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How to Plan a Wedding

        Money | Financial Planning

Ceremony Music and Reception Music

The music and flowers play enormous parts in setting the mood for your wedding. Both of these speak to the day's romantic tone and serve to express the couple's style.

The average couple spends approximately 4 percent of their total budget on flowers and 5 percent on music. However, if you both choose to make the music and/or flowers a priority, you'll soon see how quickly your budget will climb.

Probably the most important thing to remember as you make final music and floral selections is that there are choices, including some very creative, very engaging, and possibly less expensive alternatives. We'll review some of them. And remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to help you with each step.

Ceremony Music

If the ceremony will be in a religious building, be sure to ask if there are any music restrictions. Instrumental music generally begins 30 minutes before the ceremony, and a solo is often performed immediately after the bride's mother is seated. The processional begins with an instrumental -- or sometimes a soloist -- and has a slow, even beat that you can walk to. After the final attendant is down the aisle and in place, special music announces the bride.

The bride's music can vary -- anywhere from traditional or contemporary, an instrumental or a soloist. The most popular choices are Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" ("Here Comes the Bride") and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March." You may also want one or two songs played during the ceremony. Finally, there's the recessional, which generally has a slightly quicker tempo.

No matter what you both select for your song list, take the time to find music that means something to you both -- or at least music that you both enjoy. And keep a worksheet on each of your ceremony musicians that lists contact information and other important details.

Reception Music

Unlike ceremony musicians, who need to reflect the moment's solemn, heartfelt ambiance, reception music is all about entertainment. It should inspire dancing, joyful singing, and all-around merriment.

If the ceremony and reception are hosted in the same building, you may be able to hire one set of musicians for both events. More often, however, you'll need separate musicians for the ceremony and the reception.

Below are a few ways to stretch your reception music budget, and surprisingly enough, these ideas can often lead you both to more creative and open-minded musical talent.

  • Hire a DJ rather than a band.
  • Hire a small band. It's a bit more expensive than a DJ but less costly than a full band.
  • Check out local universities or colleges for young talent. Remember, these students may be the same musicians to play at your baby sister's wedding years from now! Another bonus: Because they do not have a standard wedding repertoire, these musicians may be more open to learning special requests. (Be certain, though, to find someone reliable and trustworthy. The money you save isn't worth worrying about any last-minute problems.)

Once you select your reception musicians, create a music schedule to help them play key songs at certain times throughout the evening, such as the first dance and the bouquet toss.