STRIKE UP THE BAND
Musical choices that help make your day special
By Valerie Lemke
Copley News Service
Times have changed since the days when most wedding music consisted of Lohengrin and a friend of the bride singing, "I Love You Truly."
Now, music is often woven throughout the big day - from the seating of guests to the last dance. Musical options abound and the bride and groom need to do their homework.
Is it a live band? A deejay? A band/deejay combination? Is there a contract? What will it cost?
Anseth Page Roberts of Creative Occasions (www.creativeoccasions.info), based in La Jolla, Calif., has been helping happy couples with the answers to all wedding plans since 1994. Her first question to brides is, "how much do you want to spend?"
The national average for a wedding with 100 guests is $28,000, according to Roberts. But in regions where vendors are more expensive, such as California where the average is $45,000, the cost is much higher. This includes everything from the gown to the flowers, the reception to the music.
When budgeting for music, the best local bands start at $5,000 to $6,000 and a great deejay will be under $2,000, she said.
Bernie Sera, bandleader for the Fabulous Ultratones, (www.ultratones.com) a local band, sets the cost of music lower.
"The price range for a good, large band should be $4,000 to $5,000," he said.
While special equipment needs and extra hours add to the costs, "you can get a great deejay for $1,000," said John Rodinec (www.soundtracksmusic.tripod.com), who has been operating Sound Tracks Music in San Diego since 1986.
Musicians work for their money. The role they play in today's weddings includes far more than a musical interlude. Several traditions including toasts to the new couple, first dance, cake cutting and garter and bouquet toss, routinely have the bandleader or deejay act as master of ceremonies.
They may be called upon to provide music for the ceremony itself, as well.
"With a live band, you might have a keyboard player or a trumpeter do the wedding ceremony," said Sera. "Then you have another mix during the reception and dancing."
It's popular today to have all activities take place in one location, and this can also increase the responsibilities of the bandleader or deejay.
"I'm often a wedding coordinator, master of ceremonies and liaison to the officiant, caterer and photographer all rolled into one," said Rodinec.
Sera agrees. "In the wedding environment, there are several roles to play. We need to be able to improvise, but we also provide organization and structure. We make sure everything goes smoothly."
To be certain these details are built into the wedding day scenario, the bride and groom should book their music early. A year in advance is none too soon, and if you're getting married on a highly sought-after date, even earlier.
The supplier of music should provide a contract that spells out all details and responsibilities of the contractor. Date, arrival time, number of performance hours are put in writing. Details such as equipment to be provided, base fee and what the musicians' attire will be are included.
There will be a planning session between the couple and the provider during which all of the specifics are discussed. A bit of happy homework: bride and groom should prepare a list of their favorite songs.
Just what is the preferred music for this rite of passage? Wagner's Lohengrin and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" are still processional and recessional favorites. From that point on, choices run the gamut, but veteran deejay Rodinec is convinced the most popular slow song is the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" and Chubby Checker's "Twist and Shout" is "the all-time favorite fast song."
Armed with information, where do couples find the right music for their special day?
For starters, there are referrals. Both Sera and Rodinec say referrals are responsible for the majority of their wedding business. Bride and groom may ask bands and deejays for references or seek advice from married friends.
You'll also find a long list of bands and musicians at Wedding Connections, an online resource guide. Their Web site is www.weddingconnections.com. Information on professional deejays can be found at www.gigmasters.com.
Long before the first note is played, use research and planning to assure you'll be making beautiful music at your wedding.
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