5 mistakes to avoid when choosing wedding music

As most people know, the music you choose for you wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and reception is one of the main ways you can set the mood for your special day. But, unfortunately, many couples with good intentions make bad decisions because they just don’t know enough about selecting music, selecting a band or ensemble , or selecting a DJ. To help make sure you make good decisions when it comes to choosing music for your wedding, we offer the following to help you avoid the most common mistakes.mistakes to avoid when choosing Phoenix wedding music

Common wedding music mistakes:

  1. Ruling out live music or a DJ before you actually research the options in your city. Most people assume that hiring live musicians will be more costly than hiring a DJ. Some others may assume that having a DJ will automatically come across as tacky. Neither is totally true, of course. If you plan ahead, and shop wisely, you can find small ensembles that can bring an intimate, romantic mood to your wedding and won’t break the bank. Alternately, skilled DJ’s can bring energy to a crowd and lead the evening through a lively celebration. We recommend that you contact a variety of live musicians and DJ’s and really spend the time to consider your options before making a decision on which to book. Also, you can get the best of both worlds by booking live musicians for the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour and a DJ for the rest of the celebration.
  2. Not consulting your wedding venue regarding music suggestions and restrictions. Some venues have restrictions regarding music – such as not allowing live musicians to be amplified, so it’s always best to consult with your venue to find out if there are any such rules. Additionally, you should ask if they have any suggestions regarding the appropriate ensemble size (solo, duo, trio or quartet) for your wedding ceremony venue, cocktail hour venue, dinner and reception venue. If you’re hiring live musicians, you can also speak with them, as they may have experience  and advice about playing in your venue.
  3. Having no music as guests arrive at your ceremony. Whether you choose to have live musicians or a DJ playing recordings, be sure to have some music playing as guests arrive for your ceremony. This music, referred to as “prelude music” is often more on the romantic side, either contemporary love songs or more traditional classical wedding music. When you hire live musicians, you can work with them to select just the style of music you’d like to set the mood for your wedding.
  4. Not mentioning your favorite songs. Whether you choose a live ensemble or a DJ, don’t be shy about requesting your favorite music or songs. Professional ensembles should have a large repertoire and should be able to play the standard wedding music and popular weddings songs, so don’t be shy about asking. If they don’t have your favorite song in their repertoire, they can often make arrangements especially for you for a nominal fee. When using a DJ, they should have access to most every popular recording, so be sure to give them your “must play” list as well as your “do not play” list.
  5. Allowing the music to overshadow the conversation. Whether it’s during the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner or reception, it’s important that the music volume balances well with the other activity. Never should the volume be so loud that it makes it difficult to hear the officiant, the couple or your guests’ conversations. For the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner, the volume should be fairly low, but once the reception starts, the volume can be kicked up to drive the party atmosphere.

There are so many considerations when choosing music for your wedding, so be sure to take the time to talk to experienced, professional musicians and DJ’s who can help make the music and integral part of your wedding day.

4 Main Considerations for Choosing the Music for Your Cocktail Hour

While we get a lot of requests to play music for couples’ cocktail hours, many are unsure of what type of music they’d like to have. If you choose carefully, you can ensure that the music will be welcoming for your guests and set the right tone for your celebration.

SoSco performs flute & guitar music at Phoenix Bridal Show
SoSco performs flute & guitar music at Phoenix Bridal Show

When choosing your cocktail hour music, we suggest that you begin by considering the following:

