Wedding coordinators and planners have been asking us to blog about this for a while. Coordinators are literal super heroes. They save the day MANY times throughout the day, on wedding day! They’re amazing, and we love them! They make our jobs easier, and they make the jobs of all of the other vendors easier! Coordinators hold vendors accountable. They fix their mistakes. They keep them on time and on task. They tie up loose ends. And they do about a million other things. You'll find that we often make shameless plugs for coordinators and beg our clients to hire them, because... it's worth it!
Some wedding coordinators have a musical background and some don't. Some coordinators have planned 10 weddings, and others have planned hundreds. Many coordinators have asked us, "What can we do to make the ceremony processionals run even more smoothly?" We hope to answer that in this blog!
We often have "after action reviews" at the conclusion of our weddings. We talk about what went well and how we can improve. This blog focuses on understanding when music is important, and how wedding planners can help it all work perfectly.
WHEN DO I NEED MUSIC PLAYED?
There are several different parts of a wedding where music is important.
The ceremony music
This is the typical lay-out of wedding ceremony music:
Prelude (sometimes called pre-ceremony) music:
30 minutes of background music as your guests arrive and find their seats
Seating family (mothers, grandmothers, etc... whomever you decided to seat)
Bridal party (officiant, groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, etc.)
Recessional (music at the conclusion of the ceremony)
Cocktail Hour Music
Background music as guests mingle and bridal party takes photos.
More background music
More music, usually for dancing
We at Deans’ Duets focus on the ceremony music, but we often provide cocktail hour and dinner music. And we sometimes play for the reception too. But in this blog, we focus on ceremony music, because it’s the most tedious, and it’s also the music that can get messed up if musicians are inexperienced or nervous.
Some coordinators are musicians or at least know music, and they love the music part of the ceremony! Others - not so much - and they often ask how they can help this part to go more smoothly. It’s sometimes intimidating to cue music or to work so closely with the music when your background isn’t in music!
So have no fear…. we have some tried and true tips to help this go really well. Not just ok… but to make sure all of your guests have chills as the bride walks down the aisle!
HERE ARE THE THINGS YOUR MUSICIANS + PLANNER SHOULD DISCUSS:
List every single person that is walking for each song, and make sure musicians & coordinator agree :)
Simple Gifts - family
- grandma #1
- grandma #2
- grandma #3
- mother #1
- mother #2
Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring - bridal party
- 5 groomsmen
- 5 bridesmaids
- 1 ring bearer
- 2 flower girls
Canon in D - bride
- bride + her father
This ensures that everything is clear and that no one is forgotten!
Where will these entrances be starting? For example, sometimes groomsmen will enter from a side entrance while bridesmaids enter from another door. And then sometimes the bride appears in a horse-drawn carriage! These things are important for musicians to know during ceremony music.
Agree on cues! We recommend that the coordinator hold up a ONE for family seating, a TWO for bridal party, and a THREE for bride. Thumbs up works too, but numbers are just another double check for us to all be on the same page. Another alternative is for coordinator to text musicians. But this requires reliable cell service (which isn't always the case), so we usually just go with hand signals. Hold those numbers high to make sure there’s no doubt we see them!
Once we see your ONE, we’ll bring our prelude song to a close. We’ll pause for about 3 seconds of silence. And then we’ll start the family seating song. Make sure you wait for the silence before you start sending family down the aisle! We’ll make it really obvious. Sometimes it takes 5 seconds or so for us to end a song beautifully, so give us time to end it, and THEN people start walking.
Wait for the silence again before sending the other groups.
Pace people slowly. We love for clients to really get to hear 1-2 minutes of the songs they chose. Sometimes, if walking is paced too quickly, people only get to hear 20-30 seconds of the songs.
When it’s time for the grand walk down the aisle, give the musicians a clear cue to start while the bride is still hidden. This gives time for the song to crescendo and for the guests to recognize which song it is before they see the bride.
