Here are some more tips on how to have the wonderful wedding you always dreamed of but without worries about future bills possibly spoiling your happy day!


1 ) Hire a smaller band 

The Harrison Jazz Ensemble, a jazz band based in the greater Tampa Bay area, is proud to help you with your unique needs for your special day by working with you on staying in your budget. 

We can perform for you as quartet, as trio, as duo and even as a one man band, that sounds just like a whole band with a special set-up and including vocals as well, if that is desired from you. 

2 ) Hire a band that can even provide the mic for the speeches and toasts. 

Here again we can be helpful to arrange amplification for you as a one-stop-shop. 

3 ) Choose greenery over flowers 

With the gorgeous looks of foliage, which is on top of it in style right now, as decoration in church, on tables and more you can hardly go wrong. 

4 ) Pick from the less expensive flower choices, by choosing the ones that are in season. 

We have so many wonderful in season flowers to pick from, that we don’t necessarily need to pay for expensive exotic flowers to express ourselves on our special day. 

5 ) Settle on only one or two different kinds of flowers

Using only one or two kinds of flowers together with foliage can give your decoration a very unique and totally in style look. As you will probably buy larger amounts of one flower kind you will very likely be able to get a discount. 

6 ) Go with two different cakes for the cake cutting ceremony 

Order a small cake for your special cake cutting ceremony and provide additional slices of cake for everyone from a large sheet cake in the kitchen. This way you have your wonderful symbolic cake cutting ceremony and everyone gets a piece of cake too, without the wedding cake putting an extra high expense on your budget. 

7 ) Skip the champagne 

Just have everybody say “cheers” with whatever drink they have at hand. As long as the drink bubbles and is drinkable, the good wishes most certainly won’t lose their power just because you don’t serve expensive champagne. 

Happy celebrating on a tight budget!


Many brides and grooms have very tight wedding budgets.  Yet they don’t want to go super cheap on the most special day of their lives.  

If you fall into this category, there are fortunately some things that can be done to reduce stress and make sure that you  can then fully enjoy your big day without any worries about future bills to pay. 

Here are a few tips that won’t take anything away from your wedding, but can possibly cut some of the expenses:  

If money is getting tight while you are still in your planning stages, trimming the guest list will shrink your expenses a lot right there, as about 50% of the money spent on your wedding is for food and drinks.  

Book your venue for a Friday or Sunday, which usually saves your 25% of the cost.  

Sometimes booking late like 2 months before the wedding, while the average venues are booked 6 months in advance, can give you also a 25% discount.  

Plan a late winter or early spring wedding. By having less competition in those seasons, you will get better prices for venues and more, especially in a state like Florida that gives you year round favorable weather conditions.  

Hire a band that can play at the ceremony, the cocktail hour and at the reception. If you prefer a DJ for the reception, The Harrison Jazz Ensemble, a jazz band in the Tampa Bay area, can provide music for the cocktail hour, ceremony, or both as they have lots of experience with weddings in the Tampa Bay area. 

This is part one and stay tuned for part two of tips for weddings on a tight budget!


Usually when couples decide to get married, they enter into a time full of wonderful expectation of the greatest day of their lives. They finally can plan for and prepare all they have ever dreamed of. 

But then again there is so much to do, so much to decide, so much to consider, so much to organize and prepare and finally so much to pay for, so that time can bring with it also so much stress, that it can almost overshadow the joy. 

Often by aiming for that picture perfect wedding we can put ourselves under a lot of pressure. 

While a picture perfect wedding with beautiful and exquisite quality and quantity of everything is not to be knocked, there is also a totally different approach to a wedding by simply being your unique you. Instead of aiming to have everything picture perfect, we can also just aim to share our uniqueness with our wedding celebration and simply be us. After all, that’s what your friends and family come for, to celebrate you and take part in your unique and special day. 

You can make a list of the special things YOU TWO love and would like to share with family and friends and organize your wedding around some of those, to make it your original celebration. 

There is no limit to creating that way. 

The bride adores the color pink. Why not color coordinate the whole wedding in pink shades? 

Possibly a honey moon to Mexico or Thailand is planned, as the couple loves those countries. You can put the whole wedding under that motto, decorate accordingly, serve matching food and all your guest partake in your love for that country and learn more about you too.

