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Learn about about the importance of wedding music at you ceremony or reception and decide which musical group will best serve your needs. Hire one of our experienced wedding ensembles:

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Music For the Ceremony and Reception

What does wedding music mean to you?
Is it a traditional organ rendition of "Here Comes the Bride"?
A love song crooned by a folk singer with guitar?
Or an energetic band that doesn't stop till the last gueast drops?

Because a wedding is both ceremony and celebration, it's important to give careful consideratin to the kind of music you favor. The right music adds ambience and creates an atmosphere that enhances the ceremony or puts guests in a festive mood for celebrating. Many couples put off music decisions until the end of wedding planning because they find it overwhelming and don't know what to ask or where to begin. By the time they get around to choosing a band, they may have exhausted the wedding budget, or else the musicians may already be booked elsewhere.
It's a good idea to book a band or group as early as possible - at least six to twelve months ahead.

Music fees vary widely across the country and are generally higher in big cities. For about four hours of entertainment, expect to spend anywhere from $1300 to $2,500 for a small, relatively unknown group to upward of $6,000 to $15,000 for a multipiece, established orchestra. According to professional Massachusetts wedding planners, bands tend to charge top dollar for Saturday nights, New Year's Eve, or anytime during the month of December, when business and private holiday parties create more demand for entertainers.

Before hiring a band, listen to it first, either live or an a demonstration tape/cd. Music and talent agencies often provide demo tapes in that feature a variety of entertainers and band styles for a nice sampler.
Some band leaders will invite couples to hear them play at another wedding or private party, while others feel this is an invasion of privacy. (Would YOU like it if some stranger hung around your wedding?) When checking out groups at someone else's affair, be sure to dress appropriately and keep a very low profile.

A demo tape will showcase all the music styles a band can play, such as Big Band, golden oldies, pop tunes, ethnic music, Latin beat, rhythm and blues, jazz, classical music, and so on. Con Fuoco's groups provide online suggested "playlists" of music popular for weddings. You can always add your personal favourites, too. Be sure to include music in a variety of styles to appeal to an audience of different age groups.


Music For the Ceremony

When choosing music for the wedding ceremony, keep in mind that a ceremony usually has several parts, each of which calls for a different tone.

The Prelude

The prelude is the thirty- to forty-five-minute period before the bride arrives, when guests are filing in and taking their seats. Many couples feel that soothing , unobtrusive selections set the tone for this reflective time, and so favor chamber music selections, lilting folk music, romantic contemporary tunes, or Chopin preludes. Remember, too, if the cermony is in a house of worship, there may be restrictions on the kind of music you choose. The officiant may already have lists of appropriate musical selections on hand, with referrals to local Boston musicians. If you're going to spring for a vocalist or ensemble, schedule it for later in the ceremony, when everyone has arrived and will actually hear it. Sometimes, if you choose to hire your own performers instead of using the "house" organist or vocalist, you may actually be charged and entertainment fee anyway. Check it out.

The Processional

The processional begins when the mother of the bride is seated and the bride commences her walk down the aisle. This calls for uplifting music that places the bride at center stage! There is no law that says the bride must walk down the aisle to strains from Loengrin, but do choose something that evokes a sense of fanfare.

The Ceremony Itself

Music can maintain a joyous mood throughout the ceremony, emphasise the religoous meaning of the ceremony, or encourage guest participation. A combination of vocal and instrumental music is a nice touch, whether that means hiring a choir, a soloist (vocalist, violinist, flutist, harpist, organist), or asking a talented friend or relative to perform. Again, it' wise to check with the officiant about music restrictions during a mass or religious ceremony. When selecting hymns, be sure to provide the lyrics for gueasts to read and follow. Avoid overly long hymns or verses that might be inappropriate for a wedding. And yes, it's perfectly oaky to play "your song" or a contemporary pop tune during the ceremony (as long as it won't pop the guests' eardrums). After all, a wedding is a personalized celebration.

The Recessional

At long last, the big moment! The bride and groom kiss, are pronounced husband and wife, and begin their walk back up the aisle as a married couple. The recessional calls for lively and celebratory music - nothing too slow or somber - because couples invariably get caught up in their joy and sprint up the aisle together. It's anice touch for the music to continue until all the guests have filed out and joined the receiving line.

Music: The Key to timing, Emotional Tone, and Energy Level

The Range of Music

Because Boston weddings combine the formality of ritual and tradition with expressions of intimacy, love, and commitment, they are filled with emotion. And no aspect of the ceremony is more tied to feelings than music, for the simple reason that it can be profoundly moving.
Music (as well as the serving of liquor and food) controls the timing of the wedding reception. More than any other component, music sets the emotional tone and the energy level for both the ceremony and the celebration. Whether you envision an intimate, elegant occasion or one where guests dance the night away, the style of music and the type of musicians are key to how your weding works.
The range of music available for each of the wedding's various components is wide: from stirring classical music at the ceremony by a string quartet to cheery, uplifting popular songs during cocktails, to lively rock music at the dance. Each can have a place in a wedding. Jazz is mellow. Big Bands are exuberant. Blues are funky and hip. String quartets can have a lush, old fashoined sound that is romantic and thus tugs at the heart. So can a violin guitar duo. A brass quartet sounds important, inspiring and powerful. Before making decisions about music, consider what is customary, what your own style is, and what you can afford to spend.