You want this sequence:
1. cue the musicians
2. previous song stops. bride’s song begins
3. guests are overcome with the beauty of the song and recognize it
4. doors open & bride appears
5. bride walks toward the aisle as music continues to build
6. bride stops before the aisle to have dress fluffed & to take a moment to enjoy
7. music crescendos into a climax as bride nears the aisle
8. music concludes in an epic final chord as bride arrives at the front
When this sequence happens perfectly, almost everyone is overcome with emotion, and many guests describe this entrance as the most powerful moment of the entire day. When the coordinator and musicians are in sync, this happens flawlessly!
We love making this happen! It’s our favorite part of the entire wedding day.
Talk about any music which will be played during the ceremony.
- When will it happen?
- What will be the musicians’ cue to begin and end the music?
What is the cue for the recessional? Sometimes it’s “You may kiss the bride.” Sometimes it’s “I present to you for the first time…..” Sometimes it’s "Mazel Tov!” Sometimes it’s jumping the broom! It’s very important that the wedding coordinator, the officiant, and wedding musicians know the cue for the recessional. When the recessional music begins at exactly the right time, it’s another magical moment! When it’s even a second or two off, it can be awkward and lacking excitement.
So there you have it….. seven important details to help your ceremony music flow perfectly! Are there tips we missed? Comment with them below! Can we help answer any questions about your ceremony music? If so, send us an email! DeansDuets@yahoo.com
Coordinators…. are there things WE can do to make your jobs easier on wedding day? We’d love to know!
P.S. Read a couple stories below to understand what can happen when these steps don't happen!
Check out a few of our favorite bridal processional songs below....
Lately, with all of the changes of shifting to smaller weddings, there are more do- it-yourself weddings (aka DIY weddings) where there is not a designated planner. If there is a planner, he or she is often faced with increased responsibilities due to the small size of the wedding and all the complications that have come with COVID weddings.
One would think that a small wedding would make it easier on the coordinator and all involved, but often the opposite is the case. The coordinator is faced with last-minute decorating, pushing play on a playlist, floral arranging, giving instructions to more people….lots of responsibilities that would typically be the responsibility of a different vendor at a larger wedding.
We have also seen weddings with no coordinator at all in this COVID-era wedding climate.
The question we get from brides and coordinators alike is… How can I avoid potential hiccups with my music and ensure that everything goes according to plan?
Even in earlier years when Covid was not an issue, there were a few key things that we always recommend to help your ceremony music to go smoothly on wedding day. Here are our suggestions...........
Venue: Sweet Magnolia Estate
If you don’t have a day of coordinator, book one! We have never heard a bride regret booking a planner. As long as the planner is a professional and well-vetted one, DO IT! It's pretty much always a good decision. A full service or month-of planner is even better, but at least having a day-of planner is a good idea.
If you do not want to hire a planner, designate someone who is not immediate family to at least line people up and send them down the aisle at the appropriate time.
This is important because, without someone designated, time gets away from you on wedding day! There are boutonnieres to pin, bouquets to organize, grandparents to locate, petals to find for flower girls, pillows to remember for ring bearers..... all the things!! Most weddings start very late without someone in charge.
This person should ideally have a printed day-of schedule and a to-do list at certain times of day. They should also plan time to chat with the musicians and with your officiant sometime before pre-ceremony music begins.
Have a rehearsal. Even if it’s a small wedding of 20 people, just walking through the motions helps a lot. Who walks down first? Who is on which side? Do groomsmen put their hands in their pockets or in front of them? What do you do with your bouquet when it’s time to exchange rings? All these things will flow better on wedding day if you have a quick walk-through.
*Actually, a coordinator has a list of these things, and they'll take care of all of them, but again, if you don’t have a coordinator, a rehearsal will help!*
Venue: Champagne Manor
Communicate. What time should everyone arrive? What are your expectations of people on wedding day? Who brings all the things? A well-crafted email to everyone, or a schedule - or both - goes a long way. (Also copy your venue on this if they’re involved!)
Read our more detailed blog to coordinators next week to see what we recommend to make music go PERFECTLY. We are pretty good at making things work well and flow, even if things are late.... even if we don’t get the cues we need... even if people walk out of order, etc. But… there is something about a perfectly timed entrance that is MAGICAL. So, read next week to get more specific tips about the music portion and how it can go as planned.
