There are a couple of different reasons that you may want to hold a silent disco at your wedding with the most popular being to get around any noise restrictions a lot of venues have. The last thing wedding venues want to do is annoy the neighbours by having music blaring out into the small hours every weekend. Well in steps Silent Disco Direct to ensure that when the music cut off comes into play the music cuts to headphones, this means that each guest gets a pair of wireless headphones and can continue to enjoy the DJ.
The second biggest draw for have a silent disco hire is that you can run different music styles on different channels. This means that you could have some old Mo-town running on one channel, the latest chart music on another and some R’n’B hits running on the third. Each headset then having the ability to rotate through the different channels so every guest can pick exactly what they are interested in. Everyone is happy!
So if you think this is something that you could be interested in then get in touch with your local silent disco hire company and organise a wedding that will have people talking about it for months!]]>
Last week, regular reader and all around awesome bride to be srah asked for advice on deciding whether a DJ or an iTunes set up will be better for her wedding. I’m going to freely admit that I have little personal experience with using an iPod or similar sound system for a wedding and my experience with DJs has been less regular than that of most regular wedding attendees. After all, I married a musician. I move in musically artistic circles. Most of the weddings I’ve been to either have had live music or were held well before iTunes had been invented.
Nevertheless, I’ve done a bit of research this week looking for ways to break this down for you, srah, and anyone else facing a similar decision. And since I am a little bit prejudiced in favor of live music whenever possible, well, I opened up the question just in case someone else is thinking along those lines and wondering what to do about it.
Of course, the first thing I did was google the question. Not so surprisingly, the first five sites returned in the search were all written by DJs to explain why using your own sound equipment and pre-recorded music is a Very Bad Idea.
Then again, people seeing their oxes gored rarely see an upside to that situation and tend to protest. Just as a florist is probably going to counsel you against silk flowers and it’s a rare bridal salon consultant who is willing to admit it’s possible (with the right skills) to produce a beautiful wedding gown by sewing it yourself, DJs want you to purchase their services. They don’t want you to DIY it. Therefore they will naturally point out every possible flaw that could come up while giving you only the upside of working with them.
But just as there are DJs who are skilled party professionals who make everything run smoothly… and there are DJs from the depths of perdition who ignore the requests of the happy couple or can’t read a crowd to save their own skins, there are couples who can successfully run their own music via iPod or similar device, and those who would do well to leave the job to people who make their living at it. And there are those of us who would much, much rather work with living, breathing musicians whenever possible… even though there are living, breathing musicians who are pains in the lower digestive tract who don’t know how to play their instruments, too.
Basically, I would beware of anyone who says too firmly that there is only one way to do things successfully. It’s almost never true, and there’s a potential downside to every answer. So ultimately it’s a matter of finding the balance that works for you and seeing that it’s run by someone competent.
Note that I did not say professional. A lot of people talk about all amateurs as though the reason they’re amateurs is only because they aren’t good enough to be professional, and all professionals as though they were universally competent. This is simply not the case. The key is not in whether or not a person is paid for their services, but rather whether or not they know what they’re doing.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. First you need to decide what approach works for your needs, your preferences, and your budget.
Luckily, I found an article on Destination Weddings that can help put a lot of it into perspective. It discusses some of the issues related to each potential decision for how to handle your music/emcee needs.
But there is a little more to it than that. After all, when setting up your iPod to run your reception music, there’s more to it than the iPod and the playlist entered in it. You’re also going to need a sound system to fill the room with it and someone to make announcements.
Before you set your decision in stone, talk to your contact at your venue about what sort of sound system is available to you and whether it will work with an MP3 player, in particular, the kind you plan to work with, whether that’s an iPod or another brand. Chances are you won’t be the first couple to request this information. Make sure you have access to a microphone, too, for announcements.
