Everything you need to know about live wedding music

Everything you need to know about live wedding music

Creating memorable events is all about stimulating all of the senses. With this in mind I’m delighted to bring you an interview with Victoria Turnbull, Founder of Farnham Wedding Music, to teach you everything you need to know about live music for your wedding day.

Q: For someone who has never thought about their ceremony music, what are the 3 basics they need to know?

A: Let’s start with the most important one, what are you going to walk down the aisle to? This piece of music is known as the processional. Traditionally these are quite stately pieces that aren’t too fast; you don’t want to be running down the aisle in your new heels!

The next one to think about is the recessional, what are you going to walk out of your ceremony to? This is typically a brighter and livelier piece of music.

The third piece you need to think about is would you like a performance, known as the interlude, whilst you are signing the register. Not all couples choose to have an interlude but it is particular lovely as it helps keep the service flowing and gives your guests something to enjoy whilst your completing the paperwork.

Q: Some brides feel that they should stick with tradition and walk down the aisle to Wagner’s Bridal Chorus. What are the alternatives and why should a couple consider something a bit different?

A: Music is such a personal choice and the traditional options might not work for you. However, there are so many options you should be able to find something to suit you. Have a chat with your musicians too, if you have an idea that is personal to you they might be able to play that piece.  Have a look on my website as there are lots of suggestions of potential options on there.

Q: Vocalists during the ceremony, good idea or bad?

A: Having a soprano or tenor singing whilst you are signing the register is definitely a GOOD idea, making your wedding different to others is getting increasingly harder and this is definitely a winner if you are looking to add those unique touches. The song choice doesn’t have to be a classical piece; it could be your favourite song or the song that means the something to you and your other half. You do have to consider how they are going to be accompanied, it could be by your church organist or by backing track but this is something that you would need to discuss with your chosen vocalist.

Q: What tips would you give a couple to ensure their music plans will suit their venue?

A: The size of the venue can have an impact on who you chose to perform at your wedding. For example, if you are getting married in a very small church but want a string quartet, you need to consider if there will be enough space for them. Speak to your vicar as they generally have quite a good knowledge of what works in their church. If you wanted a harpist but there are many steps into your venue, you would need to check that they would be able to get their instrument into the building; harps are very big and heavy!

If you are getting married outside, then you need to choose louder instruments, for example the trumpet or a wind quartet. Instruments such as the solo cello have a beautiful soft tone but simply will not be heard outside.

A misconception is that if you’re getting married in a church you can only use classical music, this simply is not true. I wouldn’t suggest anything that comes with an advisory note but you can use popular music!

Q: What are the most popular musical ensembles?

A: The most popular musical ensembles are string quartets, harpists and pianists. However, you also might want to consider something a little different. For example, you could have a string duo (two violins or violin and cello) or a string trio (two violins and cello) or perhaps a wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon). How about a solo cellist, flautist or trumpeter? You do need to consider your budget. The more musicians you have the more expensive it gets.

Q: What are your tips for assessing potential musicians?

A: The best way is to ask to hear some recordings of the musician. You wouldn’t buy a piece of art without looking at it first! You could rely on friends’ suggestions but bear in mind their tastes might not be the same as yours. At Farnham Wedding Music all our musicians are degree standard professional musicians with many years’ experience so you can be guaranteed a high quality musician.

Q: Does the number of guests at a wedding affect what sort of musicians a couple should choice?

A: Again this depends a little on the venue and when the musicians are playing. If you are in a big high ceilinged room with two hundred guests for your ceremony then the acoustics of the room would probably carry the sound of a string quartet quite well. However, if you want them to play whilst you are having your wedding breakfast then they wouldn’t be heard over the general noise. In this instance you would need something amplified. If you are having amplified musicians then you need to consider where they are positioned and whether the venue has a built in PA system that you would be able to use. You don’t want to deafen your guests that are sitting next to the musicians whilst your guests at the back of the room can barely hear the music.

Q: At what points should couples consider having live musicians at the receptions?

A: Having musicians play during your drinks reception works really well. It creates a lovely atmosphere and helps people relax whilst getting to know other wedding guests. When you sit down for your wedding breakfast you might also want to have the musicians continue to play or have someone different. It is worth remembering that there is generally quite a lot of noise when lots of people are chatting and eating so you need to think carefully about the type of musician you have and might need to think about amplification.

Q: Once couples have started to think about what musician/s they would like, what should be their starting point in organisation?

A: Timings and budgets are really important. Even if you know what music you would like to have played, the musicians will need time to rehearse the music and if they are being accompanied by your church organist they will both need to time organise this. If you are having music composed or arranged there needs to be plenty of time for this to be completed and then given to the musician for them to learn it. You need to have a clear idea of your budget as this might govern how many musicians you have and for how long they play.  

Q: Finally, what would you suggest for a couple who want something completely different?

A: Speak to your musicians and ask what they can do. The best recessional I have ever played was the Main Theme from Star Wars which I arranged trumpet and organ. The groom was a huge Stars Wars fan so it couldn’t have been more fitting and the guests loved it. At Farnham Wedding Music we also have an in house composer so why not have your own piece of music composed solely for you, you can’t get more unique than that.

If you want something more bespoke you do need to consider time lines.  The musicians/arrangers/composers will need time to organise the music you would like so I would suggest the minimum of four months’ notice so they can fulfil your requests to the highest standards.

About Farnham Wedding Music: Run by Victoria, Farnham Wedding Music is about sharing Victoria’s love of music with you and helping you to find that perfect professional classical musician/s and music to start your married life with a fanfare. Check out her website here.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to discuss my recommended suppliers or how a wedding planner can help you with your celebration, please get in touch.

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I’m an award-winning London and Hampshire-based wedding and event planner with more than 17 years of events experience to my name. With a passion for luxurious, stylish weddings and events, I love dreaming up exciting ways to bring ideas to life - from city chic London weddings and idyllic country house venues, to large scale celebrations bringing together guests from around the world. When the out of office is on, you’ll usually find me off on an adventure to a far flung destination or recharging with friends over cake and bubbly.

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Caroline Sian Weddings & Events Luxury London Wedding Planner