Whoa, you guys. I’m getting married in six weeks! Six weeks from Friday, but, yeah, six weeks. We got an email from our venue requesting names and email addresses for all of our vendors the other day and I, um, started noticing some glaring gaps in our plans.
We’d tossed around several ideas for music and just never got anything nailed down. We were hoping for a live band, but as we got further into planning and realized maybe our budget isn’t going to be as high as we thought, paying four to six people for their talent looked like it was out of the cards. And DJs? Those folks get spendy and we kiiiinda waited too long to book one on short notice.
Fortunately, our venue has a sound system with an iPod dock allowing us to run our own music. It’s a really great option if you’re willing to devote a few days to building your playlist. I come from the generation that remembers mix tapes and I was a badass at putting together a tape that flowed in and out of different genres and tempos, so I saw this as an opportunity to make a really big mix tape collection that a.) tells our story, b.) entertains our guests with some happy dance jams and c.) doesn’t need a parental advisory for the more conservative guests. On it!
If you’re going to take on your own music, you’re likely putting three to five mixes together. For us, it’s the prelude, cocktail hour, post-entrance music, then the full reception dance party. Everything has a slightly different feel and sets the tone for that particular time of the evening. Our prelude music is soft and easily-digestible stuff with a swirly, romantic feel to give guests the warm fuzzies while they’re filing in to the chapel. During our cocktail hour, we picked some fun, jazzy sounds with a twist. Richard Cheese definitely shows up here. After we make our entrance and food is served, everyone needs some chill background music, but we wanted it to pick up the beat a little without being overwhelming. Then of course the dance party starts and things get fun!
If you’re going to tackle this yourself, pick special songs first. Are you walking down the aisle to something other than a traditional bridal march? Think about your first dance, a song you’d like to play while cutting the cake or dancing with your brigade — any of those points in the day where the music means something to you. Once you set a few songs that have a special meaning to you and your beloved, it’s much easier to build your playlist around that.
Of course, you don’t owe anyone their favorite song or artist, but if you get hung up, ask friends for some input. Set parameters like “no breakup songs” or “absolutely no Nickleback” to help them help you. Since weddings usually have a large age range, consider some older stuff for those aunts and uncles who still like to party, but aren’t quite down with David Guetta. Bands like The Beatles, Queen and Hall & Oates usually go over well with most people.
Take look at your day-of timeline and add a few extra minutes for each block of music. If you’re having a true cocktail hour, build an extra 15 – 20 minutes in for a buffer. I stacked my least favorite songs into that buffer so if they played, at least there was music, and if they didn’t, no heartbreak. Skipping a few songs isn’t a problem, but running out of music is!
Finally, arm a good friend with a schedule, a playlist and the pause button, then another with a microphone. Unless you are so awesome at scheduling that you can assemble a playlist with breaks and shifts and stay on it (please don’t count on that!), you’ll need someone to hit pause for the toasts or skip ahead to the cake cutting music. Label your playlists accordingly and go over everything ahead of time so there’s no confusion about where the music needs to go. Your buddy with the microphone (or booming voice) can make announcements that would otherwise be left to a DJ or band leader. It saves you money, plus you have a day perfectly customized to you and your sweetheart.