Ceremony Music Advice
MUSIC FOR WEDDING CEREMONIES:
Ceremony music is an important decision. Music is so emotive so choosing the right songs for the right moments is crucial. Invest a little more time thinking about this than perhaps your music playlist for the reception. Don’t rush into this because you have a favourite song, think about the feel of the ceremony. A ceremony is a very formal affair. An important half hour and quite a dramatic thing. (In a good way).
THINK ABOUT THE EVENT ITSELF
When choosing the music, whether it be live or from a CD or iPod, make sure you factor in the emotional feel of the event itself. This is arguably the most important few moments of your life, so make it powerful. Music can create an atmosphere like nothing else. As a musician I would offer this advice. Select something that means a great deal to you, but also something that has a rhythm and feel conducive to an epic event to set the ‘dramatic’ tone of the ceremony, especially for the walk down the aisle.
WHAT NOT TO CHOOSE
Try to avoid choosing your favourite party song or anything that is too ‘happy’ or fast. Although this is a very happy event, having happy music can often make light of an event which deserves more serious reflection. I would suggest using your favourite party song for the first song after the bridal dance at the reception, when all the formalities are over and it really is time to party.
LIVE OR CD?
Live: It is nice to have a live musician to play for the ceremony, it adds not only the live sound, but a visual addition to the ceremony. It is also a nice feel for when guests arrive. A little tip: Make sure you ask your musician to start playing prior to your arrival as some will just play from the walk down the aisle. Specifically ask them to ‘warm up’ your guests with some nice background music that isn’t overpowering and just sits nicely behind the excited chatter of your guests. The only downside of the live option is that it can be expensive for this option because the musician has to take time to set up and play for just a few songs, so they will generally charge a few hundred. I charge 3 – $400 for ceremonies depending on location.
CD: If you have favourite songs that are from divas such as Mariah Carey or Celine Dion, it may be best to choose the CD option. Similarly if you want something that is highly produced or requires a big sound such as an orchestra, it is impossible for one musician to recreate that kind of sound so go with the CD. If you are timing your walk because you have a few in the bridal party and you want to arrive at a certain climax of the song, it may be best to rehearse with the original track so you know exactly where you are and when.
WHAT SONGS FOR WHEN:
I have done hundreds of ceremonies and it almost always breaks down into 4 song choices. 1: The Processional. (The walk down the aisle). This song needs to be the most dramatic, emotional and powerful song of the bunch. 2 and 3: The Signing. Many couples only choose one song for this but it usually times out to be one and a half songs. These songs can be nice love songs with a positive vibe. Not as emotional as the first, but more emotional than the last. 4. The recessional: This is when your celebrant will announce to the world those famous words, “I now give you, for the first time as husband and wife, Mr and Mrs Johnson” The music needs to jump in right at that moment and be a very up-beat, happy tune, preferably something that most people would know.
Remember these are just guidelines from my experience as a musician and there are no hard fast rules. If you want to walk down the aisle to The West Coast Eagles or Dockers theme song, then go for it. It is your day and you are the boss so go with what you think will make a memorable wedding ceremony to remember for all time.
Luke Firth – Perth Celebrant
EDITORS CHOICE – LUKE FIRTH MARRIAGE CELEBRANT
Choosing a celebrant is not something you want to pick out of a hat. It may seem like just a simple thing to do but public speaking is an art form. While you have your Van Goghs and Michaelangelo’s, you also have your Pro Hart’s and Picasso’s. All celebrants have their own style. Some are very professional sounding with a powerful voice. Some are very laid back and create a relaxed atmosphere. While others, perhaps new to the game, can feel a little nervous and unsure about themselves which can permeate through the guests and create a little negative tension.
