When talking to my couples I want to find out all about them and every aspect of day they want. For example, are they getting married in a church or have they opted for something completely different? All these things help build a picture and help us select suitable music together. After all, there's no point in picking your favourite piece of music to be played on a harp if its outside - no one will hear it.
I take time to find out what this part of the day means to the couple. Do you want this to be intimate and personal or do you want to fully include your guests? The lead up to the ceremony doesn't need to be a sea of boring music that smudges into each other. It can reflect the couple, their personalities and their sense of occasion.
The signing of the register can reflect so many moods. It doesn't have to be the same version of Ave Maria that you and your guests have heard countless times. It can be anything! It's OK to have fun and this is also easily achievable within the confines of something more traditional if you wish. For example, you could have a string quartet play Frank Sinatra or Beyoncé.
Exiting the ceremony as a married couple is normally accompanied by pats on the back and broad grins. This is the part where the fun can really start. I once had a couple who met each other on the ski slopes and it was a deep passion for both of them. So I suggested the opening theme to Ski Sunday. This was not only a very 'in joke' for the couple but their guests loved the personal touch.
This is where the mood often becomes more relaxed as everyone starts letting their hair down. As the champagne starts to flow, so should the music. The guests need to be slowly transported from the mood set at the end of the wedding through to the evening's musical programme. If you have a jazz/soul band booked for the evening and you opted for a string quartet for the drinks reception, you would get them to move their sets from the style of music you had through to light jazz.
All of these musical options are at your finger tips, but it is always important to full understand the capability of your performers and to select the musicians who can deliver exactly what you want. We can advise on that too. If the organist is out of their depth their performance could be memorable for all the wrong reasons. We can recommend musicians who can hit the right note every time.
It's always after the event that people say that they wish they had met and known about me before their big day. They always recount, especially about small village churches, that's they were really restricted with the music choice and ended up just being told what to have. This is normally due to the organists ability and then in turn the couple backing down because they didn't want to come across 'pushy'.
I always advise my couples to find the time to visit the church on numerous occasions, this lets them hear the organist play a variety of pieces.......if you hear the same pieces over and over again or too many wrong notes, then you need to think again. Equally, I have heard so many times about couples insisting on certain music that brought the poor organist out in a sweat during the initial discussion, net alone the avalanche of wrong notes that the couple were subjected to on their big day.
There is a painless fix to all of this - book someone who can really play! Don't let your big day become a gringy moment out of 'Four Weddings'.
Also, don't automatically assume that top musicians are going to cost the earth, they want to play fantastic music, after all this is what they do best, it's just about finding them.
Something that a lot of people forget is the amount of time and music that is played during the arrival of the guests. This section alone can set the atmosphere for your service and is something that is always overlooked. It's not wasted because you don't hear it, it is after all most of the time on your wedding videos but it creates and sets the mood.
Now a days, not all churches have organs, so this is something that has to be discussed but it's very easy to find an alternative that isn't a CD that your guests sing along too. If you have opted for music during your reception then your musicians could play at both and this doesn't have to be at a huge additional cost
There are countless lists and articles suggesting music and these are a great starting point but there is no point in picking a piece of music that has no affinity to you, just because the organist can play it. I have had to help couples who had to use the organist but wanted to have something unique, once the organists ability was established I could set about finding the right music that would enhance the day rather than hinder it.
My first top tip to all couples is to find out about the organist and their ability first, and then work from there and either pick less challenging music that can be performer beautifully or op for another musician. Also listen to the organ and the sound it makes, nothing worse than an organ that sounds like a strangled cat!
This winter wedding at Farnham Castle was packed full of beautiful music to cover the marriage ceremony, blessing and champagne reception. The brief was clear, the couple wanted to create a calm and intimate mood for the ceremonial sections of the day, but then lead seamlessly into a more relaxed, fun atmosphere for the reception and evening.
Now the tone for the day had been set, the fun could begin! There is no organ in the chapel at the castle but the couple wanted to have a few hymns during the blessing. The bride was equally passionate on not wanting to walk down the aisle to the same old tunes. We opted for a string quartet and a singer, both of which were outstanding musicians, which meant we could pick fantastic music.
The blessing had a more serene feel to it, with the bride making her entrance to 'Winter' from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.. The guests got to lift the rafters off the little chapel with a rousing rendition of 'Jerusalem' accompanied by the string quartet and to cap it off, during the champagne reception the mood of the music moved seamlessly forward to more contemporary, fun music that geared the guests up for the evening band.