The Ceremony: Musicians or MP3s?

Truth be told, Stallion and I haven’t given a ton of thought to the ceremony yet. All we know is that it will be a civil ceremony officiated by my second cousin, it will (fingers crossed!) be held outside on a deck overlooking the gorgeous Cape May beaches, and it will be short.

Now that we’re five months away, we have started to consider some details surrounding the ceremony—namely, music. Basically, you’ve got two options here:

Live musician(s)

  • Pros: Live music sets a really lovely mood for the ceremony. Many musicians provide their own amplification systems, so your officiant may be able to take advantage of that. Musicians are also able to adjust the music to fit exactly what’s going on and cover for any unplanned timing snafus, such as your sprinting down the aisle because you’re so excited to get to your groom.
  • Cons: It’s definitely an added expense, although depending on your venue—especially if your venue is a church—you may be obligated to use/pay for a live musician. Your song choice may be limited. And musicians are only human, so there’s always the slight possibility that you’ll hear a bum note or squeaky instrument during your walk down the aisle.


  • Pros: This is definitely the budget-friendly choice. Plus, you’re not restrained by what someone is able to play, so the sky is the limit as far as song choice goes!
  • Cons: Depending on your ceremony setting, the logistics of hooking up to a speaker system can be difficult (or you’ll have to provide your own amplification, which can get expensive). You’ll need to take the time to ensure that the timing of each song is right, like Mrs. Blue Whale did—for example, if you know it will take you one minute to walk down the aisle, you should edit your processional song to a one minute-ish clip. And if the timing is off, you’ll either be stuck with dead air or waiting for a song to finish. Last but not least, you’ll want to have someone trustworthy to man the iPod in case something goes awry.

Our original choice was to have a member of our reception band play the ceremony, but when we actually consulted with the band on it, they weren’t wild about the idea—during our ceremony, they’d be setting up in the ballroom for the reception, and it would be too much to have two separate setups going on at the same time. Understandable! So it was back to the drawing board for Stallion and I.

At that point, we’d gotten pretty attached to the idea of live ceremony music, so we threw the figurative iPod out the window. Neither of us have really discerning tastes in music—he’s trapped in the ’80s and I have yet to get over my boy band phase—so we weren’t attached to any particular instruments. We did know that we weren’t looking to drop a ton of money on this, so we were primarily looking for one musician, as opposed to a duo/trio/quartet/symphony orchestra.

Those “recommended vendor” listings that venues provide? GOLD, I TELL YOU. (You can go rogue from the list, obviously, but they’re a great starting point.) Even better? Having someone whose opinion you trust implicitly. Enter the brilliant Katlyn, the wedding coordinator at our venue. Given the logistical difficulties of planning a wedding from 400 miles away, this woman has been an absolute lifesaver. I am at the point right now where if Katlyn suggested we give our guests bags of flaming dog poop as a favor, I’d do it without hesitation, because that’s how much I value her judgment. She’s that good, bees. Anyway, when Stallion and I asked her who she recommended, she very enthusiastically recommended a local violinist, Catherine Boyd, who we contacted immediately.

How do you know you’ve hit the jackpot with a musician? Perhaps it is when she tells you that she will play literally any song that you request, and to prove her point, she shares an anecdote about recently playing a Metallica-themed wedding. I don’t even like Metallica, but that’s pretty badass, no? I’m sure she can handle anything I throw at her.

Anyway, included in her fee is a 45 minute prelude before the ceremony, as well as the ceremony itself and amplification. She’s even providing a microphone for our officiant! (Although he, like most of our family, is pretty loud on his own, it never hurts to give him a mic anyway.) She’s absolutely wonderful, and I really look forward to working with her in the coming months. Next step? Figuring out what music we would like her to play!

Well, bees—what did you end up doing for ceremony music? How did it work for you?


