Wedding Music Guide

Written by    Last updated: May 26, 2014

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life and one you will want to remember forever, so choosing the perfect soundtrack is vital to make those memories even more special. DG Music, experts when it comes to wedding music, shares their guide on the right wedding music for you. From string quartets for the ceremony, jazz ensembles for the drinks reception, and pop & rock bands for the evening, they have every stage of your wedding day covered.

the atlantics modern british potters and their studios jay goldmarkAbove: The Atlantics, photographed by Jay Goldmark.

Music is a magical thing. Hearing a piece of music can take you back to a special moment in time and spark treasured memories of where you were and what you were doing. Live music is a fantastic way to enhance your day. There is such a wide range of musicians and styles available out there, you can create a unique soundtrack to your day from the minute the first guest arrives to the closing line of your last dance.

Music for your ceremony

Booking wedding music is a big decision to make, not least because it can take up a significant part of your budget. You need to think about which stage of the day you want live music for – during the ceremony there is the arrival of the guests, entrance of the bride, signing of the register and exit of the happy couple. At the reception you might want to have music playing during the drinks and dinner as well as for the party.
Here are some suggestions for what type of music might work best:

  • Arrival of the guests – choose something calm and relaxing to ease people’s nerves.
  • Entrance of the bride – it’s your big moment to shine so choose a song that means something to you as a bride. You won’t need a long piece though as the walk from the doorway to the altar/registrars is quite short.
  • Signing of the register – choose something soft and laid back which is long enough for the photographer to take enough pictures.
  • Exit of the happy couple – go for something upbeat that says something about you as a couple. At this stage, pretty much anything goes.

Music during drinks and photos

Having live music during your drinks reception really helps to break the ice and get the conversation flowing. Choose classical artists such as string quartets, harpists and guitarists if you want a sophisticated and classy atmosphere. If you want something more chilled and informal maybe choose a vintage jazz band or cool and contemporary acoustic pop solo or duo.Smoky-McNab-by-Jay-Goldmark-02 and-03Above: Smoky McNab, photographed by Jay Goldmark.

Music for your wedding breakfast

Music during dinner can help guests to relax and make the event feel special. Pianists, harpists, string quartets, jazz musicians and acoustic pop artists work well without being too distracting. Choose an experienced musician who can advise you on what pieces of music work best.

Music for your evening reception

The arrival of your evening guests marks the start of the party and there is nothing better than a live band to entertain your guests. Wedding bands come in all shapes and styles so there is a lot to think about before you make a booking. The choices include:

  • Cover bands – these have the broadest appeal and aim to please the full range of guests from young children to elderly grandparents. They perform their own version of classic rock and pop hits from across the decades so there is sure to be something to get everyone on the dance floor.
  • Themed / style specific bands – these bands tend to play just one type of music with styles including soul, funk, Motown, swing, jive, reggae, rock n roll, rockabilly and salsa. They are a great choice if you are hosting a themed wedding and want a band that has a certain ‘look’ or if you love one particular genre of music and want a band with a passion for that!
  • Alternatives – Latin bands, Ceilidh bands, singing waiters, are just some of the alternatives on offer if you fancy something a bit different. With so many musicians out there to choose from, you are only limited by your imagination!

Smoky-McNab-by-Jay-Goldmark-05Above: Smoky McNab, photographed by Jay Goldmark.

Top tips to consider when booking a band

  • First Dance – Most wedding bands will happily learn and perform the song of your choice for your first dance. This is one of the most important parts of the day and having a song performed live is one great reason to hire a live band.
  • Price – Remember you are paying per person so acts with less people will generally be cheaper. So if you want to save money think soloist for the day and 3 piece band for the evening rather than string quartet, jazz band and 8 piece soul band! If you can’t afford live musicians for the whole day, why not book someone to play at the wedding ceremony and pre-dinner drinks before switching to a DJ at night?
  • Space – make sure your venue has enough space for the band to perform. You don’t want to book a nine-piece band to discover there is no room for them. It’s also important to check the band will have easy access to power, especially if your reception is in a marquee.
  • Set up time – most bands will arrive at around 6pm to set up for an evening reception and take roughly an hour. If your venue is quite small they might have to set up in the room where you are eating and making the speeches. If this is the case you might have to section off an area for them to do this out of view or pay extra for them to arrive earlier in the day.
  • Looking after the band – the band will expect soft drinks throughout the evening and a hot meal before they perform. This doesn’t have to be the Michelin-star meal you are serving your guests, but it should be something substantial to give them the energy to entertain you. Sandwiches are a no-no. They will also need somewhere secure to change and leave their belongings.
  • Noise restrictions – some venues have noise restrictions in place, such as no live music after a certain time, so check with your venue before making any bookings. Noise limiters may also be used – this is an electronic device which cuts the band’s power if they get too loud. Many bands are happy to work with these but some won’t perform through a noise limiter so again, check with your band and venue before you book.

The-Houndogs-by-Rupert-Conant-01Above: The Hounddogs, photographed by Rupert Conant.

Using a music agency

A reputable music agency will guide you through the process of booking a wedding band and give you one less thing to worry about. They can offer expert advice and make recommendations to ensure you choose the perfect wedding music for your big day.

A good agency will liaise with the band and venue on your behalf to make sure all arrangements and details are dealt with. They will also prepare contracts which will give you peace of mind and the assurance of back up musicians should something unforeseen happen. They will also deal with all payments so all you have to worry about on the wedding day is having a good time!

Final word

Live music really can turn a good wedding into a great wedding. Take your time to consider all the options and explore the alternatives to ensure you come up with a wedding soundtrack that you’ll treasure forever.

Smoky-McNab-by-Jay-Goldmark-07Above: Smoky McNab, photographed by Jay Goldmark.


Article and all images courtesy of DG Music.

Are you looking for more on wedding entertainment? Check out Confetti’s directory!


This article was written by

David Graham
David Graham is Director of DG Music one of the UK’s leading music agencies, which he has been running since 2004. He is also a professional musician himself with over 25 years of performing experience on saxophone, piano and guitar. The company provides bands and musicians of all styles for weddings across the whole UK and prides itself on giving the highest level of musicianship and friendly customer service, hence their slogan ‘the best musicians - the best advice’.

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