Venue: Vesuvius Vineyards
Deans’ Duets is a full-service music planning team who provides ceremony music, cocktail hour music, dinner music, and reception music for clients throughout the southeastern United States and beyond. We currently provide music for many luxury weddings, but we started out many years ago playing mostly small church weddings and DIY low-budget weddings, so we’ve seen it all! Let us know if we can help.
Carrie-Grace and Hunter reached out to us last year about providing a solo violinist for their wedding in Dothan, Alabama. We loved getting to know them and hearing about their vision for their wedding.
With all of the uncertainty that came with weddings last year and this year, they decided to go ahead with a plan to have their wedding ceremony and reception in the bride's parents' backyard in Dothan Alabama. It was the perfect location for their elegant outdoor ceremony in southern Alabama. The violin music was just perfect for the ceremony. It was very simple, elegant, and sweet.
Madilyn is our violinist from Pensacola, Florida, and she was in the perfect location to play this wedding. Madilyn played for us for several years in North Carolina and has since moved to Pensacola, so we love when we can book weddings for her in Florida and Alabama! Madilyn and her husband traveled from Pensacola to southern Alabama and enjoyed their time exploring a new place and playing for such a lovely day.
Shea Wilson was the wedding planner, and she was fantastic! She reached out to us a week before the wedding to talk through song selections, logistics, and itinerary. We love when we get to talk to the planner the week before the wedding to make sure we are all on the same page. She was so helpful at the wedding as well and cued us perfectly for everyone’s walk down the aisle.
The photographer, Sarah Blaze, was amazing as well! If you are ever in need of a photographer in southern Alabama or the panhandle, she is so great!
During the months after Tara and Eric booked us as their ceremony musicians, many weddings started canceling and postponing due to Covid concerns, But we were hopeful their wedding would still be able to happen. We moved into phase 3 in North Carolina just in time for this wonderful couple to have the wedding day they had planned!
The bride and groom chose a mixture of our most popular string quartet music for their prelude as their guests arrived. Tara had a very specific plan for her walk down the aisle, and it was executed magically! We played A Thousand Years by Christina Perri on string quartet for her walk down the aisle. When it was time for Tara to appear, the doors of the venue closed, and we began playing the iconic introduction to A Thousand Years. We then played the verse with the doors still closed. Then during the crescendo to the chorus, Tara‘s coordinator began to open the doors, and she walked out when we started playing the part that says…"I have died every day waiting for you…"
It was a magical moment, and these epic bridal entrances still give us chills every time they happen. It takes a lot of planning to execute a bridal entry perfectly, but this challenge always excites us, and we are so careful to do lots of communication to ensure that the walk down the aisle happens just as it should. This walk is one that people plan and dream about for years. It’s very special when a bride has specific instructions about how she wants to enter, and we are able to visualize it and help her make it reality.
Tara and Eric hired some spectacular vendors for their wedding day. Reverend Rebecca Nagy was the officiant, and she is a pro in all senses of the word. She’s fantastic.
Sweet magnolia estate is an impressive venue because of the options they have for indoor and outdoor space.
Thanks, Tara and Eric, for entrusting our string quartet with your wedding music in Cornelius, NC! It was an honor to provide music for your wedding day.
Sunday was our first time at High Grove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Apparently this is a big up and coming event venue in the Raleigh area, and it seems like they’re doing a ton of weddings. It’s a gorgeous venue with a lot of versatility.
In the COVID wedding era, we stayed masked and set up away from guests, but with the string trio for the wedding ceremony music, it was plenty of sound and carried beautifully.
High Grove Estate in Fuquay-Varina is this beautiful mansion tucked away with gorgeous landscaping and lots of room to turn this space into your dream venue. There are so many fantastic venue options in the Raleigh area, and this one is a great one!
Bride Kate and Groom John contacted us first a few months ago to book a classical string trio. These days, most of our weddings are crossover styles, like modern and popular music, so it’s really rare for us to play a fully classical wedding. So we were excited to dive into these traditional classical wedding songs.
