Advice on Picking Your Wedding Music

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.

BRIDAL PARTY

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!

Thoughts on Reviews

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.

2016 Wedding Booking Special

Acoustic Christmas Ensemble

We’re Feeling Merry and Bright!

The holidays are here and you’re crossing to-dos off that wedding planning list!

In the spirit of celebration and planning, from Wednesday November 23rd through Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 mention this post to receive an $85 discount on 2016 wedding bookings.

Check out our music samples here on the website or contact us directly to learn more!

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

Prelude on the Mountain

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.

 

 

Hello Beyoncé!

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.

A Little Pop Strings For You Today

There’s such a trend now for couples to choose contemporary music for their wedding in addition to or instead of the more traditional classical pieces.  Because there are few things I love more than creating new musical arrangements, it’s a trend I hope stays around!

Today I wanted to share some video from a wedding we performed for at Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Gardens (which by the way is an incredible place to visit if you are exploring our fine city.)

This video features our Acoustic Trio, comprised of Violin, Guitar & Cello playing ithe Guns N’ Roses tune Sweet Child of Mine.

Enjoy!

On a Personal Note~ 12 Years Deep

I just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary.  The music at our wedding included a Minuet from Handel’s Water Music for seating of family followed by an instrumental arrangement of With a Little Help From My Friends by the Beatles followed by a song I’d heard Sara and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek perform at the Mark O’Connor fiddle camp the year prior to our wedding.  Our recessional was a recording of the Benny Goodman orchestra playing Sing, Sing, Sing because we met swing dancing.  At our reception we danced to Eva Cassidy’s beautiful ballad The Songbird.

Every year around this time I find myself thinking about what songs would comprise the musical soundtrack of our present lives.

Past year winners have included:

3×5 by John Mayer

Marry You by Bruno Mars

Catch Me if I Try by David Wilcox

Vienna by Billy Joel

To Whom it May Concern by the Civil Wars

Magic from Coldplay’s forthcoming Ghost Stories album is a strong contender with its stunningly raw and beautiful lyrics.

 

Call it magic

Call it true

Call it magic

When I’m with you

And I just got broken

Broken into two

Still I call it magic

When I’m next to you

 

And I don’t, and I don’t and I don’t, and I don’t

No, I don’t,

It’s true

I don’t, no, I don’t, no, I don’t, no, I don’t want anybody else but you

 

I was sad when I read the news of the Chris Martin/Gwyneth Paltrow split.  When difficult events take place in the personal lives of artists, the media pours over their work to look for the “warning signs” and analyzes every word ever spoken in an interview to reveal the trouble that was supposedly brewing.  But it is so hypocritical that our society does this when anyone who’s been in a meaningful relationship well knows that there are a lot of ups and downs. . .oh and by the way, a byproduct of that is often beautiful art.

Working in the wedding industry as I do, I see so many of the ups:  radiant couples giddily planning every details of their wedding celebration.  I always ask my clients how they met and I love hearing these romantic stories.  Their joy reminds me of my own love story for which I’m grateful.  I sometimes wonder about the downs—hoping that this magic remains for them just as it has for my sweet neighbors who, deep into their 70s still travel the world together and sing one another’s praises when the other one is not in the room.

At 12 years, I don’t consider myself any sort of marriage expert but one thing that I do believe is that you have to work at the things that are important to you.  If Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to be a success in one’s professional field, how about 10,000 hours spent focused on your relationship?  What would that look like?

Well… for me, that sounds like a joyful endeavor and thus, this year’s official winner of personal theme song:

 

 

“Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.”~ Happiness is my family.

 

Effesenden Acoustic Trio Plays Hoyt Arboretum Ceremony: Junebug Weddings Takes Note

Okay.  I kind of couldn’t believe it when there, in my inbox yesterday, sat a message saying “Effesenden Music has been published on Junebug Weddings!”  I’m forever marveling at the beauty and creativity of the weddings we are privileged to perform for but it’s something extra special when the national wedding community takes notice as was the case when Junebug Weddings did a spot on this gorgeous ceremony at Hoyt Arboretum in July.

I loved this wedding because as a true Oregonian, all things outdoors and tree related are close to my heart… and then I have this alter ego as a professional classically trained violinist so when the two combine:  playing beautiful acoustic music in a gorgeous Pacific Northwest Forest for people who obviously dig the outdoors… well, I’m a lucky lady.

I have to add, that this photo that Aaron Courter took has got to be the most awesome bridal party shot ever taken.  Love it!

Our playlist for the day included a lot of Americana music in combination with some classic recognizable numbers by Elton John, Sting and the Beatles.  Their processional choice:  James Taylor’s Copperline was one of my favorite songs to arrange this summer.  I wish I could put a link here to our rendition but we were not able to obtain copyright permission to stream this particular song… so I’ll give you a youtube video of THE MAN himself performing it:

Our ensemble consisted of Violin, Cello and Acoustic Guitar.  One cool thing is that we actually did not use any amplification and the sound still carried beautifully.  I always want the sound to be its best but sometimes it’s unfortunate when one is playing in such an organic, natural setting to then have to add chords and cables of the sound system.  For a wedding the size of this one… less than 100 guests, it was just perfect.  I’ll be posting some of our recording from the day soon. . .so be sure and check the Listen page on our website if you want to explore the live recordings from our recent weddings.