’ve (wisely) chosen a wedding band or wedding DJ with a lot of wedding experience, don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on a few key song choices. You might have dreamed up a fantastical idea of playing the Star Wars theme tune, Enter Sandman or the angular Montagues and Capulets as your walk in music, which may well get some laughs from your friends who are in on it, but may leave some guests confused, meaning you may not get quite the reaction you’ve been hoping for. To ensure maximum audience participation, check with you wedding entertainer and ask for a list of guaranteed hits.
No one likes the music
Remember; weddings are a family affair. You’ll have elderly grandparents and school aged nephews and nieces to entertain, as well as people your own age, so think twice before adding songs with sexual or violent lyrics to your playlist. Your guests will feel awkward, either because they’re offended or because they’re concerned about your much younger and much older guests being offended. You might get away with a few cheeky numbers later on when they toddle off to bed, but play it safe just in case. This is particularly important if you’re using a church as your venue – your priest or vicar will take a very dim view of any music not on their approved list.
Too full on:
When we say ‘full on’, we’re referring both to the volume and the style of music being played.
You shouldn’t have too much of a volume issue if you’ve set time aside for a sound check, and if you musicians or DJ know what they’re doing. You want your guests to still be able to talk amongst themselves over the music, and not be clutching their ears in pain. Style wise, anything with heavy bass is likely to take its toll after a while. Bass is a funny one – if you get it right, it’ll get people moving and grooving; if you overdo it, it can lead to stomach aches, and your guests will be keen to get away from it. Also, anything too fast in tempo will soon become tiring for your guests, who will be doing their best to dance for you all night – so give them a break!
It’s also worth putting together a ‘play’ and ‘do not play’ list for your band or DJ. If a universally reviled song comes on, the dance floor will be left bare – but if a unanimous hit starts to play, it’ll be packed tighter than a tin of sardines.
Forgetting to agree the Ts and Cs
It’s easy to forget about your wedding band or wedding DJ when you’ve got so many other guests to feed and water, but their engines can’t run without fuel in their tanks. Many acts have a rider clause in their contracts, which they’ll expect you to read and honour; many just ask to be kept in soft drinks and sandwiches. The important thing to remember is to discuss this with your act well before your wedding, in case you need to make any adjustments to your order to the caterers. This way, you won’t have any hangry bandies getting on your case.
You may be under the impression that, when you’re paying your wedding band or DJ a hefty fee, they’re yours to do with what you will for the duration. On the contrary – bands and DJs often have a set time frame in mind when they give you their initial quote. This often includes 2 sets, roughly an hour in length each, with a short break in the middle – everything else is setting up and packing down time. If you don’t schedule things properly, and have your band arrive far too early, they’ll not only grow restless but may also charge you for the extra time. The same goes for if your reception overruns its expected time – the act will view their time as money, and will expect you to deliver it. Even if they’re not strictly playing, they’ll be thinking they could’ve been playing elsewhere – bands often manage to fit multiple weddings into a single day. So make sure you clear up with your band exactly what you want from them, and exactly what the time frame is expected to be, and you shouldn’t run into any misunderstandings.