About those announcements, it is helpful to have one voice doing most of them for the duration of the party. Choose someone who has a good command of a room, but sounds friendly and warm. A sense of humor is also helpful. If you have a relative who has used a microphone before (regular public speaker, avid karaoke singer, etc.) either ask them to speak or ask them to give the person who will do the announcements a quick lesson in microphone technique. It’s not difficult, but there are things to know and remember… like the mic probably won’t pick up your voice if you don’t speak into it. Hold it a couple inches away from your lips and face it directly before you begin speaking. Oh, and never blow into a mic. You can break a very expensive piece of equipment that way.
What? I told you I married a musician! What I don’t mention so much is the fact that he’s also a recording engineer who works with actors on a regular basis. He knows from mic technique for both singers and speakers.
Anyway, if you’re still on the fence, I found an article at A Practical Wedding by a bride who used her iPod to run the music at her wedding and how it turned out. She has some great tips for making it work well.
Ultimately, the only important thing to remember when making this decision is that it needs to please you and your intended. If you look the information over and decide you’re not comfortable with a DIY music set up, then hire someone to do it for you. If you decide you feel good about giving it a go, then take a chance and best of British luck to you!]]>
Regular and thoughtful reader srah wanted some ideas for picking the processional and recessional for her upcoming wedding. Well, srah, I’ve got a few thoughts not on what specifically you should choose, but on how to choose something that will make you and your intended all kinds of happy.
When the classic original version of Father of the Bride was made in 1950 (see, I worked in the illustration in the end), there was no question what music would play as Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor processed up the aisle for her wedding. Wagner’s wedding march for going up the aisle, Mendelssohn on the way back down again.
Both of those tunes still get heavy play at weddings, and why not? They’re traditional, they fulfill people’s expectations, and a lot of people love them.
But not everyone wants to do the expected. Not everyone loves those tunes. Some of us remember how that marriage that started with Wagner’s march ended. For those who aren’t rabid opera fans, here’s a hint: it sure ain’t a happy story.
Besides, there’s a whole world of music that can be used for these important walks. Why limit yourself to two tunes that may or may not mean anything to you at all? And how do you choose between all the possibilities?
That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.
Before you sit down and listen to every song in the world, which, frankly, you don’t have time to do, anyway, you need to think about a couple things.
What mood do you wish to create with your music? Are you looking for regal dignity or something more casual? The general tendency is to use something more stately and slow for the entrance and something more festive for the exit. Some popular choices for the processional in recent years have been: the Star Wars theme, Al Last by Etta James, and Pachelbel’s Canon in D. On the other hand, one of the prettiest processionals I’ve witnessed in many a year was done to a classical guitar version of And I Love Her by The Beatles. I walked up the aisle to a traditional bagpipe tune called Highland Wedding. All of these create that feeling of something important about to happen. But if that’s not the feel you want, then there’s no need to stick strictly to the script. You might want to use something like Going to the Chapel or Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs. It’s okay to make it sound eager rather than momentous.
I would, however, make sure to re-watch Muriel’s Wedding before choosing something by ABBA. I’m just saying.
On the way back down the aisle, I’ve heard a lot of great tunes. Whether you choose a classic like Mendelssohn, a more currently popular tune like Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder, or something quirkier, the general feeling is that the feel should be celebratory, and I tend to think this is a good idea. You’re building the mood of your reception with the recessional, as well as ending the ceremony. If you want your guests to party, you need to put them in a party mood. This is where it begins, even if the reception is in another place or even if it starts later on.
If you’re marrying in a place of worship, do be sure to ask if there are any restrictions on the music you can use. Some churches are down with you playing nearly anything. Others will only allow liturgical/religious music. Most fall somewhere in between. They’ll allow secular music, but might want approval or may have a list of approved tunes. Check on the question before you make any firm decisions.
Listen to lyrics. There are a lot of people who never notice lyrics, but they do matter. I will never forget (in a bad way) the wedding where the groom and his attendants entered the church to Send In the Clowns from A Little Night Music. Not only is title a sad commentary to make on what you think of the groom and his friends, the song is sung by a woman who is bewildered by the end of her love affair. There was an episode of Whose Wedding is This, Anyway? where the bride insisted on the groom walking down the aisle to Lynard Skynard’s Free Bird… a song about a man who is leaving his lady because he will not be tied down.
