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!

The Postlude 

Congratulations! You're now husband and wife! You've left the church or other venue to the music of the recessional. Now your guests are in the event hall, smiling and talking about witnessing your great event. An abrupt ending of the music would chill the mood that you've carefully created. There is a need to keep and enhance the joyous feelings of all in attendance. The music that fills that need is called the Postlude.

"Post" as an adjective means after, so the postlude is the music that fills the hall after your ceremony. The idea is to keep that music going until the last person leaves and moves to the area for the cocktail hour or reception. The music should revert to the background at this point, but be more joyous and exuberant than the it was in leading up to the ceremony. After all we're celebrating your new marriage!

In some cases the band or pianist will have to leave the ceremony venue to move to the reception area immediately after the ceremony is completed. In this case, have the band leader or musician help with setting up an iPod with music for the Postlude. That way there's no abrupt stop.

Here are some popular Postlude songs:

For Once in My Life (Stevie Wonder)
All You Need Is Love (Beatles)
Waltz in A Flat (Brahms)
Exsultate Jubilate: Alleluia (Mozart)
Water Music: Air (Handel)
Fly Me To The Moon (Sinatra)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Stevie Wonder)
I Feel Good (James Brown)

The Recessional  

Starting with the prelude your ceremony has been gently building to this exciting end. Your guests have been attentive and interested, but they too are looking forward to this point. Of course you are the ones who are most excited about your final acknowledgment before all as man and wife.

Such a point in time deserves the appropriate music to usher it in. That music is the Recessional.

The Recessional occurs right after the kiss, which is after "I now pronounce you man and wife". After this point you enter life for the first time legally joined.  Everyone will be happy and you two most of all. What music do you want to accompany such a happy moment?

If you favor the traditional, a good choice is the most used Recessional, which is "Wedding March" (from A Midsummer Night's Dream), (Felix Mendelssohn). If the name and composer don't ring a bell don't worry. You've heard this song before at weddings you've attended. Here's a sample:( click "Open this content in a new window" when the page opens. After listening, press your back button to return to this blog). This is an orchestral version. Typically this song would be performed by a solo pianist or string ensemble.

Now if you want to do something less traditional, look back over the songs that you've included thus far. Is there one that you'd like to make another appearance at the end? Is there a really special song between you that signals your new life? Any new song should be along the lines of the style that you've established in earlier parts of the ceremony.

One of the things I've enjoyed most about performing as a piano player and as the leader of a wedding band in Los Angeles, is how creative people can be. As it's your special day this is as it should be.

Here are a few suggestions just in case you're stuck:

1. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Stevie Wonder)
2. Fly Me To The Moon (Frank Sinatra)
3. The Best Is Yet To Come (Frank Sinatra)
4. At Last (Etta James)
5. "Spring," Allegro, (from The Four Seasons), (Antonio Vivaldi)
6. "Hallelujah Chorus" (from The Messiah), (George F. Handel)
7. Lovely Day (Bill Whiters)
8. Endless Love (Ross/Richie)
9. Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe (Barry White)
10. You're The First, The Last, My Everything (Barry White)

The Interlude  

The Interlude is defined as that point after your ceremony starts where there is a period of quiet reflection. This might include the lighting of the unity candle,  the symbolic mixing of different colored sands, or other special observance.

There are a lot of choices for music during this period. Many couples use this time to feature a talented family friend or relative in singing or playing an instrument. If the budget permits, a professional wedding singer might perform here. Be sure to check with the band you've hired to see if one of the band members can perform this function. This will save you from the expense of a separate hire.

The music shouldn't be too loud, as the point of the interlude is to have reflection on the symbolism of the event. An "interlude" really is a period between two points. You can view it as a period between the begining and ending of your cermony.

Here are some top interlude songs:

A Moment Like This. Kelly Clarkson
When You Say Nothing At All. Ronan Keating or Alison Krauss
It's Your Love. Tim McGraw/Faith Hill
Love of My Life. Jim Brickman w/ Michael W. Smith
Forever and For Always. Shania Twain
I Can Only Imagine. Mercy Me
Here and Now. Luther Vandross
I Cross My Heart. George Strait
My Best Friend. Tim McGraw
Ribbon In The Sky. Stevie Wonder
Only Time. Enya
Grow Old Along With Me. Mary Chapin Carpenter
Truly, Madly, Deeply. Savage Garden
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Roberta Flack
In My Life. The Beatles

With modern technology these songs can be altered to remove the vocals, if you like, or presented in the original form. Sometimes the instrumental version of the original recording is tremendously effective, as the audience is "singing" the words mentally. It adds to the quiet reflection and beauty of the event, as all consider the meaning of the lyrics, and how they relate to your special day.

The Processional 

The last post concerned the music for the prelude, which is that period before the beginning of your wedding.

Next, we take up the processional. According to a "procession" is: –noun
1. the act of moving along or proceeding in orderly succession or in a formal and ceremonious manner, as a line of people, animals, vehicles, etc.

So the processional is that period at the start of your wedding when the bridal party walks in in a ceremonious manner. The highlight of this is the last entrance of the bride.

There are many ways to go with the music for this phase. Some brides simply opt to have soft background music that remains the same for everyone but her entrance. Others would rather have different music signal the entrances of the grandparents and parents, and for the brides maids and groomsmen.

If you decide to have different songs, have them be of the same style. If you go from Mozart to James Brown, you'll jar your audience. You want them to be focused on the beauty of the event and contemplating the celebration that is your love... not thinking "Wow, what's that?".

The highlight of the processional is the entrance of the bride. Many brides love the simplicity and beauty of the traditional "Here Comes The Bride". One of the big benefits of this song is that everyone knows it, so when they hear it they know that the bride is coming. I've seen the audiences become electric upon hearing the first few chords of the song.

On the other hand there are no rules. I've sung "Just the Way You Look Tonight" for the bride and played "At Last" by Etta James for another. One bride requested that I cue up "Ribbon In The Sky" on my ipod for her entrance.

It's your big day, so play what you really want. Is there a song that has special significance for you and your sweetie?  Create a story that unfolds with the music. Never allow harsh changes in the music to distract your guests from you and your celebration.

To give you a few suggestions, here are the top 15 processional songs according to Processional Wedding  As you can see, you have lots of choices!

1.  At Last. Etta James
2.  From This Moment. Shania Twain
3.  Trumpet Voluntary. Clarke
4.  Heaven. DJ Sammy
5.  Only Time. Enya
6.  All My Life. KC and JOJO
7.  Wedding March/Marriage of Figaro. Mozart
8.  Come Away With Me. Norah Jones
9.  The Prayer. Charlotte Church and Josh Groban
10. Angels Brought Me Here. Guy Sebastian
11. Because you Loved me. Celine Dion
12. Me and You. Kenny Chesney
13. Forever. Jaheim
14. Storybook Love (Theme from Princess Bride). Mark Knopfler
15. Butterfly Kisses. Bob Carlisle

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