When thinking about your wedding and your wedding music specifically, it helps to have an overall outline of your ceremony and reception. Will they both be int he same location? Are you planning on finishing some photos between the ceremony and the reception and having a cocktail hour for your guests?
There are three separate times for music within your wedding day. The ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception:from dinner on which usually includes the first dance(s).
Ceremony: usually 1 to 11/2 hours of music; 20 minutes or so before the ceremony as your guests arrive: specific songs for the procession of the mothers, then bridesmaids, flowergirls and another for entrance of the bride. Sometimes special songs are requested during the ceremony that are favorites or have special meaning to the couple. The recessional is then played and the wedding party leaves.
Favorite music choices for ceremonies are (in no particular order); instrumental piano,string ensembles (duo, trio, quartet), piano with soloist (vocals), solo or duo guitar, harp and organ. Your choice depends a lot on the tone of your wedding. If you're wedding is at a church or synagogue you probably have access to the musician that plays for services; and there may be an instrument on site. There might also be a sound system. Put this on your list of questions.
Cocktail hour and Reception- usually 5 hours combined.
Cocktail hours and reception can be the same group or DJ or it can be two different musical groups. Many wedding receptions are 4 hours plus an hour of so ahead of that for cocktail hour. This can be a long time to listen to one kind of music. You will also want to consider your first dance and how you envision this special part of your reception. Are you going to have a dance lesson or two to help you feel more comfortable?
We often will provide a duo or trio to play for the ceremony and cocktail hour, if the wedding and reception are in the same location and then bring in another band or DJ for the reception. But it is also popular to have a group for the ceremony; a string trio for example and then have another group play for cocktails and into the evening. We make sure that there is a change in the style of music as the night continues. Often a jazzy feel for cocktails, back ground type music for dinner and then heighten the energy for the dance sets.
It is also important to note that if you have your ceremony and reception in the same hotel for instance but in different rooms, the band/group will need to reset their sound system or at least chairs, music stands etc. There is usually a charge for this. It is of course most efficient to hire one group that has the capability to cover more than one of your musical basis. There is usually a set up fee included in music prices as the group has to bring quite a lot of equipment to perform for you! If you can have one set up fee for several parts of your musical needs, you will save a bit.