Real questions from real brides and grooms. All these questions have been answered by wedding entertainement specialists. 

Q - For my ceremony I am having a classical trio and have chosen Pachelbel's Canon to walk down the aisle to. What happens if I get to the altar, and the music hasn't finished?

A - The musicians will round the music off at the end of the bar so you may need to stand at the front for 10-20 seconds to allow the musicians to finish the music nicely and not abruptly.

Q - Could help me choose a song for my dad and I to dance to at the reception?

A - I believe the right choice of song for the father-daughter dance is one that has special meaning to you and your dad. Most commonly selected songs for the Father Daughter dance are:

1. I'm Everything I Am (Because You Loved Me) - Celine Dion
2. Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
3. There You'll Be - Faith Hill
4. Beautiful in My Eyes - Joshua Kadison
5. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison

Q - If I book my entertainment for say, 6.00pm, do they arrive at 6pm or start performing at 6pm?

A - Your entertainer should start performing at 6.00pm. Their price should include set-up and load-out times, as well as all relevant costs. The contract with your Entertainment Provider (hopefully you have one!) should accommodate for this.

Q - Do I need to provide my entertainers with a meal?

A - The Australian Musicians Union requirements state ‘a meal is required for entertainers performing three or more hours'. Your Entertainment Provider should take care of these and all other union requirements for you.

Q - I have booked a band for my wedding reception. Do we pick every song we want them to play? How do we know if we have picked enough songs?

A - Generally picking every song for the band to play can make it very difficult for the band to "work the crowd". We definitely encourage you to choose music but leave when to play each song up to the band. By doing this the band can see what your guests are responding well to and play more of the same.

Q - Can you suggest some entertainment ideas for a cocktail reception?

A - Absolutely. Here are three live music ideas for your cocktail reception:

String Quartet: offers a sophisticated, stylish mood. Two violins a viola and a cello, they perform popular classics and modern favourites. Adds panache to
your reception.
Solo Guitarist: offers a refined, elegant atmosphere. One guitar, they perform a selection of jazz, classical and Spanish flavours. A little more cost-effective if
you're on a tight budget!
Jazz Trio: offers a lively, upbeat, interactive feel. Saxophone, guitar and bass, they perform swing, latin and bossa-nova tunes. Adds a touch of class to your
reception.

The next thing you want to consider is how your musicians will dress. Dinner suits work well for formal occasions, lounge suits for a more casual look, and all-black covers all dress codes - very smart!

Q - When does my entertainment perform?

A - Your entertainers should perform 40 minutes in each hour, according to Australian Musicians Union requirements. If you have booked your entertainment for one hour only, they should be available to perform for the full hour. A professional Entertainment Provider will time the entertainers' breaks to ensure your entertainers will perform at the appropriate times.

Q - What is the normal length of time it takes to get down the aisle? I have about 10 metres to walk and want to get my music right!

A - The best thing to do is to time your walk down the aisle in a rehearsal. Then you'll know exactly how long you need your music to play. Remember to take into account the little changes that can occur on the day, like nerves (which means you could walk a little faster!). If you are walking down the aisle to pre-recorded music on a cassette or CD player, just be sure to have someone who knows the equipment well, and have them do a tasteful fade out at the appropriate time. If you are using live musicians, you can give them an indication of how long you expect to take to walk down the aisle before your wedding day, and they will stop playing at an appropriate section in the music (ie: at a cadence), timed with you.

Q - How do the musicians work out how long to play for when I am walking down the aisle?

A - Good question. The length and timing of the music should be discussed prior to the ceremony. It is a good idea to let your musicians know how many people are in your bridal party and the approximate length of the aisle. This allows the musicians to work out how many bars of music are required.

Q - When will a band arrive to set up at a reception? If I have them booked at 6pm will they start playing then or start setting up?

A - First things first. I would always recommend a contract be signed well and truly prior to your wedding. The contract should outline the performance times which acknowledges the actual start time. Set up and sound check will occur prior to this contracted commencement time.

Q - I am having my sister sing while we sign the register. What are some good suggestions. Please no Celine Dion, I'm not a fan, neither is my fiance. We would like something classical.

A - It's important the song your sister sings at your signing has special meaning to you both. It's also important your sister performs something she is comfortable singing, knows well, and can perform effortlessly should she get nervous on the day. Once you take those points into consideration, then the sky's the limit! You mentioned you are looking for something classical. Below I have compiled a list of the 5 most popular classical songs sung at Wedding Ceremonies over the past 3 months.