During the prelude, our string trio (which consisted of two violins and a cello) played Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. It’s so nice using an iPad for these, because the page turns in classical music can be really tricky. The iPad makes it go so much more seamlessly.
The recessional was La Rejouissance by Handel, on string trio.
John and Kate were fantastic clients, and we loved working with them! Thanks for asking us to play for your wedding in Fuquay-Varina!
It was going to be the most popular wedding date in years. Everyone had their calendars full for this date. And then Covid happened. Lots of cancellations and rescheduling, and we all wondered what would happen to the most popular wedding date of the year.
In spite of all the changes, the date still turned out to be fairly busy for our team. None of the weddings were what they were originally planned to be. And several of our October 10 weddings were new bookings that had come about once clients decided to elope or have a small micro wedding in the Carolinas
10/10 ended up being a rainy day in much of the Carolinas due to the hurricane in the gulf. Here’s a recap of our Weddings from the most popular wedding day of the year!
1: WRAL Azalea Gardens Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina
This was our first time playing at this beautiful venue. Clients booked us at the last minute for this wedding, and we provided solo harp music for the prelude and ceremony.
When we arrived and unloaded the harp, it was still sprinkling rain, and it’s always a tough decision for clients when this happens whether or not to leave the wedding outside, or to make the call early and move inside. Thankfully, the rain held off, and it was beautiful, and the wedding remained outside! Weddings at WRAL Azalea Gardens in Raleigh are exquisite! We loved performing at this venue.
2: Hidden Hill Event Venue in Morganton, North Carolina
It was a foggy wonderland as our string quartet arrived to Hidden Hill in Morganton, NC, for this string quartet wedding. Jordan booked us a long time ago, and we were so happy that the wedding was still able to move forward on this date! It was also threatening rain at this venue, and we didn’t know if it would be able to move forward outside or not. The rain held off here too, and the fog created such a unique experience at this venue. It was beautiful.
3: Wedding in Banner Elk, North Carolina at Diamond Creek Club
Diamond Creek Club in Banner Elk, NC, is stunning, and the views from the mountaintops are unparalleled! One thing that stood out to us as we played here was the quiet that exists on the mountain. There is no traffic or any other noise. Complete silence. It makes for the most romantic and powerful outdoor ceremonies, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the leaves changing colors, in such palpable silence. The wind is noticeable every time it blows, and every note played by the strings is more present as it breaks through the silence. It's a magical experience playing here.
When we arrived on-site for this wedding, it was raining steadily. We unpacked and rehearsed in a covered barn on the property. Once time for the wedding neared, the clients decided to delay the start of the ceremony by 30 minutes to see if the rain would stop. This was such a smart decision, because the skies cleared just in time for the ceremony, and they were able to have the wedding ceremony outside overlooking the mountains.
Wonderful flexible vendors were able to move chairs and decor at the last minute. After the ceremony, our trio played cocktail hour music and also played for the couple's first dance. The couple loved country music, so the addition of the guitar with the strings created a really nice combination of instruments.
This venue is SO remote. We had to have flashlights to go find our cars at the end of the evening, because there are no lights anywhere. It was a fun experience.
4: Wrightsville Beach Wedding at the Blockade Runner in North Carolina
Ironically, our wedding at the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, was the wedding with the most beautiful weather of the day!
Wilmington weddings are such fun. We played violin solos for this sweet wedding on the beach! Beach weddings are such fun! They are a little challenging with all of the sand and wind and everything that comes with it, but it’s totally worth it. There’s something very special about them. We loved working with Katie from bubbly events in Wilmington, NC.
5: Biltmore Wedding in Asheville at Antler Hill Barn
Biltmore weddings are always stunning, even in the rain! We worked with Ashevilleeventco for this epic wedding at Antler Hill Barn on the Biltmore Estate property.
We played violin cello harp trios for the wedding ceremony and also for the cocktail hour music. Asheville weddings can be tricky with weather, and this one was no exception. It was sprinkling rain for much of the day, but the couple had planned ahead with a tent and with a indoor Plan B.