  1. Mood you are trying to create. If you are having a modern wedding, then perhaps some jazz, modern ballads with classic nostalgic instrumentation like guitars, flutes, percussion, bass or keyboards could work very well. If you’re having a formal, traditional cocktail hour, songs made famous by Frank Sinatra and classic love songs played on guitars, flutes, saxophones or strings would set an elegant mood. For a more fun, casual mood, a steel drum band may be the right fit. Just be sure that you request that the volume is kept at a level where guests can still comfortably mix and converse.
  2. Your venue. Where you’re holding your cocktail hour may also play into your decision about what type of music to have. If your cocktail hour is held outdoors, consider the availability of power for instruments that may require amplification (guitars, strings). The larger the venue and guest list, the larger the ensemble you can use. For a smaller venue, you can use a more intimate ensemble like a solo, duo or trio.
  3. Whether you are using live or recorded music. If you’re going for a more upscale wedding, having live musicians will be appropriate and expected. Also, if you’re having a smaller affair but want to give it a more classy feel, hiring live musicians can make all the difference. You can always have your DJ play recorded music for your happy hour, but it will end up coming across as less personalized and less memorable.
  4. Your theme. If you and your wedding planner have come up with a theme for your wedding, be it beach, vintage, rustic, beach, country, garden, nautical or any other, having the right music at your cocktail hour help reinforce this theme. While you may have ideas of what music you might like, take the time to speak with your potential musicians to see what ideas they may have for playing music to help support your theme; they may have some ideas and specialties that you had never considered!

No matter what the mood, your venue, live or recorded or the theme you’re trying to create, we believe the key to creating the perfect soundtrack for cocktail hour is choosing uplifting songs with a relaxed vibe. The cocktail hours should be a time to play the songs that you love but are not suited for dancing.

4 Main Considerations for Choosing Cocktail Hour Music by SoSco Flute & Guitar Duo of Phoenix
4 Main Considerations for Choosing Cocktail Hour Music

We recommend the beautiful music from legendary crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Classics like “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Unforgettable” and “Can’t Stop Falling in Love with You” never go out of style. You can also add some love song favorites from the ’50s and ’60s that are timeless and romantic.

Whatever you have in mind, we suggest you work with your live musicians to select the perfect set list as the background to make your cocktail hour memorable and special.

Save

Tips on How to Save Money on Your Phoenix Wedding Music

The cost of weddings can easily get out of control, but we wanted to give you a few tips on how to have the wedding music you’ve dreamed of without spending more money than you need to.

save money on wedding music
tips on how to save money on wedding music
  1. Book musicians early. The top musicians in Phoenix get booked early, so for best availability, you’ll always want to begin conversations with potential wedding musicians at least 6 months in advance. You may find fine, professional musicians with shorter notice, but without much lead time, rates can be higher than if you plan ahead.
  2. You may be considering different musicians for your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception in order to have a variety of music. But, the fact is, if you hire one ensemble to play several parts of your wedding, you will save considerable amounts of money because most musicians’ fees are reduced after the first hour. Just look for well-trained, experience, versatile musicians who are able to perform a variety of styles, and you should be happy with  your entertainment.
  3. As you plan your wedding, keep in mind that musicians often charge fees for sound equipment, so be sure to ask about these fees before booking. Depending upon the ensemble and the equipment, fees may vary greatly. Also, be aware that some ensembles charge extra fees to move their equipment from say, the wedding ceremony site to the cocktail hour site. This fee will certainly be less than hiring multiple groups, but it is still a fee which should be considered and perhaps avoided with some planning.
  4. Experienced musicians will have fairly extensive song lists including music that is particularly suited for processionals of the wedding party, the entrance of the bride, the unity ceremony, the recessional, the cocktail hour and the reception. Be sure to discuss the styles and variety of music that you can choose from before booking a musician. In addition to choosing songs of their standard play lists, many musicians offer to arrange songs that you request. Many couples do have songs that are particularly meaningful to them that they would like included in their ceremonies, but just be aware that most musicians charge a fee to arrange the music for their instrumentation and to rehearse the music in order to prepare it to perform for you. If you’re looking to save money on wedding music, we suggest you choose only one or two special songs to be arranged to keep the cost down.

