I will make this into a video someday soon but until then I offer my list of tips here. Things I’ve learned from managing the music at 307 and counting wedding ceremonies here in Michigan over the last 22 years. It seems as the dj I am part of the ceremony for at least half the weddings I do now. So many brides and grooms are choosing to get married onsite. Truth is it makes too much sense. Why force your guests, many from out of town to go to 2 different places if you don’t have to.
Tip 1 Ceremony DJ Items / Ceremony Music Considerations
- Consider Power Requirements for your musicians and/or dj. I personally have a battery powered amplifier I can use but it isn’t near as powerful as the speakers I plug in when power is available.
- Understand that choosing a microphone is possible. Sometimes, most of the time, I use a microphone on a stand for the officiant. I do this for several reasons. One is honestly it’s easy and everyone knows how to use one. Second, I use a wired unit outside to almost eliminate outside signal interference. It’s not 100% guaranteed but in my 22 years never has a wired microphone picked up other signal interference. Can you imagine the pastor in the middle of the ceremony with a wireless microphone when all of a sudden it starts cancelling out or picking up a local radio station, 2 way, or trucker cb? If you could manage to laugh then it would make for a great story but while you were in the middle of it – not so fun. And so you’ll know I’ve had wireless microphones (expensive ones) get their signal stepped on. Once, during a wedding ceremony. Granted that was 10 years ago but it still leaves me weary today.
- Music – Pick 3. Make it easy. I’ve had numerous brides often under the influence of AHPM (a high pressure mom) ask for 5 or 6 songs for their wedding. Truly it’s not a bid deal at my end as the dj but I do this nearly every weekend. The problem with choosing too many songs is that the weakest link – could be an inexperienced venue manager or wedding planner but usually it’s the bridal party, get off cue. At the weddings I do – I make sure to do a last minute button up and get everyone on the same page. So, I think it’s easiest to do this:
- Pick an “officiant, parent/grandparent seating & bridal party walk up song” for everyone. Yes their are more “official” names for these but that too is a semantics mess with too many people claiming to know what’s a prelude vs. a pre-prelude, vs. a seating song and so forth. If you don’t think the one song will be enough either “loop it” (dj should understand this) or look a little harder for an extended version. Pachebel in Canon D is the most traditional for this one.
- Pick a processional song (for the bride to walk down the aisle). I’ve used many different songs for this. There really isn’t one that stands out other than rarely do I use “Here Comes The Bride”. My clients have simply opted for something unique to them.
- Pick a recessional song – after the officiant has turned you to the audience, usually after the kiss, and introduced you to the guests.
- Maybe you’ll want a “ceremony” song (think rope ceremony, sand ceremony, wine ceremony, candle ceremony) – but that should be it… “Ceremonies” (Tip 4) info below this tip.
- Picking more songs only creates unnecessary stress and increases the odds someone will mess up. Just Keep it Simple. Again, for me as a dj – I don’t care how many you pick I just can’t fix it once someone starts walking to the wrong tune. So, it’s not me I get concerned with – it’s your wedding party.
- WEDDING GUEST CEREMONY ARRIVAL MUSIC — Brides often have no idea what music to play when the guests are arriving. I think like everything it depends on the client. For me personally I’d go with stuff my wife and I liked to hear and then choose from that the stuff our guests would be more likely to recognize. It’s a 2 step process as I see it. What we like then what they’d know out of that. I’d also choose upbeat and fun as well (but of course that’s me) versus sappy or worse sleepy. Many clients have “strings or instrumental” in mind. Beyond all that — choose what you want – not what others think you should have or what people might be “expecting”. DO YOU !!!
- Last on the ceremony music part — don’t start the music any sooner than 20 minutes beforehand. Music is a social cue especially at wedding ceremonies. When it starts people feel like they “have to” sit. So especially when it’s too cold or too hot you don’t want to make them sit sooner than they have to.
- More Michigan Wedding DJ Notes – Songs for the Wedding Ceremony – In my opinion of 22 years as a professional dj here in Michigan, let the ceremony be a great time to share your style and flair with the friends and family. Choose songs for these 3 above that are you. To date I’ve seen some pretty cool walk ups for the wedding party. Some of my favorites include a bride walking down to “Going to the Chapel“, and another “Home by Chental Kreviazuk” AND my favorite of all because at the last minute the bride just asked me to pick it – the bridal party came down to Zac Brown – FREE. NOTE – they loved Zac Brown ( I do too) but that is why I chose the tune. Yes, there have been others that were great and I’ve forgotten a few I am sure. For the Recessional (after they kiss and are introduced to the guests) – the sky is the limit. One I like that is used fairly often is You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates . I’ve also used 99 Red Love Balloons, Love is in the Air, Hey Ya by Outkast, Current or old – really – there are so many possibilities. I probably shouldn’t share this but once I had a bride request to come down the aisle to Nelly’s “Hot in Here”. It did raise the roof in laughter and I never forgot it.
