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How Sweet The Sound

by Susan Ely, The Last Bite Newsletter

High on the priority list of a film producer is the scoring of music for his movie. What style would most accurately convey the movie's theme; what instrumentation would best accentuate the mood he is trying to set? When and where should he incorporate it so that it punctuates the action on screen, rather than detracts from it? Just like your favorite movie, your wedding should have a soundtrack and it should be as personal a choice as the wedding gown or flowers.

Music is typically played at key stages of the ceremony: the prelude, as the guests are entering, the pre-processional, as the bridal party enters, the processional, as the bride enters, within the ceremony as an emphasis to the moment, the recessional, as the bridal party leaves exits the venue, and the postlude, as the guests file out. This basic guideline can then be personalized to give your wedding its individual personality. Consider your heritage, personal taste, theme, playfulness or level of romanticism when making your choice of music.

Music played during the prelude should distract and entertain guests and should begin when the doors to the site are open, no later than twenty minutes before the start time on invitations. This is the time to establish a mood. A harpist may set a fairy tale feeling; Gregorian chants or mystical Enya would be fitting for a candle light evening ceremony, and what would be better than classical organ in a cathedral? All ears are being attuned to the entrance of the bridal party.

The pre-processional and processional is grand entrance music. It is usually dramatic and bold, often a march played by an organist or trumpeter. Tempo is important when making the selection here so that the attendants and bride are not running down the aisle, or crawling at a snail's pace.

Within the body of the ceremony the couple may choose to insert music during the ring exchange, at the lighting of the unity candle, or other moments they deem significant. Here the choices may incorporate ethnicity, traditional instruments, their religious background with choir, gospel tune or a hymn.

Upon the introduction of the bride and groom as man and wife the recessional music begins which should reflect jubilation, even giddiness as the mood elevates towards the reception. As guests make their way out, the postlude selection adjectives are happy, love and spirited.

Site acoustics are important considerations; a folk singer accompanied by guitar would be lost in a cathedral, and an orchestra would overpower a small room. Simple is usually best and most effective. Think about a keyboardist, a string quartet, a harpist, blues guitarist or jazz combo. If the ceremony is going to be outdoors, you will need shelter for musicians and electric outlets. Some churches have musical restrictions prohibiting secular music. When hiring musicians, the contract should include, date, arrival time, location, attire, fees and overtime rates, names of musicians, what will be played and when, and flexibility to be play longer is needed.

Resources to help in the process of music selection include "Weddings From the Heart" by Daphne Rose Kingma, "The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Music" by Elizabeth and Alex Lluch which includes a 99 track CD with classical music for wedding and lyrics for 100 popular wedding songs.


Susan Ely is a freelance writer, chef and editor of "The Last Bite" newsletter.
5904 Timber Ridge Dr.
Raleigh, NC 27609


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