Pay a little attention to the message you’re sending the world with your choices. Think about whether the lyrics will be offensive to your guests or make them giggle inappropriately.
Most of all, choose something that means something to you as a couple. A few months ago, I attended a wedding where all the ceremony music was taken from Dr. Who and Torchwood. Why? Because the couple getting married were huge Whovians. They also made the truly awesome move of playing songs connected with all their favorite cartoons (Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Flintstones, Underdog, and a dozen other classics) during the cocktail hour. Don’t worry about whether the tunes you choose are popular or not. Don’t concern yourself with the question of whether anyone else will understand. Those who know you best will get it. Anyone who doesn’t, well, they’ll simply be confused for a couple minutes in the middle of a happy event. They’ll live.
Besides, in the words of the old, old song:
It’s alright now
I’ve learned my lesson well
You see you can’t please everyone
So you’ve got to please yourself
If you’ve been to more than one wedding in your life, chances are you’ve heard some really bad music. It’s one of those eternal verities along with rubber chicken at conventions and the embarrassing drunk person at the office holiday party.
If you’ve been to as many weddings as I have – and that’s a lot! – you’ve heard some really great music… and some truly, epically awful stuff.
For me, the absolute worst wedding music I’ve ever heard was a church organist who played show tunes at a funereal pace. Never before has People Will Say We’re In Love sounded so like the couple fears blackmail. As for Shall We Dance… you couldn’t do a polka at that lack of pace, that’s for sure!
But the cherry on top that made me have to work extra hard to cover my laughter with a cough was the moment when the groom and his attendants arrived at the altar to the most hauntingly dismal rendition of Here Come the Clowns it has ever been my misfortune to hear. Triple phail!
So what about you? Have you ever heard wedding music that bad? Maybe even worse? Just plain inappropriate?
Tell us all about it!]]>
Every decade or two, a new tune becomes the It Tune for wedding processionals. Let’s face it, even Wagner’s famous wedding march had to start off as a newfangled and slightly scandalous choice on someone’s part. Now it’s so traditional that an approximately equal number of couples would never dream of anything else, or would never dream of using it. For the record, I fall into the latter category. I don’t care much for Wagner overall, and I really dislike the idea of using a piece of music from such a disastrous marriage as a way to start off a new one.
And after I’d been to roughly sixty bazillion weddings where the Canon in D was played as the processional, I went right off Pachelbel, too. I still, however, have fond memories of the wedding I attended where the bride was a member of a string quartet who gave her the gift of playing her wedding gratis. They brought in a replacement violinist, and did Pachelbel proud. It was a charming choice between the musicians in question and the intimate backyard setting.
I, however, have never belonged to a string quartet, and the brief period in which I attempted reluctantly – and entirely without a natural talent for it – to learn the violin is an episode best never mentioned again.
So when it came time to plan my own wedding, I needed something different. Oh, also, I was being lead up the aisle by a bagpiper, and frankly, none of the tunes I’d heard other brides use was going to sound right on the pipes other than the theme from Star Wars… which my piper would have flat out refused to play.
In the end, my piper suggested a traditional Scottish tune called Highland Wedding, which was pretty, joyful, and composed with pipes in mind. It was perfect. We recessed to another traditional Scottish tune, Mairie’s Wedding. That one was my suggestion. Those choices still make me delighted. Neither was overdone in my set, but both were written to celebrate weddings and traditional in one of my background cultures. I loved the tunes, the musicians in question knew them well, and the guests seemed to enjoy both selections.
What about you? What would your perfect processional/recessional tunes be? Something traditional or not? Something played on a harp or a kazoo?
Tell me all about it!]]>
This was a perfect pairing. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is an unbeatable combination when it comes to planning a fabulous wedding to be remembered for years to come: a chef and a musician.