So in order to make sure your ceremony is going to be memorable for all the right reasons, the correct decision needs to be made when choosing a celebrant. As a wedding singer in Perth, I have met and had the pleasure of working with some of the city’s most prolific and professional marriage celebrants. As I have performed at hundreds of wedding ceremonies, most celebrants I would not remember, but there are a handful that tend to stick in my mind because I take notice of the top professionals in my industry. So it would be remiss of me if I did not share my knowledge and thoughts about these individuals so as to assist you in making a satisfactory decision when looking to hire a service for the most important day of your life.
This brings me to Luke Firth. Luke is a well known and award-winning celebrant in Perth. He possesses a very professional and classy persona and it is clear that he is a sincere and assiduous professional. Luke has a gentleness about him but at the same time is quite firm with his well projected voice which can easily quiet a chattery crowd and commands attention without sounding at all aggressive. It is also clear that he is a good man with a high moral standard. While Luke doesn’t use much humour in his delivery as others might, he does create quite a sincere feeling throughout the ceremony and you can feel that this is a significant event. Being punctual is a priority for him, as is being very sharply dressed every time I have seen him. A good looking man with a very clean cut and neat appearance, Luke is definitely one of the best celebrants in Perth.
Luke has been around for many years and has a wealth of experience as a celebrant. His knowledge of wedding gardens is vast so if you are still undecided about the perfect place to say ‘I do’, who better to ask than someone who visits them on a regular basis? I know Luke professionally, but not personally outside of the wedding industry in Perth, so while I like him, I’m also not a personal friend so I am not biased in my opinion of him. My professional opinion of Luke is of the highest quality. He is always very friendly and articulate. He has a great personality for this role, he seems to really care about the clients he works with, and I highly recommend this man as your marriage celebrant.
So in closing, my advice in choosing a celebrant would be this. Choose a handful of reputable celebrants and phone each one for a chat. You can gain a lot from this. You will get a feel for the person and what you are looking for is someone that is not wound too tight. You want a personality that is firm and confident, while being relaxed and friendly at the same time. Before agreeing I would suggest you meet face to face to consolidate your good feeling toward your number one pick from those phone conversations. Go with your instinct and you will click with someone. Make sure to ask a lot of questions and that will get the conversation flowing so you can make a judgement. Good luck in your search and enjoy not only the destination, but the journey.
Wedding music has connotations of being a little cheesy and tends to bring to mind images of long walks on the beach, picnic blankets and happily ever after sunsets. But being in the wedding industry for over ten years, it really isn’t like that at all. Requests from clients have ranged from Del Shannon to Metallica and on more than one occasion, favourite footy team theme songs.
The wedding music of today does not have a genre. More and more wedding couples tend to choose songs for the important moments of their weddings from their wide ranges of tastes, and can be vastly different from the next couple. I guess this means one thing – music has changed drastically over the past few decades and the choice for the listener is almost infinite.
If we go back just a few decades to the 50’s when rock and roll first reared it’s headbanging head, that’s when it all started. With memories of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry jumping and gyrating around on stage to a group of screaming girls on the Ed Sullivan Show, the world could sense that a musical revolution was about to explode. And explode it did. When Beatle-mania hit, it sparked a massive interest in pop stars and celebrity which has continued to grow and grow to this very day.
So at this early juncture in modern pop music, there was only one real genre apart from country music, and that was pop. Originating from the coined phrase ‘popular music’. So on the radio it was either hip swinging rock ‘n roll or beautiful ballads sung by boy bands to begin with, then girl bands as well. Usually featuring 3 or 4 singers that would have rehearsed dance moves in sync. This was an explosion that led to mowtown where many groups had hits throughout the late 50’s and 60’s.
So fast forward through the amazing 60’s and then rock lost it’s roll and became simply rock. Electric guitars were becoming evermore popular and the advent of distortion bred the first generation of rockers. Some music began to take on a slightly darker side from this point. Louder, faster, more aggressive. If you listen to early rock the message started out as love but some bands took advantage of the intensity of the music and began delivering a message of the outlaw. It became cool to be a bad ass.