The 5 most popular vocal classical pieces at Wedding Ceremonies:

Ave Maria by Schubert (this one is the most popular Ave maria version)
Ave Maria by Bach/Gonoud
Pie Jesu by Lloyd Weber
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach
Largo by Handel

Q - We would like a DJ for our wedding, however we are very particular about the music that is played. We've both been to many weddings where the DJ plays the types of songs you'd expect to hear at someones 21st (ie lots of cheesy songs thrown in for good measure!) and that is exactly what we don't want! On the other hand, we don't want to have to sit down with the DJ and choose each and every song. What is the usual procedure for music selection when choosing a DJ?

A - When booking a DJ for your wedding it is essential that the DJ or entertainment agency helps you personalise the music as much as possible. For a great start most DJ's will have a generic song list that you can go through. This is ideal for listing the "cheesy songs" you don't want. It is also ideal to help the DJ get an understanding of the music that you do enjoy. Another great way to personalise the music without choosing every song, is to choose particular music styles and genres for the various components of the evening. For example over dinner you may want Café Del Mar style or Jazz, then for dancing you may want Classic Hits/Retro, Pop/Top 40 or Latin. Ultimately a good DJ will be able to understand what atmosphere is desired by listening to what you do and don't want played and also be able to "read the crowd" on the night.

Q - As soon as we finish our meals and speeches are done at our reception, we really want our guests to get up and dance. We have a cross-section of guests, from teenagers to grandparents, and a melting-pot of cultures ie Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, and Australian! Obviously I want our music to appeal to everyone, so how can I cater to everyones tastes?

A - Any reputable party band will be able to entertain and encourage your guests to dance, no matter what age they are or cultural background they come from. The musicians should also be flexible, able to alter their style of music throughout the evening and respond to your guests well. If the dance floor is full and the crowd is having a great time then the band should be able to follow on with similarly styled music to keep you guests on the dance floor all night long.

Q - My partner and I are having problems agreeing on a song for our first dance. He is thinking something slow and more traditional, where I would like it to be more fun and relaxed! Could you suggest some ideas which might help us reach a happy compromise?

A - Not only does the choice of your bridal dance depend on finding something special that you both like, you will also have to feel comfortable and confident dancing to it! Compromising on a song, may mean going with something slow and relaxed like Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" or something traditional but fun like Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me". Another suggestion is choosing two songs; the first song, slow and traditional like Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" that you and your fiancé dance to by yourselves followed by a fun song like Van Morrison's "Moondance" to get all of your guests up dancing. Hope this helps!

Q - We are getting married outside and I was wondering what sort of music I should have to walk down the aisle. My fiancé and I both like '70-'80's music and I wouldn't mind something different to everybody else's. What do you think?

A - Choosing a piece of music to walk down the aisle to is a very personal decision. Ultimately it is up to you and your fiancé. Walking down the aisle to something from the '70's or '80's era is a fun fresh idea - why not give your guests something to remember forever! Your music should reflect who you are and what this day means to you.

Q - We are thinking about having Karaoke at our reception for something a little different. What are you thoughts on this?

A - Karaoke has generally been a popular request for hen's & buck's nights. I can see how it would be a lot of fun and set your wedding apart from the rest. Not only is it good for laughs, but it's a fantastic way to get your two families to mix and mingle. As long as the reception reflects you and your soon to be, who cares about convention!

Q - My ceremony is outside and I am having a string quartet. If it rains we will supply umbrellas for all of our guests. What cover will the quartet need?

A - Unless completely sheltered, your string quartet will not play. Their instruments are worth thousands of dollars and even the slightest water damage can cause them to warp or buckle.

Q - My fiancé and I are planning to make our wedding the best anyone has ever been to and we don't know what kind of music to have at our ceremony. We don't want to have the usual kinds, such as a string quartet, harpist etc. Do you have any suggestions?

A - While string ensembles are still extremely popular choices there is an ever increasing range of musicians and entertainers available, who can tailor the music for your day. If you have a favourite pop song for example, you may wish to have an acoustic version of this with guitar and vocals. Other options include gospel a Capella groups, jazz trios and flamenco guitarists.

Q - We are having a morning wedding. Our ceremony is at 8am and our reception will start at 9am and goes until 1pm. Will we have to feed the musicians?

