Helpful Tips about When and How Music is Used During your Wedding:
1) A MUSICAL WEDDING Wedding ceremonies are filled with beautiful traditions: music, flowers, candles, Bridesmaids, beautiful gowns, marriage vows, and family members and friends who have come to witness your vows of commitment to each other. Wedding music, especially when it is performed in-person by musicians such as the Ptarmigan String Quartet, fills the wedding ceremony space with positive energy and romance! Live music enhances the ambiance of your wedding ceremony and adds to the memories of your special day.
Wedding ceremonies can be formal, informal, or anything in-between. Wedding music helps create the desired mood for the kind of ceremony that you want to have. There are no hard and fast rules about wedding music. The kind of ceremony and music you choose is an important personal decision that reflects your unique values and preferences about traditions and music.
We have performed diverse music for a large number of weddings, at a variety of venues, including a Mountain Lodge above 10,000 feet on Keystone Mountain. Based on our experience playing for many weddings, we would like to share our insights and help you with the music for your wedding. We can assist you in selecting music for all phases of your ceremony. The quartet has a varied repertoire of music - everything from traditional wedding music, to classical and contemporary, tangos, music from Broadway, and much more." With plenty of notice, we can arrange a special request. This does require at least 60 days lead time and there could be a small fee charged depending upon how much time is required to create a string quartet arrangement.
2) PHASES OF A WEDDING [when you book Ptarmigan for your wedding, we will mail you a list of our most popular wedding music] During a wedding, music is used to signal the beginning of each phase of the ceremony, with the bride's entrance being the highlight. Prelude Prelude music is played for about 15-20 minutes prior to your ceremony while your guests are gathering, greeting each other, and getting seated. The prelude usually includes about 5 to 6 pieces of relaxing, reflective music to help set the tone for the ceremony.
Processional Order [Wedding Party] The Processional is a multi-part phase of the ceremony when members of the wedding party walk down the aisle, face the wedding guests, and await the arrival of the Bride. Music is played during each part of the processional. Except for the Bride's Processional, the same music may be played for the entire wedding party or separate pieces may played for each group in the wedding party. The Bride's Processional is usually a different piece of music to highlight the Bride's entrance.
A. Family - Parents and Grandparents are escorted to their seats after all other guests have been seated. Special music may be played to acknowledge honored family members.
B. Groom and Groomsmen - Next, the Officiate, Groom, Best Man, and Groomsmen enter. Special music may be played, or the same music that was played for the family members may continue.
C. Bridesmaids - Then the Bridesmaids, ring bearer and flower girl walk down the aisle. Normally, at this point there is a change in the music to highlight the entrance of the Bridesmaids. After the Bridesmaids are in place, the Bride's Processional begins when the wedding party are in their places and the Bride is ready to walk down the aisle.
Processional [Bride] After everyone in the wedding party is in place, the Mother of the Bride stands to signal the entrance of the Bride. The Officiate may also ask the guests to stand. Then the Bride walks down the aisle to where the Groom and wedding party are standing. The Bride's Processional music is the most important piece of music to select for the wedding. This music can be anything from the traditional Bridal Chorus ("Here comes the Bride") to any other special piece of music the Bride and Groom select.
Interludes and Responses During the Ceremony, there may be prayers, readings, lighting of a unity candle, the signing of the marriage certificate, and any number of other special events. To highlight the interludes and responses, Music may be played during or after these events, if desired.
Recessional After the Bride and Groom exchange vows, rings and their kiss, the Officiate announces the couple as man and wife and then at the very end introduces the newly married couple as "Mr. and Mrs. ____." This introduction to the guests signals the start of the Recessional music which is played while the couple and other wedding party members exit from the ceremony. Often the Recessional piece is played until all or most of the wedding guests have existed as well. The Recessional piece announces and celebrates the conclusion of the marriage ceremony. It is also an important piece for the Bride and Groom to select.
Postlude & Cocktail Hour Right after the ceremony, Ptarmigan plays music for about 5 minutes as guests depart the ceremony site. Ptarmigan often performs music for the Cocktail Hour which follows right after the ceremony. Guests enjoy having the string quartet continue during Cocktails. Since we don't use amplifiers, this allows guests to easily visit with each other while we play music during cocktails. When Reception music is provided by a DJ, often the music is louder and sometimes dominates making it harder for some guests to visit and hear each other. We have had older guests tell us that they wish we were staying on --- even after Cocktails. The most important thing of all is for your wedding and reception to be just the way you've envisioned it and planned for it to be.
