Confused About How Your Day Will Run? We Can Help.
In this post, we’re going to look at how your day/night will run and discuss how music fits into each specific part. Keep in mind that every wedding is unique. Maybe you’re planning to feature a dancing monkey at some stage of your wedding? Great! Are you not a fan of goodbye circles and want to end the night more casually? That’s OK too. Every wedding is unique and you will have things that you want to add, remove, alter slightly or significantly. Still, we’re going to look at the events that often take place at most weddings. By understanding these things, you will hopefully have a better idea of the different parts of weddings in general, and the role that music plays.
Planning for your wedding can be overwhelming. There can be a lot to think about, from the finer details such as which flowers to purchase, the font on your invitations, the type of beer your guests will be drinking, to the bigger decisions, such as which venue to choose.
While you won’t find any advice here about which flowers to buy, we can give you a general breakdown of how things generally run on the day/night. This can be a refreshing read for a lot of couples, who sometimes feel that they are just expected to know how things will run. We’ve played at hundreds of Melbourne weddings, so we think we can offer some good advice.
We’re going to start from the ceremony, because this is where the official part of the day begins. This is also where music can begin its role:
Waiting for the Bride – Guests arrive at the ceremony before the bride does. By the time the bride arrives to walk down the aisle, the guests are already seated (or standing), eagerly waiting. There is usually a nervous excitement in the air, and a great sense of anticipation.
Music can be used here as a backdrop. The music here is not designed to draw attention to anything, but rather add a peaceful ambience to the environment. Instrumental music (music without lyrics) is very popular at this time.
Walking Down the Aisle – This needs no explanation. Walking down the aisle is synonymous with the wedding itself.
Right before the bridal party and bride begin walking down the isle, the background music usually stops. This signals to the guests that something is about to happen, and the anticipation becomes intense. A new song then begins playing and people watch as the bridesmaids and bride begin walking down the aisle. The music adds an emotional layer to this very significant moment.
Ceremony – After the bride walks down the aisle, most of the ceremony takes place without any breaks for music to be played. Most ceremonies consist of an introduction, a brief story about the couple, readings, vows, exchanging of rings and a declaration of marriage. The format of ceremonies can vary considerably based on different religious/cultural practices, so it’s hard to go into too much detail here.
There is often no music during these stages, as the ceremony mainly involves speaking (from the celebrant, readers and of course bride and groom). The next opportunity for music to be heard is usually during the signing of the register.
Signing Of The Register – The signing of the register is when the bride and groom officially sign the paperwork, in front of witnesses, which officially seals the deal. This is technically still part of the ceremony, but happens after the vows and the ‘first kiss’.
This is an ideal time for another song or two to be played. The music here is background music, but with an emotional element to it, because this is the time when the guests are reflecting on what has just happened.
Conclusion of Ceremony – The conclusion of the ceremony is when the ceremony has officially finished and the bride and groom are leaving, in their new status as a married couple. The mood is very upbeat here. Guests are usually excitedly chatting and congratulating the newly married couple.
This is another important place for music to do it’s thing. Think of it like the credits music to a film with a happy ending. A love song is usually played that has a celebratory feel – something a bit more upbeat than the entrance song.
As much as the ceremony is what the whole day is all about (after all, that’s what the wedding literally is), the reception is where a lot of the fun is had. It’s where speeches are made, people mingle, dancing happens, much food and drink are consumed. It’s also the part where music plays its biggest role. Let’s look at the different parts of the wedding reception.
Pre Dinner Drinks – The ‘pre dinner drinks’ is something that features at many weddings, but not all. It takes place around one hour before guests are seated at their tables. It sometimes takes place in a different room to the main reception room. It’s often in the same building as the reception, but can also be at a completely different venue (such as a nearby cafe). During pre dinner drinks, guests mingle, have a few drinks and nibble on canapés.
Music provides the perfect backdrop for pre dinner drinks. Think of it like being at a classy cocktail bar, with chilled out music in the background. The music is there for quiet enjoyment, while having a drink and a chat. The music could be in the form of a solo piano, or an acoustic duo or anything with a laid-back, chilled-out vibe.
Entrance of the Bridal Party – Once all the guests are seated, the emcee will welcome everyone, mention a few house keeping things, then introduce each member of the bridal party, finishing with the bride and groom.
As each bridal couple enters the room, music can be played to great effect. The idea is that the emcee gives a short introduction, the audience claps and the band plays some walk-in music. It’s very effective. The rockstar music is saved for the bride and groom’s entry.
Entree/Mains – If your reception involves a sit-down meal, you and your guests will most likely be served an entree, then a main meal.
Music works very well in the background here. This is where the band will often play softer, jazz music, so that people can still be heard talking. The band provides a nice ambience while you and your guests are dining. Entree and mains usually take a while to get through, so often the band will take a break and put some music on in the background.