While there are certainly some specific ways of saving money on your wedding music, we would caution you NEVER to hire wedding musicians just based on price alone. Some couples think they can save money by hiring friends or students, but in the end, they often end up disappointed that the quality of the performance is not what they had hoped for on their special day.  So, we recommend that you get the very best musicians you can and then use the tips above to save some money where you can.

Live music at your Phoenix wedding cocktail hour? 7 questions to help you decide

Among the many decisions couples have to make when planning their weddings is

whether or not to have live music at

Live musicians at wedding at WigWam Resort, Litchfield Park, AZ
Live musicians at wedding at WigWam Resort, Litchfield Park, AZ

their cocktail hour. Here are seven questions for you to answer to help you decide if you should hire living musicians for your cocktail hour or not.

  1. Do you want to set a special ambiance for your cocktail hour (celebratory, intimate, romantic, elegant, fun, etc.)? If you’re looking to have a more high-end feel to your wedding, live music is one of those touches that can’t replicated with a DJ just playing recordings. Live musicians will bring a more personalized, intimate feel to the cocktail hour by playing soft background music that sets the mood for the hour.
  2. Do your guests all pretty much know each other? If you have guests at the cocktail hour who don’t know each other, it can sometimes feel like a long time between the ceremony and dinner for guests who don’t know others there. Having live musicians creates a relaxing, pleasant focal point for guests to enjoy while waiting for you to return from taking pictures.
  3. Do your guests get to hear live musicians often? Many people rarely get the opportunity to watch and listen to live, professional musicians in anything other than a large concert setting. They may hear hobbiests perform in the local coffee shop, but this is a very different experience from hearing professional musicians, so consider if you would like to treat your guests to the special, memorable experience of professional live music when they attend your wedding.

    live music or just a DJ at your wedding
    How to decide if you should have live music or just a DJ at your wedding
  4. How will you keep your guests entertained for all of the wedding festivities? Between the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and reception, the whole event can be a long day for your guests. For this reason, it’s important to plan a variety of ways to entertain them. While your ceremony may be with traditional wedding music, your cocktail hour could reflect this style or have more lively, jazzy music. Then the evening can get more energetic until it progresses to dancing to a DJ’s tunes.
  5. Is your cocktail hour in the same location as your dinner and reception? If your cocktail hour is not in the same location as your dinner and reception, it may be difficult for your DJ to set up in multiple locations and it may cause a delay. If you have live musicians play for your cocktail hour, they can quickly move from the ceremony location to the cocktail hour location. This allows your DJ to set up and do sound checks in one location without having to set up twice.
  6. Can you budget for live music for my cocktail hour? You may be surprised to learn that if you are already hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony, it is often quite reasonable in price to keep them on for the cocktail hour as well. Many musicians have a higher fee for the first hour and then reduced fees for subsequent hours. You can save money by asking about pricing for one ensemble for several hours rather than hiring different ensembles for each part of your wedding.
  7. What are your priorities? The decision to have live music or not really boils down to what your priorities are. If you are on a tight budget and would rather spend your money on more booze, hiring live musicians for your cocktail hour doesn’t make sense. But, if music is important to you and you believe it will help create the romantic, elegant ambiance you’re looking for at your wedding, then there is no substitute for booking live musicians.

Tips for Selecting Music for the Main Sections of a Phoenix Wedding Ceremony

Years later, most couples remember and still have a very warm place in their hearts

outdoor wedding musicians at the WigWam Resort in Litchfield Park, AZ
Setting up for an outdoor wedding at the WigWam Resort in Litchfield Park, AZ

for the songs played at their wedding. Maybe you like the idea of having live musicians for your wedding ceremony but don’t even know where to begin with planning the music. If so, here is a quick summary of the six main sections of standard wedding ceremonies that call for music and a few options to get you started thinking.

