St. Louis Bride Magazine

Exerpted from St. Louis Bride Magazine:


St. Louis Bride Magazine You will be the main attraction during the ceremony, but the music can make or break the reception. "The band or DJ you select should make the reception a great party," says Tim Callihan, leader of the eight-piece band Spectrum. Leave it to the professionals to create the atmosphere and good time you want for yourself and your guests. Two of the most common mistakes couples make when selecting music for the reception:

Choosing Every Song - Callihan asks couples to tell him what styles of music they like - pop, jazz, R & B, swing, or Motown, but advises they don't try to list every song. DJs feel the same way. "When a couple mandates every song for the reception, it prevents the DJ from using the experience he brings to the event," says Brandon Gray, customer service director at Complete Music Disc Jockey Service, a company that coordinates music for 2,400 weddings a year in the bi-state area. "And if every song is already chosen, it eliminates the ability for guests to make requests."

Gray remembers a reception at which the couple insisted on picking all of their own music, requesting only slow, romantic songs. "Not enough people danced and the crowd seemed bored. You should have a mix of slow and fast songs, as well as a few participatory songs to get people up and moving," says Gray.

Of course, feel free to request a few songs you love and ban a few that you really dislike. "But try to keep your 'must plays' to less than 10," says Stan Fornazewski of the Stan Fornazewski Orchestra, a 14-piece band. "In the first 30-45 minutes, an experienced bandleader or DJ can read the audience and play what will get the crowd dancing."

Not Enough Variety - Not only should there be both slow and fast tempo songs, but also songs to please all the generations. There are some songs by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, and Aretha Franklin, for example, that people of all ages are familiar with and can dance to. Not everyone will love every song, but a good mix insures wider appeal and more dancing. Ask the bandleader or DJ for a list of songs they play and steer them in the styles of music you and your audience will enjoy.

Special Dances - You may choose to forego some of these special dances, but keep in mind the following advice on choosing the right song for the key moments of the reception.

Introduction of the Couple/Wedding Party - Gray has seen a wide range of music chosen for the new couple's introduction. "Just as for the other special dance songs, the introduction music depends on the personality of the couple. I've played everything from 'The Imperial March' (the Star Wars theme), to 'Walkin' on Sunshine,' to 'The Wedding March.'"

Bride And Groom First Dance - Gray encourages everyone to choose a song unique and special to them. If you have difficulty deciding between a few songs, take them for a spin! Recently married Bree Bowen and her husband Clark had narrowed down their first dance song to three choices, then tried dancing to all of them. They settled on the classic "At Last" by Etta James. "It just felt right as we danced to it," says Bowen.

Wedding Party Dance - This song is usually a slower song, but not a love song. Bowen chose "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, since it had a slow tempo, but isn't too romantic.

Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance - "Be sure to listen to all the lyrics of a song before choosing it," says Callihan. "Sometimes a song may seem like a good choice based on its title or the chorus, but if you listen to the entire song, it's more romantic in nature." Also, parents are usually not comfortable with up-tempo songs, so a slower song is preferable. Something else to remember - if you have a videographer, he or she usually captures all special dances. So if mom or dad looks uncomfortable dancing to "That's What I Like About You" by the Romantics, it will look that way on video, too.

Or Take the "Surprise Me" Approach - Sometimes it's fun to surprise your dance partner with the song you've chosen, or be surprised yourself. Amy Cavato and her dad are huge Cardinal fans. Amy surprised her dad when the band started up a jazzy version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for their father/daughter dance. "The photographer captured my dad laughing as the song began. It's one of my favorite pictures from the reception," says Cavato.

Claire Koob is getting married this Fall and her dad is going to surprise her with a song for their father/daughter dance. Claire is excited to hear what her dad will choose, and is grateful not to have to make at least one decision!

Closing Song - You can leave the last song of the evening up to the band or DJ. But if you want to choose the song to end the evening with, Gray suggests something upbeat "where everyone leaves tired but happy."

If you feel good about your choice of band or DJ, leave most of the music choices up to them to create a great time for your reception. As Gray says, "If your guests have a good time, so will you."

The following was an extra feature included within the above article in St. Louis Bride Magazine:


Do they have a demo tape and song list? The demo tape and song list should give you an idea of the scope of music the band can play - how well and how much variety they can offer.

Is what you hear on the demo tape what you are going to get? Make sure the demo tape is truly representative of the band. Ask if all the instruments you hear on the tape are going to be part of the band at the reception. For example, "If you like the sounds of Motown and R & B, the band needs to have a horn section," says Tim Callihan, bandleader of Spectrum.

Does the band have a male and female vocalist? The repertoire of songs expands a great deal when there is both a male and female singer. "Songs can be done more authentically when you have a male and female vocalist," says Callihan. "And as good as a vocalist may be, it can get tiresome to hear the same voice the whole evening."

Go see the band in action. "The proof is in the band's live performance," Stan Fornazewski of the Stan Fornazewski Orchestra says. "You will be able to see how they interact with the audience and get a feel for how your guests will respond."

Is this the regular cast of characters? Some bands have a group of vocalists and musicians that play in different combinations. "I went to two different weddings with the same band, but the band had different vocalists at each and the sound was much different," says new bride Claire Koob. If you favor a particular vocalist, be sure that's the one you're getting.

Take friend's suggestions with a grain of salt. It can be helpful to learn of bands that friends had a their weddings, but don't let someone else's insistence be the reason you choose a band. It may be a great band, but not the right one for you. Try to be open-minded when you start your search.

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