Speeches – The speeches are where the formalities happen. Although the specific number of speeches can vary depending on each wedding, it usually involves a speech from the best man, the maid of honor, parents and bridal couple. It’s a time for laughter, emotion, reflection and gratitude.
No music is needed here. All ears (and eyes) are on the speech makers.
Cutting Of The Cake – After the speeches, the cutting of the cake usually takes place. This is where the bride and groom cut the wedding cake, in front of the guests. It’s a great symbolic gesture and a good photo opportunity as well.
No music needed here either (although a drum roll can be an effective sound effect leading up to the cutting).
Bridal Waltz – The bridal waltz usually follows the cutting of the cake. This is a very special moment as the bride and groom commence their first dance together as husband and wife. Often, half way through the song, the emcee invites the bridal party on to the dance floor to join the bride and groom, although this could also happen at the end of the song.
The music is an immensely important element to this part of the night. It is the necessary backdrop to the dance. The music can be played on an iPod or it can be performed by the band. We’ll discuss the specifics of each option in another post.
Dance Bracket 1 – Immediately after the bridal waltz is finished, the first dance bracket usually takes place. The emcee invites all guests on to the dance floor and the fun begins. This is an important moment for several reasons. Firstly, everyone is completely focused on the dance floor, as they have just finished watching the bride and groom. It is also the unofficial end to the formalities. Usually, at this point, people have finished eating, they’ve listened intently to some emotional speeches and they have watched the bride and groom share an emotionally charged dance together as a newly married couple. The room is filled with good tension and the first dance bracket is when the guests can let their hair down and have fun. The first dance bracket usually lasts for around 45 minutes.
The music here is of obvious importance. This is the point of the night where the band is in many ways responsible for making sure everyone has fun. The formalities are (mostly) over and people want to dance and have fun.
Dance Bracket 2 – After the first dance bracket, the band usually takes a 15 minute break, while the guests refresh and have a rest themselves. The break is important, as it gives everyone a chance to recharge and makes the second dance bracket more impacting. When the second dance bracket begins, people are ready to go and the dance floor lights up again.
During the break, it is a good idea to play background music through the iPod. This music is usually not dance music, as it works well to tone things down and give everyone a breather before the next bracket. Once the band starts again, the music becomes the focus once again. The second bracket is usually around 45 minutes, just like the first.
Desert – The end of the second set usually coincides with the serving of desert. Just like the first break, this is a good opportunity for guests to recharge, with the added luxury of eating desert.
The band will again put on some background music that is not too loud or intense, which gives guests the chance to rest and also allows everyone to focus on desert.
Tossing Of The Bouquet And Garter – The tossing of the bouquet and garter often takes place after desert, although some couples like to do this closer towards the end. The tossing of the bouquet and garter does not happen at every wedding, although it is still quite common. The idea is that all the unmarried women go onto the dance floor and the bride throws the bouquet over her head into the crowd of ‘single’ women (think of an Australian Rules boundary umpire throwing the ball back in to play). Whoever catches the bouquet is said to be the next woman to get married. The garter works in a similar way, although this is thrown by the groom and involves all the unmarried men. The garter has to be retrieved by the groom from the bride’s leg, which is a bit of a spectacle itself. Some couples choose to do the throwing of the bouquet but not the garter.
The band can enhance the drama of this part of the evening by playing appropriate music in the background. Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ always works well for the throwing of the bouquet.
Dance Bracket 3/Goodbye Circle – After the throwing of the bouquet and garter, the band begins the third and final set of music. This is getting towards the end of the night. People have usually had a few drink by this stage and are well and truly enjoying themselves, so it’s always a fun time of the evening. At approximately 15 minutes before the conclusion of the evening, the band calls everyone to the dance floor (most people are there already) and asks everyone to form a goodbye circle. The bride and groom then go around the circle saying goodbye to each guest individually. There are lots of hugs and kisses and heartfelt messages of affection. It’s a chance for the bride and groom to say thank you and goodbye to the guests.
The band plays party songs for the third set. Everyone is having a great fun and dancing like crazy, so the music needs to match! When the goodbye circle is taking place, the band keeps playing, but the songs are a bit more celebratory and reflective, such as ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Lean On Me’.
Every Wedding is Different
Hopefully you now have a pretty good idea of how a wedding typically runs. It’s a good starting point, but remember that every wedding is different. You should feel free to customise your wedding to exactly how you want it to be. Keep in mind however, that you need to be flexible. Weddings are notorious for not running to schedule, so the best advice is to plan everything, then go with the flow and make sure you enjoy yourself.
You should also be able to see the big role that music plays. By understanding where music fits into your wedding, you go a long way to understanding how the whole day/night will run. It is a a constant theme from start to finish and is responsible for adding so much fun and emotion to many different parts of your wedding.
Don’t forget to enquire about coming to a free, live showcase so that you can watch Connotations perform live in a casual, intimate environment. Get in touch to find out when the next one will be held.
Here is a video of Connotations performing the Toto classic ‘Georgy Porgy’