Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Musical Notes: Variety Is The Spice of Life In Choosing Your Wedding Music

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On any given night, Chicago offers a huge variety of live music and entertainment options for an evening out on the town. The same can be said for wedding entertainment. However, matching your tastes with the right choice of musician(s) for the most special night of your life is a little more important than a regular ol’ date night!

There are many factors brides and grooms should consider when shopping for their live music: Professionalism, experience, cost, style, music flexibility, creative

trends, and emcee capabilities are just a few to consider. Ultimately, you have to decide what is the right fit for the vibe you wish to create on the night and the degree of “party” you wish to have your friends and family remember forever.

“A big trend is to incorporate newer pop songs with classical music—John Lennon, Coldplay, Styx, Beatles, even Nirvana with a classical feel. Piano and guitar can more easily cover these elements and adding a violin or flute can help create more harmony and melody,” explains Jeff Stitely, president and owner of Stitely Entertainment.

Many brides still seek the traditional classical ceremony standards like the “Bridal Chorus” or “Pachebel’s Canon in D,” but flavoring ceremonies with modern, contemporary tastes is in vogue now. Everybody’s doing it, and there’s nothing wrong with this. Your “old-school” parents might question this, but it’s your wedding. Individualizing your wedding through music is exciting. You do so with your choice in invitations and event colors. You choose a cake or desserts that represent your favorite tastes—music should be just as prominent in the pecking order of planning importance.

“I say to every couple, the week after their engagement, they should start planning their ceremony versus saving the ceremony until last. Live music at your wedding makes a definitive statement about who you are. It’s tremendously important,” implores Ron Arden, owner of the Allegro Quartet.

Another commonly overlooked aspect brides need to consider with respect to incorporating modern music into the ceremony is the time factor a musician or set of musicians may need to learn the pieces. There is rehearsal time and a string quartet might need to secure a composer to create an arrangement. You have to plan ahead and give ample time for preparation.

Seeing couples marry with mixed ethnicity, religious beliefs and varying cultural backgrounds and tastes is nothing new. However, incorporating more of a mix of that cultural flavor into their reception through music and entertainment is becoming much more popular…and exciting.

Entertainment companies are able to mix up the types of entertainment scheduled for the evening. They might be able to provide a traditional soloist and/or a classical guitarist for the ceremony. For the cocktail hour, to honor the Latin heritage in one of the families, perhaps a guitarist with more of a flamenco or Latin flair takes over.

“Make sure what you want is what you are going to get. Musicians need to know the background of the people and know the right style of music to match that. Salsa, cumbia, and cha-chas are all very different rhythms,” shares Andres Meneses from Latin Street Dancing. Meneses proudly uses a filtering factor to help brides and grooms find the right sound for the different parts of their wedding night. “Musicians can be very specialized with their talents. Some, with multiple combinations of musicians, can play more of a variety. We prefer they hire a band and DJ for not only non-stop music, but for the best variety,” adds Meneses.

Latin Street Dancing can also provide pre-event dance lessons for either the bride and groom or the entire bridal party. Imagine a party starter where the band gets everyone fired up with a tremendous salsa number that a dozen couples actually perform and it electrifies the room.

“The music is definitely getting younger, and the brides have their own ideas on music. I don’t think we should take control of the event’s music styling, but if it starts to fall apart because not everyone is enjoying hip-hop, we can take over and save the day,” advises Lee Bailey, owner and bandleader of Timing’s Everything. That’s what true professional entertainers do. They are prepared to manage issues as they arise and read the crowd and adapt. Your bandleader can act as an emcee to help with the flow of traditions and events throughout the evening.
There is a slight trend lately that more often than not has been backfiring—the do-it-yourself approach. IPods may be fine for the simple pool party or family barbecue, but is that really the image you wish to share with guests at your wedding? It looks cheap! Plus, a friend or family member has to operate it.

“The visual impact of live music is tremendous. We’ve got to look first-class all the time. We’ll wear tuxedos. We pride ourselves on our consistent professional look,” states Arden. Bands are also taking advantage of advances in technology. Incorporating electronic drums and pre-recorded backing or synthesizer tracks are big trends with bands. “Only a couple of the top bands are actually using the cutting-edge technology. Our sound guy, who doubles as a DJ when we take breaks, offers sub-sonic sound to the band’s mix,” offers Stitely.

In preparation stages, there is software some companies are using that displays music databases for clients to pre-select songs and artists they’d like to hear during the reception. Bands can post their repertoire online for everyone to see.

Waiting to shop for your ceremony and reception music is very perplexing to bands and entertainment companies. The fact is, the sooner you shop, the more variety of bands you have to choose from. It makes sense, right? The best and most popular musicians will book up soonest.

You’re also afforded more peace of mind. Once the key pieces of the wedding puzzle are in place, you and your fiancĂ© can relax more and the smaller details like the men’s tuxes or the place cards can more easily be wrapped up. There’s a growing trend among live bands and entertainment companies toward being more flexible with cost-conscious clients. Meaning, they are getting creative on how they use a combination of musicians for the evening. “We can provide a piano player for ceremony music from the main band playing the reception. Then, during our band breaks, in lieu of hiring a separate DJ, we can provide recorded music,” says Bailey.

If a band is performing at a private wedding, it’s generally NOT appropriate to crash that wedding to see them. If it’s a more public performance, that’s a different story. This is where video, websites, and YouTube come in. Most reputable bands and musicians have demo footage of them singing or performing. Ask to see it. “The energy of a live band is off the charts. Look for live performance video versus staged footage and canned audio. People listen with their eyes. Look for the ‘look’ of the band and the quality of the sound,” offers Stitely.

When all is said and done, seek the style and vibe that best suits both your personalities and the theme you wish to convey on your very special day. There is a huge variety of entertainment options to choose from in the Chicagoland area.

Music is arguably the key element in making the day memorable. Photo and video may capture those memories, but entertainment makes most of them.

Search early. Shop wisely. Seek the right fit. Relax and enjoy the party. You deserve it!

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