A - Yes the musicians will require a meal. In accordance with Musician Union requirements, entertainers and their crews performing for three hours or more over a normal meal period are to be served a main meal and refreshments. These are commonly referred to as crew meals and are charged at a different rate per head to your guests.

Q - What is the difference in sound between a string trio and a string quartet?

A - A string trio consists of a cello and two violins, whilst a string quartet incorporates a viola as the fourth instrument. The viola is a deeper sounding instrument compared to the violin. While you are not limited in the repertoire choices with a string trio, a string quartet will have more depth and layers to their sound.

Q - I am thinking of having a vocalist sing at my wedding, but I have particular songs that I would like sung. Will a vocalist learn songs for me?

A - Personalising your wedding music will come down to what vocalist you actually book, it is a good idea to check these details before booking any vocalist for your wedding. Many of the reputable singers will agree to learn specific song requests for your wedding. After all it is your wedding day and you should personalise it as much as possible.

Q - I really want everyone to get up and dance and enjoy themselves at my wedding. Can you give me any fun and interesting ideas? One idea we came up with was doing the old style dance "Military Two Step". We'd make it progressive so everyone could meet each other. if you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

A - You're right - by far the best way to have people enjoy themselves is for them to get up and boogie! The secret to having everyone involved is planning, so talk this through with your entertainment provider. Tell them exactly how and when you want the song to happen. Hint: a perfect time is immediately following the bridal waltz. Choosing a group participation song here will be a great signal to begin the party!

To get everyone involved, you need two things:

1. A charismatic, vibrant leader. Every group needs a leader. Someone that's confident and comfortable in front of a crowd. And coordination is a must! An excellent choice if you're using a live band is the singer, if you're using a dj the dj (provided they are the right personality and are prepared to do it - see above). Or you might choose a relative or friend that's willing to help out, provided they are the right personality etc (!)

2. A song that everyone knows. Choosing a song known to the masses will significantly increase your chances of getting everyone involved. After all, you don't want to get everybody on the dance floor only to realise that six people know the right steps, and everyone else is left in the dark. You want music that people can relate to, and music they know the dance moves to, without having to give them a 10 minute lesson before they start.

Q - My partner and I have very different tastes in music and are really struggling to find a bridal waltz. We have started dancing lessons and my fiancé would really like to do a traditional waltz rather than rumba, foxtrot etc which is fine with me. I like the following songs - but I need to work out if they can be waltzed to and if they are too fast or slow. Do they come in instrumental only versions (which we both prefer)?

Can't help falling in love with you - Elvis
She (the Charles Asnavour version)
Til there was you - Beatles or another version
Somewhere my love - Lara's theme
When I fall in love

Do you have any other suggestions for an uptempo but not too fast waltz? What about classical music like The Gadfly by Prokofiev or Waltz of the Flowers?

A - Congratulations on accomplishing what is perhaps the most difficult challenge of any wedding preparation - getting your fiancé to dance classes. Most men quiver at just the thought of musical coordinated movements! (Ed. note: guilty as charged!) If I am correct you have two general questions; 1 - what is the correct tempo (speed) for a bridal waltz, and 2 - which is the best choice?

The correct tempo for any piece is the one you both feel most comfortable with when dancing to it. A simple solution is for you to both set yourselves up in your lounge room with a bunch of CDs containing potential bridal waltzes. Now, turn the stereo off, and start waltzing around the room. Why? Because by dancing without music, you will find your perfect tempo! Once you have both settled into a nice easy rhythm, pop one of the CDs in your player and see if it ‘fits'. If you have to speed up you know it's too fast, if you have to slow down, you know it's too slow. Simple!

If it's a traditional waltz that you're looking for, then Waltz of The Flowers from The Nutcracker Suite is an excellent, romantic choice. (The Gadfly wouldn't work because it's in 4/4 march time, not 3/4 waltz time.)

Q - We plan on marrying New Years Eve. We are having a cocktail reception mainly due to the fact that we want our wedding reception to feel like a party - where we are not tied to our table and where there is a lot of dancing and people mingling etc. We are thinking of having a live Jazz band. How many musicians should we look for? What instruments? How difficult is it to book someone for New Years Eve? How far in advance should we book? In terms of fees / hours what further expectations will there be purely because it is New Years?