  1. Prelude– As guests arrive and are being seated (generally a selection by the musicians which  lasts 10 – 20 minutes)
    1. Traditional options: The Swan – Saint-Saens, Clair de Lune – Debussy, Meditation from Thais- Massenet
    2. Contemporary options: A Time for Us (Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet), Beauty and the Beast, Unforgettable
  2. Processional– As the bridal party enters 
    1. Traditional options: Trumpet Voluntary – Clark, Trumpet Tune – Purcell, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” – Bach
    2. Contemporary options: Your Song – Elton John, All You Need Is Love – The Beatles, Stand By Me – Ben E. King
  3. Bride’s Entrance– As the bride enters
    1. Traditional options: The Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) from Lohengrin –Wagner, Trumpet Tune – Purcell, Canon in D – Pachelbel
    2. Contemporary options: In My Life – The Beatles, Can’t Help Falling in Love, All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera
  4. Interlude/Unity Candle/Sand Ceremony– During the Ceremony
    1. Traditional options: Greensleeves, Ave Maria – Schubert, Gymnopedie No. 1 – Satie
    2. Contemporary options: Everything I Do – Bryan Adams, One Hand, One Heart – West Side Story, Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  5. Recessional– As the couple exits
    1. Traditional options: Wedding March (Midsummer Night’s Dream) – Mendelssohn, Alla Hornpipe (from Water Music Suite) – Handel, Ode To Joy – Beethoven
    2. Contemporary options: Happy Together – The Turtles, Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) – Stevie Wonder, Marry You – Bruno Mars
  6. Postlude– As the guests stand and leave  (generally a selection by the musicians which lasts 5 – 15 minutes)
    1. Traditional options: La Rejouissance – Handel, Rondeau – Mouret, Autumn – Antonio Vivaldi
    2. Contemporary options: All You Need Is Love – The Beatles, How Sweet It Is – James Taylor, At Last – Etta James

Spending time with your fiancé picking out your music is fun, relaxing and will help make your music meaningful. But, if you don’t have a strong preference for any certain songs or music, experienced wedding musicians will be able to recommend appropriate songs that suit your tastes, whether they be more traditional, contemporary or unique.

Nothing like music has the power to express the emotion of a wedding ceremony, so if you’re looking for the secret to a more meaningful day, live musicians will bring the perfect touch to your ceremony.

Be sure to check out our play list to see some more of the music we like to perform for Phoenix-area couples!

Celtic Music: Beautiful Melodies For Weddings and Special Events in Phoenix

Celtic music is one of our most popular styles of music to perform for weddings,

Celtic music performed in Peoria, AZ for St. Patrick's Day
“Patrick” the leprechaun prepares to read his limerick as SoSco performs Celtic music
Celtic music performed in Peoria, AZ
SoSco poses with “Patrick” the leprechaun before they play Celtic music for St. Patrick’s Day
Celtic music in Phoenix
Guests of a senior community in Peoria, AZ enjoy SoSco’s Celtic music for their St. Patrick’s Day party

private parties, cocktail hours, corporate events and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day parties.

“Celtic” music has many definitions including:

  • Irish and Scottish folk melodies
  • Traditional fiddle tunes
  • Irish jigs, hornpipes and reels
  • Highland bagpipes
  • The more commercial genre with New Age influences featuring flutes, harps, and high voices

SoSco Duo plays a variety of Celtic music, but the majority is arrangements of Irish, Scottish and Isle of Man (now a British crown dependency) tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries. These include airs, jigs and slip jigs, carols, songs, marches arranged for flute and guitar, many with variations composed by the arrangers.

Some of the more popular Celtic pieces we perform include:

  • Eleanor Plunkett by Turlough O’Carolan, a composer from the 17th century who, although blind, was a harpist, composer and singer who became famous for his keen ability to write beautiful melodies
  • Down in Yon Banke from The Skene Manuscript of Scottish tunes from 1610 – 1620
  • MacPherson’s Lament by James MacPherson who played it just before his execution at Banff, Aberdeenshire (Scotland) in 1700
  • Blackbird Will You Go, a song about a young man who asks the blackbird to go to his true love
  • Down by the Salley Gardens, a lovely tune by Hubert Hughes who set the music to Butler Yeats’ poem
  • The Parting Glass, a Scottish tune to be played when it’s time to go

In addition to this type of Celtic music, we can play more traditional-sounding Celtic tunes including Annie Laurie, Molly Malone, The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Star of the County Down (My Love Nell) and Danny Boy.

