We at Effesenden Music are fiercely proud of the natural beauty of our Pacific NW home. It is always so cool when we get to work with couples from out of state who choose to celebrate their wedding day in our beautiful Columbia Gorge! Danielle and Ernie are a gorgeous couple, incredibly sweet and obviously very adventurous: the “hike” to the ceremony site was something I’d normally be donning my backpacking boots for thanks to a seriously crazy rain and hail storm that arrived just before the ceremony. Still, we managed to make our way up the trail to this hobbit-like venue and provide music for Danielle’s entrance. We don’t know how she did it in those shoes and without a speck of dirt on her stunning gown!
Also love it when we find ourselves featured on the wedding style blog Junebug Weddings. Though the musicians often are not pictured since our role is about the sound versus the look, we feel honored to be in such chic and creative company.
Two weeks ago Effesenden Music’s acoustic duo performed for an awesome wedding at Bridal Veil Lakes. Though Mother Nature decided to bestow buckets of Oregon spring rain on that Sunday afternoon, a spirit of joy and authenticity prevailed as the happy couple, their bridal party, guests and our duo stayed dry under canopy tents that didn’t diminish the gorgeous lake and forest view.
This wedding is representative of some really great trends we’re noticing in 2017 weddings and how they impact live ceremony and cocktail hour music.
1. Wedding style and choices are made by couples instead of one person.
In our case since we offer live music, it’s something that almost everyone has their preferences about so I’m so glad to see both partners sharing their ideas and favorite songs. This most recent wedding featured for processional, the theme song from the classic 80s Anne of Green Gables show (the bride’s pick)! For the groom, we wrote a custom arrangement of the theme from Indiana Jones.
2. Game of Thrones music.
I . . . don’t know . . .but it’s SO fun to play!
Okay, maybe I DO know. People don’t really get married anymore because it’s the “thing responsible people do.” It’s all about finding someone to share a journey with and I think this theme music, like many other movie soundtracks that have become classics, really captures that spirit of adventure!
3. Many couples want a more relaxing, laid back ambiance as guests arrive.
From ideas like party games to pre-wedding beverages to the fact that I frequently see members of the bridal party mingling with guests before the ceremony begins, there seems to be a lot less emphasis on the formality and structure that one used to see at a wedding ceremony. Music choices for Prelude can do a lot to set and enhance a relaxing vibe. Some of my favorite prelude music choices include:
Classic Jazz Standards
What a Wonderful World
When I Fall in Love
Pop Ballads and Classics
The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones
You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder
Stand By Me
Can’t Help Falling in Love
If I Fell by the Beatles
Celtic and Bluegrass Ballads
While most people don’t recognize specific names of fiddle tunes like Star of the County Down or Banish Misfortune, they love the vibe and sound of Irish music. I think interestingly this may have become popular back when Titanic came out and has just never dissipated!
What about you? Where are you getting your ideas for your wedding ceremony music? As a guest at other weddings, what makes you feel relaxed and happy?
Last night’s wedding featured one of my favorite ensembles to work with– our Acoustic Quartet. With Piano, Guitar, Violin, Bass and a couple of vocal things it really is an incredibly versatile ensemble. We performed live prelude music, ceremony music and cocktail hour music before handing over the “baton” to the DJ.
Our clients requested a couple of Pearl Jam tunes and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” so I spent some time immersing myself in that music in order to write the arrangements.
We’ve been writing and performing our custom arrangements of popular music since 2002 but in recent years a few artists have really helped popularize the very style of music that we provide. These artists are violinist Lindsey Stirling, the Piano Guys– a violin and cello duo, and the Vitamin String Quartet. I’m so glad that these musical groups are out there! If you’re not familiar, check out the links below, some of my favorite songs by these groups. Beyond the usual repertoire lists and musical advice you find on wedding websites like the Knot, Youtube is a great place to get inspired and it also helps your live musicians really get a sense of what you like if you send them a link to your favorite songs.
John Legend & Lindsey Stirling~ All of Me
Also, check out our recording of the quartet performing this piece during last night’s prelude!
Here’s another of my favorites– from The Piano Guys!
The Piano Guys~ A Thousand Years (from the motion picture Twilight)
I would SO love to play with these guys. I really appreciate their musicality and they have demonstrated to 93 million YouTube viewers that instrumental covers do NOT have to become the dreaded “Elevator Music!” Oh and also how cool to have a piano in the middle of a beautiful nature setting!