Mr. Twistie and I met Bryan about five years ago when Mr. Twistie joined a band Bryan plays in. We both immediately liked him. He’s quiet and mellow with a wickedly sly sense of humor. In fact, he’s so quiet we didn’t start hearing about Julie for a long, long time even though they were already getting together back then.
Once we did meet Julie, we found her every bit as delightful as Bryan. And then there’s the food.
Bryan’s day job (most musicians have them, you know) is managing a gourmet Italian import deli. Julie’s is cooking at a gourmet Italian restaurant that foodies flock to due to it’s fantastic reputation. Parties in their home always feature great music on the stereo and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, in the company of laid back but deliciously witty people.
In short, this is a couple born to plan a fabulous wedding… which they did without a lot of professional help.
A friend volunteered to arrange the flowers. They were an artfully chaotic mix of roses, miniature lilies, carnations, and at least half a dozen other flowers in pale yellow and lavender. The bouquets were lush and the table arrangements were placed in a charming mix of clear glass jars, pitchers, and small vases. Since the wedding was held in a rustic courtyard with lots of pretty vines and flowers around the perimeter, all that was needed for general decor was a couple wooden buckets filled with white hydrangeas at the head of the aisle made of cream colored rose petals.
Bryan arranged the music. He had iPod programs for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner hour. A band mate provided the sound system it played through as well as his R&B band to play the reception. Everybody danced (except Mr. Twistie, whose gout was acting up, darn it!) from toddlers to grandparents.
As for the food, that was Julie’s job and she did an amazing one. A couple of friends pitched in with extra hands and there were waiters to hand it out, but Julie self-catered from apps to dessert. Prosciutto with melon, warm olives with lemon and garlic, mixed nuts toasted with bacon and rosemary, killer deviled eggs… I had a hard time keeping from filling up on the appetizers. But I knew dinner would be special.
From the heirloom tomato Caprese salad, to the watercress salad in a delicate balsamic vinaigrette, to the toothsome mushroom risotto, to the borlotti beans in tomato sauce, to the luscious pork with peach tomato barbeque sauce, every dish was an incredible experience for the taste buds.
Then came the dessert table. Julie went with a dessert bar, and what a dessert bar! The formal cake was white cake filled with an unctuous pastry cream bursting with fresh strawberries and raspberries and frosted with an Italian meringue. In addition to that, there were heart-shaped red velvet Whoopee pies, chocolate chip cookies, fudgy brownies with walnuts, tart lemon bar cookies, and fabulously moist cocoanut macaroons drizzled with dark chocolate.
All the little touches were there throughout the wedding. From the sprig of sweet lavender threaded through each program, to the ceremony written by the happy couple and performed by the bride’s aunt, to the place cards set into half wine corks, to the tables named after cities in Italy (where the happy couple is set to honeymoon), to the carefully chosen wines at dinner, to the basket of complimentary flip flops for guests whose shoes proved to be impractical on the site, this wedding looked as polished as anything I’ve ever seen a professional put together.
But the thing that really made the day wasn’t any of the above, as nice as it all was. The thing that made the day so special was the warmth and thoughtfulness of the bride and groom. It was the way they made sure to talk to every single person sharing their day. It was the way Julie played in the grass with two tiny girls and the way Bryan cried as he spoke his vows. It was there in every smile, every word, and every gesture.
As pretty as the location was, as good as the music was, as delicious as the food was, as beautifully as all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted, what really mattered yesterday was that we were in the presence of so much love.
That’s really what makes Julie and Bryan such a perfect pair.]]>
The boobongo virtuoso you see before you is Fast Eddie, owner or perhaps manager of a Florida upholstery shop by day and wedding DJ by night. After watching the video, I had to know more – who is this guy? Luckily, the good folks at urlesque scooped the story. Can you believe that poor Fast Eddie didn’t get paid? I kid, I kid! But I also know some people who would be angry as h-e-doublehockeysticks on the inside when they saw this but would nonetheless pay their less-than-stellar boobie slappin’ wedding vendor the balance owed.
