Getting the Best Sound

Sound considerations are often overlooked in weddings and I can completely understand why—who wants to think about speakers and wattage when there are so many other..prettier and tastier things to plan.  Wedding magazines typically don’t talk about this part of the wedding planning because it doesn’t sell dresses and jewelry but unless you’re having a mime themed wedding, please consider the following: 

1.  Your older guests—especially people like your grandparents—really want to hear you say your vows.  They care about this kind of stuff!  Amplifying your officiant is going to allow these older loved ones to enjoy every moment of the day.

2.  Choose the right music for the setting.  Many of the advise columns will tell you to have a smaller ensemble so that you can save money….but if you choose violin and cello and you have 300 guests in an outdoor space, are you really getting your money’s worth when 150 of them will not be able to hear a note?  Either go with a larger ensemble or choose an option with amplification—it’s really easy to amplify a violin and guitar for 300 guests…and worth it!

3.  Live music adds SO much energy to a cocktail hour or dinner but only if it can be heard.  We’re not talking concert volume levels but enough that it provides a great backdrop.  The musicians should be positioned in a logical spot.  While it’s nice to not have to get up and reset our instruments and it does lose a little bit of time, having live music WAAAAY off in the distance is pointless.  I usually recommend that the musicians are in some proximity to the bar but not in a location that will block foot traffic.  People can enjoy the music while they’re waiting for their drinks and it’s also a convenient location because there is typically access to power near the bar so electrical chords can be out of the way.  Another clever location is against a backdrop like a wall or patio.  The sound will reflect back into the crowd that way rather than being lost in space.

The absolute best sound is going to come from bringing in a professional sound technician.  It’s not as pricey as you might think and in my opinion, worth every penny!  We have connections with great technicians starting in the mid $300s.  Costs vary depending on whether the technician is working with gear provided by the venue and or the musicians or if he/she is bringing in state of the art sound gear.  Some cool bonuses with this are an audio recording of the ceremony and venue tailored sound…these guys make a living analyzing a space and choosing the appropriate gear—saving you any worry about wattage and allowing you to totally focus on that dress! 

Even without the “techy” in tow, we can help you have great sound at your wedding.  We have several excellent sound components we can use ranging from little tiny speakers that add just a little extra “umph,” to full sound with the capacity to rent chordless microphones and lapel microphones.  We are also team players when it comes to weddings.  If you are using a DJ for the latter part of your wedding, we are happy to communicate with your other vendors about these things.  Choosing a DJ who is a team player as well is going to really make a difference. 

If your venue doesn’t have access to electricity—beaches and public parks often don’t, all is not lost.  Your choice reflects some added style of the ambiance and even if the officiant can’t be heard, the sound of crashing waves might express what you want guests to experience at your wedding anyway!  From the live music end of things, choosing either a larger ensemble like string trio or quartet or a duo such as violin and guitar that can stand very close to the guests will help bring all of the components together.

So there you have it…. my 10 cents on sound.  I’m always thinking about these kinds of things because I really want your special day to sound as well as look amazing!

Reviews of Effesenden Music

“We would like to thank you for the incredible performance at our wedding and reception!  Every guest commented on the music and we just couldn’t have been happier.  You all played a huge part in making our wedding unforgettable!”
—The McWinters    July, 2009

This Ceremony was a full Catholic mass for which we provided a violin, guitar & cello trio along with soprano vocalist cantor.  Selections included many traditional songs such as Ave Maria along with a very unique wedding choice called Everything by the band Lifehouse.  I absolutely loved arranging this song and the cello really brought out the emotion of the music.  After the ceremony, our guitarist headed to the country club where he performed for the cocktail hour and dinner with some light jazz.  I felt really proud to be a part of this wedding because it was gorgeous and the couple seemed so happy.  Plus, I was happy that our versatility as a company was able to accommodate the different parts of the day.


“Thank you for the beautiful music at the wedding Saturday.  Not only were WE very pleased, but several guests told us it was the best wedding music they’d ever heard.  The sound, the selections, the tone, the mood and the perfect sound level.”
—Kathleen  July, 2006

It’s not that we haven’t received any thank you cards since 2006 but this wedding was so memorable that I had to include on this post.  Not only did temperatures reach the 90s on this July afternoon, but it actually rained!  Super bizarre for Oregon but a nice segue to mention that we came prepared with a white canvas tent which provided shade from the sun and shelter from the drops which actually probably felt great to the poor guests in their suits and ties.  The wedding was held at the historic Shogren House in NE Portland.  We provided an acoustic trio for the ceremony to which we added drums for the reception.  It was a nice mix of Jazz, Acoustic…and we even did some Elvis!  I really appreciated Kathleen’s words because we strive to make the music we do at weddings every bit as excellent as what we play for ticketed concert events. 