A - First, the good news! A live Jazz Band performing groovy danceable music is an ideal choice for your cocktail party reception. Jazz Bands come in a variety of styles and sizes, and there are a few important points to finding the perfect band for your reception.

Style & Size
Live Jazz can range in size from a soloist to a quartet to a 15-piece big band. Because you want people to dance, you'll need drums as part of your Jazz Combo - they provide an essential beat for dancing. For a completely full-sounding band you should consider a 3-piece band as absolute minimum, with a 4 or 5-piece band as ideal. A quintet will open up your options for a great party band with a singer that plays a variety of smooth Sinatra-style crooning Jazz, lounge-jazz favourites plus a quality quintet will also offer Soul hits and R&B classics.

Pricing
Fees are generally charged per-musician on a hourly basis, with many bands having a 3 to 4 hour minimum (longer performances makes the time effort spent on set-up worthwhile). There is one other major factor that influences price, which leads us to the final point, and the not-so-good news...

NYE Bookings
Because NYE is party time, it's statistically the busiest night of the year for musicians. Not only is it difficult to find a band that is available on NYE, as a general rule musicians double, and sometimes triple their rates.

Q - We're having a catholic ceremony without nuptial mass at 1pm followed (after a bit of a gap and refreshments outside the church) by an evening reception at 5pm. I like the traditional ceremony music which is fine within the church guidelines but I don't know how it would sound on an organ. Which pieces are OK to have an organist play and which require a stringed instrument? We will have a small string ensemble for the pre-dinner drinks so it may be possible to have them at the ceremony also, but I need to know if the organist can do it on her own.

A - The good news is, practically anything that can be played by a string quartet can also be played by an organist, and vice-versa. That said, there are a few traditional wedding ceremony pieces which in my opinion sound simply superb on strings. They are 'Pachelbel's Canon in D' and 'Arrival of the Queen of Sheba' - these pieces lose a little of their beauty when translated to another instrument, although bear in mind it CAN be done! It's also important to keep in mind that your musicians will require appropriate scores for the songs you want them to perform your wedding songs, so it's really a matter of whether they have copies as to whether they are able to perform your requests.

Q - I will be having a special dance with my dad. I have found a beautiful song for this (Butterfly Kisses) but I am unsure where to slot it in to the night and is it supposed to be announced?

A - It's a wonderful idea to have a Father-Daughter dance on an occasion that is so special to you and your dad! The Father-Daughter dance has recently come back into vogue and is essentially one way the bride can say 'thanks for everything' before all the guests present. It is usually played immediately after the Bridal Waltz and is usually a nice touch to have it announced for your guests.

Q - Could you provide me with a list of times during the ceremony and reception when we need to pick our own songs beside walking down the aisle; signing the registry; first dance. Do you have a complete list?

A - Following is a list of occasions when you might consider having music for your ceremony and reception. Most weddings will have music during these times:

Ceremony Music
Processional (Bride's entrance)
Signing of the Register
Recessional (Bride and Groom's exit)
Reception Music
Entrance of the Bridal Party
Cutting of the Cake
Bridal Waltz

Q - My fiance and I are getting married in a garden ceremony and the reception will be held in an open marquee (also in the garden). We were thinking of having a jazz band for the ceremony and I would like to walk down the aisle to 'Come Away With Me' by Norah Jones - is this appropriate? Also, we would like our wedding song to be a bit upbeat and we have chosen Lenny Kravitz 'You Belong To Me'. We would really like a live band but we understand that they obviously take breaks - would you suggest a DJ for these 'break times'?

A - Provided they suit the overall theme of you wedding, I think your choice of songs would suit perfectly! Just be sure to check with the live band/s that:

1. They will suit the style of the song requests you're asking them to play, and
2. They are able to accomodate your requests as not all musicians will cover all styles of music.

If you have a live band of professional musicians from a reliable source, this shouldn't be a problem. Regarding music during band breaks, in most cases you should be able to get pre-recorded music during band breaks without the extra cost of hiring a DJ. Most live bands will be more than happy to provide a CD player for this purpose if you ask. Alternatively, most venues have a system capable of providing background music, and they should be able to accomodate yur requests. Either way, remember to take some of your favourite CDs to play!


Q - I need a song to walk out of the church after the ceremony. I would like a kind of fastish (well, just not too slow) kind of one, and have looked on your list that includes Bach, Celine Dion, Faith Hill and Stevie Wonder but none of those suited me. . Do you have any more suggestions? If it helps, I'm walking in to Pachelbels Cannon, and have modern hymns throughout the mass and ceremony.