The groom loves spaghetti bolognese as meal and tiramisu as desert. Why not offer it to the guests and share that passion for Italian food with them, including decoration about Italy? 

Some couples are involved in charities, like helping animals or taking care of the environment. Why not put the wedding under a special theme and get some donations for that good cause as wedding gifts too?   

How about singing or playing that special song you two share as a symbol of your love? The Harrison Jazz Ensemble, a jazz band in the greater Tampa Bay area, can help with that! 

Or how about sharing that romantic or funny story when you two first met? Make sure you have a master of ceremonies and mic to present all your original speeches of bride and groom and of family and friends involved, in order to share memorable moments. Again, your band might be able to help with that too.

If the couple loves jazz music in general, have a live jazz band. The Harrison Jazz Ensemble can accommodate all your jazz needs as a jazz band in the greater Tampa Bay area, help with your song choices and make this a very special event for you and your loved ones. 

Happy Creating of your unique wedding!





Of course nowadays in our so called modern times, getting married has almost become old fashioned or out of style. 

In our fast times, where everything is instantaneously available, why even commit to loving another person for a whole life, why wait for a wedding night? 

Why not test drive that relationship a bit, like one would do with a car before a binding purchase, see where it leads us and what happens and then take it from there? 

Yet, we are here to make that point for the old fashioned custom of marriage: making up one’s mind, committing to a loved one for a whole lifetime and making a promise, depending on our religion in church in the presence of god, or somewhere else in the presence of life by another ceremony. 

For jazz fans there is The Harrison Jazz Ensemble, a jazz band in the greater Tampa Bay area, or Roger Harrison as a solo pianist and singer to help you celebrate!

There is a lot to be gained from such a commitment, even though at first glance it might look like a lot of responsibility and little fun. 

There is the beauty of faith, the nurturing of the marriage partner to his or her best, at times hard work on the relationship and on one’s own flaws, not quitting, keeping one’s promise, going through hell and high water despite all odds and the reward of coming out the other end, victorious and all grown spiritually, mentally and as a human.  

There is a loving and stable family unit to be gained, for children to grow up in, getting nurtured and supported to become their best! 

Then there is a whole world that needs love and faith, to be nurtured to its true potential of Brotherhood of Men and of peace and love on earth!

To your wedding!

Planning For Spring and Summer Weddings 

Let's all knock on wood that the worse of this pandemic is behind us.  All indications are that in Florida at least, we've rounded the curve.  As a jazz band performing in Tampa, we've noticed our inquires for weddings and other events accelerating, which is a good sign. 

So how do you factor in this information in terms of planning for your wedding? Well the first thing is to consider locking down your venue NOW for your spring or summer wedding.  It's possible and even likely that there is pent up demand as a result of the earlier lock downs, which could affect availability for your preferred venue.  So don't wait.

Try to get a room that is adjacent to an outdoor space, rather than a room that is in the middle of the building.  This way you'll have the option of conducting your ceremony inside, or if many of you guests are uncomfortable, you can move the festivities outside, where it's easier to social distance. 

Weddings are notorious for running over budget, so plan each item.  Look at how much you want to spend for food, venue, and music.  Try your best to stay within what you can afford and still have a great event.

As we know that budgets can vary, we offer in the Tampa area, jazz trios, jazz duos, jazz quartets and even a one man band that sounds like a full group.  We offer this in order to work within your budget while making your wedding sound awesome.

Let us know if you have any questions and CONGRATS!

The First Dance  


One of the most special parts of the overall wedding celebration is the first dance.  It's here that you inaugurate your new marriage.  The ideal time for this is right after you've been introduced for the first time to your guests.  The MC or bandleader should announce something like "Ladies and gentelmen may I have your attention.  Please rise and give a big welcome as I introduce to you for the first time Mr. + Mrs. _______!!"  This naturally will create a big response and high point of applause, enthusiasm, cheering etc. Right after this is a great time for the first dance.  You have all of your guest's attention and they will be eager to join your special moment.  The stage is set for the first dance!

The next question is what should the song be?  If there is a song that has some special significance for you both, that would be it.   It's best that the song is connected with some aspect of your relationship.  Perhaps it's the song that you heard during the prosposal, or a song or artist that you both particularly like.  Those would be the best choices. 

If there is no such song or artist that is not a problem.  We can provide you with lot of suggestions and can perform these as an instrumental or add vocals.  

