29 May Best Wedding Songs Live or… Cued?
The Songs You Walk Down The Isle To; Sign The Registry To; Enter Your Wedding Reception To; Have First Dance To; Should They Be Played ‘Live’… or Cued?
In our quite possibly biased eyes having quality music is up there with a good photographer, good food, plenty of booze and a wedding dress you love when it comes to Wedding Day ‘must haves’. And if you’ve gone to the added effort of (seeking out, financing and) booking a live wedding band, live duo, acoustic soloist or something similar for your big day, so we can surely safely assume you too believe ‘music is better live’. And bless your cotton jocks for that. But, just because you (and we) think live music is king, doesn’t necessarily mean live music should rule all aspects of your wedding. So… what parts, and what formalities, should and shouldn’t (or needn’t) enjoy that lovely live approach?
Let’s face it, it’s not an exact science. What you want, or what will work (not always the same thing), for your specific wedding venue or runsheet may not be right for the next person’s. So rather than a black or white approach to each, we’re going to list a few factors that commonly influence whether you should go with ‘live’ or iCued (then we might summarise with a more rule-of-thumb type model).
So, here we go…
- Processional (Bridal – ‘Aisle Walk’)
- Signing The Register
- Recessional (Bridal – ‘Back Up The Aisle’)
- Entrance (Bridal Party – Reception)
- Cake Cutting
- First Dance
Bridal Processional (‘Aisle Walk’)
It’s the opening ceremony, the Olympic 100m Sprint (albeit, the slowest) and the medal presentation all in one. This is the grand unveiling and by likely the most emotionally charged moment of your collective lives.
First and foremost you need to make sure that the song you’re walking down the aisle to means something. It doesn’t have to mean a thing to any of your wedding guests. It has to mean something to you two.
Once you know what that song is, you need to decide what it is you love about it. The reason you have to do this is because if you love this song because of the instrumentation and/or vocal performance of the original (or even particular cover version) that you’ve chosen, then – and it pains us to say this – you should probably stick with that version. But if you love it because of it’s lyrical content, or because it represents a time or place or particular moment, then it’s probably cool to re-work.
You also need to think about the logistics of your wedding ceremony venue. If you plan to walk down the aisle to Bohemian Rhapsody, but you’ve only got one bridesmaid and a 10m runway, then you’re barely going to get past the opener – “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” – epic as that is, what a waste!
While we’re considering logistics, we’re not huge fans of going with the recorded version simply because you’ve rehearsed with it and your bridesmaids know what lyrics to start walking on, and because you’ve counted out your steps… Because, 1) we wholeheartedly believe that in this moment you should be focusing on nothing but what you’re actually doing – you’re walking down the aisle, about to marry the love of your life! Please don’t put pressure, stress or importance on each bridesmaid leaving and arriving on the correct word and walking at the correct pace. And, 2) if you do wind up a step (or heaven forbid, many steps) out of time, your live musician will most likely be able to adjust on the fly to shorten a verse; extend a chorus; and have you arriving at the perfect moment regardless – just as Jake did here, playing Ed Sheeran’s Tenerife Sea live in the chapel at Queensland’s No.1 Wedding Venue Summergrove Estate.
We say; Give it serious thought, but – go live!
Play; Whatever you damn well please.
Signing The Certificate
With all due respect to the legal portion of your wedding (and the marriage laws of Australia), this is essentially background music. You’ve just exchanged wedding rings and macked-on in front of your nearest and dearest, and then your celebrant has whisked you off, side of stage, to giggle, pen wiggle and pose for a few rather cliched wedding pics. Your guests have been given the opportunity to speak and breathe and heckle, while you do the legal stuff. So in reality, the poor old muso (*sniff) basically gets ignored at this point. But, if you’ve got a live musician present they may as well play some live music. They’ll be happy for the opportunity to clear their throat too, no doubt. Also, the aforementioned cliched wedding pics can often take longer than expected, so pick two.
We say; Save the stuff you’re really looking forward to hearing until later, but, go live!
Play; Anything with a positive vibe and mellow to medium groove.
Bridal Recessional (‘Back Up The Aisle’)
You want this to be ‘upbeat’. Not that your ceremony would have been like school detention (we hope not anyway), but your guests have been behaving themselves, watching a couple of their most favourite peeps tie the knot, patiently waiting to scream and yell and high-five and hug, and this is their moment… so don’t kill it by going all sombre and soppy. It’s totally up to you of course. But, don’t haha.
