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....
April is a professional violinist and the music coordinator for Dean's Duets.