Also, there are lots of options! Here's a example of a couple who were really creative and created a fun and memorable first dance. Check it out!

Here are some suggestions for starters. These are from the

1. "At Last" (Etta James)
2. "As Time Goes By" (from Casablanca)
3. "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Ray Charles)
4. "Because You Loved Me" (Celine Dion)
5. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (Elton John)
6. "Can't Help Falling In Love" (Elvis Presley)
7. "Chances Are" (Johnny Mathis)
8. "Close To You" (The Carpenters)
9. "Could I Have This Dance?" (Anne Murray)
10. "Dream A Little Dream" (Mamas & the Papas)
11. "Embraceable You" (Nat King Cole)
12. "Endless Love" (Diana Ross & Lionel Richie)
13. "Fascination" (Jane Morgan)
14. "Fever" (Peggy Lee)
15. "Forever and Ever, Amen" (Randy Travis)
16. "Forever" (Kenny Loggins)
17. "From This Moment" (Shania Twain & Brian White)
18. "Grow Old With Me" (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
19. "Here And Now" (Luther Vandross)
20. "I Finally Found Someone" (Barbra Streisand & Bryan Adams)
21. "I Only Have Eyes For You" (The Flamingos)
22. "I Will" (The Beatles)
23. "If I Loved You" (from Carousel)
24. "In My Life" (The Beatles)
25. "It Had To Be You" (Harry Connick, Jr.)
26. "Lady In Red" (Chris DeBurgh)
27. "Love Theme To Romeo & Juliet" (from Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet)
28. "Marry Me" (Neil Diamond & Buffy Lawson)
29. "One Moment In Time" (Whitney Houston)
30. "Our Love Is Here To Stay" (Billie Holiday)
31. "So This Is Love" (James Ingram)
32. "Some Enchanted Evening" (from South Pacific)
33. "Something" (The Beatles)
34. "Somewhere" (from West Side Story)
35. "The Best Is Yet To Come" (Frank Sinatra)
36. "The Rose" (Bette Midler)
37. "Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You" (Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson)
38. "True" (Spandau Ballet)
39. "Unforgettable" (Nat King Cole)
40. "Up Where We Belong" (Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warrens)
41. "Wedding Song (There Is Love)" (Captain & Tennille)
42. "Wedding Song (There is Love)" (Petula Clark)
43. "We've Got Tonight" (Bob Seger)
44. "We've Only Just Begun" (The Carpenters)
45. "When I Fall In Love" (Nat King Cole)
46. "Will You Marry Me?" (Vonda Shepard)
47. "Woman" (John Lennon)
48. "Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong)
49. "You Are So Beautiful" (Joe Cocker)
50. "Your Song" (Elton John)

Your Wedidng Prelude 

The prelude is the period before the actual ceremony starts. During this time your guests are arriving, finding their chairs and getting settled in.  The music that is played greets them and sets an ambient tone of beauty and anticipation.

The style of music you select should be part of the theme that you're using for the entire ceremony. For example if you're going to do a more R+B theme you might have the pianist or band play "Here and Now" by Luther Vandross without vocals softly in the background. This song might come back during the ceremony as the music for the bridal entrance. This creates a great aural memory for you and your guests.  If you were more interested in a classical motif, perhaps Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" would be a good choice.

Here are some songs that have been popular for prelude ambient music according to My Wedding

Top 10 Prelude Songs
1. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
2. Falling in Love – The O’Neill Brothers
3. Arioso – J.S. Bach
4. Forrest Gump Main Theme – from Forrest Gump
5. Annie’s Song – John Denver
6. Imagine – John Lennon
7. Angels Watching – The O’Neill Brothers
8. Air (from Water Music) – George F. Handel
9. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – from The Wizard of Oz
10. Air on a G String – J.S. Bach

As you can see there is a lot of variety and no there's no right or wrong. As a wedding band that performs in the Los Angeles area, we've seen lots of differences. It makes the whole event special and fun!

In the next post I'll go over some suggestions for the Processional, which is when the wedding party begins to make their entrance.

Top Five Tips For Great Reception Music  

The reception is one of the most important parts of your special wedding day. It’s where you are introduced for the first time as an official married couple and friends and relatives get to celebrate that time with you. The music is of course very important in setting the right mood for that celebration.