If you’re cringing right now, I feel your pain… videos of wedding vendors like this made me hyperventilate when I was planning my wedding. But never fear! We here at Manolo for the Brides have got you covered with tips for planning a wedding safely, knowing what to expect when hiring wedding vendors, and dealing with tricksy wedding vendors. Heed our advice and you’ll more often than not be in the clear!
That said, here’s a palate cleanser in the form of a grainy video of an iguana eating some poor couple’s wedding cake:
Send in the Clowns (as sung by Judy Collins) is a ballad from Act II of A Little Night Music. In it, the character Desirée reflects on the ironies and disappointments of her life. Uplifting!
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers… for the quickie wedding followed by the extra quickie divorce, perhaps?
When the groom requests Just a Gigolo by Louis Prima, watch out! You might also want to reconsider if the groom requests this pimp cup.
The Lady Is a Tramp as sung by Frank Sinatra could be perfect for the bride sporting a Corinthians 13:4 tramp stamp.
And as far Verdi’s ‘La donna e mobile’ (Rigoletto) as sung by Carlo Bergonzi, well, the lyrics speak for themselves: “Anyone who trusts her is always wretched; he who opens his heart to her is lacking in caution.” Damning much?
My personal favorite — which sadly did not make the top five — is and shall remain I Will Survive, which is a fun song to act out, but rather more appropriate for sweet sixteens and block parties than for weddings. Whenever I maintain such a thing, there are always the detractors… those who think I’m just an old fuddy-duddy who’s trying to keep all the cool bridesmaids and groomsmen from acting out all the parts of Paradise By the Dashboard Light, but really now. Were I a bride, I might feel a tad odd hearing my groom singing that her’s praying for the end of time so soon after he vowed to love me forever.]]>
To make sure we don’t have any massively jarring gaps here at Manolo for the Brides, I’m going to excerpt some of iDo, since I spend a number of pages in Chapter 14 discussing DIY wedding music and it’s Friday and I don’t feel like reinventing the wheel. Note: More and more people are calling this the iPod wedding, though you can DIY your wedding music with any mp3 player or a laptop.
Search for “iPod wedding” and you’ll come across hundreds of DJs on the warpath. The moment a bride-to-be brings up her choice to ditch the traditional disk jockey in favor of some digital alternative, pro DJs start weighing in. It’s a bad idea, they say. You can’t anticipate what people will want to listen to or read the energy of the room like a real live DJ. Guests will mess around with your playlist when you’re not looking, and the rented sound system will fall over and injure someone who will then slap you with a hefty lawsuit. Your wedding will be an colossal failure!
But there’s really no reason for professional entertainers to get so defensive, because no one is trying to permanently replace DJs and bands with iTunes playlists. The fact is that some people can’t afford either or would rather budget money elsewhere, some people have tastes that are way too eclectic, and some people just don’t care overmuch for the two standard options.
If you’re sold on the idea of an iPod wedding, read some how-tos and learn the basics of live sound so you understand what the challenges are before you rush out and buy or rent anything. Search for “sound reinforcement” or “sound system basics” to find plain English tutorials that will give you a handle on the equipment you’re going to need. You can’t just hook your computer speakers up to some music source and call it a day. First, you need to find out what kind of sound system (i.e. mixer, amp, crossover, EQ, speakers, mics, and cables) your reception venue has. You need to be sure you can go from a headphone jack to whatever kind of sound system is available. Some venues may not even have a PA. And do not neglect to go over your setup with the venue manager ahead of time to make sure the equipment you’re planning to use will work in your reception space so you don’t end up having to send the best man to the local music store for cables on your wedding day. I’d also recommend having back-up mp3 players loaded with your playlists!
