For wedding ceremonies we begin by playing background music as guests arrive and are seated. In addition to the processional and recessional, if requested, we will play other music (hymns or incidental music) during your ceremony. We also play as your guests are leaving, during the receiving line, or during the transition into your cocktail hour or reception, upon your request.
Guide to Wedding Ceremony Music
We are happy to help you select music for your wedding ceremony. Whether you have it all figured out, or you're just starting to think about music, we think the following guide will be helpful. Our clients typically choose a few songs they want to hear, usually for the main events of their ceremony such as the processional, recessional, and candle lighting, and leave the rest to us. We are comfortable designing a program around your choices, however many or few.
Most wedding ceremonies have some or all of the following:
You can choose your ceremony music to create the mood you're trying to evoke, whether it's a sunny, breezy, summer wedding in a garden; an intimate gathering on a grassy lawn; a regal ceremony in a beautiful cathedral; a formal ceremony at the capitol building; or whatever you desire. We can help you choose pieces to complement the mood you want to evoke. When you contact us about booking the quartet you will receive a packet with a detailed information sheet. If you have a few pieces you would like to have played, list them on the information sheet and we will build our program around your requests. Some churches may have restrictions on the music that can be performed for your ceremony. Please tell us on the information sheet if there are any pieces you do not want to hear or if there are any restrictions on the type of music we should play for you.
Prelude music is designed to establish the mood and keep your guests entertained after they arrive and before the ceremony starts. We will start to play about 30 minutes before your ceremony is scheduled to start. Our clients usually leave the prelude music entirely up to us, or provide one or two of their families' favorite pieces for us to include in the program. We generally pick a variety of pleasant, calming classical music for the prelude. If you are having an informal ceremony it may fit the mood to have some lively tunes and popular songs in your prelude. If you have specific songs you would like to hear, please let us know on the information sheet. Keep in mind that the people in the ceremony usually don't get to hear the prelude music, so if the song you choose is a particular favorite of someone in the ceremony it may work better in the postlude.
The processionals are the start of the wedding ceremony. There are usually between one and three processional pieces. For most venues and most wedding parties, one or two songs is sufficient. Whether you choose one or two pieces for the processional depends on how many people you will have participating in the processionals, the length of the aisle in your ceremony venue, and your personal preference.
Incidental/Meditational Music, Communion Music
If you are having a candle lighting, sand pouring ceremony, rose ceremony, marriage certificate signing, communion, or some other activity in your ceremony where there is no dialog, you may want to have our quartet play a quiet, reflective piece. A short piece is usually sufficient. It is also sometimes nice to put instrumental pieces in between readings. If there is a pop song that is particularly meaningful to the bride and groom it may be nice to have it performed during the ceremony. Here are a few commonly requested songs:
If you would like us to play a hymn for your guests to sing along, that is not a problem. Please provide us a copy of the hymn. If it is a four part piece we can usually play it with minor adjustments. If you can provide a piano part we can make an arrangement. Even if you just have a one or two party melody we can play it or arrange an accompaniment for singing. Please let us know if you will also have a pianist, organist, or cantor participating for the hymn.
The recessional is typically a joyous sounding piece with an upbeat tempo to congratulate the bride and groom and send them off with excitement. The March from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Mendelssohn is a classic. The Hornpipe from "Water Music" by Handel, Rondeau by Mouret (the theme used for Masterpiece Theatre), and La Rejouissance from "Royal Fireworks" by Handel are all good choices that complement most processionals. We also have some selections like All You Need is Love and When I'm Sixty-Four by the Beatles, God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, and Gershwin's I Got Rhythm that make cute recessionals. This is another place where it might make sense to put a pop song that is meaningful to the bride and groom.
The postlude is another area that our clients typically leave up to us. If the bride and groom have some favorite songs that weren't already used in the ceremony, this is a great time to include them. We continue the joyous mood of the recessional by playing up to 30 minutes of cheerful music while your guests are leaving the venue or going through the receiving line. We generally play a mix of upbeat classical and popular music for the postlude. Postlude music can be especially valuable to entertain guests if the bride and groom are dismissing the guests row by row or if the receiving line backs up into the ceremony area.
Transition Into the Cocktail Hour and Reception
If you hire us for your cocktail hour or reception we will typically pack up our instruments after the postlude and move to your reception location. Once there, we will set up and begin playing when your guests start arriving until our scheduled end time. If you hire us for dinner music we will customarily stop playing if someone wants to give a speech. Please let us know if you have special instructions for the reception.
Light: We require moderately good light to read our music, but we can bring battery operated stand lights if necessary. If you know that your ceremony venue or reception hall has low light, for example, if you are using only romantic candlelight, let us know.
Audio: Some wedding venues book multiple weddings or receptions for one day at the same time and have only thin partitions or space between the different wedding celebrations. This can be problematic for all musicians involved. We have had circumstances where we have been in close proximity to other musical groups, DJs, and in rooms with the "elevator" music running on a loop. Also be aware that some venues have sub-standard sound systems that produce an audio hum. Although we do not require amplification, sometimes you may choose to use microphones for speakers or singers during your ceremony or reception and humming and feedback from that equipment can detract from the music. We will strive to give you the best performance possible in all circumstances.
Setup and Other: Some wedding venues do not allow live music or certain music genres. Please check with your venue and let us know if you have any concerns. Believe it or not, some venues will not allow chairs, even for guests! Our quartet has an advantage in this circumstance: all of our members can play while standing, which is a difficult or impossible for some other ensembles.
Weather: We do require shade from the sun or shelter from the rain. Direct sunlight and precipitation are harmful to our instruments (and in some cases, our bodies). If no permanent structure is available, you can provide a tent or canopy, but this is another thing you must clear with your venue. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We are happy to help.