Choosing the Perfect Wedding Music

The music at your wedding will contribute a significant amount to the ambiance. The first sounds your guests will hear when they walk in the door or onto the scene will be your wedding musicians. Classic choices like a pianist or a string quartet certainly have their own appeal, and there are many good reasons to go with one of these classic, tried-and-true choices for your wedding music. However, don’t make the call to book the music (which isn’t cheap) until you have carefully considered all your options and variables.

What kind of ensemble is most conducive to your venue? What overall mood do you want your wedding to have? Here are some of the primary things to consider before making this important choice. Note: there are many great ways to go for reception music from singers to bands to DJ’s. However, we’re going to be talking about your music for the ceremony.

The Organist

Nothing screams “classic church wedding” quite like a really good organist. Your friends and loved ones can enter to the sounds of Bach and other great pastimes of traditional liturgical literature. There are tons of pieces an organist can play for a prelude while your guests are arriving and being seated, albeit mostly from one time period – baroque. There is no comparison to how much more effective classics like “Here Comes The Bride” sounds on an organ. This goes double for Mendelssohn’s recessional from his book for Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, you’re thinking of modern or popular alternatives, you can forget it. Organists are better suited to classic, traditional weddings.

The Pianist

Pianists bring an incredible variety to your choices of music on your wedding day. The piano’s use in music from way back in the day all the way up to today’s music ensures an incredible versatility among musical styles and choices. The piano also works extremely well as a complimentary instrument to another soloist, in case a piano alone isn’t exactly what you want.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, pianos need a space with strong acoustics, so outdoor venues are usually out. You may also want to consider your price point. Because of how difficult the piano is to play, as well as the variety of music a pianist has to know, professional pianists can cost a pretty penny. You may be able to find a local piano teacher or church piano player that is very good and would probably cost you significantly less. If you aren’t asking for anything very difficult and don’t need sheer perfection, this may be an option for you.

The Guitarist

This is another very versatile option in a few ways. The guitar makes for a great primary music source or a very good accompanying instrument for a soloist. Like piano, its use has stayed relevant all the way to today’s chart-toppers. Acoustic guitars that most people play are made with steel strings and larger bodies, giving them a bright, tinny, and penetrating sound. The classical guitar is the way to go for your wedding. The nylon strings give a more mellow, sweeter, warmer sound that is more inviting for your guests.

One of the great things about a classical guitarist is that even modern pop songs can be arranged in a way that they can be delicately played on a nylon guitar. Arranging popular tunes for nylon guitar gives them a lulling subtlety that is perfect for a wedding. Another plus is that it doesn’t need to be loud to be effective, and even played with no amplification, they can be a great choice for an outdoor or indoor wedding. You will likely find that a guitarist will not run up the bill as much as a professional pianist would, mostly because learning the music is a much less involved process, even if they have to arrange it themselves.

The String Quartet

While there are some challenges to hauling a cello around, this is a group that can be employed in both indoor and outdoor venues. With regards to music choices, they are pretty much endless. It also gives a very ethereal, airy mood to your wedding music. While there are quite literally thousands, if not millions of compositions all throughout history by many famous, world-renowned composers just for string quartet, there are also a lot of options in contemporary or pop music. Like the guitar, many popular tunes can be arranged for string quartet. The string quartet is also the fanciest choice. If your wedding is in any way Victorian, if there are strawberries and champagne, if your train is a mile long, the string quartet is a perfect choice for you.

The downside is it’s going to be the most expensive option. While it may not be as hard to work up new music on the individual instruments, there is the element of the group having to learn the music as an ensemble. There is also the fact that you will be hiring an already-existing ensemble that is a professional working group — all four musicians need to be paid, after all. However, if music is important enough to you that you are willing to make it one of the larger line items, a string quartet might just be the best option for your wedding.

The Good Friend

Chances are, you probably have at least one friend that is a very talented musician. While they may not have the capital to get you an elaborate wedding gift like they may want to, they have something you may want and could probably use. Many musicians would be happy to play for your wedding and forgo a traditional purchase. While you may need to go with a more eclectic instrumentation, that can be really cool and can give your wedding a vibe as unique and special as you want the day to be.

So, if this is a line item that looks just a little overwhelming, call your friend the flutist and ask them to do you the honor of playing at your wedding. Chances are they will be thrilled to and would love feeling like they are giving the best gift of all. “Move over fancy china, I have a flute.


What are your favorite options for wedding music? Leave a comment and let us know!

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