Beyond the Wedding March

Taste in music is one of the quickest ways to get a feel for someone’s personality. How many times has the question of favorite band been posed to you on a date or an airplane ride? How about Oprah’s “What’s playing in so and so’s ear” feature each month in O Magazine?  Maybe taste in music was even one of the things that drew you and your partner together in the first place!

So why then when it comes to wedding ceremony music do people believe that if they want live music, it has to be some classical piece that they have absolutely no emotional connection with? Don’t get me wrong, I love classical music—I started studying it at age 3. . . but what I really love and what brought me into the wedding business is being able to play songs that matter to the people who hear them—whether that is Pachelbel’s Canon in D or Beautiful Day by U2.

Listen to Effesenden Music

Many groups accommodating a special request of your beloved song typically go no further than photocopying readily-available sheet music and reading it ‘on the fly’ at your event. This can lead to erratic consistency in quality, and you have to ask yourself whether, in these cases, you’re better off with an i-pod.

Every pop song that Effesenden Music performs is arranged by our players for our players. We also practice the music before showing up at your wedding: it makes a difference. A lot of string players are not used to the rhythms and styles of rock and pop. We make sure that we get not only the melody but the feel of your song.

We also have diverse options for instruments. String quartets are visually gorgeous but we have many other options for instrumentation including incredible vocalists. We can even provide the accompaniment if you have a friend who will be singing a special song.

What all of this means is that Effesenden Music can create a live playlist of music for your ceremony that is going to be meaningful to you and your guests with all of the elegance and sophistication that live music brings. We can mix all kinds of styles of music together yet the overall sound will be consistent because it is being performed by one ensemble.

We can go beyond ceremony to cocktail hour, dinner and even reception music to save the hassle of coordinating with more than one company. We also recommend some excellent DJs.

With seven years in the wedding industry, we’ve developed an extensive list of songs that are already in our repertoire.  Effesenden Music’s pricing options vary depending on whether you find something you like on our lists or would like us to create a unique soundtrack from your own musical VIP list.

Check out our musical sample page and let us know your ideas. Effesenden Music would love to help create your unique wedding day atmosphere by playing music that is beautiful and meaningful to you!

5.24.09 The Nines Hotel, Portland, Oregon

On a cold Monday evening last January, Hailey and Evan along with one of our violinists, Danna met at my home studio to discuss their wedding style.  Over the phone, they had hinted that they had been listening on i-tunes to the Vitamin String Quartet and might want some out of the box musical options but it was a wonderful challenge to assemble the music that we settled on.

Wendy: Q.  “What are some words to describe the wedding vibe you would like to create?”

H & E: A.  “Special, memorable, warm, close, fun, nontraditional.”

We needed an extremely versatile ensemble to pull off the variety of music that this couple chose so I recommended our Acoustic Quartet featuring:
Danna Leontescu on Violin,  Ashley Peck on Cello, Aaron Pruitt on Keyboard and Nate Macy doing double duty on bass & guitar.

Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof
Your Eyes
, an arrangement of the Peter Gabriel classic
In My Life and All You Need is Love, Beatles of course!
At Last, ah Etta James
What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
Evan’s entrance:  Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Bridal PartyWonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
Hailey the Bride’s Entrance:  All My Life  by KC & Jo Jo
Recessional:  Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer
Postlude:  Take a Chance on Me by ABBA

Hailey and Evan were a joy to perform for.  They are one of those couples that makes it easy to believe in love…and they were so enthusiastic about their music that it made us all the more committed to help create the perfect soundtrack!   Mazal Tov!

Making the most of live event music


Will the music be too loud? Will it be too distracting… or will it be so invisible that the financial investment won’t be worth the return?  These are reasonable questions that unfortunately sometimes scare people away from the idea of adding live music to their event.



The best way to explore your options is to set up a meeting with Effesenden Music—it’s complimentary and we can help you discern whether live music is the right fit for your big day for part—ceremony and cocktail hour… or all—from prelude to father daughter dance. 


Got Canon in D Love?

Of all the songs we perform for weddings, Johannes Pachelbel’s Canon in D is probably the most requested.  Pretty amazing that a piece of music composed almost 330 years ago still resonates so much with today’s bride!  Sometimes people ask me if I get sick of playing it… and the answer is “no.”  Even if I didn’t love the song, Effesenden Music is about playing music that is first and foremost, meaningful to the bride and groom.   That said, the weird thing is that I actually am as enamored with the piece as the rest of the world.  That’s part of the reason that we have recorded several different samples of Canon or “Pachelbel’s Canon” as it is sometimes called.  The tempo and energy of the piece can be varied from elegant and formal to joyful and energetic.  

Traditional Classical string trio rendition:  Canon with Strings 
Acoustic rendition with violin, guitar & cello:  Canon in D Acoustic