Music sets the tone for your ceremony—whether it's religious, traditional, or informal—and it's typically played during three segments: the prelude, when guests are being seated; the processional, when the family, bridal party and bride walk down the aisle; and the recessional, when the newly married couple walks back up the aisle. But what if you love music and want to play your favorite tunes throughout the entire ceremony? Does it work to play music in moments other than those listed above?
In certain cases, adding music to the ceremony can offset awkward silences or emphasize a moment for the bride and groom, say after reading their vows or during a silent religious tradition. Or, it can add a splash of personality to an otherwise more serious time of the wedding. But if not executed correctly, music can be more of a distraction than an enhancement, says Ross Tesoriero, a violinist and manager of Highline String Quartet in New York City. Follow these tips on syncing your songs and those not-so-musical times.
Don't compete with voices.
Tesoriero says that having music playing during a speech—even softly in the background—when the focus is supposed to be on the meaningfulness of the words spoken is distracting, particularly when the person doing the talking has a soft voice. "When the officiant is speaking, it should be totally silent," he says. Tesoriero encourages couples to think about moments when it will be completely quiet, or when they'll be doing an action that the guests are simply observing. During a Jewish wedding, for example, the bride circles the groom seven times before stopping to face him, and this could be a nice opportunity to play music. A sand ceremony or when a couple is lighting a unity candle are other moments when music might make sense.
Music helps to add another layer of personality to a part of the wedding that people traditionally don't put as much thought into personalizing, says Candice Coppola, co-author of The White Dress: Destinations; The White Dress: In Color and the creative director of Jubilee Events. "Couples can have a lot of fun with it, especially if they love music," says Coppola, who worked with a couple to incorporate Broadway showtunes throughout the ceremony. One way to accomplish this is by using music as a palate cleanser, or transition, between sentimental moments, says Tesoriero, who recommends keeping song choices to less than a minute and foregoing the intro for only the most recognizable part of the song. He says, "Anything more, guests will start to get restless."
Fill in your planners.
A major aspect of incorporating music into the ceremony is timing, and since there are so many people involved, talking your plan through with everyone—not just the musicians—can help pinpoint the optimal moments to add a musical component. "Speak with your officiant about where there may be natural pauses or natural ways for you to key up the song," says Coppola. Also, ask the musicians for guidance about what's worked for them in the past, what's moved guests emotionally, and where they recommend adding music to enhance the mood based on your ceremony tone. "All these folks are experts," says Coppola, who suggests using their advice to help give structure to your creative ideas.