Reception Music for the wedding reception varies greatly depending upon your personal musical preferences and the kind of reception you plan to have. When the reception is primarily a dinner, the quartet can provide music for your cocktail and dinner hour(s). If dinner is followed by dancing, often a dance band provides this kind of music. However, we do have pops, waltz's and tangos in our repertoire if you should want the quartet to perform dance music.
DECIDING WHAT MUSIC TO SELECT Ptarmigan String Quartet will send you a form, "Music Worksheet," to help you organize your selections. Your choices are based on your preferences. Some churches restrict the kind of music you can use, so check first if you are getting married in a church. You can enter the pieces you would like for each part of your ceremony. Please contact us if you would like help selecting music. We will also send you our "Wedding Music List" that shows the titles of some of the most well-known and popular wedding music for various parts of the ceremony. Also, please go to our Music List page for a list of music ideas for your Cocktail Hour and Reception. If you are not familiar with the pieces by title, you can find some sound clips on web sites such as google, Itunes, Youtube, etc.
CULTURAL TRADITIONS Wedding ceremonies vary according to religious and cultural backgrounds. Some couples develop their own new traditions that reflect their particular lifestyle and values. Often, when the Bride and Groom come from different backgrounds, traditions are mixed. We are happy to play music that compliments your traditions, just let us know what these traditions are and what kind of music is usually played during or after these events. We will try to find copies of the applicable music arranged for String Quartet. We are most familiar with traditional Christian or secular ceremonies, but will work with you to play music for Jewish weddings and for other religious and cultural backgrounds. We have listed some traditional Jewish wedding music on our wedding music list. We welcome your suggestions for music that compliments various cultural and religious traditions.
3) HELPFUL HINTS For OUTDOOR WEDDINGS & OTHER EVENTS While most of this information pertains to outdoor weddings, quite a bit can also be applied to weddings that take place indoors. During the summer, outdoor weddings are very popular. There is something special about being one with nature on this important day. The couple and the guests alike enjoy the fresh air, the scenery and the solitude of being outside.
Outdoor weddings involve some special considerations with respect to your music: "Come Rain or Come Shine" - Stringed instruments such as violins cost thousands of dollars and can not be in the direct sun without causing damage to the wood. The same applies to being in the rain or when exposed to cold temperatures. To protect our instruments from damage, we need you or the facility to set up a 10' x 10' canopy where the musicians will be playing for the ceremony. To avoid the possibility of rain, outdoor weddings in the summer are safest when they take place early in the day - prior to noon. It is very important to have a secondary Indoor location (Plan B) in case of bad weather. If the weather doesn't cooperate, deciding on an alternate place ahead of time will be greatly appreciated by your guests and all the other people who are working to make your wedding a special and successful event. Don't forget to plan ahead of time where the wedding party and musicians will be placed in the alternate space.
Wind - Even on the nicest days there can be a breeze, especially in the mountains. It is best to place the musicians and the wedding party so that the general wind direction is behind, not facing the musicians and wedding party. The sound will carry best if the wind is to their backs.
Sound Projection - Music sounds the best inside of a building with good acoustics (like a church or events facility.) If your wedding will take place outdoors, the ideal arrangement for musical acoustics is to place the musicians in front of a building, or a group of trees, with the wind at their backs so that the sound projects toward the guests and more importantly toward the wedding party. The music will also project better if the musicians are on a wooden deck, or even on a plywood platform [10' x 10'] rather than on grass. Any time a wedding ceremony takes place outdoors, a PA system for the officiate and couple is advised. There are small, wireless clip-on microphones available that are not very noticeable. Not being able to hear you is disappointing to your guests. Depending upon the characteristics of the site, the sound of wind, road traffic, or other distractions can prevent the ceremony and music from projecting well. It is very important for the wedding party to be able to hear the musicians and for the musicians to be able to clearly see and hear the ceremony because the music and the ceremony are intimately interwoven and timed. The words of the ceremony and the music are used to signal the beginning and the end of the various phases of the ceremony.
The Sound and Site of a Beautiful River - People love to be married next to a beautiful mountain stream. At times, if the water is high, the sound of water rushing over the rocks will block out the ceremony and the wedding music. If you plan to be married next to a river, it is best to have a PA system so that your vows can be amplified. It is also best to have the musicians up front near the wedding party. Your guests will enjoy being able to hear you speak your promised vows of marriage. After all your work and expense you will want everyone to hear your ceremony and the music, as well as see all the beauty you have created for your ceremony.