A - Even though "Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba" by Handel is listed as an entrance song, it is also very popular amongst brides as a song for the departure. It is popular because it's up-tempo, lively, and inspires celebration. Other songs that would also suit your departure include: "La Rejoussance" by Handel and "Trumpet Voluntary" by Clarke.

Q - I'm getting married in a church and i'm interested in hiring a harpist at the ceremony, however I'm unsure whether the instrument will sound dramatic or loud enough for the processional music. What's your opinion? I think a string quartet sounds great but i would like to do something different.

A - The size of the church will determine just how loud, and therefore how dramatic a solo harpist will sound. If your wedding is an intimate occasion in a medium sized church or chapel, the striking sound of a harp will ring through to all in attendance. Whereas if your ceremony is being held in a large church or cathedral, there is the possibility that although exquisite, the sound of a solo harp could become a little 'lost in the crowd' so to speak. In most situations a string quartet will carry better than harp, simply because not only do the instruments in the string quartet carry more effectively, but you have the power of four musicians as opposed to one. However if you love the sound of a harp all is not lost! Have you considered a harp and flute duo? The flute travels extremely well, and with the luxurious sounds of harp as accompaniment, will make a combination that is nothing short of stunning - not to mention just different enough to be quite unique! This may be just what you're looking for!

Q - My fiancé and I are finally getting married after 9 years together. All of our friends cant believe we have finally set a date. We want the reception to be one big "Shindig". We are having the reception at home in our barn on our property. I want a country/bush theme. I have some ideas already and would love a band that does barn dance calling, so people will get up and be crazy. Where do I look for a band like this and what do you suggest we use for music between sets? Can you give me any suggestions also for the bridal dance based on the country/bush theme?

A - Sounds like you're going to have a blast! Your barn dancing/country theme should certainly have everyone up on the dance floor all night long! Your first stop for barn dance callers is The Bush Music Club Inc. Contact details can be found on their website (www.bushmusic.org.au) where you can also request info on their selection of bush bands, reciters and dance callers. The Club will be able to give you ideas on songs with a country theme for your bridal waltz, as well as arranging music between sets.

Q - I'm a bit stuck on choosing songs for our wedding day. Are there any songs that are current as I do not like any of the traditional songs that everyone has for their wedding. How many special songs do we need to pick? Is the song "Amazing" by Alex Lloyd appropriate for the bridal waltz?

A - The beauty of a modern wedding is that there are no limits to what or how you wish to hold the proceedings, including your choice of music. The vast range of choice can also be overwhelming! A useful guide to selecting music for your wedding is to choose no more than two music styles (like popular, classical, jazz etc) for the ceremony and three for the reception. This will provide some sense of continuity and flow to the wedding. If you wish to have modern music for your wedding, then the sky is the limit! Some popular favourites include:

‘From This Moment' Shania Twain
‘Because You Loved Me' Celine Dion
‘Hero' Enrique Iglesias
‘Everything I Do' Bryan Adams
‘I Knew I Loved You' Savage Garden
‘Beautiful Day' U2

The amount of songs you need to choose largely depends on how formal your wedding day will be. For instance, a simple garden wedding won't require as many songs as a formal wedding in a Catholic Church. You can use the following song points in the wedding proceedings as a guide:

The Wedding Ceremony
Pre-ceremonial music (2-5 songs. Can also be chosen by your musicians)
The Processional (1 song)
Signing of the Register (1 song. Have a second in reserve as this can take some time)
The Recessional (1 song)

The Wedding Reception
Entrance Song (1 song, or you can choose a song for each couple in the bridal party as they are announced. Be sure you have good musicians or a professional dj for the second option!)
Cutting of the Cake (1 song, however music is optional)
Bridal Waltz (1 song, and the most important. It's a good idea to have a follow up song ready to go - something that will keep everyone on their feet and dancing!)
Throwing the Garter (1 song, usually something along the lines of ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On' or ‘Fever' is played here.)

Karen, I think Alex Lloyd's beautiful ballad ‘Amazing' would be a perfect choice for a bridal waltz, especially if the lyrics truly capture and express your feelings. You and your fiancé will want a few easy dance moves up your sleeve for your waltz, so its worthwhile taking a little time to practice dancing to the song together. This will also ensure you are both comfortable with the feel and tempo of your song.