Many of these melodies can be made to sound more or less “Celtic” by the way the flute ornaments the melody and the guitar voices the chordal accompaniments, so we play this music how it’s best suited for the situation. We play more traditionally for weddings and parties with Celtic themes and play less traditionally, emphasizing melody line, for events that just require beautiful music of no specific style.

We invite you to listen to some of our Celtic demos to get an idea of our sound. We believe you’ll find that the flute and guitar pair together beautifully in this style.

Checklist for Hiring Musicians in Phoenix (part 2)

Once you’ve considered the ensemble type and size as well as researched the

live musicians for Phoenix and Scottsdale events
SoSco performs wedding music at the First Christian Church in Scottsdale, AZ

musicians, it’s time to take the next steps in hiring musicians. Next, you should consider the following:

WHEN contacting musicians (Contact your favorite musicians as soon as possible, as they often book up to a year in advance.)

□ Discuss style for each section of music requests (for a wedding, consider the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, etc.)

  • Describe the musical style that you feel complements you and your style.
  • If you’re not sure, consult the musicians. Describe your vision for your event and ask what music they would suggest including what specific songs and music they have in their repertoire. You can often make special request for specific songs or music you’d like to hear, although there may be an additional a fee to arrange special requests.

□ Describe location. Musicians will need to know where you are having your event including:

  • indoor or outdoor
  • size of space
  • climate controlled or not
  • bright or dark lighting
  • hard or soft surfaces
  • sound system and power availability
  • number of guests

Find out where the musicians are based and if they have played at your venue before.

□ Cost. Just like you’re probably not buying the cheapest dress on the market and not ordering fast food for your guests, you will probably not end up pleased if you hire the musicians based on price alone. When you hire the least expensive musicians, you are risking getting

  • poor preparation
  • lack of communication
  • limited skill
  • questionable reliability

As with anything else, you will likely get what you pay for when hiring live musicians. When you receive quotes for musicians, you will either be quoted a flat fee or an hourly rate. The fee may also include costs for travel, set up, overtime, etc.

□  Contract: Once you’ve selected your musicians, we suggest your contract include

  • Contact information for the musicians and/or manager. Include the names of all musicians and which instruments they will be playing. If you are hiring through an agency, this will help ensure that you get the musicians you request, not a sub with less experience.
  • The exact time and location including the time you expect the musicians to arrive.
  • A list of the equipment that you will supply and that the musicians will supply.
  • Dress requirements.
  • Performance details including the length of the performance, the number and length of breaks, and what will occur during the breaks (recorded music? no music?)
  • A play list and perhaps a do-not-play list. Include any details about special songs that you want played as well as the fees associated.
  • Fees and payment procedures including: the total cost, accounting of additional costs, due dates for deposit and balance, and refund and cancellation policies.

It might take a little more planning, but working with live musicians for your special event allows you to personalize the occasion far more than just having a DJ or CD play the same songs you can hear on the radio. We hope this checklist helps you find the perfect musicians to create an unforgettable soundtrack for your special event or wedding.