Test the PA system before the ceremony begins to make sure it is hooked up correctly and that the volume is just right. If a PA system is not practical because the site is too remote (no electricity), then try to situate the musicians, wedding party and guests in such a way to maximize the acoustics so everyone can enjoy your ceremony.
4) The Wedding Rehearsal - If our schedule allows, one of us will attend your rehearsal. We normally leave right after the rehearsal and do not expect to attend your rehearsal dinner. At your rehearsal we do not play any music. Instead, we meet you and your Officiant ahead of time; become familiar with your wedding party; and become aware of any changes you've decided to make to the various stages of your ceremony. Even small changes may affect the order, or timing, of your music. Being at your rehearsal also gives us a chance to answer questions, receive information, and share observations we might have about how to better incorporate your music. At your ceremony it is very important that the musicians be placed where the person who attended the rehearsal can clearly see the wedding coordinator. When we are playing music, it is tricky to concentrate on the written music and watch the ceremony at the same time. So, we need to be able to clearly see and hear your ceremony so that our music flows smoothly with transitions from one song to the next played as transparently as possible.
5) Guest Vocalist or Musician - If you have a family member or friend who will sing or perform with the quartet during your wedding, please let them know that we need the following at least 60 days before the wedding: 1. A copy of the music (hopefully already arranged for Soprano, Tenor, Alto, and Bass, or a piano part, so that we can accompany the vocalist using the non-melody parts). The copy must be in the key signature that the vocalist will be singing in.
2. A CD, MP3, or Youtube of the vocalist singing the melody. This is especially helpful to us if the vocalist is from another State and there will only be one chance to rehearse with the vocalist before the wedding. Unless the vocalist is experienced being accompanied, we prefer not to accompany unless the vocalist arranges to have at least one short rehearsal with us before the wedding.
If someone decides to sing at the last minute and has music that we can use, we will try to accompany and coordinate. But we can't guarantee the best quality performance when someone decides at the last minute. In cases like this, singing unaccompanied would be the best choice.
If the family member or friend is a musician and has music available that is already arranged for his/her instrument and string quartet, then we will be glad to play with the musician. We need to have the string quartet parts mailed to us at least 60 days prior to the wedding. The outside musician or vocalist needs to have at least one short rehearsal with us before the wedding. This could be done at one of our regularly scheduled rehearsals or just prior to the ceremony - but needs to be scheduled in advance. It is also helpful to have a MP3 or CD of the musician's part for rehearsal purposes. Please send us the name, address, and phone number of the family member or friend who plans to sing or perform on his/her instrument with the quartet.
6) Unusual Logistics and Remote Locations - Ptarmigan String Quartet prides itself in being very flexible when it comes to music, logistics and other special considerations. It is extremely helpful if you think of us as "guests" as well and let us know ahead of time if there are any challenging logistics. In addition to ourselves and our instruments, we bring other equipment like music stands, music covers for wind protection, etc. If your wedding will take place in a location that requires traveling over a rough dirt road in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, we need to know this ahead of time. Also, if your wedding will take place at a ski resort, and getting to the site requires a lengthy ride on a Gondola, we need to know this ahead of time too. Any information that you provide to your guests will help us as well. We also pride ourselves in being reliable, being on time, and being prepared to play the best wedding music possible for you. We appreciate any and all information you can give to us to make getting to your site easier. Directions, names of contact people, cell phone numbers, etc. are all much appreciated. We want to be on time, and to arrive safely.
7) Plan B for the Unlikely and the Unexpected - In all the years we have been playing music for weddings, we have arrived on time and performed for ceremonies in ways that exceeded the Brides' and Grooms' expectations. In the very unlikely event that something were to occur that would cause us to be late or not get there, like a medical emergency, automobile accident, blocked road, etc. you would benefit by having an Ipod or CD with music for at least the Bridal Processional, Recessional, and any favorite song, with you. Having this much of the music available, as a backup, would allow you to go forward with the ceremony without too much disappointment. Again, it is extremely unlikely that you would actually need to use the ipod or CD, but it is less stressful if you have a Plan B for this as well. In the unlikely event that we were not able to perform, any part of our fee that you already remitted would be refunded to you.