A word of caution when choosing your wedding song if you want a live performer to play the music at your ceremony.
You want a live performer to sing during your ceremony, particularly during the entrance of the bride. It seems like a wonderful idea. You have that perfect song you both fell in love to being played by a live musician and you envision it being so beautiful. You want that moment to be perfect with all eyes on her; the beautiful white dress, the smile, the anticipation of her saying “I do”. You want those tearful eyes following her as she approaches the groom. But when you have a performer who is singing something live, the eyes of the audience will tend to drift between her and the singer. If the singer does a really good job, the audience pays attention to them instead. If the singer is nervous and delivers a shaky performance, the audience also will pay attention to them. No matter what happens, a portion of the audience will be taking their eyes off the bride to watch the singer. This is exactly what you do not want. The bride should exclusively have the spotlight in this moment.
So what are you supposed to do? Do you have to get a playlist ready or just get a DJ? Nope! Just request an instrumental version of the song you want by the band or musician. Any player worth their salt will be able to do a completely acoustic instrumental rendition of the song with the vocals removed. You get the beauty and nostalgia and emotion of that moment but presented in a way that will be felt by the audience, but not really noticed in a way that distracts from the bride. It’s exactly the way music in a movie works. In a film score (a “film score” is the music that actually is playing during a movie, not the “soundtrack” which is a compilation of artists who’s songs match the movie…but anyways) you rarely can sing the melodies of a movie score. Most of the time, you don’t even notice it’s there. But you feel it. Oh boy, do you feel it. In fact if you watched some of your favorite movies with all the film score taken out…they would be awkward at best and most likely awful, flat and dreary. You don’t want vocals coming in during one of the most intimate ceremonies of a persons life and having people in the audience thinking:
“ooooo…I love this song…oh man, I wonder if he’s gonna hit the high note…..oh wow he did! I like this guys voice better than Adam Levines…maybe he’s single….oh crap I missed her entrance”
A live vocal performance automatically draws people attention, which is why shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” are so popular. However, an instrumental version of a song allows the audience to have the initial familiarity but it works exactly like the score in a movie works: felt more than heard, which is exactly what you want. You want her entrance to be complimented by the music and this will give you that perfectly.
So when you are choosing your song, it is a good idea to ask for an instrumental version of the song you’d like to have played to make sure the attention stays on the bride! I’d actually suggest instrumentals for all of the ceremony and save them for the cocktail hour and reception, but if there is one part of the ceremony that vocals work with pretty well, it would be the first dance. Because the bride and groom are also technically putting on a live performance it helps counterpoint the vocalist, and the audience stays locked on them.
Dylan Galvin (Dylan like “Bob Dylan”, Galvin like “Calvin and Hobbes” with a “G”) is a singer/songwriter and live performer in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.
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