Music at Ceremonies

Piper McKay

It’s your big day - you’ve chosen the venue, booked the date, sent out the invitations and now you can start on the detail that’ll make your wedding a day everyone will remember. Music can really add the gloss to a ceremony. Live music is wonderful but not always practical and most weddings rely on recorded music for that special atmosphere. With so many other things to consider it’s easy to choose your tracks then overlook the little technicalities so here’s a few pointers to ensure your special songs are a seamless part of the ceremony. There are four occasions in the ceremony when music is usually played: • As your guests take their seats before the ceremony. This may take some time so ensure you have a good selection of tracks to avoid repeats. • The entry of the bride, groom or both partners and their attendants. Bridesmaids or attendants sometimes arrive and take their seats to different music to the principal. • During the signing of the register and subsequent photographs. This can take several minutes. • The recessional. Usually nice and joyous and often a personal choice. Visit your venue if you can and look at the layout of the ceremony room. Try and choose your arrival and recessional music with the length of the aisle in mind; arriving next to your partner as the final notes of your entry music sound is perfect. Download your choices to your smartphone and have a little rehearsal to get an idea of the timings. If your recessional music has a long and quiet intro, you may wish to think again as there’s nothing worse than being announced to the world and your fanfare fires up just as you’re leaving the room. Please remember yours will be a civil ceremony so no religious music or hymns are permitted. You will also need to think about the way your music is delivered. There’s a lot of choice now with downloads and streaming services as well as CDs and while some venues have very sophisticated PA systems and can download your music choices directly into the equipment other venues may still rely on domestic music systems and CD players. Most venues use a digital feed into a PA from a tablet or smartphone operated by a dedicated member of the event team at the back of the ceremony room. In any event, discuss this with your venue so you can be prepared and even have back-up if necessary. On the day, try and have a quick run through with the person responsible for the music. You don’t want any surprises with broken equipment or corrupt files spoiling your day. You may also want to chat with your registrar before the day about any special arrangements. It’s your day, we want to work with you. If you are having to rely on your own equipment here’s a few pieces of advice: Firstly, avoid using live streaming services. WiFi at venues isn’t always reliable and the last thing you need is for the signal to drop out at a critical moment. Likewise, if you are using a personal phone, make sure all your music is in one file and turn off all the other live apps; I have more than once heard music drop out as a text or Facebook alert arrives! Finally, when you need to stop music, use the volume control to fade out rather than cutting it dead. Oh, and make sure your device is charged. One final tip regarding social media to consider: some people may want to use Facebook Live or similar to broadcast live to absent friends and relatives but these services may actually stop broadcasting if they detect copyrighted material. It’s a modern phenomenon but it’s happened to me! Have a great day!

Richard Seamon Deputy Registrar

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