The bottom line is that you should not be limited to whatever the “Wedding Sampler album of Baroque music” might have on it. While Classical music is awesome and we love playing it for weddings and elsewhere, the sky is the limit as to what you can have performed live when you work with quality musicians.
As far as our own recordings, I was really surprised when I looked at the listening stats to learn that the three most popular songs we have recorded on our demo material currently are: The Kiss from the motion picture Last of the Mohicans, Single Ladies by Beyonce, and Now We Are Free from the motion picture Gladiator. The clips are below, listing their instrumentation.
The Kiss ~ from the motion picture Last of the Mohicans
String Quartet + Vocals and Percussion
Single Ladies by Beyonce
String Trio with Guitar Percussion
Now We Are Free ~ from the motion picture Gladiator String Quartet + Vocals and Percussion
There’s that scary saying “you don’t know what you don’t know!” With weddings and planning big events, there is a lot to know and a lot to learn. To be honest, ceremony music often finds itself on the list of last minute additions. So to help you think about what the wedding ceremony standard musical moments are, we’ve compiled a little list.
PRELUDE aka Music As Your Guests Arrive:
Typically 15-30 minutes of background music. This sets the vibe of the room.
If you have a more formal ceremony in a church or similar venue, traditional classical music can be a great choice. String Trios and Quartets know a lot of great repertoire so unless you’ve got the time and desire to spend time with Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Dvorak, you are safe telling your musicians to play something formal, classical and beautiful.
If you’d like to set a more casual tone, prelude music is a great way to give your guests a cue that this is a laid back event. Some of our most popular choices include Beatles, Jack Johnson, etc.
A third option that is particularly great for outdoor weddings or a rustic, organic vibe is acoustic music. This can include Celtic, Americana, movie themes, basically beautiful music that doesn’t have the formality of classical yet retains its beauty.
SEATING OF FAMILY
The seating of family is usually the transition point from the prelude to the ceremony. Often cued by the entrance of the officiant and sometimes the groom, this musical moment can be short (1 minute) if only the couple’s parents or longer (up to 3) if seating other family members such as grandparents. Most people opt for something a little more traditional here but every family is different and we have plenty of Led Zeppelin in our repertoire if needed.
The bridal party entrance consists of bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower girl /ring bearer (if using.) The music for the entrance of the bridal party is often a really fun moment to bring some of your personality into the music. Few of us will soon forget that bridal party entrance to Chris Brown’s Forever. In case you missed it, 2009 was the year that changed the idea of walking down the aisle from something very straight forward to the “sky’s the limit.” With over 90 million views, this video is pretty amazing!
If you’re not quite ready to become the next youtube sensation, there are many wonderful classical choices that have stood the test of time– pieces like Canon in D also known as Pachelbel’s Canon, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Vivaldi’s Spring and more. For a nonclassical vibe, some great choices include Viva La Vida or Clocks by Coldplay, Starlafur by Sigor Ros, La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf, All You Need is Love or In My Life by the Beatles, My Girl by the Jackson Five and At Last by Etta James.
Here’s a clip of Effesenden’s acoustic trio doing our own rendition of Guns N Roses Sweet Child of Mine:
Another popular choice for bridal party entrance music is a movie theme. One piece that has been gaining traction the last few years is the Game of Thrones theme. Here’s a clip of Effesenden performing it a few years ago at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland.
Other popular movie themes include The Kiss from Last of the Mohicans, SHE from Notting Hill, the theme from Top Gun and more.
BRIDE or COUPLE PROCESSION
We get asked all the time if playing “Here Comes the Bride” is required. The answer is “nope!” This classic wedding piece by Richard Wagner is actually played far less frequently for a bride’s procession than you might think. In all honesty, the most popular bride’s procession in our experience is still Canon in D. Choose a song that is really meaningful to YOU. If you’re worried that guests won’t know when to stand, make sure your officiant knows to provide a cue “please rise” or have the guests seated in the very front row given a cue to stand– everyone will follow suit!
RECESSIONAL Right after you are pronounced as a married couple, this is the piece of music that plays as you, your bridal party and your family exit the ceremony venue. We typically recommend 2 songs to play so that most guests are serenaded out as well. The most traditional choice is the Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, but many other songs are frequently played ranging from classical music to pop to jazz.
