Some of the most important—and personal—decisions you’ll make when it comes to your wedding is what kind of music you’ll have. Depending on what kind of wedding you’re planning, you may have to choose what music you’ll play for the prelude, processional, recessional, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. Music is very personal and not only do people have very specific tastes, but for a hugely important day like your wedding you want the music to be reflective of you and your spouse’s personalities, relationship, background, and more. That’s a big task. So how do you decide which kind of music to play for which portion? Here is a helpful guide.
Start planning your playlist ASAP
While planning your wedding soundtrack can be fun, it also has the potential to be surprisingly stressful. You and your fiancé may have different tastes and different ideas of what kind of music should be used for which part. As with your guest list, it will take a lot of discussion and deliberation to narrow down your playlist. Start about 4–5 months before your wedding day. Go through possibilities and narrow it down. Take a break, then come back to it several weeks later and cut it down further. You don’t want to be scrambling a couple weeks before your wedding, sending changes to the DJ or band, or bickering over what to include on your cocktail hour playlist.
Look at your existing music collection
You can always google “best songs for slow dances,” but there’s a good chance you won’t like most of them: some of them will be too cheesy; some will be too old. Start with music you like. Look through your playlists and think of the songs that make you feel good. Sure, you might choose an unusual song for your recessional, but it’s your wedding. If that song is meaningful to you and makes you happy, then that’s the best choice.
Think about your space
First, do your research: some venues and officiants have rules about what kind of music you can and can’t play during your ceremony or reception.
Next, think about the size of your venue. You don’t want a large or loud band in a small space, for example. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, it probably won’t be possible to have a traditional piano, but you could have an electric piano and pair it with a string instrument like a violin or cello. Always pictured a harp at your wedding? Harps are gigantic, so make sure there is enough space for it to sit and an easy way to get it into your venue. A harp’s sound also travels upwards, so it may not be the best choice for an outdoor wedding. These are the kinds of things you have to think of.
Do your research on musicians
If you’re going to hire musicians for your ceremony or reception, start with people you know. Ask your friends and family first; they may have had an excellent string quartet or band for their own wedding, or they may have gone to an event with great music. You can also check The Knot’s online marketplace. Ask for references, and check their websites—many will have demos. If you can, attend an event where they are playing. They will work with you to determine the best instruments and combinations of instruments for the kind of sound and feeling you want for your wedding.