Again, here the musician is going to get ignored. And rightly so. This is your moment. Pick your favourite banger. Doesn’t even have to be ‘lovey dovey’. Maybe something with a cheeky tongue-in-cheek lyric to send you back up the aisle. Something like… oh, I don’t know, Highway To Hell? Anyway, whatever it is, make it joyous, and make it loud. For that reason…
We say; Cue it. And crank it.
Play; Feel free to think cheesy, or cheeky, or at the very least immediately recognisable.
Wedding Reception Entrance (Bridal Party Entrance)
The party is well and truly underway, but this is your opportunity to set Or perhaps re-set) the tone for the rest of the party – ahem, we mean ‘Wedding Reception’. The basic idea here is to have fun. But… there’s definitely logistics worth considering too. Sorry, party-poopers, we know.
Where are you entering from? Can the musician see you? Can you hear the music – and more importantly, the MC – from your starting position? Is your MC introducing the bridal party by couple or individually? Does you MC have some cheeky passage to deliver for each bridal party member, or is it just “Welcome, name & name”? Is each entrant doing a lap of the room or just bee-lining it for their seat?
These are all things that will determine how long you need your chosen song to be, or perhaps whether each bridal party member/couple requires a song of their own.
Because of the multitude of variables at play here, and the potential need for their to be half a dozen songs from half a dozen genres, we say have fun with this part, but…
We say; Cue it.
Play; 90’s Hip Hop, 70’s Disco, 90’s Grunge something hilariously dorky.
Cake Cutting Song
These days ‘the cake cut’ gets pushed around a bit. It’s far and away the least popular member of this song squad, and therefor if it’s not altogether omitted, it’s frequently moved forward or back to suit fleeting whims on the night. And though it’s totally cool for you to suit yourself on your day, it’d slightly less cool if a human being had learned, and is preparing to perform, a specific song for this moment – a moment that, in all honesty, if you hadn’t forked out several hundred clams for a wedding cake, you would be just as happy to skip. However, if this tradition holds a particular significance to you, then absolutely get your music man to strum a buttery rendition of Banana Pancakes while you ensure The First Cut Is The Deepest into your Cake By The Ocean!
We say; Cue it.
Play; Anything sweetly titled (check out The Archies, Maroon 5, Robin Schulz and the genius subliminal inserts above).
First Dance (Bridal Waltz)
It might be a painfully obvious statement, but… this is about you. We’ve seen this go a million different ways. It’s always amazing and always perfect, even when it’s not. We’ve seen a couple freestyle to Yeezy‘s Gold Digger, and another Bride and Groom with a tightly choreographed and clealr painstakingly rehearsed routine to Macklemore‘s Downtown (complete with the bridal party as back-up dance troupe). We’ve also played The Lumineers‘ Ho Hey while a gorgeous couple swayed, and we’ve wanted to cry as a Groom has done his best ‘Beast’ for his beautiful ‘Belle’ to Disney and Angela Lansbury‘s enchanting tale as old as time.
A bit like your aisle walk (except this one’s definitely ok to rehearse – and just as ok not to), it comes down to what makes this song meaningful to you. If you’ve rehearsed a dance to a particular recorded version, it goes without saying that you should cue that. But if it’s the words, the memory, the deeper personal connection you two have to the song, then we believe it makes sense to strip it back.
Enjoy this intimate eye-of-the-storm moment with your new life-partner, to a new (re-worked) version of your special song.
We say; If possible, go live!
Play; Whatever makes your collective hearts pound or swell.
Exit Song (Farewell)
So many couples go, “Oh, we don’t care – we don’t need an exit song.” And if that’s the case, fine. But we do. We need you to pick an exit song. And not only because we need to line it up time-wise so that your wedding venue won’t hate our guts for going way over time, and will have us back. And not only also because your guests are absolutely positively 100% guaranteed to think and say “that can’t be the last song – you can’t finish on that”. But because when you don’t pick a last song, and we don’t get to let people know that ‘this is your last song’, then you won’t get to experience one last euphoric high point. We’d far rather see you being chaired around the dancefloor while your best friends belt out a song we’ve never heard (but you all clearly have), or for a your guests to form a tunnel and light sparklers while you lovers skip off into the darkness… than for us to load up a banger, have everyone dance their asses off, but then pull down the fader, and turn on the lights, and go “cheers guys”.
Obviously it’s a personal preference, but we think you deserve better than an anti-climatic ending to you BDE (best day ever).
Oh yeah, and…
We say; Cue it.
Play; Closing Time, Sky Full Of Stars, Mr Brightside, Love Generation, Don’t Look Back In Anger… whatever makes you smile really.