Adding a harp to wedding music in Asheville adds so much to any ensemble. Going from a duet to a trio really elevated the ambiance of this wedding and gave it that elegant quality that comes with having a harpist at your wedding. We loved these gorgeous florals too.
This day didn’t turn out quite like we planned. Who would have ever seen this year coming?! Certainly not us. But we were grateful to be involved in each of these weddings on October 10. With all of the changes that Covid has brought, it has definitely made us grateful for every single wedding we have the privilege to play. Even while carrying equipment up a hill, or walking through through the rain, there is still an awareness of gratefulness for the job that we get to do every single Saturday and for our wonderful couples and clients that spread the word about Deans Duets and trust us with their wedding music!
Katelyn & Stephen changed their wedding plans so many times due to Covid. Location, numbers, and many other things had to be planned and re-planned as the year progressed. When they decided to move their wedding to a beach house in the Outer Banks, the bride contacted us to see if we were available. We were so excited to provide violin and guitar duets in Pine Knolls Shores for the ceremony and cocktail hour music on the beach. As the day grew closer, the weather forecast looked more and more perfect. The couple rented a beautiful beach house as their venue and celebrated with their closest family and friends right on the beach in the sand.
This was also our first time working with Ivory and lace events. They were fantastic! The couple even provided an umbrella and chairs for us to be in the shade so that our iPads were safe and cool, and we didn’t have to worry about them overheating.
The music selections were so much fun. Everything from Taylor Swift to Beyoncé. We used a small battery powered amplifier for the beach to give the instruments a little extra volume for the wedding music on the beach.
Even though Covid is still turning weddings upside down in October, we are loving the extra detail and personal touches that it is allowing clients to add to their wedding days. It seems like a lot of thought is going into the music selections these days. We are customizing almost every program to fit the personality and taste of our couples. And we think that makes the weddings all the more special.
Thanks to Katelyn and Stephen for inviting us to provide your wedding music in Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. We are loving these beach weddings lately and can’t wait to be back!
Rebekah was such a sweet and beautiful bride! Her dad first heard about us from our YouTube videos, and we loved talking to this family and hearing about their enthusiasm for Rebekah‘s upcoming wedding at Eagles Nest in Banner Elk, North Carolina. They booked a violin and guitar duet for the wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, first dances, and even some of the dinner music. Most of our background music consisted of upbeat pop tunes like You Are the Best Thing and lots of Beatles music.
This entire day was absolutely stunning. The weather was perfect, and it was such a clear day that you could see for miles from the mountaintop at Eagles Nest. It was a small crowd of people, so we played acoustically for the ceremony, and then we used a larger PA for amplification for the instruments during cocktails and dinner.
The bride’s dad wanted her first dance song with him to be a surprise, and we played "You Are So Beautiful" for this very special moment with dad and his daughter. Groom and his mother also danced to the classic "In My Life" by The Beatles.
We enjoyed a wonderful vendor meal from Gadabouts Catering after we finished playing dinner music. Banner Elk weddings are some of our favorites. Some of the venues up in the mountains of the high country are so tucked away and private! We love seeing all the details come together with these small intimate weddings lately.
Congratulations to the bride and groom! Thanks for your kindness and hospitality even to your vendors. We were honored to be a part of your Banner Elk wedding day.
Possibly the question we are asked more than any other…
Photo Credit: Clark Brewer
Though asked in different ways, the sentiment is always the same....
I want to end my wedding with a fun exciting song that says
"Hey I just got married, and I have never been happier!“
These are some of our favorite recessional songs….....
1. This Will Be An Everlasting Love
Natalie Cole‘s energy is felt in the excitement of this wedding exit song. This one makes everyone want to dance back down the aisle. It’s a fantastic “let’s get the party started“ kind of song
2. Marry You by Bruno Mars
You can't go wrong with Bruno Mars. We find that a lot of guests want to sing along with this one!
3. The Wedding March by Mendelssohn
This is the recessional song you hear after someone is married in a movie. It’s classic. It’s fast and exciting. And it says I just got married!