What Is Customary

Music at wedding ceremonies, whether it's an organist or a string quartet, starts about a half hour before the ceremony. This is called the prelude.
Vocal or instrumental solos are usually performed before the processional, during the prelude, when most guests have arrived and the bridal party is being lined up in the rear of the church or temple. There can also be vocal solos during the ceremony, at an appropriate prearranged time. During the final part of the prelude, generally there are a few minutes of silence before the bridal party enters the sanctuary or marriage site. This announces to guests that the wedding is about to begin. The music often changes or is played with more volume when the bride or bridal couple enters. Whereas processional music, played during the wedding procession, is uplifting, with a march tempo and a sense of anticipation, ceremony music is nearly always traditional classical music. Recessional music, played after the marriage ceremony to accompany the now married couple back down the aisle, is upbeat and festive. Most churches and temples have specific rules governing what can and cannot be played at weddings. Some do not allow secular love songs during services. Clergy members have ideas about what is appropriate in the services they conduct. Be sure to discuss this long before the ceremony. The communal singing of hymns, for example, is a frequent part of wedding ceremonies that take place in houses of worship. The singing is part of the service and according to the custom of the church or temple.
At weddings in other locations, group singing often feels overly intimate and somehow unsuitable. Music during cocktails should never be so loud that it overwhelms conversation. On the other hand, some volume increases the excitement level, especially at the beginning of a party, and gets a celebration off to a good start. There's nothing wrong with having to speak up to be heard, as long as the high-decibel level doesn't last the entire party. Experienced Boston musicians have ideas about what is and is not appropriate music for wedding ceremonies and receptions. They are aware of the proper times for musical fanfares, those musical introductions to special parts of the reception, and of the kinds of music and songs they prefer for different parts of the wedding ceremony. Be sure to discuss your own musical preferences. Musicians will often learn a special song or two, if they're given plenty of time and the sheet music, or are told how to and the music or an arrangement you like.


Making Muisical Choices

Before hiring musicians and choosing music for the various parts of the wedding, consider the following factors.

- The feeling you want to create. Think about the time of day and the tone you want at your wedding as well as your own style. Formal or informal? Restrained or exuberant? Elegant or casual? Sweetly romantic or completely unsentimental? Afternoon or evening? Dance music or background music? Spirited ethnic or sedate classical music?

- Your musical preferences. Classical or contemporary? Jazz or blues? Classic rock or Motown? Big band society swing (heavy on the fox- trots)?

- Your budget. Can you afford romantic, old-fashioned strings or a resounding brass ensemble for the ceremony? Is the cost of an authentic Big band or a professional rock group within your financial framework? Do you want an organist at the church and a pianist at the reception? Do you prefer a restrained, somewhat elegant disk jockey, a traditional take-charge deejay, or someone completely anonymous to play the right tapes at the right time in the party? Costs range widely between big cities and small towns, and by region. A string quartet can be hired in Atlanta for under $700. The same caliber of musicians may cost more in New York and Chicago, or on the West Coast. Bands range from $1,000 to well over ten times that. Beginning bands may charge less for their first engagements than they do when they become well known and have a following. Disk jockeys, depending on their equipment, expertise, and the overhead they need to cover (advertising, marketing and once help, special effects such as light shows, an assistant), can cost from as little as $400 to ms high as $2,900.

Once decisions are made about the type and style of wedding music, you will want to hear musicians, either live or on tape, or meet with a disk jockey. When you meet with musicians or a deejay, ask about their style even if it seems fairly obvious. Remember, you're trying to develop a vocabulary that will help make you a better consumer and Judge of talent. Ask also about the kinds of weddings where the musicians or deejay have worked. The deejay or bartender who is experienced at lively ethnic weddings may not know how to be quiet and discreet and play background music. The opposite is true as well. One bride tells how, after interviewing several professional disk jockeys, she and her fiance hired an amateur. ''We didn't want a light show or someone who had to be center stage. We really just wanted a disk jockey who was low-key and sensitive to the flow of the party and knew when to play different kinds of music. The guy we hired cost a little over $200 and was perfect."

Describe the type and style of music you're thinking about to the musicians or disk jockey, then ask them to describe, from their point of view, what they consider the ideal wedding. Be prepared to listen to musicians, who often know a great deal about how parties work. Also be ready to describe the atmosphere you hope to establish at your wedding. If the disk jockey or musicians don't ask you questions about your expectations, or if they seem so experienced that they don't welcome your ideas and opinions, keep looking.
Be prepared to provide them with the following information: size and site of your reception, approximate age range of guests, and your own musical tastes. When you first meet musicians or deejays, be prepared to describe your favorite musical styles and some specific songs that you especially like. Identify your favorite radio stations, and explain your choice. Although there is nothing as exciting as a good live band, any style of music you want can be played by a deejay with a good ear and knowledge of music.

Boston musicians and deejays for both the ceremony and the reception should be familiar with the sites, the instruments provided such as an organ or piano, and the type of wedding service, and should know whether the available electrical services are adequate for the sound equipment. There are general rules of common sense for the size of the room and the number of musicians in the group as well as for the type of music played. A string quartet or small group playing classical music will generally not be heard throughout a large ballroom without a good sound system. A loud rock band might be inappropriate if you have a large contingent of elderly relatives and lack a comfortable adjacent room, even a lobby space, where they can escape. Then, too, eight musicians may be three or four too many for a medium-sized hotel room or a club or restaurant space. Dancing is appropriate at afternoon weddings, but unless you're in a windowless or heavily curtained ballroom, it will never be as exuberant as at an evening dinner dance. Still, luncheon and tea dances, especially with the service of champagne or wine to liven up the crowd, are festive and fun. If you want a set of spirited dancing at the wedding, make this clear to your bandleader and insist that the exuberant dancing take precedence over the kitchen's needs.

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