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I do, do, do: Wedding music 101

Ashley Feraude

When it comes to weddings, music holds a magical ability to propel an already special moment into a truly unforgettable experience.

The right mix of melodies can change an atmosphere, shift a mood and lift an occasion to great heights.

But, getting it right is not straightforward. You need the right song, at the right time and performed by the right musician—or the next thing you know, your grandpa is doing a solo Funky Chicken on the dance floor.

But seriously, the wrong music will leave your guests feeling awkward and can cheapen the vibe.

SO HOW DO YOU GET IT RIGHT?

At first, it seems easy, but when you consider the order of proceedings, the wide variety of guests, and how your distant aunty will judge you for playing a rude rap song, the panic starts to set in. Well my friends, don’t fear…having played for more weddings than your average confetti blast, I’m here to help. So buckle in, let’s go through the steps and we can do this together.

THE FIRST STEP

The first thing to remember is that the wedding is all about YOU—well, you and your significant other. That’s right, it is a reflection of you, so start with the music you like.

What decade makes you nostalgic? What song do you associate with a good time? And what’s your go-to song for a mood lift? Start writing down that list and hold on to it. And don’t overthink it—if you’re spending hours Googling some obscure B-side to an 80s record, you’re overdoing it (though I give you applause for the effort).

MUSICAL DIPLOMACY

The best way to build your list is to consider your favourite genres and the age spread of your guests. You’ll never satisfy everyone but you can make most very happy with a little musical diplomacy.

Start to think about the flow of the night; from drinks to the formalities then from dinner to the party. It’s a basic upward drift from dinner music through to the full-on revelry.

As a guide, consider the order of proceedings and the main milestones.

CEREMONY

The ceremony is the most serious part of your day, so you’ll want to choose songs imbued with emotion to set the right tone. A string section or live acoustic act always goes down a treat, or you could ask your DJ to arrange a pre-recorded set of your song selections.

BRIDAL PARTY ENTRANCE

Once you’ve decided on your ceremony songs, my suggestion is to take it up a notch with the bridal party entrance. Choose songs that represent each couple as they walk in. For example, if they are heavily into sports, use that as a theme of the song. It breaks the ice and assists the MC to build up the energy in the room.

DINNER

Dinner music doesn’t need to be Kenny G lift music and the dance floor tunes don’t have to be an hour-long Michael Jackson megamix. Dinner music is about creating an ambience—a soft background for social conversations.

No matter what decade or genre you’re into, we can find some mellow (but never boring) music to fit there. If you’re into 70s, then soul makes for great vibes, if you’re more of a 90s couple then there are plenty of smoother R&B songs to fill that brief.

CUTTING THE CAKE

The cutting of the cake usually involves a lot of photos. During this time, your guests will wait before they can get back to their conversation, so it’s best to play a well-known song that you like so that people can nod along while watching you get sore cheeks holding a smile for a few minutes.

FIRST DANCE

When it comes to the first dance, this is where we get serious. It’s really the pivotal point of the night and usually the tipping point from the formalities to party time. If you’ve practised a dance then you’ll have a song already, but if you’re improvisation people, then find a song that’s emotional, perhaps a touch slower and preferably not something from the current top 40 charts, as it will date very quickly in your wedding video.

THE PARTY

Any DJ worth their headphones will have mastered the art of building a dance floor.

There are two ways we can pick a playlist: either write a list of your ‘must play’ songs, or make note of your ‘must not play’ songs. A DJ will only need about 10 tracks here to get an idea of the vibe you’re going for. Your song list becomes the musical brief, so now it’s time to choose the performers.

If you have contacts in the music scene then hand them your brief, negotiate a fee and go from there. If you don’t have time to waste catching live acts at local venues, you could contact The Romance Collective, a group I curated to help Canberra couples find a perfect music solution with the least amount of fuss.

So there we have it, a tried-and-tested guide to creating the perfect soundtrack to your special day. Now I’m going to go and find that obscure B-side to that 80’s record.

Find out more at theromancecollective.com.

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Ashley Feraude

Ashley Feraude is a creative consultant, music producer and man-about-town. Under his Sound Technique agency, he provides award-winning consultancy services ranging from branding design, creative content development and event music direction for events and hospitality venues. Under the alias Magnifik, he produces award-winning original music filled with electronic soul and performs melodic DJ sets at numerous night spots, events and festivals. And if that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also the author of this insightful interior design editorial series. So is he suffering from split personality disorder and has an obsession over pointy awards? Not really...he just loves design, music and getting an insight into people’s personalities. Plus he likes being really busy. More about the Author