Wedding Ideas

Wedding Music: How To Go The Unconventional Route

Posted on March 09 by new jersey bride

Wedding Music: How To Go The Unconventional Route - New Jersey Bride

The big moment had arrived. Last August, New Jersey Bride’s style editor Susan Brierly stood on the lush, sprawling lawns of the Vanderbilt Mansion at Fairleigh Dickinson University ready to walk down the aisle. But if guests were expecting “Pachelbel’s Canon” or other traditional strains, they got a surprise. Brierly and now-husband Robert Bush have long shared a love of vintage LPs and retro tunes. So when it came to their wedding ceremony and music, “We wanted a whimsical ‘Boho’ feel with a ’60s and ’70s vibe.”

And that’s how Brierly came to make her way down the aisle to The Troggs’ delicate “Love Is All Around,” the 1967 hit re-popularized by the movie Love Actually. Moments before, her groom and his 18-year-old son (also his best man), had walked the same path to America’s “Today is the Day” from 1976. “It’s really a beautiful melody,” says Brierly, “And the song title and lyrics are so appropriate!” Finally, after their I dos, R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” graced the couple’s happy hug-filled processional. “For the ceremony, we chose music that you typically wouldn’t hear at a New Jersey wedding.”

Wedding Music: How To Go The Unconventional Route - New Jersey Bride

To be sure, traditional music is still the norm for ceremonies, says Toms River-based wedding planner Kathi Evans, who estimates that only 10 percent of her clients opt for alternatives. Yet industry insiders do note more clients looking to inject some unconventional or personal touches to their ceremony music—whether it’s a full-on embrace of the pop charts or just unexpected instrumentation. “Sometimes the steel drummer is still playing ‘Pachelbel’s Canon,’ believe it or not,” laughs Evans.

Guests tend to be delighted, she adds. “Family friends or friends of the bride and groom’s parents have been to a lot of weddings, so they hear traditional music all the time; they hear the organist or the violinist or the harp or whatever.” When there’s a twist, Evans says, “everybody just perks up, because they know this is going to be the start of something special and something different. And they really like that.”

Wedding Music: How To Go The Unconventional Route - New Jersey Bride

While traditional music has its place, for some couples the unconventional approach to ceremony music is proving to be a fun way to add a special something. After her ceremony, for example, Brierly says, “A lot of people said, ‘I haven’t heard that song since college. I’m so glad you included it.’”  Another guest said, “I never would have thought of doing this but it really works!”

Seeking the unconventional for your ceremony music? Here are a few tips from the experts:

1. First, if marrying in a house of worship, check about music restrictions—some venues don’t permit secular music. Scott Hornak of Craig Scott Entertainment in Rochelle Park says to “check with the music ministry there or consult with the priest. Or if you’re getting married in a temple, ask your rabbi.”

2. If going the pop route, says Brierly, don’t just grab at the latest wedding go-to song. “Don’t be afraid to be different. Some of these songs have just been done to death.”

3. Don’t pick too many pieces, warns Hornak, or you will lose the impact. He suggests limiting selections to “a song for both sets of parents, a song for the bridal party, then the bride and then your recessional.”

4. Hornak also advises selecting songs guests will recognize. “If you go too far out, nobody will really get it.”

5. Get advice from a music professional on instrumentation—is it best to interpret your favorite song via string quartet, electric guitar or have a deejay play the original? “Make sure what you’re asking for will sound good on what you have,” Hornak says.

6. Listen carefully to lyrics, says Brierly, to ensure the words suit the occasion. (Perfect example: While Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” may sound romantic, it’s actually about a one-night stand!)

7. And finally, do a dry-run with your music before your ceremony rehearsal, advises Brierly. “Think about your venue and the time it will take you to walk from point A to point B. You need to have it all timed out.”

Did you walk down the aisle to unconventional ceremony music? What was on your wedding playlist? Tell us in the comment box below!