I’m Louise Goode, a civil wedding celebrant. My background is as a professional singer and music agent for weddings and events, so this blog is all about what you need to know when choosing music for your civil wedding ceremony. There are many things to consider when planning your wedding but perhaps one of the most important is the music.
Music is so important in creating the right mood at the various points in the day and goes such a long way in reflecting your personalities or themes.
So I’ve put together this guide to help you find the right music for your ceremony.
First things first… set the budget for your civil wedding music
If you a keeping a tight reign on the pennies you might opt for recorded music and a DJ. You might even know someone who is willing to act as a DJ for you.
However, live musicians will always add something very special to your day and they don’t need to cost the earth if you think sensibly. Do you really need the Philharmonic or will a cello and violin suffice?
Choose an ensemble that is right in terms of ratio. If there are only 40 or so guests a string duo can offer very similar repertoire at a much lower cost than a quartet. Where as if you have 200 guests you will probably need to consider amplification whatever size of group you choose.
Remember if you’re booking a solo musician it’s best to use one who can play chords such as a pianist, guitarist or harpist – a solo flute or violin or cello can sound very sad and lonely unless they use backing tracks. Pianists can bring fantastic digital pianos which sound just like a Steinway grand but are quite easy to move from location to location.
What sort of musicians should I choose
Set the mood as your guests enter. Music relaxes people by breaking the silence. Live music is especially effective as experienced players can choose the right level and energy in their repertoire to keep things buoyant and suited to the moment. Does the music need to be acoustic? Will this work if it’s outside? It’s also well worth asking your chosen musicians if they’re happy to play outside as intense sun or damp can have catastrophic impact on instruments, especially harps and strings.
Can they start with say one or two musicians and add other musicians to provide music for the meal or evening entertainment? This can be logistically advantageous, more flexible, save money and be much easier to deal with than booking different acts.
Choosing music that is right for you
Do you or your partner have particular cultural backgrounds such as Latin American, West Indian, Irish or Italian families.
Does your wedding have a theme or period style?
Is it a village hall, a stately home, or on a boat?
A 30’s style Civic Hall might be crying out for a swing band but a 16th century castle might be more suited to folk/medieval musicians.
The Entrance Music for civil wedding ceremonies
Consider the effect you want to have when you walk down the aisle. Think about something you can walk steadily to and the style of the venue and of course the style of your outfit. Do you want a serene/ dreamy mood or a big bold entrance? If you’re going for a Gatsby style you might choose a Helen Kane style singer, singing “Ain’tcha” Or if you’re going dramatic maybe The Arrival Of The Queen of Sheba played by a string quartet might suit. You might be in a Tipi and pick Riptide by Vance Joy. Then who doesn’t love the classics such as Pachelbel’s Canon in D played by a string quartet or A Time For Us from Romeo and Juliet on a harp? Or maybe you’d prefer the Wedding Song on saxophone? Is it on a beach? Consider steel drums.
Music for signing the register at a civil ceremony
This is always a good time to choose a song that means a lot to you and equally a chance for something beautifully reflective or a bit more lively. You might consider adding humour by choosing titles like “Who’s Sorry Now?” or “I Didn’t Wanna Do It” or what about “Chasing Cars” by Coldplay or Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect?” perhaps you have a friend or relative who could sing a love song like “How Long Will I Love You?” By Ellie Goulding or a pianist playing John Legends “All Of Me”.
Exit music for a civil wedding ceremony
This is usually a big opportunity to give a clear sign that it’s time to party with a really upbeat piece of music. Again it’s all about you and your style. You could stay traditional with Mendelssohn‘s wedding march or funk it up with the Black Eyed Peas singing “I Got A Feeling” Or how about Fred Astaire’s “Let’s Face The Music And Dance?”
Some questions to consider asking when booking musicians for a civil wedding ceremony
- Check out any restrictions regarding licenses, noise limits, PAT testing, Public liability insurances, access and terms and conditions. Especially cancellations!
- Ask what experience they have?
- Do they have references?
- Are there any opportunities to see them play live or on video?
- What do they wear?
- Can they coordinate with your colour scheme?
- Do they need a dressing room?
- How early will they arrive?
- Can they offer a special request service?
- Can you select preferred music from their repertoire list?
- How long do they play for?
- Do they need power?
- Are they happy to play outside? Some musicians have very expensive instruments that can be adversely affected by heat and cold. There are also some musicians who complain about being baked or frozen.
- How much space do they need? You don’t want a cello bow poking your guests in the the ribs or worse do you?
- What is the access like to the playing area?
- Are they flexible to play longer if needed and if so what is their hourly charge?
- If you are looking for other acts, ask them if they can make recommendations?
- Can they provide a written quote with a breakdown of what’s included?
- Are they VAT registered?
- What is their contingency in the case of illness or accident?
- Do they need refreshments? Venues frown on people bring their own food and need advanced warning of requirements. Musicians are human after all and they work so much better and last longer when fed and watered.
Please contact me for advice on special packages including myself as your celebrant and some of the UK’s finest professional players.
Visit my Civil Wedding Ceremony page
copyright © Louise Goode 2021
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