Above all, when choosing your ceremony music, let it reflect your style and the vibe you want to create. Don’t do a piece of music just because it’s usually done but if you love the tradition, go for it! We love helping our clients discover their perfect wedding ceremony music!
Live music is hard to quantify because so much of it has to do with the listener’s personal taste. Reviews are certainly helpful in many genres and I rely heavily on review sites when I’m shopping for things like hotels or when I’m in a new city and I want to find the best coffee. For Effesenden though, lately I’ve been less inclined to promote our ensembles on sites that are driven heavily by reviews.
Every time I work on the music for someone’s wedding, I love getting to know a little about them and their musical styles and I really want the music to be special for them. Feedback is great but when I’m reaching out over email to couples who are getting spun up on life as newlyweds…maybe knee deep in thank you cards and HOPEFULLY traveling the world together for a year before they return to “civilization” I don’t love the process of sending those pesky “Will you please review me” emails. I’d rather just let people express their thoughts as they see fit. So .. . that’s why you won’t find a lot of review sites with super recent reviews for our work at this time.
In the past, we’ve been active in these areas so if you want to leave us a review or read what some of our past clients have to say, please check out the following links:
A couple of my favorite wedding blogs are Style Me Pretty and JuneBug Weddings– several weddings we have performed at have been featured on the pages of these totally amazing wedding inspiration blogs. If for no other reason, go there and have fun looking!
A while back, I ran into one of the first brides I ever worked for. I was at the Portland Children’s Museum of all places. She caught me as we were chasing our respective kids through the maze of activity and expressed how much she had loved her wedding music– all these years later it was still with her. THAT was the best review I could have gotten, knowing that it mattered to someone all these years later.
I am a little late to cheer in the new year… after all we just celebrated Valentine’s Day! An IMPORTANT one for folks in the wedding industry! Did you have a good holiday?
In December I had the privilege of touring with the Celtic Trio for the 8th consecutive season. This year we were joined by the talented Seattle based multi-instrumentalist, Eric Miller.
In music as with any field, you have your ups and downs… and then sometimes there are just those experiences that leave you totally inspired and reinvigorated. This tour was one such adventure for me.
This crew is working on a new album and I just got back from Camano Island where I spent two days working on string parts to blend with flutes, whistles, vocals, all kinds of keyboard goodness and more. It was a TRUE blessing as it is any time I get to create music with good people who are passionate about their craft.
Thanks for your continued interest in my musical journey and I hope that you find something here of interest whether it is inspiration for your wedding music or encouragement to another violinist looking for ways to channel creative energy.
Welcome and I hope to keep in touch a little better this year.
I started playing the violin at age 3. I loved the instrument and I adored hanging out with my teacher, my fellow students and my brother who was also learning to play. My first switch from student to teacher was as a Freshman at George Fox University when my junior high math teacher asked if I would begin teaching her 5 year old daughter to play. That little girl is now in med school and over the years I’ve had the privilege of teaching a multitude of young music lovers both in private studio settings as well as in ensembles and chamber groups from the very tiniest pupils to college students. My oldest student to date was 84 years old. I love helping anyone who is passionate about music or interested in discovering that passion.
If you are interested in connecting about private lessons or group settings, use the contact page to drop me a line.
Yesterday was a cooker but we had a great time playing at the Resort at the Mountain. This beautiful couple gave us a lot of liberty in our musical selections, we knew that the general vibe they wanted was classical music for prelude and pop and bluegrass for the cocktail hour. I opted to enlist our string trio with guitar and was greatly aided by the musical talents of Erin Green (viola), Dylan Rieck (cello) and Nate Macy (guitar).
This type of ensemble is probably my favorite to write for because of the wide range of styles it can accommodate. I love to write string harmonies and it’s great working with Erin and Dylan because they can also improvise and add their own touches to the music. BTW, Dylan is new to the Pacific Northwest–we just shipped him in from that great musical mecca Austin! He’s a lovely player and wonderful person. And you should check out his site: www.dylanrieck.com.
I am late to the game I suppose. This song has been out since 2011 and nearly 180 million people love it on Youtube but that’s one of the lovely things about this little company of mine is that I’m forever being introduced to new feel good songs. Today, for a cheery Friday pick me up, I give you “Love on Top.” I’m nearly done with a string trio arrangement for a couple’s recessional next Month. It’s SUCH a fantastic choice I must say.