As a professional violinist, many brides come to me with a picture in their mind of the perfect ceremony. A classical string quartet in the background, playing a romantic melody that swells just at the moment she walks down the aisle. Live classical music is undeniably elegant and, well, classic. But how do you decide which songs are right for you? Here's a quick guide to help you choose and some secrets of the trade.
Timing is Everything
When booking live musicians, know that you're going to be hiring us for about 1 to 1.5 hours for an average ceremony. You might estimate that your musicians will only be needed for 20 to 30 minutes at the most, but you would be surprised at how often the ceremony runs late. To set a lively and atmosphere (and to be on the safe side), have your performers playing for 15-30 minutes prior to the ceremony to welcome your guests.
Musicians become the unofficial welcoming committee, and when the grooms extended family is caught in airport traffic because they've just flown in (true story!) we are the ones who keep just toes from tapping nervously, to tapping with delight! With my expansive sheet music library that features so many genres and wedding favorites, I enjoy entertaining guests by allowing them to make on the spot requests.
What kind of music should I pick?
Of course! For Prelude music with an elegant and traditional feel, ask for your musicians to select pieces from the Baroque and Classical eras. Translation: Upbeat and light music, like Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi, and Haydn. To add a sophisticated and unexpected twist, have a mix with contemporary music like jazz, light pop, Disney, and Broadway.
How many songs should I pick for my ceremony?
I find that couples often want an elaborate set list that includes one song for each processional (that's the walk down the aisle): grandparents, parents, the bridal party, and the bride and groom's processionals. In theory, it's a great plan. The final outcome is you'll hear just a few seconds to one minute of each piece. So, if you choose to have multiple pieces played, keep in mind you'll only get a bit.
Easy remedy: If you love the middle of, say, Ave Maria or A Thousand Years, ask your ensemble to plan ahead and arrange the music so your favorite part is played at that shining moment.
What about picking a super long song?
We can make that work too! If you dream of walking down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon in D, keep in mind that the full piece takes anywhere between four and six minutes, and your walk down the aisle is usually much shorter. Talk with your musicians and ask them to cut it or, if you don't wanna miss a thing, have it played at a different part of the ceremony, such as the signing of the registrar or communion. Consider having Pachelbel's Canon play for the entire processional. That way, when it comes time to your time to shine, the musicians are just getting to the best part of the piece and you can really take it in that special moment.
For special moments like signing the registrar, lighting the unity candle, and communion, remember remember that you can have a longer song played. This is the perfect time for Bach's Air on the G String, Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze, or Schubert Ave Maria. You can always have a pop song played, like Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Halo (Beyonce), At Last (Etta James), etc. The musical world is your oyster!
What should I choose for our recessional?
For a traditional recessional with classical music, you can't go wrong with Mendelssohn's Wedding March or Purcell's Trumpet Tune. Looking for an upbeat and celebratory feel? Try Handel's La Rejouissance, Mouret's Rondeau, Handel's Hornpipe from Water Music, or The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.
For pop favorites, check out: Marry You (Bruno Mars), Love Story (Taylor Swift), Wouldn't It Be Nice (The Beach Boys), All You Need is Love (The Beatles)
Want to learn more about booking Ariana Strings for your wedding day? Visit the contact page and say hi!
Happy wedding planning!