When your MP3 or your laptop will be standing in for a wedding disk jockey, it helps to have hundreds of CDs in every possible genre from acid rock to hip hop to new country to reggaeton to zydeco. Those CDs—or folders full of MP3s—will be the raw materials with which you will build your ultimate wedding playlist from the ground up. You may need to borrow some music from friends and download some fresh albums… um, legally, of course. If you’re worried about the dead space between songs, the latest versions of iTunes offer gapless playback and crossfade options so one song will blend into the next. To keep it seamless, try to match tempos so you have slow songs grouped together and fast songs grouped together.
It’s easy to do this using iTunes because you can set up multiple playlists and give them names that will help your music coordinator do their job. What’s that? You don’t have a music coordinator? This’ll probably be your MC—you’re going to have to designate someone to introduce people and announce things like the first dance. The best man is often the most natural choice for this job as he’ll be up on the mic anyway, but your mileage may vary.
The beauty of the iTunes organizational system is that the music coordinator only really has to mess with the music just before or just after they make announcements. Musical categories can include Cocktail Hour, First Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Mother-Son dance, Meal Music, Pre-Cake Slow Songs, Cake Cutting Song, and Post-Cake Party Songs. Your MC will already be on the mic—and thus close to the sound system—while letting guests know that it’s time to eat or dance or whatever. They can click over to the appropriate playlist while they’re close to the laptop without missing too much of the action. Just make sure to pad the playlists and that you have more than enough music in each category so you don’t accidentally run out of sweet tunes just when guests are starting to boogie.
Now that would be a tragedy of epic proportions.]]>
You would not believe how many were crossed off the list because of cussin’ or unabashed adult themes. Songs I thought were squeaky clean turned out to be surprisingly raunchy when I listened to them with a critical ear! In the end, I think that ‘pee’ (in Spider Robinson’s Belaboring the Obvious) was the naughtiest word sung over our sound system.
But one person’s inappropriate is another person’s A-OK. I was born into a very churchy, upstanding, “say-gosh-not-God” kind of family, meaning that even songs containing certain widely accepted euphemisms for sex or drugs were right off the table. On the other hand, Conor Friedersdorf of Culture11 recently examined how gangsta rap is making musical inroads at wedding receptions.
Here’s how it happened at my best friend’s wedding: the DJ spun traditional fare until an old favorite, The Limbo Rock, lured even the little kids and left-footed adults onto the dance floor. The line for the limbo stick stretched longer than the song would, so the deejay scanned his collection. What would come next?
Time ticking away, he settled on Lil John’s “Get Low”—you know, for its thematic resonance. It’s a tune whose lyrics I didn’t even realize I knew until the intro played, the twenty-somethings in the wedding party made mortified eye contact with one another, and the chorus began:
To the window, to the wall, (to dat wall)
To the sweat drop down my b**** (MY B****)
To all these b****** crawl (crawl)
Now I’m pretty sure I know what’s lurking under all those stars, and I’m pretty sure you do, too. In my opinion, it’s better to be a little overzealous when weeding out wedding tunes that will give Pastor Jeff an aneurysm, but I also strongly believe that making sure that no one is unduly offended at a wedding is just straightforward good etiquette.
Causing judgmental dingbats offense by serving brunch instead of dinner or wearing purple instead of white or marrying a dude when you’re also a dude is one thing…expecting people to dance to songs with lyrics like “See *****’s like a wound, it would never heal, the more ointment you put on then the better it feels” is another thing entirely.
I can’t say I hate it when I hear hardcore cussin’ in the songs played at a wedding reception, but I do inwardly cringe on behalf of the guests who are covering their kids ears or covering their own ears. Friedersdorf says gangsta rap is good danging music — I wouldn’t know, not being all that familiar with the genre — and that radio edits should make this a non-issue. That may be true, but I will say that I hate it when good beats are uninterrupted by annoying BEEEEPS and ridiculous overdubs. Why not just play a song that everyone from age 8 to age 80 can appreciate?
What say you? Does danceability trump lyrics, or would you rather brides and grooms keep it clean?]]>