How to: Choosing Your Wedding Entertainment

All weddings mark a major life transition and are chock full of emotion. It’s likely that you don’t need any entertainment at all to feel excited – and occasionally overwhelmed – on this special day. The way you structure your wedding plays an enormous role in setting the tone for your day. A rollicking environment filled with fun music will encourage your guests to get down and boogie, while more momentous music will encourage guests to share in your joy. Your personality should be your guide for selecting wedding entertainment, but don’t forget to consider whether what you’ve chosen will be enjoyable  for your guests.

Plan on spending at least 10 percent of your wedding budget on music. As much as 50 percent will go toward your reception, and of this reception budget, about 20 percent should be dedicated to keeping you and your guests engaged and entertained.

Choosing Your Musician

Your budget can quickly grow out of control if you hire several different musicians. If you have tons of money to spare, then why not hire a guitarist, a band, and a soloist? But if you’re like most people, you want to reel in expenses. Using the same music provider for both your reception and ceremony ensures a smooth transition and will keep your costs under control. If you’re a music aficionado who loves the idea of having several different types of music, consider hiring a DJ instead. Then you’ll be able to have all of your music in its original formulation without paying the high costs of a band or singer.

Ceremony Music

You’ll need to plan music not only for the ceremony itself, but also for the lead-up to the ceremony. Pre-ceremony music is played as your guests are seated and while they wait for the wedding to start. It can help set the tone for your wedding, so choose wisely. If you’re a lover of classical music, you might choose the gentle sounds of Bach, but if you’re hoping for a more rollicking, party atmosphere, there’s nothing wrong with choosing current popular music.

During the ceremony, you’ll want to choose music for your attendants’ walk down the aisle and your entry. While the Bridal March is the standard fare for a bride’s entrance, modern brides can choose whatever they want. You might want to enter to you and your fiance’s song, to a piece with lyrics that express how you feel about marriage or to a light instrumental piece.

You’ll also need music for any special moments in the ceremony, such as the lighting of the memorial candle (depending on your specific ceremony). Choose music that fits the emotions you want to evoke, and stick with pieces that have lasting power. A pop tune might be fun now, but when you watch your wedding video in 10 years, you could end up feeling more regret than fondness. The same rule rings true for the recessional tune – the music you play as you exit your ceremony. Many couples choose triumphant-sounding pieces or uplifting hymns.

Reception Music

For many newlyweds, the reception has a completely different vibe than the ceremony. You might want to switch to a more jubilant, party-inspired vibe, so consider incorporating popular tunes. Remember that you need to appeal to all of your guests, not just the young and hip, so try using a mix of music from several different musical eras. People love dancing to songs they know, so if you want people to get down and boogie, pick familiar songs.

You’ll have to carefully select your first dance tune. Make sure it’s something that conveys the right message; check the lyrics carefully to ensure there’s nothing offensive, and ensure the song is something you can dance to. And if you’re anxious about dancing in front of a crowd, now is the time to hone your dancing skills! Consider taking a dance lesson or two, then practice dancing to your song with your beloved a several times before the wedding.

Other Key Musical Numbers to Keep in Mind

  • The first dance song’s for the bride and her father, as well as the groom and his mother. These dances generally symbolise both the love between parent and child, as well as the parent’s pride of their child at this milestone. A sentimental song usually best suits this dance.
  • Your reception entrance song, if you’d like to enter to music. Some couples choose something witty or funny, while others stick to classic love songs. If there’s a song that you feel perfectly sums up your relationship, now’s the time to use it.
  • Any dance numbers that you know will get the crowd moving. Try popular contemporary dances as well as music with a steady beat that guests can easily dance to.
  • The final dance of the evening. Choose this one carefully, and ensure your DJ or band announces that it’s the final dance. Some couples opt for a slow number that winds down the ceremony, while others prefer an upbeat song that keeps the party vibe happening even as the ceremony ends.
  • The song you want to exit the reception to. This isn’t mandatory, and many couples are outside when they exit, rendering such a song unnecessary. But if you plan to gather inside, try choosing something that offers some parting words or an emotional hue that you hope will remain with your guests after your wedding is over.

Other Forms of Entertainment

Although you’re free to stick with music and dancing, you can opt for other ways to entertain your guests, too. The wait for pictures to finish and for the married couple to enter the building can be a boring one, particularly if food isn’t served until after the first dance. You can keep your guests occupied and build anticipation for the ceremony in a number of ways:

  • For a beach wedding, try setting up a volleyball or badminton net.
  • Give your guests cards to fill out offering marriage advice or a funny story about the couple.
  • Have a quick-witted friend or a professional comedian tell jokes or even roast the couple as they get their photos taken.
  • Give your guests marshmallow guns to play with as they wait for the reception if you’re having an outdoor ceremony
  • For an indoor extravaganza, a few games of darts can keep your guests occupied• You might put up large canvasses on which your guests can paint or draw messages, or give your guests bubbles to blow.

You’ll also need to consider children. Kids can bring fun to a wedding, but they can also become little terrors if they’re bored. Try supplying a few colouring books or games for the kids in attendance. Their parents will thank you.
It’s easy to forget about keeping your guests occupied as you plan your nuptials, but a wedding is as much about the people who love you as it is about you and your betrothed. Think about what’s worked and what hasn’t at weddings you’ve attended, and let fun be your guiding source of inspiration!