It’s no secret that your wedding music can and will set the scene, mood and feel of your wedding. What you need to decide is what sort of feel you are going for with your day. There is no limit to the number of choices for both ceremony and reception and you have anything you want available to you for your Central Coast wedding.
This post has been a long time coming but there is some awesome content for you with interviews from four of the best music providers in the business. My intention with this blog post isn’t to influence you one way or the other, but simply to make you aware of what’s available and the difference your choice will make to the way you remember your wedding and your guests enjoy the day.
As I’m no music expert, I’ve spoken to some of the best in the music business to get the rundown on what you need to know before booking any music for your day. What questions you should be asking and how much you can expect to pay. I’ve summarised a little of each interview to give you the general gist but for the full rundown, make sure you watch or listen to the complete interviews or read the transcripts.
Looking at your ceremony first, your location, date and time of day may be an influence in your decision when it come to music choice. Looking at the choices below, it’s simple to imagine the different ‘feel’ that each of the options create in the context of your ceremony location.
Ceremony options include
- String Quartet or ensemble
- Live singer/s
- Church organ
- iPod or something similar
- Professional DJ – to play the relevant music, not doof doof
- Family friend or relative to sing and/or play instrument
If I was to give you a list of different ceremony location choices, I think it would be pretty simple to match up what the usual choice would be if you were staying with stereo types and tradition. Here, try these locations and see what you think will work together.
- Small Chapel
- Manicured Garden
- Grand old sandstone church
- Contemporary chapel
- Surf club balcony
- Beach or headland
Pretty easy to picture a location with a music type isn’t it? That’s not to say you can’t stray from the usual, but you need to picture what you are thinking will work for the wedding you are trying to create. Each of these options will create a different vibe to your wedding and many couples will be influenced by who they know, budget, wedding theming, tradition or simply taste.
Your Wedding Reception
When it comes to your wedding reception, there are extra considerations that you need to take into account – firstly the time and location of the wedding. A saturday night wedding at a surf club or function centre will usually have a totally different feel to a Sunday afternoon under a marquee in the vineyards or a dawn wedding on the beach before an early reception.
The number one aim of most evening weddings is to create that party atmosphere and have most of your friends and family throwing down their best moves on the dance floor. Your choice of music and delivery for this wedding will be entirely different for the Sunday morning reception.
Can’t My iPod Do Everything?
It’s not uncommon to see iPods and iPhones at wedding ceremonies or receptions and although they work, there are some downsides you need to consider. Number one being that you’ll need someone to take control of the thing for the WHOLE day. You might be thinking that you can set up a play list and it’ll be right for the night – in my experience, this is rarely the case. Yes, it can work fine for your ceremony but even with your best planning, you are bound to go wrong at the reception with some of your choices.
Nothing spoils the mood more when the dance floor is packed, everyone’s singing along to Brown Eyed Girl and having a great time, the song finishes and what you thought would be a great follow up song is a dud and everyone leaves the floor. You’re busting for your poor brother (who you put in charge of the iPod) to get over there and skip, skip, skip this damn song!
I’m not saying that this can’t happen with a professional DJ but it’s a lot rarer – their number one aim is to have that dance floor packed and for the night to be an awesome and unforgettable night – that’s what every professional wants for your wedding.
Another problem with using your iPod is cutting a song short is never going to be good or go unnoticed. This happens often at ceremonies when bridesmaids and bride arrive much earlier than they rehearsed (which is totally normal due to the excitement and nerves) and the music has to be either stopped or you wait. Cutting the music is exactly that – a harsh cut as opposed to a soft fade – I know what I’d rather.
It’s the same with your reception if you need to ‘abort’ a song – your DJ with have another track loaded and ready to go. They will fade the dud song down as they bring in the new song – sure you’ll notice. but it will be hell of a lot smoother than STOPPING all music, and looking for the next, hopefully, good song.
Let’s hear from the professionals
First up I spoke with Tim Pringle – Wedding and Function Singer. Tim supplies wedding entertainment in either solo, duo, trio or four-piece for the whole wedding, ceremony and reception, depending on the music package chosen by the couple. Tim also runs a music booking agency, Crazy Horse Entertainment.
A music agent will have access to many different music acts. It’s not uncommon to book wedding musicians through an agency and they will often have a range of musicians they can match to your requirements for your wedding.
You can hear my full interview with Tim below but here are a few points that I’ve taken from our chat.
Most couples inquire about 12-14 months out from their wedding and usually book between 3 and 6 months prior to their date.
Before booking any musicians, Tim recommends you either listen to live music clips on the performers web site or go and see them performing live. It’s vitally important that you see or hear the musician performing live on their website – a studio recording will NOT give you a realistic idea of their quality.
Couples always want to see people dancing, that’s the biggest question a bride has, “will my friends dance?” because people remember music.
Tim’s research shows that 81% of people remember the entertainment over anything else at a wedding.
