Finding Your Rhythm: Planning a Winning Soundtrack for Your Day From Start to Finish
Infectious beats bring the timid to their feet and sentimental songs give meaning to nuptial rites of passage. Music can make or break a wedding, but finding the right music for your wedding doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve asked two local wedding music professionals to weigh in on how to find the best music for your wedding. Brandon Cyrus, owner of B Psi Entertainment and an experienced DJ, and Steve Freeman, a wedding performer for over 20 years with The Steve Freeman Band, shared their wisdom with us. With their advice in mind, finding the perfect music can be one of the most enjoyable and gratifying wedding planning experiences.
Live Music vs. a DJ
This point is really a matter of preference and budget, but knowing what to expect from your selection is an important part in helping you choose. While good DJs typically run anywhere from $500-$1,200, a live band can range from $500 to the upper-thousands depending on the type of music and length of playtime. Freeman suggests that the couple will want to be prepared with the right questions such as, “Does this fee include sound equipment, stage and lights?” and “Is there a travel fee?” Not all entertainment packages include the lights, stage and smoke machines and not all performers have the ability to pack up everything to head to a destination wedding. If this is what you are hoping for, make sure that is what is included.
Next, ask “How long can we expect the music to be playing?” Discuss timing with your entertainment and anticipate where in the wedding schedule would be best to insert regular breaks for them. Remember, music isn’t a last minute affair, so be sure to have your preferred entertainment booked at least 6 months to a year in advance. Also, be clear about wedding attire; it’s embarrassing for everyone if the band or DJ show up in a three-piece tux, and the wedding is barn-themed. Most importantly, after having these discussions with your entertainment choice, Freeman suggests, “Get a contract.” Having a solid contract in place protects everyone’s interests.
Get to Know Your Guests
Cyrus offers the advice that a couple should keep their guests in mind when selecting music. If you prefer Country music, but your guests are inclined to Motown and Pop, then no one is getting out on that dance floor and that’s the point. Cyrus explains, “If they are having fun, you’ll have fun!” Outside of the sentimental music set for particular wedding events, it’s absolutely appropriate to ask your guests what music gets them to the dance floor. Social media makes it incredibly easy to poll the wedding party and guests. Ask them what their favorite wedding songs are and use their list to pull your favorites.
This way everyone is happy and knows to bring their dancing shoes.
Get to Know Your Entertainment
If it’s a DJ you’ve selected, Cyrus advises that you meet face-to-face before the wedding day. Not only does it give the DJ the ability to get to know more about you and your expectations, but you will have the opportunity to see their demeanor and ability to converse. Cyrus suggests that couples pay close attention to their potential entertainment. “Look for someone who can articulate…and is good with a microphone.” While this may not seem initially important, remember that the DJ is running the party and keeping the crowd both informed and happy. Additionally, Freeman suggests, “See who’s playing and go listen to the bands.” Most bands have a demo, but members/instruments can change and the best way to see how a band works a crowd is to actually be part of their crowd. Freeman advises couples to meet with the band leader and make sure he/she is the right fit for your wedding.
Keep in Contact
Stay in contact with your entertainment about wedding music selections. Cyrus recommends the couple make specific lists for their entertainment: “The Must Play” list, “The Play if Possible” list and a “Don’t You Dare Play It” lists. This approach gives your entertainment the opportunity to prepare appropriately for your perfect day. Additionally, if your DJ has already set up the most amazing playlist for your wedding he/she may not be able to download THAT song from the wedding location. Freeman explains that bands usually have a 200 to 400 song repertoire, but may not be able to play “The Chicken Dance” on the fly. If they need to learn a song, then it will take practice to perfect it.
While much thought is put into where your guests and bridal party are located throughout the day, of equal importance is where your entertainment will be located. Freeman suggests that, other than the wrong music, nothing is more insulting to guests as the wrong volume of music. Play too loudly or too quietly, and the party will fizzle. Locate the entertainment on a dry, flat surface near electricity, close to the dance floor and with respect to the size of the venue.
Picking the right entertainment and staying in communication with guests and your entertainment about musical expectations will guarantee that your reception is left in good hands. The right music and entertainment will result in guests leaving saying, “Now that was a great wedding!”
By Tiffany Lyttle