Song Ideas for Your Phoenix Wedding

Selecting Your Wedding Musicwedding music Phoenix

Years after they say “I do”, most couples remember and still have a very warm place in their hearts for the songs played at their wedding. Maybe you like the idea of having live musicians for your wedding ceremony but don’t even know where to begin with planning the music. If so, here is a quick summary of the six main sections of standard wedding ceremonies that call for music and a few options to get you started thinking.

wedding march phoenix musicians
SoSco Duo will perform a traditional or contemporary song for your wedding march.
  1. Prelude– As guests arrive and are being seated (generally a selection by the musicians which  lasts 10 – 20 minutes)
    1. Traditional options: The Swan – Saint-Saens, Clair de Lune – Debussy, Meditation from Thais- Massenet
    2. Contemporary options: A Time for Us (Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet), Beauty and the Beast, Unforgettable
  2. Processional– As the bridal party enters 
    1. Traditional options: Trumpet Voluntary – Clark, Trumpet Tune – Purcell, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” – Bach
    2. Contemporary options: Your Song – Elton John, All You Need Is Love – The Beatles, Stand By Me – Ben E. King
  3. Bride’s Entrance– As the bride enters
    1. Traditional options: The Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) from Lohengrin –Wagner, Trumpet Tune – Purcell, Canon in D – Pachelbel
    2. Contemporary options: In My Life – The Beatles, Can’t Help Falling in Love, All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera
  4. Interlude/Unity Candle/Sand Ceremony– During the Ceremony
    1. Traditional options: Greensleeves, Ave Maria – Schubert, Gymnopedie No. 1 – Satie
    2. Contemporary options: Everything I Do – Bryan Adams, One Hand, One Heart – West Side Story, Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  5. Recessional– As the couple exits
    1. Traditional options: Wedding March (Midsummer Night’s Dream) – Mendelssohn, Alla Hornpipe (from Water Music Suite) – Handel, Ode To Joy – Beethoven
    2. Contemporary options: Happy Together – The Turtles, Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) – Stevie Wonder, Marry You – Bruno Mars
  6. Postlude– As the guests stand and leave  (generally a selection by the musicians which lasts 5 – 15 minutes)
    1. Traditional options: La Rejouissance – Handel, Rondeau – Mouret, Autumn – Antonio Vivaldi
    2. Contemporary options: All You Need Is Love – The Beatles, How Sweet It Is – James Taylor, At Last – Etta James

Checklist for Hiring Musicians in Phoenix (part 1)

You listen to music every day; you know all about music. But how often have youlive musicians in Scottsdalebeen responsible for hiring live musicians for one of the most important days of your life no less? Never before, probably.

Here’s a check list that we, as professional musicians, would like to offer to help you book musicians who can set the right mood for your special event, whether it be a private party, a corporate event, a wedding or some other special occasion.

BEFORE contacting musicians

□ Consider ensemble size

  • The venue of your event will help determine what size ensemble would be best. Remember that musicians need space to set up equipment and instruments and enough room to perform on their instruments.
  • For a small indoor space, a solo or duo may be just the right size to maintain an intimate feel.
  • In larger spaces, you have the choice of using a small ensemble with amplification or a larger ensemble that may not require amplification.

□ Consider ensemble type

  • For a very traditional sound, couples often choose a string quartet or organ for church ceremonies. Traditional wedding music is also beautiful on a harp, flute and guitar.
  • When planning an outdoor wedding, remember that instruments often need to be amplified to be heard, so power will be required. For smaller outdoor weddings, a string quartet or wind instruments can be heard without amplification.
  • Couples often ask for a piano, forgetting that keyboards are difficult to transport to outdoor locations.
  • While string instruments can play jazz and contemporary music, these styles tend to sound more appropriate with guitar, voice or wind instruments (flute, trumpet, etc.)

□ Research Musicians

  • Once you have determined what size and type of ensemble would work for your venue, begin researching potential musicians.
  • We suggest you do an internet search for musicians in your area such as “wedding guitarist in Scottsdale” or look on wedding vendor sites such as WeddingWire or GigSalad.
  • Determine if the musicians are students, hobbyists, young professionals or seasoned professionals. Professional musicians who have college music degrees will most likely be reflected in price and quality.
  • Take the time to listen to the musicians’ audio and/or video demos.

If you’re looking for musicians for a special event or party, following these tips should help you make a good choice. Of course, we’d love to talk to you if you think flute and guitar music might create a nice mood for your event. Contact us today!