Couples will occasionally see a pub band, have a great night out and think yeah, they’d be awesome for my wedding. This can be a really bad decision. Reading the crowd is the thing that differentiates a pub band and a wedding specialist. A pub band just want to play what they want, what they’re used to. A wedding musician will adapt to the crowd and make sure that everyone has a great time at your wedding.
As a wedding musician, I’m always looking for songs that people respond to. Tim was at a wedding with another musician recently who said to Tim – “Yeah, yeah just watch this. See all the chicks there? I’ve got this chick song, they love it.” He goes into George Michael’s ‘Faith’, and they just loved it.
I didn’t do that song, I’m going to learn it now! There’s certain songs that you know just instantly make people respond. I’m always looking to add those songs to my repertoire.
When wedding couples are booking Tim, he asks for a list of 5 or so songs and says he’ll try to include those. He never guarantees to include them as he says his aim is to ‘play to the room’. I was surprised at this low number but it makes sense – you hire a professional to do a professional job. If he can keep that dance floor full, your wedding reception is a success!
What About Cost For A Professional Musician?
One thing that affects cost right from the start is how in demand the artist is. The greater their demand, the more expensive. The other factor is solo, duo, trio or four-piece.
Tim’s prices range from whether he does ceremony and reception or solely your wedding reception. There are a few other variables but his prices range from $1,400 up to $3,000.
A professional wedding musician will help guide you and Tim says that your guest numbers will determine what he suggests. For example, if you have 60 guests or less, solo is fine, you don’t need a trio. A duo will always be better because having the two instruments will sound cooler. Either way, there will still be a full dance floor.
Tim’s packages aren’t based on time – with a wedding, he sets up, he’ll be the first one there and the last one to leave. Everything will be set up before the guests arrive to be able to start playing music when entrees are served.
Tim like most musicians will supply the PA and do basic MC work – not all musicians will offer this.
Lastly, if you are unsure if the band you are considering is going to be right for your wedding, a simple way to make a judgement is to look at their gig guide. You’ll get instant feedback on how busy they are (should help with pricing) and the style of music they offer.
You can hear the complete interview with Tim below and if you’d rather read the complete interview transcript, you can do that here.
Wedding DJ’s Are The Most Common Choice For Central Coast Weddings
I spoke to Nathan from DJ Magoos Party and Equipment Hire to get the rundown on what you can expect from a Central Coast wedding DJ specialist. Nathan’s services extend beyond solely DJ work, he also offers a range of party and equipment hire which means you could ‘DIY’ your wedding music with his equipment.
Nathan’s advice on choosing the right wedding DJ
Do not simply pick your DJ after a phone call or price alone. DJ Magoos package prices start around $400 and will fluctuate depending on how much lighting you require (for your dance floor), size and number of speakers, if you require MC-ing services and depending on the number of hours your reception is booked.
You’ll need to have a think about your special songs but if you are at all struggling with these, your DJ will be able to help and make suggestions. You will need specific songs for entering your reception, cutting your wedding cake, a song for your first dance and if you choose to, for your father/daughter dance, bouquet and garter toss.
As with Tim, Nathan says that the biggest thing for couples booking a DJ is they want reassurance that they will be able to play the right music to keep the dance floor full. His advice is to have a ‘loose’ playlist picked but he doesn’t like to stick exactly to a brides playlist. Having done that in the past, experience shows that it never turns out the best.
Occasionally your DJ will have a song request they don’t have in their library. With current technology, your professional DJ will have access to online programs to purchase and download tracks on the spot.
A major benefit of hiring a professional wedding DJ is they will have wireless microphone set ups that you’ll be able to utilise for your speeches. You’ll need to check this with whoever you choose to hire as they may not be available or will cost extra.
Many DJ’s will offer MC services but again, you will need to make it clear as early as possible if you require this service. In the case of Magoos, they will make sure you have the right DJ for your wedding, depending on your requirements and budget.
Here’s a snippet that I’ve taken straight from my chat with Nathan on the use of friends for your wedding DJ:
“I see that a lot of the time where someone says ‘Look, we’re not going to go ahead with you because we have a friend who’s DJ’d and they’ve offered to do it for us for half price.’ Generally, that friend is a garage DJ or someone that’s had experience in clubs, and not weddings. If you’re happy with having a club atmosphere, great. But when you’ve got relatives, Nans, Pops, Aunties etc, you want your reception to run with some structure. You’ll likely want some relaxed dinner music, kept low-key so everyone can mingle, chat and relax. Your garage DJ friend just doesn’t have the experience to flow with the wedding. It’s full speed or nothing with them.”
You can hear the complete interview with Nathan below and if you’d rather read the complete interview transcript, you can do that here.
Natalie from our Newcastle studio caught up with Simon from XYDJ (who also has a team of DJ’s) to get his take on music choice for your wedding. I’ve taken a some snippets from the interview for you below. If you’d rather see the complete interview with Simon, you can do that below.
Simon says that having his own style or taste is almost irrelevant in a wedding situation – I don’t really focus too much on what music I like because my personal taste in music really is irrelevant. What’s important is to have a room full of 90 or 100 people enjoying themselves and the celebration. They all have different tastes and they all want to feel included in the music – my job is to make that happen.
