You’ve decided to add some lisianthuses to your bouquet of roses (having read our Top Tips to Maximize Flowers for a Spectacular Wedding), you have lined up an excellent photographer, and your spectacular gourmet menu is going to blow your guests’ taste buds away.
So when it comes to your wedding day music, you’re obviously not going to be relying on a Spotify playlist and a Bluetooth speaker, are you? Of course not. You want a first-rate music and entertainment program to make your wedding day as good as it can possibly be.
As everyone knows, great music changes the entire mood of any event. And weddings are no exception – it gets grandma reaching for her handkerchief during the ceremony, your cousins smiling wistfully during the cocktail hour, and your friends flocking to the dance floor at the reception.
Understanding how critical a role music plays at weddings, we spoke with longtime friend to Crystal Plaza, Unique Musique’s Larry Gold to get some invaluable insights into how a bride and groom should be thinking about their own music choices ahead of their big day.
“First and foremost, I am an Entertainment Producer” says Larry, “whatever the bride and groom want at their wedding, it is our job to enhance it”. Larry goes on to explain that the best music and entertainment experiences follow the same formula that the Crystal Plaza employs – tailoring every single aspect of the service to ensure the couple’s day is as magical and memorable as possible.
Further to this, we wanted to glean some specific advice from one of New Jersey’s finest music and entertainment companies.
How should Brides and Grooms think about their Wedding Day music?
Start by considering the guest list. What is some universal music that everyone will enjoy? While you may both love early 90’s hip-hop, will that appeal to your Great Aunt Bessie? Probably not. So, you want to choose music that makes every head nod and toe tap. Tell your DJ or Entertainment Producer not just what kind of music you like, but also who is coming to the wedding, what the theme of the wedding is, and the emotions you want to elicit during the day.
It is very important that you think of your wedding day as a voyage, with different emotions needed at different times – anticipation, surprise, adoration, celebration, etc. . The music should help the day unfold, bringing the guests on a journey with you as you celebrate all the stages of this momentous occasion.
The different musical stages of a Wedding
As the bride and groom consider all the different elements that make up their wedding day, they should think about the music that will go best with each and every moment. Almost like a wine-pairing with a superb meal – starting with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc that partners perfectly with your oyster appetizer and ending with an aged Tawny Port to complement the delicious cheese board.
Music at the Wedding Ceremony
Generally speaking, brides and grooms elect for live music during their wedding ceremony– usually a string quartet, harp, or piano. The intent here is to set the wedding scene with sophistication and charm, bringing all the guests together in a celebration of love. It’s a highly romantic moment that will melt even the hardest of hearts.
Music during the Wedding Cocktail Hour
The wedding cocktail hour is an interesting time. The relative seriousness of the ceremony is over, but the frivolity of the reception is yet to begin. It is when friends and family members catch up or meet anew, so you want the music to reflect the change in tempo with some positive vibes. You might decide on a live performance with strings, some horns, or a guitar, or perhaps a little light lounge or house music. There is also an interesting hybrid option too – where a musician is playing live while accompanied by a recorded track. It can prove very powerful.
Music during the Wedding Reception
Live music is often favored at the reception; although again, a hybrid approach can be popular here too. Generally older generations prefer live music, while younger people like to have a DJ. The aim of the game is to get everyone on the dance floor at some point, and ideally all at the same time!
Music at the Wedding After Party
Almost every wedding has an after party nowadays. Usually, the music starts to get more contemporary with the live music giving way to the DJ’s computer. The makeup of the dancers also evolves a little, as some of the older guests head home while the younger ones continue to cut shapes on the dance floor.
“The bride, the groom, and the Music Entertainer need to be very mindful of the spaces for each stage of the wedding,” Larry advises, “because it can have a huge impact on how the day goes.”
At the Crystal Plaza, for example, the ceremony could take place in the spectacularly beautiful and airy Atrium with its fifty-foot skylight. Then the guests would move to the dark, intimate sophistication of The Living Room for a cocktail hour in The Living Room. The reception is usually in the magnificent Grand Ballroom, where its brand-new circular dance floor sits beneath 30 glittering crystal chandeliers. Finally, the guests with the most stamina head back to the Atrium, for an epic after party.
“Make sure your Music Entertainer isn’t just aware of where everything is happening at your wedding but is also strategizing how to bring each different space to life, creating the energy and emotion you’re looking for.”
Best song for your First Dance
This is a purely subjective decision. Larry recommends a song that has true meaning to you both – perhaps it was a song you danced to on your first date, or something that played on the radio during a wonderful road trip together.
It’s also a good idea to think about the song’s “danceability” – i.e. will you and your partner be comfortable dancing to it in front of all your guests?
What are going to be the bangers of Summer 2022?
Interestingly, the big hits that will be played at weddings this summer are probably not going to be the big hits of 2022. As Larry explains: “we’re seeing lots of requests for songs from 2010-20s. Artists like Pitbull, J-Lo, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. People are still a little jaded from the past two years and are looking back to the hits from the past decade for their weddings”.
Classic Songs that you should definitely play at your Wedding (but only if you want to!)
We all know those absolute classics that are guaranteed to get everyone on their feet and boogying – we’re looking at you “September” (Earth, Wind & Fire) and “I wanna dance with somebody” (Whitney Houston).
But a more important question you should probably ask is “what’s next?” Because having got everyone on the dance floor, you want the DJ to keep them there.
Here’s where the next question is critical…
What to ask your wedding DJ before hiring them
Gone are the days when your DJ was only as good as the catalog of records they could bring with them. Today, every DJ has access to all the same tracks. So how do you separate your Diplo from your No-Go?
A good starting point is seeing what kind of events they’ve played before. If they’ve only played local taverns, how will they handle an elevated, white-glove environment like Crystal Plaza?
Also, ask them about the variety of music they play -are they able to handle a sophisticated space that will require a multitude of different genres: from music reminiscent of the bride’s childhood to fist-pumpers that the groom enjoys with his closest buds?
What about MCing?
A good Master of Ceremonies (where “MC” comes from) is worth their weight in gold. But this isn’t a backyard Sweet 16 where any loudmouth with a microphone can do the job; instead, a wedding MC has to be able to read the room. They need to know when to cajole the guests into hitting the dancefloor, and when to say nothing at all and let the evening unfurl naturally.
“I remember I once made a special edit of a song for the bride and groom to come out to,” Larry explains, “and the entire room started to sing along to the song totally unprompted! The bride and groom were dancing away while the guests were serenading them! I hadn’t said a single word, and it ended up being an incredible, organic moment for the couple.”
The very best weddings are like beautifully choreographed ballets. The DJ should know everything about the wedding agenda – from the music that will be playing when the plates are coming out the kitchen to who needs to be watching when the couple perform their first dance as husband and wife (can’t happen if Grandma isn’t ready!). The DJ should be making sure the music is hitting all the right emotional notes, as they work in concert (puns intended) with the other wedding vendors to curate a timeless day for the bride and groom.
As with choosing any wedding vendor, it’s about making sure they can deliver your dream. A great DJ can truly elevate your whole day, bringing smiles of happiness to everyone that attends. As the bard once said: “If music be the food of love, play on”…!
About The Crystal Plaza
The Crystal Plaza is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding and event venues in the US. Based in Livingston, NJ we offer impeccable white-glove service to meet the exacting needs of our guests.
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.