Following are some pointers from our experience and from Wedding Planning For Dummies

Here are some of the top things to consider:

1. Put thought into the style of music that you want and make sure that the band fits that. Don’t hire a jazz band when you really want ZZ Top and don’t expect a rock band to play a good version of “Fly Me To The Moon”.

Typically music is soothing during dinner and picks up after. Find out if the band can play the type of dance music that you’ll need later or if you’ll also need a DJ.

2. Great bands are in demand. Don’t wait to the last minute to contact and interview bands. Typically we book weddings three months in advance and in many cases longer.

3. Check with the venue to find out if there are any special requirements concerning the music. Some venues prohibit electronic instruments and others have limitations on the volume of the music. Speak with the venue representative and speak with your band leader to insure that all bases are covered. Also plan with the representative where would be best to have the band perform if this isn’t obvious, as in the case of a stage.

4. Get a song list from the band that you are hiring and select which you’d like for your reception. Check with the band leader to see how accommodating they are in regards to performing special songs that aren’t on their list and if there is any additional fee for doing so. You’ll need about 50 songs for a 4 hour reception.

5. Determine if you will need a MC for your reception and if the band leader can provide that service and if there is any additonal fee. You may be able to save money if a relative or friend performs this function.

The Grand Entrance To The Reception  

After the cocktail hour music has completed, the band should quickly set up in the reception hall. Usually they will stop playing about 15 minutes before the start time of the reception in order to have time to set up. The band leader or representative of the venue should insure that there is background music continuing during this period in the cocktail area.  Sometimes it is feasible for the band to set up in the reception area earlier. This is ideal but not always possible. You want to avoid the situation of your guests arriving for the reception to find the band setting up.

Once set up, the band should start playing great ambient music to welcome your guests into their seats. The music that is performed shouldn't be dance music, but it doesn't have to be sedate and boring. We've performed at weddings that had an R&B theme and that style of music fit excellently and in fact added to the festiveness of the occasion.  Anything can work as long as it's not too sleepy.

Once the guests are settled in, you'll need someone to act as MC and introduce the bridal party.   As a piano player and as the band leader of a wedding band around Los Angeles and Orange County, I've performed this task at many of the weddings where we've performed. Be sure to provide whoever is performing this function with a list of the participants. This should be done before the date of course. The MC should announce into a mic something like "Ladies and gentlemen we're going to start our introductions of the wedding party." Once he has every one's attention, he announces the participants to background music. Usually a male and female of the bridal party come in as couples, followed by the Maid of Honor, Best Man, and parents of the new couple.

Finally it's your turn! Many brides request a specific song for their entrance. I've played "Feel Like Making Love', "At Last" and several other songs for this honor. Select something that you like and that will be memorable. If you're stuck for an idea, check with the band leader. Typically he or she has performed at many weddings and can offer some suggestions.

You might even want a specific recorded song for this point.  Some fun examples of this are "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Signed Sealed and Delivered".  If you want to use this option, arrange for the band leader or DJ to cue up that song for your entrance. 

The MC should pause after the wedding party has come in to add a bit of drama prior to announcing your entrance. If there is a drummer in the band, a drum roll would be in order. At this point, the MC will say something like "Ladies and gentlemen, please rise to your feet and welcome in for the first time Joe and Sally Adams! The crowd roars and you come in, completely thrilled!

The Cocktail Hour 

The Cocktail Hour is that period of your celebration after the Postlude. Your guests have left the area where your ceremony occurred and are milling around, having a few snacks and drinks and anticipating the rest of the evening.

Typically this occurs right outside of the reception hall. During this time the room is being prepared for your guests by the venue staff. Sometimes the bride and groom will mingle and take pictures, but in many cases they are out of sight. This builds anticipation in the guests for their grand entrance with the rest of the bridal party during the first part of the reception.

As for music for this portion of the event, Jazz usually works well. You might hire a solo pianist or small combo. The music should be somewhat upbeat, without being so loud as to interfere with your guests. Usually Cocktail Hour music is instrumental only, but of course it is your choice.

If you've had a beach wedding, you might consider a steel drum player, guitarist, or other acoustic performer. This creates a nice touch.  A jazz band would usually need electricity, so that a beach performance isn't possible.

As the hour winds down, the band will probably break briefly, to move into the reception area. There they will set up and prepare for your grand entrance!