Q - We are getting married in a paddock on my future in-laws property. We were wondering what type of entertainment we should have. We thought of hiring a juke box but don't really know. Could you please give us some advice. The wedding is going to be semi formal with approximately 80 guests and in the middle of summer.

A - When it comes to your wedding, you basically have a choice of two types of entertainment: live, or pre-recorded. The energy, look and feel of a live band performing at your reception is great, especially when they know how to interact with your guests. On the other hand, pre-recorded music can be much more cost-effective because you are hiring only one person (like a DJ), or in the case of a jukebox, just the equipment. Your idea of a jukebox can certainly be a fun way of providing your guests with music. If you do use a jukebox, here's another idea that could make your entertainment even more fun! Simply ask each of your guests to tell you the name of their all-time favorite song, then ask your jukebox provider add each song to your selection (just be sure to check with your jukebox provider first - not all providers will let you do this.) At your wedding, your guests will feel special, not to mention get a kick out of choosing their favorite song! It's one way of giving pre-recorded entertainment that personal touch. In the end, it really comes down to what your budget will allow, and whether you want the energy of live entertainment, or the fun and convenience of a jukebox. I think a jukebox would suit a wedding like yours quite well, and with a few creative ideas, make for a truly memorable event!

Q - Can you suggest some music suitable for the walk down the aisle?

A - Following are some traditional song choices for wedding ceremonies. Remember these are just suggestions, and the music you choose for your ceremony is only limited by your imagination!

Popular Traditional Songs:

Air on a G String Bach
The Four Seasons Vivaldi
Canon in D Pachelbel
Trumpet Voluntary Clarke
Ave Maria Schubert
Water Music Handel
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba Handel
Wedding March Mendelssohn
Divertimento No. 3 - Allegro Mozart

Q - We are planning a medieval themed wedding and were wondering if you had some suggestions for the type of music we should be playing to suit the atmosphere!

A - If you're looking for genuine medieval music, then songs and instruments used during The Middle Ages and The Renaissance will fit in perfectly to your reception! Some authentic medieval style groups you could consider may include: recorder quartets, flute and harp duos, lute players (all quiet, peaceful and unobtrusive groups), trumpet players (excellent for heralding the newlyweds into the reception hall), and percussion groups include: tambourines, tabors (drums), and tuned bells. Check out your local Medieval Society or Club for a recommendation of musicians, or for a hassle-free, professional job, use an Entertainment Consultancy to source music and/or musicians for you. And may your wedding be a day of much joy and merriment!

Q - Are we supposed to provide a meal for our Entertainers, seeing as they are at the Reception all night? If so, do we allocate seating for them at one of the tables?

A - The Musicians Union requires a meal be provided for any entertainer performing for three or more hours, so the answer to your first question is yes. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to indulge in your full 7-course banquet, but as a guide, a main course and soft drinks should be your minimum. It's not necessary to allocate seating for your band at a guest table, but it does pay to look after them by asking your event manager to have a table prepared for them - somewhere they can peacefully sit and enjoy their meal. It's good to remember that, like most people, your musicians really do notice those nice little things you do for them. Look at it this way - if you make your entertainers comfortable, they'll go that bit extra to make your night a truly memorable occasion.

Q - What kind of music do you think is best suited to a masked ball wedding? We are thinking of having this as our theme.

A - A Masked Ball conjures thoughts of mystery, intrigue and drama - the essential ingredients for every wedding! Masked Balls became popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissence, and the great composer Verdi wrote an Opera called 'Un Ballo In Maschera' or 'A Masked Ball'. So, if you want to stay true to the original, the music you choose would be Medieval in style (just think 'Blackadder' the BBC-TV show, or the movie 'Camelot'). If this isn't your style, you may consider hiring a string quartet or solo harpist play at the entrance - the perfect way to introduce your guests to an evening of intrigue and romance! You could then lead into a groovy reception band or DJ so you and your guests can party the night away.

Q - Do you think it is advisable to discuss song lists with your DJ, or leave him/her to their own devices after you have briefed them? I am not sure what to do!

A - Because we have such a diverse range of tastes, not to mention the huge range of choice when it comes to music, it's certainly advisable you let your DJ know what you are looking for when it comes to songs for your wedding. A professional DJ will be able to provide you with Music Selection Forms that include options. Your DJ should provide you with all of the following options:
your choice from a list of music styles (eg: top 40, 50s & 60s, wedding & love songs etc)
your choice from a list of every song in their catalogue, which is helpful if you know exactly what you want, or
a combination of 1) and 2), which is excellent if you don't want to choose every song for the night, but have some songs in mind you'd definitely like to hear.

