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The Friday Fight-Out: The Ceremony – Live Music Vs Pre-recorded

Ed Peers

Photograph by Ed Peers

After flicking through our wedding photos the other night as we so often do, we came across this picture from our ceremony; a spot of spontaneous musical church entertainment as our champagne reception was forced swiftly indoors. It was a fantastic moment and we enjoyed the music throughout the ceremony, but having also held our smaller UK civil ceremony using pre-recorded music as well it got us thinking – what are the advantages and disadvantages of either live or pre-recorded music in the ceremony?

It’s fight-out time:

The Ceremony – Live Music Vs Pre-recorded

In the Red corner, playing the “ladies first” card and claiming first dibs on the Live music side of the argument, although no amount of live music could hide the fact that the wrong lyrics were printed on our order of services to one of the songs at our wedding leading to some rather comical singing! It’s Dom “The Tog Bride”

In the Blue corner, having spent years operating sound for theatrical shows and knowing just how important it is to make sure you hit that musical cue (and how annoying it is when the technology fails and you end up with 6 actors and 700 audience members staring at you! It’s Matt “The Gormless Groom”.

DISCLAIMER BEFORE BEING ATTACKED BY MY MANY MUSICAL FRIENDS: As in all of our debates we present the arguments on both sides in as unbiased a way as possible for whichever side of the argument we’re assigned… These are not necessarily our own views so please don’t drop any pianos on my head!!

Now where were we? Oh yeah…

Friday Fight-Out

Photography by York Place Studios

Dom: Live music adds so much atmosphere to the occasion. Whether it’s a church organ, an elegant swing quartet, some beautiful piano playing or whatever type of music you’d like, live music creates a beautiful ambience.

Matt: Recorded music gives you the chance to walk down the aisle to your favourite tune, recorded in the way that the two of you listened to it together. Most couples probably have a particular song that’s special to them for whatever reason and sometimes the actual recording means more to the couple than a live musician playing the same song.

Dom: There tends to be a lull for the guests in a lot of ceremonies for the signing of the register or other official legal parts of the ceremony that often take place in private rooms away from the congregation. Having live musicians there offers fantastic entertainment while all this is going on and builds anticipation for the return of the newly proclaimed husband and wife!

Matt: Live musicians tend to be quite expensive and weddings are scarcely cheap to begin with. It might be better to get the live musicians in as the evening entertainment and save a little money during the ceremony.

Dom: Most musicians are happy to come and entertain the guests for the drinks reception as well as the reception, so really you get excellent value for your money!

Matt: A lot of the weddings I’ve been to have taken place in tiny venues where there’s often no space to fit any live musicians. You don’t want to have to strike any guests off the guest list because you’ve run out of space in the venue!

Dom: Most couples will between them probably have a friend that can play an instrument; some of the most beautiful musical experiences I’ve had at weddings have been when some of the people who really mean a lot to the couple have played them a song. That way it’s not only very personal but generally free too!

Matt: A lot of venues do have rules about having live musicians performing. Registry offices, for example, sometimes have a very quick turnaround time for the marriage suite and may not be able to accommodate time to setup and take away instruments

Dom: If you’re wanting to include hymns or group singing in the ceremony then live musicians are essential – singing along to a backing track rarely works with a group that don’t necessarily know the words!

Matt: Using pre-recorded music gives you one less thing to worry about. It can be difficult to find live musicians that match your preferred style of music, and on the day itself it’s one less person to worry about getting there on time.

Friday Fight-Out

Photography by York Place Studios

So there we have it! We’ve presented the arguments but where do you stand? Live music or recorded – we’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment, catch us on Facebook or send us a tweet and have your say in the debate!

  • Holly J. Kotzé - February 22, 2013 - 8:54 am

    Great post guys! As a professional wedding pianist and singer myself I feel there’s a point you have left out which nearly all of my bookings reflect (I’d say I am asked to play in 80% of my bookings!)
    What if the couple have a particular song or songs that they want but that the recording is a bit too rocky or full-on to be suitable for a wedding but the sentiment and the idea of the song is very important to them?
    I get this alot! For instance I had this couple talking to me at a wedding fayre the other week and we were discussing song ideas – the groom really loves Oasis but he had assumed that it wouldn’t be suitable to have any at the ceremony even though they’re his favourite band. So I played them my own version of Wonderwall which is very gentle and flowing and romantic and they loved it! They couldn’t believe how different it could sound and how suitable it suddenly became!
    So there we are, folks! That’s a BIG issue that I think needs addressing!

    Oh and Matt – there’s a piano hurtling toward your head! Keep your eyes open (and above you!) 🙂ReplyCancel

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