Then came the 80’s. Wow, what a transformation. Brightly coloured clothes and high hair. Lot’s of strings and saxophone. What a great era. I grew up in the 80’s and have great memories of extraordinary songs from that era. With bands like Wham, INXS and Dire Straights. Songs such as Footloose, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Bohemian Rhapsody. Who can forget this music and it is probably the most popular genre of music that I play as a wedding DJ.
Rock became glam rock. Tight lycra pants with huge permed hairstyles and electrifying guitar solos. Many a hotel room was trashed by these bad boys on tour. Poison, Bon Jovi and Guns ‘n Roses come to mind. So music had changed considerably in 20 years and the choices of the listener seemed to be growing by the year with different genres of music popping up and spawning offshoots of other styles such as punk rock. From there it evolved into alternative rock once the 90’s came around.
Toward the end of the 80’s a new kind of genre altogether exploded onto the world music stage. This is of course rap. Rap was huge and found an audience and massive fan base with blacks in America. Pretty soon everyone loved this kind of rhythm and it became a culture within itself. Hip Hop evolved from rap, gangsta rap evolved from hip hop and it continues to evolve. It is interesting to look back at where some genres evolved from. I’m not sure where disco has it’s roots but R&B certainly evolved from disco and definitely the bebop of the 60’s. It has given rise to some amazing vocalists over the years. R&B also merges with Hip Hop as rock merged with rap thanks to Aerosmith and Run DMC. Now even country is beginning to merge with other genres.
Pop has always remained steady at the forefront of music. Pop is the most mainstream of all genres and I guess draws the straightest line back to those days of Elvis and The Beatles. The formula of pop has generally remained the same with a verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus chorus chorus. It seems to be the most identifiable genre in all of music, however the differences between musical styles, artists, fashion and culture vary so much in todays world that we are literally spoilt for choice.
This brings me back to my main point. Wedding music. Time goes by so fast it is easy to forget that the music you took for granted as a young person as being so cool, is very dated now and that trend will no doubt continue. So it is not surprising that the choice of wedding music these days is not as cliché as one might think. I have done weddings in a cave to goth music. I have done all sorts of cultures. African, Bosnian, Filipina, Jewish, Irish, Italian, Greek. Every culture has it’s very own tastes.
When it comes down to Aussie weddings, although the tastes are also very varied, there is always one or two constants involved. These are songs that are usually played at the very end of the night, when everyone has had a skin full, the good times have rolled and it’s time to say goodnight. It is my duty as a wedding singer and DJ to play the appropriate Aussie wedding music. This comes down to two songs. You’re The Voice by John Farnham and Horses by Daryl Braithwaite. These two classics seem to get any true blue Aussie up onto the dance floor, singing at the top of their voices. I wonder how long these will stand the test of time before some other classics are born and take over.
Perth Wedding Singer
So it’s time to get organized. It’s been a few months since he proposed and the happiness and butterflies have quietened down a little bit and the reality is sinking in that you have to do some organizing now rather than dreaming. There are 3 or 4 ‘must do’s’ that come to mind straight away. But before you can even think about who you are going to invite, you must have a plan.
The Venue: That’s a given. You want to get in early because Perth is a bulging city and it’s more than just you and him in this moment of matrimonial bliss, so get in quick because all the front seats are going to be taken by the most organized. A quick list I would suggest in no particular order would be as follows:
Just to name of few of my favourites who I know always do a great job. Click on the links for some independent video reviews of these venues.
But this blog is about finding a Perth Wedding Singer. Ok I am biased yes, because guess what? I happen to be a Perth Wedding Singer and I know a thing or two about what makes a wedding go smoothly when it comes to playing the right music. I haven’t won 7 ABIA awards for sitting on my hands. Music is evolving. The older we get, the younger the married couples seem to get and things are not always going to remain the same.