There's just one more thing to consider: you want your wedding night to be a great success, and working with people you can trust certainly makes for a stress-free and fabulous night!

Q - Can you suggest some songs for entering the reception and being announced as Mr & Mrs.

A - Here are some suggestions for you:
Beautiful Day - U2
Celebration - Kool and the Gang
Walk This Way - Aerosmith
Canon In D - Pachelbel
So This Is Love - Cinderella
Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
Hallellujah Handel's 'Messiah'
Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
Escape - Enrique Inglasias

Q - We are having a beach themed wedding and I need to put together some song ideas... can you help me with suggestions of beach songs?

A - What a great idea - it sounds like you're going to have fun. To me, the beach says hot summer days, tropical nights and lets not forget the cocktails! Of course, an obvious beach theme might be The Beach Boys, and anything with a Latin/Caribbean/Tropical feel to it would be perfect. Here are some suggestions (best read whilst reclined on a lilo in the pool with a Mango Daquiri!)

Under The Boardwalk - The Drifters (and was also recorded by The Rolling Stones on their album 12 x 5, as well as Bette Midler)
Pebble Beach - David Benoit (from the cool jazz album ‘Here's To You Charlie Brown')
Café Del Mar- I think any of their albums really suits the beach!
Ocean Breeze- Kenny G (from the album ‘Paradise')

Hopefully this will get you in the mood!

Q - I am 49 and getting married for the 2nd and last time. Our celebrant asked for us to choose 3 songs, one for when we arrive (we are not having bridesmaids or best mans' so will be entering the room together) and the other 2 songs for while we are signing the papers, I had chosen Johnny O'Keefe's "She Wears My Ring" and "I'm Counting On You" for 2 of the songs. When I played the songs for our 3 daughters (who are aged 24, 25 & 27) they laughed their heads off! I was very upset at this as the songs have always been very special to me. Are they so unacceptable or is it just the generation gap?!

A - This is a good question, and it comes down to what you really want in your wedding. The songs you choose for your ceremony will set the mood for your special day, and you have obviously chosen songs that have great meaning to you. Sure, Johnny O'Keefe may sound a little ‘dated' to your daughters, but you can bet if they played music they're into, to their 20-something daughters in the future, there would certainly be a few giggles! Music is such a personal thing, and if Johnny O'Keefe holds a special place in your heart, then go for it!

Q - My fiance and I really want to surprise everyone with our first dance song. We plan to have two, the first one being 'Come What May' from Moulin Rouge. The second song we want to be upbeat and something that everyone will want get on their feet to dance to. We are both 22, and don't want anything techno, but something that people will have a giggle about and get on the dance floor! We would appreciate your help.

A - What a fantastic choice of song! And what a question - to find that one song that will get everyone on the dance floor and in the mood for a real party! Well, here goes... - After such a beautiful ballad like "Come What May" it gives you the perfect opportunity to pick a song that really gets people up and grooving, and as you say, have a bit of a giggle!. The surest way to do that is to pick an upbeat song that is really well known. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Timeless songs that bridge the generation gap work wonders, because everyone knows and (usually) loves them.
How about James Brown's "I Feel Good" - it's well known Or, for a good laugh, maybe something from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, like "The Timewarp" (a bit daggy, possibly, but lots of fun when the whole dance floor is doing the ‘step-to-the-left'!)
Everyone knows the Blues Bros! "Shake You Tailfeather",
A relaxed/cruisy style could be Harry Connick Jnr's "It Had To Be You" (with or without the orchestral opening at the start - it's your choice!)
Van Morrisons "Moondance" always goes down a treat.
ABBA's "Dancing Queen" might also be a good choice!

Also, the hits from Motown era epitomize fun, partying, and having a real ball. Any of the following tunes could easily come to your rescue:

"Jungle Boogie" (made famous in the movie Pulp Fiction)
Jackson Fives' "Blame it On the Boogie"
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" suits the day, or "Superstition", both Stevie Wonder classics
"You Sexy Thing" - good, clean fun by Hot Chocolate (and low in fat!)

I hope this gives you some ideas - or at least gets you started!