Tip 2 Ceremony Weather Considerations
- SUNSHINE — If you’re planning a wedding ceremony in an outdoor location in a state like ours – Michigan, then you should consider shade in the summer. I have done more weddings than I can count where guests arrive in their formal attire and it’s 100 degrees outside in the blazing sun. As a bride and groom you might be 20 something and have no issue with it but you need to consider the older folks. They can literally die from being in the sun too long. I’ve seen people litlerally pass out trying to be “troopers” and tough it out for the guests of honor. If you’re going to do it outside in the summer consider umbrellas, ask F&F to bring any they might have to borrow just in case. Now, the sun or even the rain would be ok. Consider a tent nearby for those that need it to get some shade – maybe even a water cooler.
- COLD – I just managed a wedding ceremony for a bride and groom in May and like most brides they get their minds set to it and short of a rainstorm they’re gonna have that outdoor reception. Well, just like the sunshine in the ceremony tip above, don’t make those people get that uncomfortable. It dropped into the 40’s and people weren’t dressed for it. Tell people to bring a blanket, have some hot tea do something extra to make sure your dream ceremony doesn’t become a hellish experience for your wedding guests. I felt bad for the bride too – she was freezing. At least the groom was in his tux. Vendor NOTE: The event was at Addison Oaks and they always have a back up plan for their brides, grooms and guests indoors – as does the Dearborn Inn.
- Sort of a side note: waiting until the last minute to make your event inside or out – might be somewhat easy for you as a bride or groom ( especially in this Michigan Weather ) but what you may or may not realize is your dj is forced to scramble like crazy to make it happen. Most dj’s may have a second system or “ceremony system” like I do but I don’t have a complete plan b second system. Truth is I’m pretty crafty but last minute decisions always leave me feeling a little worried especially because brides ALWAYS lean toward “taking a chance” and going outdoors. That means my laptop, my speakers and cords might get caught in the rain and that’s not a good thing. Thus far I’ve been lucky and smart enough to prepare for that too but it’s still a bit unsettling.
Tip 3 Wedding Ceremony Location Considerations
- I’ve done a few events outdoors where the brides had no idea what the weekend of their event might be like. Ask your venue if there are any events planned outdoors the same week as your wedding. I recall one event where Chene Park had a rap concert going on just down the river… The guests had no idea what the wedding officiant was saying but they sure knew what the musicians down the way had to say. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for the client. Luckily they just rolled with it. NOTE: Just because there isn’t an event on the books near that “perfect outdoor wedding ceremony location” doesn’t mean their won’t be one booked last minute on your special day. It’s not that this is a deal killer but it is worth having a back up plan for it. I’ve managed ceremonies while the Blue Angels flew over during an air show. Neat – but not the event the bride wanted them to watch. What about parades, marches, unexpected hotel guests/senior proms and more – all things to be aware of when you book your ceremony location.
- I did an event in Ann Arbor at the Gandy Dancer and right in the middle of the ceremony the train both stopped, blew it’s whistle and left. It made a lot of noise. Cool on one hand but maybe they could have adjusted their schedule if they considered the trains schedule. Again – ask your venue contact so all this stuff is spelled out.
Tip 4 Sand Ceremony, Candle Ceremony, Rope Ceremony and so forth.
- I will keep this really simple. If it’s windy outside, candle and sand ceremonies can prove difficult. If you plan on doing them be ok with “they may or may not work perfectly” and if they don’t we’ll fake it!!
- Rope Ceremony Video
Tip 5 – Choosing Someone to be the Officiant
- I have seen everything from Priests and Rabbis to Friends and Family officiate at ceremonies. I will say the ones that are best are those that have done it before. Though I have seen some good ones delivered by friends and family those are the exceptions. On the other hand 3/4 of the pros that do ceremonies are boring and dry. Some people just have a way at getting to the hue-man in us all – at the depth of our souls and really hitting home with good stuff. Those are the ones I’d look for. People that aren’t confident or sure of themselves on the microphone and/or in front of crowds are usually the ones that deliver with a lack of conviction and the ones I’d avoid. Short of that far be it from me to tell you who to use on your special day. Just make sure they are ordained in your state. I did one wedding in my years as a dj because they wanted a musical style ceremony and no one else would do it. I got ordained here – http://www.ulc.net/
Thanks so much for visiting Michigan Wedding DJ for some great wedding ceremony tips. I hope to add more in the months to come as I think of them!