How to choose the right wedding music

The 'first dance'. Paul Hughson Photography
The 'first dance'. Paul Hughson Photography
ODT fashion contributor Jennifer Hughson gives her tips on how to get your wedding music right.

"Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Andersen.

Weddings are a public display of you and your fiancé's love for one another; you make a life-long commitment in front of your favourite people. It's a celebration of the greatest commodity of all: love.

But for some, it can be hard to express yourself so publicly, hard to put your feelings into mere words. Some people are very private and only your partner really sees your true romantic side. For some, the wedding is the first time many of your friends and family have seen you hold hands, let alone kiss.

You sit down to write your vows and your thoughts are like colourful butterflies, fluttering around your head and no net will catch them and turn them into stark words on paper. If you are having trouble writing your vows or find it hard to express yourself in words, you have another channel in which to convey your love for one another: music.

Music helps create ambience and expresses joy unlike anything else and is a vital part of your big day. It is the soundtrack to ‘Your Life' and what greater day is there is to celebrate than your wedding day?

While it can be appropriate to have music playing all day long at your wedding, this isn't always a viable option, so here are some times where it is essential.

- Waiting for the bride's arrival: let this set the scene and help keep the groom calm/distracted.

- Entrance to the ceremony (and exit from the ceremony): you might want this to be a special song you have picked together. Make sure you practise walking to it - excitement on the day can lead to racing down the aisle and your guests want as long as possible to gaze at the gorgeous dresses. Often this is the groom's first glimpse of the bride - one of the most special and memorable moments of the day - so you definitely don't want this to be rushed!

- Signing the register: this can create a nice atmosphere while the formalities take place and also allows people to have a quiet wee natter about how beautiful the ceremony was without feeling awkward. It's a good idea to have two songs lined up or if you have a musician playing an instrument that they know to play something that can loop or flow easily onto another song because it's hard to tell exactly how long it will take (shaky hands make it hard to write!).

- Background music during the meal: this is simply to give a relaxed, fun atmosphere and continue the sense of celebration.

- First dance as a married couple: not everyone goes through with having an ‘official first dance' (it is just not for some people) which is totally fine; all choices are completely up to you! For those who do go ahead with a dance, this is a chance to show a bit of your personalities through the music you pick. It might be super romantic and slow, or a quirky fun dance that everyone can join in on and have a laugh. Let your imaginations go wild - the formalities are over, this should be all about fun now!

Make sure there is a variety of music to suit everyone's tastes! Paul Hughson Photography
Make sure there is a variety of music to suit everyone's tastes! Paul Hughson Photography
- General music for the reception: it can be important for the song straight after the ‘first dance' to be a goodie as this signals that it's time to get moving. It's traditional for the bride to get the father-of-the-groom dancing and the groom to get the mother-of-the-groom up and dancing during this one. Also the bridal party should be notified to get straight in there and encourage everyone to join in. And remember, not everyone loves the same type of music, so while you might love heavy metal or country music, be sure to have a nice mix so all guests have something they might enjoy. It is your special day but you also want your guests to enjoy themselves and have happy memories from the night. The more people up dancing, the better!

There are many options for music throughout your day. You could have live musicians (a harpist, string quartet, acoustic guitar, acapella singer), a music device to simply plug in, organ music at a traditional church wedding, a live cover band for the reception that will play all your requests (if requested ahead of time), a simple guitar duo, talented friends who enjoying singing, a themed band (country, Celtic, folk, bagpipes), a DJ to really get the party started and play all your old school favourites - the list is endless.

Ask around, look online for local musicians, and get references from friends. Just make sure the venue can cater for the type of music you are planning well ahead of time (Do they have a sound system? Can the musicians plug into amps there?) and make lists of the special songs you want played and when, so everyone is on the same page.

Follow this rough guide and advice and your wedding is set to be a joyful, melodic success!

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - Plato

Some modern song ideas from our wonderful ‘ODT Wedding of the Year' finalists for your inspiration:
"A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri; "Awake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons; "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars; "Everlong" by Foo Fighters; "Tender" by Blur; "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith; "Many of Horror" by Biffy Clyro; "Sitting on Top of the World" by Delta Goodrem; "Forever" by Six60; "Diamonds" by Rihanna; "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap; "One Day Like This" by Elbows

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