Q - Should I see my entertainer perform ‘live' before I book?

A - This is a good question. There's no need to see your entertainer live if they have provided you with a quality recording of their work, good references and are a respected Entertainment Provider.

Q - We are expecting around 80 people at our wedding, ranging from teenagers to grandparents in their 80's. Both my fiance and I are into live music, and would love to have one our favourite bands play. The only problem is this band is very "rock"! I understand that they wouldn't play until well into the reception, my only problem is that my parents think that this will upset the older people, as it just isn't their style. I tell them that it is my wedding day, and that the rest of the younger crowd will love it! How can I compromise?

A - You see the need to compromise and keep everyone happy so you're definitely on the right track! You've also got the right idea by having live music for your reception, because live music will really help to create and change the dynamics and atmosphere of your reception. Consider the following points when using a rock band for your reception:

Where does the band usually perform? If they've had plenty of experience playing intimate venues like wedding receptions, then you should be ok. If they usually play in bars and larger venues, you should definitely check them out in a more intimate environment to see if they fit with the theme of your day.
Check with your venue to see if they have any noise restrictions. Depending on their style, a rock band could be quite loud in a venue with 80 guests. Ask the advice of your venue manager as well, as they probably have seen how many different types of live music work in their venue.
Also check with your venue to see if they have an alternate room or space your guests could use for quiet conversation and ‘chilling out' while the band is performing. (You never know if you don't ask, and this may solve all your problems!)

If you have the above sorted, a great compromise could be to have another, more subtle style of music in the early stages of your reception - this can make a really good impression for the older guests, and may just keep you in the good books with your parents! The following choices are popular for pre-dinner drinks, or dinner, or both:

String quartet (sophisticated, traditional, stylish)
Solo cello, piano, guitar or harp (enchanting, uplifting)
Jazz singer a-la Frank Sinatra/Harry Connick Jnr. (groovy, fun, uplifting)

The great thing about these styles is that they are pretty much timeless - you can provide a real sense of occasion without the added stress of putting anyone offside. (After all, who could be offended by a string quartet!) Remember, you are the main attraction of your wedding as well as being the host to your guests. To make it a real success, it's important you choose music that will help both you and your guests feel comfortable and at ease. If you can find a musical compromise that will keep your guests happy all night long, your wedding will be remembered by all as a superb occasion for years to come.

Q - Should I ask for a written contract?

A - In a word, absolutely. A written contract provides you with the benefits of a legal agreement with your Entertainment Provider, provided its drawn up appropriately. Aside from assuring you all your dates, times, addresses and details are correct, it will also protect you if anything should go wrong. Your contract should also state whether extra costs such as equipment hire and travel are included in the price.

Q - It has been decided that my partner and I will be waltzing for the bridal waltz. Are you able to tell me (or suggest where I could possibly find out) which of the following songs are in the correct timing for a waltz?

Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith
Have I told You Lately by Rod Stewart
You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker
Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warnes
When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge
Sailing by Rod Stewart
Woman by John Lennon
You're In My Heart by Rod Stewart
Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet

A - Traditionally the bridal dance was always a waltz, but today you can 'waltz' to anything from Boys II Men to the 1812 Overture! If you're taking professional dancing lessons, it's worth asking your dance instructor for advice. The closest song to a waltz on your list would be 'When A Man Loves A Woman' by Percy Sledge, but it might be fast to waltz to in the traditional manner. If you just want to dance, then any song on your list is perfect! It's nice to choose a song that's special to you - one that'll take you back to your wedding day every time you hear it!

Q - I am having a cocktail style reception, where people will be standing and finger food will be served. What is the most suitable entertainment? Is live music better than a DJ? What do you suggest?

A - A cocktail reception can really open up your options for some great live entertainment. You want entertainment that is elegant, chic, and will provide your guests with enjoyment while reflecting your style. Live music can certainly make a difference. Not only does it provide a great visual impression, but the right style of music will offer atmosphere, a feeling of celebration and more interaction for your guests. DJs usually work for a minimum of 5 hours, and are good for occasions where you expect your guests to be doing a lot of dancing, so they're not as effective at a cocktail reception. Your guests will be too busy mingling and enjoying the finger food to dance! The important thing is to use a professional entertainment provider that reflect and complement your style.

Stuck for wedding entertainment ideas...find further inspiration at Musicians, Entertainment and DJs Australia.

Brookelyn Photography

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