4. What a Wonderful World
This one is dreamy and romantic and makes your guests feel like they just witnessed what makes this world so wonderful. It’s a magical wedding exit song.
5. You Are the Best Thing
This is one we recently added, and we are loving it for the recessional. This is a recessional song that no one expects, and everyone loves it. This is the perfect song if you want all of your guests to be surprised by the exit song you chose for your wedding. It feels original, fresh, and new.
6. La Rejouissance (The Rejoicing) by Handel
Another classical one! Really, you can’t go wrong with a classical wedding exit song. Handel is timeless, and it’s a piece that has literally been played for centuries and never goes out of style.
7. Signed Sealed Delivered
A Stevie Wonder wedding exit?! Yes please! The intro to the song is really fun and sounds great right after the pronouncement!
8. All You Need is Love
… Love is all you need! Perfect words to hear right after saying "I do." This song by The Beatles is so much fun, and we think it sounds really great on strings.
9. Dream a Little Dream of Me
We usually use the chorus of this one for a wedding recessional song. It’s a great tune that puts a swing in your step and feels classic Sinatra era. It's very romantic and sweet.
This recessional song on strings can have a beautiful ethereal quality that can make it feel like you are floating back down the aisle in just-married-bliss.
So there you have it! Our top 10 most requested recessional songs. Picture yourself just moments after being pronounced a husband or a wife. Close your eyes, and listen to these songs. Then decide which one is the best fit for you! Or… create your own new favorite recessional, and it might make our next top 10 list!
And, if you still can’t decide, give us a call! Sometimes when we hear you describe your wedding day, we can recommend the perfect song for you!
Deans' Duets provides wedding and event music throughout the southeastern United States and specializes in popular modern covers with classical instruments. Give us a call if we can help! 828-308-1477
Should we go ahead and have the wedding?
Should we postpone it?
Will people feel comfortable coming to a wedding right now?
Will all of my guests need to wear masks?
Will people be ok with traveling in from out of town?
Is it ok to dance?
Can we hug people?
We can’t have a buffet?
Can we have food stations?
Will my grandparents still come?
What if someone gets sick?
Do we have to take temperatures?
I've heard this phrase over and over again in well-meaning attempts to provide solace to sad clients during the season of COVID weddings:
At the end of the day, the wedding is about being married - not about the wedding day!
Yes - this is so true. BUT…. Wait a minute! The wedding day is a big deal! As wedding vendors, that's our job... to provide the best wedding day you could possibly imagine.
Many of us dream about our wedding days our entire lives!
We cherish the photos and the memories of that day forever.
Yes - it’s absolutely about the marriage. And yes - the wedding is only one day of your life.
But the wedding day IS important.
How important is it?
Well - it depends on who you ask.
Everyone has a different opinion, and everyone has a good reason for having that opinion.
Some people are ok with their wedding being smaller….
with lots of people wearing masks in their photos…
with this looking differently than they imagined.
Others might regret making too many compromises for their wedding day.
Dig deeply and ask yourself these questions.......
“How will I remember this day in 1 year… 5 years… 10 years… 20 years… 30 years? Will I laugh and see it as a unique detail that all the guests are wearing masks? Or will I cringe when I look at the photos?
Will I look at the plexiglass wall in front of the bar and brush it off and proudly say "I was married in 2020 during the COVID pandemic"? Or will I be embarrassed that this detail is a part of my photos?
When my children and grandchildren see my wedding photos, will I enjoy telling them how different my wedding was? Or will I wish it was just like everyone else’s?
Will COVID make my wedding feel like a compromise? Or will it make it feel unique?
Take some time, reflect, and make the decision that you know you can live with. It’s your wedding day. You get to make the choice!
This is the year of compromises and changes. It’s not going to be “normal.”
If you’re not into that, then maybe you have a small ceremony now and save your money for a big vow renewal reception party in a year or two. Or maybe you postpone everything! Whatever you decide, we’re here to cheer you on and help you through the process.
Can we help?
Give us a call at 828-308-1477 or email us at DeansDuets@yahoo.com
April is a violinist and music coordinator for Dean's Duets.