Quality Live Ceremony Music: How to Find It?

For almost 9 years now I have conversed with couples about their wedding music.  Over steaming cups of coffee illuminating their joyous faces, they look into my eyes and ask “ I was wondering… well… what I’m really hoping is to walk down the aisle to Canon in D. Can you play that?”  I’m always both happy and a little sad over this interchange:  happy because yes—we can and do play Canon in D with passion.  Sad because I know that the fact that we do play the song doesn’t really tell this bride about our ensemble:  because any musician playing for wedding ceremonies better have the most popular selection of the past two centuries hot on their fingertips…in reality these brides aren’t learning as much as they might think about their options.  So what questions really do distinguish one company from another?  Here are 3 points of discussion to ask  the band leader & company owner that will separate passionate professionals from the musical vultures looking for a quick buck at your expense.

1.  What is your musical background?  Tell me about the other members of the ensemble.  How do you go about adding new musicians to your ranks?

2.  What types of music do you play?  What instruments/combination of instruments do you offer?

3.   Where do you get your music?  Do you do special requests for songs?  Do you arrange the music specifically for your group or do you play off of music from other sources?

As you listen to the answers to these questions, you should be able to tell whether the people have well thought out answers or if they are scrambling to make themselves sound competent.  Beware the person who just gives a blanket yes without explanation and if money is a factor in your decision, be sure and clarify what additional costs might be involved in the various offerings.  Many groups will arrange music but additional fees above the listed price may be involved.

While photos, flashy advertisements and even referrals are handy, you are hiring these musicians to play live music, so there is really nothing you can do that is as important as listening to samples of their music.  I am simply amazed how many times I field calls from brides who want to know how much we charge without having heard our music.  Most companies have audio samples on their websites as well as a CD they can send you to listen to.  Don’t worry if you don’t see a sample of the actual song you want to have played—most musicians try to give a sampling of the various types and styles of music they specialize in—so for example, if you hear a Beatles tune, chances are pretty high that you could have a great rendition of the Beach Boys.  You can also request things like “I’d love to have a fast version of Canon in D” or “I’d like Ave Maria with vocals instead of instrumental.”

Wedding advice columns often tell brides to listen to the musicians performing live before booking.  It certainly doesn’t hurt, but keep in mind that the repertoire and even the conduct of an ensemble in a concert setting is going to be different from how they will be at your wedding.  To cut right to the point, your wedding is about you and your relationship. Everything—music included should be aimed at drawing attention towards that.  Imagine Lady Gaga performing at your wedding ceremony—while just perfect for millions of screaming fans in a stadium, it would be beyond awkward to have someone in a meat dress singing as you walked down the aisle!  The music and the musicians should play in a way that focuses on you.

The bottom line is that you should not be intimidated about the process of finding great live music.  Just because you might not play an instrument yourself does not mean you can’t tell whether something is beautiful. . .and you certainly can tell if you are being treated with courtesy and professionalism.  Live music in the right hands will add the perfect soundtrack to the visual beauty and joy of your day!

Helping You Make It Personal

When I got married, Andy and I had close friends and family perform our music. Every song was personal and meaningful to us. While friends teased “Aren’tWendyGoodwin_marriageproposal you going to play the violin at your own wedding?” I left the playing in the capable hands of others but I DID do all of the arranging of the music. Between grad school exams and juries, I was writing out the music that would be played. My own enjoyable experience planning music was part of what motivated me to start Effesenden Music.

I wanted to approach Effesenden Music like I was doing music for a friend. I wanted to help people have meaningful music that reflected their unique style as a couple. Many of the musicians who played for my wedding celebration almost 9 years ago are still an integral part of the current Effesenden roster of musicians.

With most wedding and event ensembles, you either hire a specific local celebrity musician to come and do his thing OR you hire a booking service that contracts musicians from professional institutions like the ballet orchestra to come and perform at your wedding. In many cases, these musicians see your music for the first time at the wedding itself or they play from a regular program of material performed at every wedding.  They may have never even met one another until moments before your processional.

Effesenden wedding music is very different. I start by getting to know you and your style. Then I work on developing the playlist that when your friends and family hear, they are going to say “Oh that is SO them!” From your end that involves exploring our current song lists as well as thinking about other songs that might be the perfect melody to add. From my end, that means helping you choose the instrumentation that is going to sound great playing those songs and then arranging and preparing the song selections so that they are specifically tailored to your event. I help you balance the creativity and stylistic concepts with other considerations like budget and venue logistics. I walk you through everything, just like I would my friends.

Besides running Effesenden Music, I am also an active touring musician in other capacities, so I am not always the violinist who performs those songs at your wedding. I do however shepherd every single step of the process and I can promise that any musician who plays for Effesenden Music is someone that I would without hesitation have play (or maybe did) have play at my own wedding.

With my extensive contacts, I can bring together the right people for the type of music and the type of event whether that’s classical, jazz, fiddle or eclectic.

There are plenty of good musicians out there but if you are looking for personalized attention, I hope that you will give us a call!