Simon’s advice on choosing songs for your wedding is simple and effective – sit down with pen and paper, nothing else. Then, think of the songs that you really love. You’ll find the songs you end up with on that sheet are the songs that you truly love because you can recall them from memory, off the top of your head. If you’ve had to go through your iTunes library or a list that we provided, you’re going to end with hours and hours and hours worth of music, much, more than we can play in a single evening.
What style of music, when?
The first song to consider for your wedding reception is your entrance into the reception and that should be a fun, energetic song. This is the signal that the party is about to start!
For your cake cutting song, it can go either way – some couples choose something slow, romantic, and some couples go with upbeat and fun. It depends entirely on the couple, their personality and the atmosphere they want to create throughout the formalities.
I’m sure DJs are going to hate me for saying this but LMFAO just continues to deliver over and over again.
From the cake cutting, the newly wed couples will usually head directly to the dance floor and as the MC introduces the bridal waltz, we’ll just fade the cake cutting track out and fade up the bridal waltz track.
The final two songs is something that divides many couples that we work with and that is the bouquet and garter toss. Some couples love it, think it’s great and a lot of fun. Other couples, have the opinion that it’s ‘not for them.’
Natalie asked Simon, “What about just a song that gets everyone up at every wedding, a classic that no matter when you play it, brings young and old onto the dance floor. Is there one of those songs?
Simon – “Yeah, there’s a couple. Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ tends to do that. ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder is another popular one. Later in the night, I’m sure DJs are going to hate me for saying this but LMFAO just continues to deliver over and over again. That’s at the moment, I’m sure in 12 months time it will be something else”.
A last tip from Simon for brides and grooms is when planning reception seating arrangements, if possible, seat younger guests closer to the dance floor and older guests further away. This way, the young ones can enjoy the loud music that will drop off quite substantially further away from the speakers where the older family and friends will be able to continue chatting.
You can see the complete interview with Simon below and if you’d rather read the complete interview transcript, you can do that here.
What if you’re planning a wedding with an entirely different feel. What if you’re looking for elegant, classy, classic, traditional? When I picture this style of wedding, I see and hear strings – violins, cello, double base or piano. Admittedly, I see this as more of a ceremony scene than a reception for most weddings unless it’s an early or lunch time wedding.
The String Ensemble
When I think of an earlier wedding or ceremony featuring a string ensemble (group of string instruments) I immediately picture vineyards, gardens, the country – what about you?
I had a chance to speak to Chin-Hwi from Angamus Music Entertainment about choosing a string ensemble and music choices for your wedding. Angamus have been performing at Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter Valley weddings for over 10 years.
Chin-Hwi says that there is still a wide range of music styles and choices for a string ensemble and it’s not like you are restricted to a single genre. For example, if your choice was classical and traditional, you may like ‘Pachelbel Canon,’ which is a well known piece for entering the church on your fathers arm and coming down the aisle. Other pieces like Ave Maria or Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring are all popular pieces for a traditional service.
Some brides will have that special song with significance to them – from their engagement or event with their fiancé. Or it may be a piece from a movie that reminds them of a special time they shared together. Whatever it is, there is a good chance that we can make it work for our ensemble and the couple can have the beauty of string instruments and the songs that they really want for their wedding day.
Many brides like the idea of a string quartet but haven’t seen a real life trio or quartet. Chin-Hwi strongly encourages you to see a live performance before booking your musicians and if this isn’t possible, at least listen to them through downloads or website. It is important, just as Tim mentioned above, that you hear a live recording not a studio recording when making your choice.
Prices start in the order of $250 which will cover some intimate music for a wedding ceremony. Price largely depends on travel, style and number of ensemble and any special requests. Your best bet is to look at the different packages on offer and go from there with any customisation to suit you.
Chin-Hwi is also a music agent, specialising in the classical area so if she and her group, Angamus, are booked, you’ll be able to find another ensemble that will fit with what you are looking for. This also works well if you are after a particular style but haven’t seen exactly what you are after. Once Chin-Hwi has an idea of what you’re looking for, what style of ceremony or wedding feel you are going for she can recommend a particular group which would suit you.
The term string quartet can be quite loosely used. It could just mean a collection of strings for most people but you can have a solo violinist who can wander during your ceremony or through your canapé service, or you may prefer a trio – the choice of combination, style and music is all up to you. For a feeling of grandeur for a ceremony in a large cathedral, a four piece group may be more fitting.
You will also be able to customise your package to the number of hours you’d like your musicians to play. Often it will be solely the ceremony and other times the musicians may be hired to play on during canapes or dinner, depending on your style of wedding.
As your day progresses, so can the music from your string ensemble who may begin with more traditional music for the ceremony before progressing to more light, easy listening, popular and jazz – to pick up the pace as your day progresses.
One thing to remember if you are booking string musicians for your wedding – you must provide adequate shelter as their instruments are not only super expensive, they do not hold up well to the elements, particularly rain.
You can hear the complete interview with Chin-Hwi below and if you’d rather read the complete interview transcript, you can do that here.