So the main thing is to please the bride. She wants to know that whatever you play is going to suit the vibe of her wedding so make sure you have a close look at the repertoire of the wedding singer you are looking at. Because keep in mind, wedding singers are not always playing weddings. They are first and foremost musicians for hire, so they tend to play at all kinds of events. Some play in different line-ups, depending on the work. Some do a lot of pubs which is great, but if they are predominantly doing pubs all the time then their rep is often going to be saturated with Aussie Rock, or all up-tempo stuff which will please the punters and keep them employed at the pub, but their ballads are going to be rusty as opposed to someone who predominately plays weddings for a living. I would suggest speak to a wedding singer and try to catch them at a public event but choose a couple of songs from the rep to throw at them at the pub, to see how well they may sing them.
I play at least one wedding a week, sometimes 3 in a row in summer so my repertoire is very well suited to playing those kinds of songs that work well over the early part of the evening and are not too intrusive on the ear of the guests. Nice ambient, background love songs with a few feel-good tunes in there to lessen the cheese factor a little and keep it kinda cool. You are also going to want your wedding singer to be familiar with the Perth music scene because he has grown up with what you have, (if you are Aussie), and if you are not, at the very least, a lot of your friends attending will be able to relate.
Another thing to look for is someone with the ability to lift the mood from background ambient mode to pre-dancing, feel good, mid-tempo type tunes that will start to get people in the mood. So check the repertoire over a couple of times and make sure that they are capable of playing these types of tunes and haven’t just added them in to impress you from the sheer volume of songs they do. They may have them in their rep, but they may not have played them for years. Take nothing for granted.
The last thing to consider from a live point of view for a Perth Wedding Singer is that he or she has the ability to keep people on the dancefloor with the live rep. Sometimes your guests will get up early and want to get the dancing underway even before dinner. At this stage you don’t want to go into DJ mode yet because you have hired a live singer (hopefully one that also DJ’s), but DJing changes the whole atmosphere and if you bring it in too early, and can feel odd. So make sure your musician has at least an hour of up-tempo dance songs that will keep people on the floor from their live sets.
Now anyone can DJ you say? Especially at a wedding? Well I’ve done over 600 of them and I can tell you this is the most challenging part of the evening. Finding the pulse of what your guests are going to feel good dancing to is a skill that takes years to learn and even then, sometimes you just cannot please a non-dancing crowd.
A wedding has all types of ages, tastes and dance appetites so pleasing everyone at the same time is NOT going to happen unless you can get a vibe going amongst everyone to the point where they are having such a good time, it doesn’t matter if they are Hip-Hop fans, they will jump around to ‘Come on Eileen’ because their friends and family are all having a good time.
There is an art, an order and a process to DJing a wedding. If you play the wrong song at the wrong time you can lose everyone. A wedding DJ has to be diplomatic to guests who really want a particular song but you know from experience this song will kill the dancefloor so there is a lot of negotiating going on behind the scenes and when alcohol is involved, this can be difficult. So you do want your wedding singer to also be an experienced wedding DJ who can handle a little bit of that pressure and not say yes to every request because your job is to keep people on the floor. The only exception to this is if the Bride or Groom requests a song, then you are locked in, even if it’s the Macarena. It’s their day, they get what they want.
Finding a wedding singer in Perth is not difficult anymore, there are many acts that are transitioning from pubs to weddings simply because of the money they can make. But when you think about it, music can make or break the event. This is a skill that goes beyond just playing music. So my advice would be to book an experienced wedding singer and DJ to avoid a possibly embarrassing night for your guests should you choose an inexperienced, uncaring or unprofessional wedding singer in Perth, as this job takes a lot more than just a musical talent.
One more tip, phone them. Sometimes people are nervous to phone a wedding service provider because they may feel a little obligated. But you are not obligated at all. If you phone someone you can glean a lot of information about them and their personality. One very important aspect is if they are going to be socially adept. Some may have the greatest talent in the world but absolutely no connection with the audience and a sour look on their face all night. You want someone who sounds friendly, professional, flexible and reliable so have a quick chat or set up a meeting to get a feel for your wedding singer. You ultimately want someone who is going to bring a fun atmosphere while also being skilled musically.