Mrs. Filly

Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
April 2014
Treely, Madly, Deeply: After The Party There's The Hotel Lobby...
Falling For You: Pretty Women
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  1. Member
    ms_purple 2675 posts, Sugar bee @ 6:19 am

    Our DJ is providing the ceremony music and audio equipment. Even though our ceremony is in a different location than the reception. We got a discount on this since our wedding is not considered to be in “peak” season. They will set up everything, mic our officiant, and cue all the music. We liked this option since they have a lot of experience at our ceremony location and working with our officiant.

  2. Member
    Miss_Mimosa 190 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:03 am

    That is awesome that you have a good relationship with your wedding coordinator, I am sure that is super important! I also love the Billy Madison reference (number 1 fan over here)!

  3. Member
    msmeow 1988 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:29 am

    I love your violinist, she’s awesome! The Metallica bit won me over! 🙂 And your “flaming dog poop” joke was the funniest thing I’ve seen all day, thanks for the laugh! 🙂

    Ceremony music is probably the least of my concerns, between us, Mr. Meow and I know so many great classical musicians it’s silly, Mr. Meow’s own father is a retired professional musician, he played with the philharmonics for over 40 years. Our ceremony is in a Catholic church so I’m really hoping our fellow lawyers from the law school choir of which I am one of the proud founding members will be able to come and sing for us. But reception music… I see some gray hairs on the horizon there!

  4. Member
    jessc4343 219 posts, Helper bee @ 7:38 am

    I was intrigued that you linked the dog poop joke to …well, anything. But alas, my oppressive work environment won’t let me watch streaming media. (kidding, I’m very grateful to have a job and will assume the link was quite a riot as you have yet to disappoint, Ms. Filly!) Anyways, womp womp.

    Our ceremony music will be provided by my momma and her guitarist boyfriend. She’ll be singing excerpts from Lullaby by Dixie Chicks and then signing our recessional, Home by Phillip Phillips.

  5. bluewhale Bee
    bluewhale 638 posts, Busy bee @ 9:31 am

    I love live ceremony music. Excellent choice. We could do the iPod because Mr. Whale could not only edit our music, but he also owns a pa system, so we didn’t have to rent any of that stuff. But you’re right, the “diy” option can actually get expensive if you have to set up and rent the sound system yourself.

  6. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 11:47 am

    We had our dj do our ceremony music, reception and everything in between.

  7. mswallaby Bee
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:06 pm

    I love live ceremony music! It gives me the shivers. Sounds like you got a good deal, and I’m sure you won’t regret it! We loved the string quartet that we hired for our ceremony, definitely money well spent.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    ykyegbride, Guest @ 12:07 pm

    We were in a church, so had to use their live music option. But it worked out so great – she played the piano, at my request, and played the songs I selected.

    Since I also play, I was able to suggest certain stanzas (particularly for my procession), but she took it from there and went above and beyond my expectations.

    We received so many compliments on the song selections and that they were played on the piano, and for me, it was the perfect, personal choice.

  9. msfilly Bee
    Mrs. Filly 85 posts, Worker bee @ 3:28 pm

    @Ms_Purple: That is awesome – perfect solution!

    @Miss_Mimosa: I firmly believe that Billy Madison is Adam Sandler’s finest work. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    @MsMeow: Wow, you’re lucky to know so many talented people! I have to tell you, when I imagine law school students, I don’t exactly imagine a choir – that’s pretty cool. I guess lawyers can be pretty fun sometimes 🙂

    @jessc4343: GO BACK AND WATCH THE VIDEO!! And that is such a lovely, personal touch to have your mom and her boyfriend play your ceremony music.

    @Mrs. Blue Whale: Mr. Whale did a fantastic job with your music – honestly, your ceremony playlist is one of my all-time favorites. Unfortunately, no one on my end is half as technologically skilled 🙁

    @daniellekira: Perfect solution!

    @Mrs. Wallaby: That’s awesome, I’m so glad you loved your choice! The hardest part for us will probably be choosing the songs.

    @ykyegbride: I love that even though you had to use the church’s option, she was still really flexible. Glad that it all worked out!

  10. gondola Bee
    gondola 1046 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:00 am

    A Metallica themed wedding?! Whoa! Your ceremony musician sounds awesome.

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