March 2009

Music is a beautiful element to include in your wedding.  I’ve seen it used in really cool ways – the traditional “Hear Comes The Bride” blasted over a little speaker in a park (unexpected and a beautiful moment!), or a bride’s entrance to a beautiful cover of the haunting Leonard Cohen song “Halleluah” (my personal favorite version is by Rufus Wainwright).

Some other favorite music moments:

  • A close friend of the bride’s mother performing “No One” by Alicia Keys as the couple processed out in a backyard wedding… they then stood on the back porch, overlooking everyone and in a tight embrace.  Just beautiful – and now I can’t hear that song without thinking of them!
  • At a small wedding ceremony that did not have a reception following, I hooked up the bride’s iPod to my speakers, and, immediately after being declared husband and wife, we played “Sparks” by Coldplay, and they danced – did I mention this wedding was on the sidewalk of Hoboken, overlooking the Hudson and the NYC skyline at dusk?  Talk about magic!

Here are some suggestions of fun, different songs to include in your wedding.  Talk to your DJ or band before hand to make sure they have the music.  If you’re DIYing your music, check with your venue or officiant to see if they have a speaker or PA system they can hook the iPod or computer up to, so everyone can be sure to hear the music.

  • Showtunes. I’m a theatre geek, so this one just seems perfect.  Their are some amazing love songs out there, that can be used as a first dance, recessional, processional, or even during a candle lighting or handfasting ceremony!  Some of my favorites that immediately come to mind: “Seasons of Love” and “I’ll Cover You” from Rent.  Or the non-love songs that just work: “Their Once was a Man” from Pajama Game, “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler, or “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel – my parents walked down to an instrumental version of that, and it was really lovely.
  • Beatles. When my mom got married, she wanted to use a version of “Blackbird” for her processional – All your life, you have been waiting for this moment to arrive.  Hauntingly beautiful.  And any of the fun love songs would be great for a recessional at the end (perhaps even ala “Love Actually” if you can find a band!).
  • The Magnetic Fields. One of my favorite artists, the Magnetic Fields are really Stephen Merritt and friends.  My favorite album of theirs is called “69 Love Songs” and it is, quite literally, 69 love songs.  Quirky and interesting, both sad and exhilarating, there is a song for everyone on this album.  “The Book of Love” could be used as a great reading in a ceremony actually – and the melodies and themes of some are really sweet (and really weird!).
  • Vitamin String Quartet. Do you have your heart set on using a popular song, but would really prefer to have it be more subtle or an instrumental?  Please take a moment to browse the Vitamin String Quartet’s albums.  They have almost any song I could think of recorded as an instrumental – no, really, almost any song.  This would be a great idea if your special song ISN’T really romantic or lovey – just throw the instrumental version in there!
  • Old Standards. “At Last” is a very popular wedding tune, and with good reason.  Some other oldies but goodies: “Beyond the Sea” (my personal favorite, hands down!), or “The Way You Look Tonight” (great for a bridal procession!).
  • Current Popular Songs. This is YOUR wedding.  If you want to process to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” – please do!  I love when people incorporate music that they obviously love into their wedding ceremony – so sweet and it helps your own personality to shine through even more!  See also the Vitamin String Quartet if you want to make it feel a little more “classic.”
  • Go with What You Love! If you love classical music – find something with meaning for you.  I did a wedding where the bride was a harpist, and they had a harpist play the music for the ceremony and at cocktail hour.  Don’t be afraid to find songs that you like and strip them down a little bit – like playing a pop song, but an instrumental.  If you’re doing a themed wedding, carry it into the music!

Another wedding related music tip: On the day of your wedding, make sure you or someone in your bridal party brings a copy of your DOS and DON’TS for the DJ or band.  When my parents got married, the band (a husband and wife) had a death in the family the night before the wedding, and had to send a replacement.  It wasn’t a major issue – the replacement band was fine, and the reception was still incredible – but minutes before the ceremony, my mom tracked me down and had me writing out the list of requested songs, as the new band didn’t have it.

I forgot the most important thing on the list: do not play “The Girl from Impanema,” which my mom, apparently, hates.  So of course, they played it (just a recorded version of it during dinner, but still).  Not a huge deal, as there was a lot going on, but if you’re having a larger wedding, or have really important music that needs to be played – it’s a good thing to hold on to and bring with you the day of.  It’s just a piece of paper, easy to remember to bring (just tuck it in with the license and other important day of paperwork), and can really avert a disaster.

All photos from


This is post one of two – this is HOW to get music into your ceremony.

You’ve probably talked to your DJ or band about the music you want for the important parts of the reception (your first dance, your entrance, cutting the cake…), but have you thought about putting the music together for your ceremony yet?

There are a few key parts of the ceremony to include music in.  And, as always, you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to the music for your ceremony.  If you have songs that are special or have meaning to your relationship, but aren’t really great dance songs – this is a great place to include them.

The Prelude:

That’s the music that will play as your guests are seated, reading through the programs, chatting with each other, and waiting for the ceremony to begin.

When I did theatre in college, we called it the “Pre-Show” music – the music that played as the audience came and sat down before the show started.  We used it to get people “in the mood” for the show, to expand on the theme and idea of what people were going to see.  You can use your prelude music in the same way.

If you’re having a musician or performer before hand, you can have them sing or play music as people enter.  Or, if you’re using a DJ or having recorded music, it’s a great place to include some classic love songs or other special music you love.

Example: When Lindsey & Ben got married, they asked their friends (and one of the groomsmen!) to perform a medley of show tunes to greet their guests.  As Lindsey & Ben had met while working on a show together, it was especially appropriate.

The Singers at Lindsey & Bens Wedding

The Singers (groomsman Bob on keyboard) at Lindsey & Ben's Wedding

The Processional:

The processional can be broken into three parts – of course, you may choose to use the same music for all of them, or have different songs or pieces for all three.

  • The Seating of Honored Guests (Parents, Grandparents, etc)
  • The Procession of the Bridal Party (Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, etc)
  • The Procession of the Bride & Groom (usually just the Bride, but some Grooms like to process in too!)

Processionals don’t take very long.  You’re not going to be able to play a full three to four minute song for any of these.  Often times, the Seating of the Honored Guests can be included at the END of the Prelude music, with a new piece being chosen for the Bridal Party’s entrance.

If you plan to use specific songs for these entrances, you should talk to your DJ or whoever is doing the music for your ceremony, and see if they can either edit the pieces to be shorter, or be prepared to fade in and out (most DJs will work with you to do this without a second thought).

Music in the Ceremony:

Are you having a sand ceremony?  A wine ceremony? Unity candle? Anytime there will be an action that takes more than about 15 seconds to complete, adding music in is a great option.  Again, it’s going to be a very abbreviated interlude, but is a sweet way to give your wedding a soundtrack.  If you do plan to have music as the background of a ritual, make sure your music person has a copy of the script or a cue sheet so they know when to play the music!

During Val & Pauls Sand Ceremony, the played Eternal Flame by the Bangles

During Val & Paul's Sand Ceremony, they played "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles

Performances during the ceremony are another great touch.  I did a wedding that included a hymn where everyone stood and sang – it was a nice interactive touch.  Or ask a talented family member or friend to perform a song here – a great way to involve someone in your ceremony – and incorporate like a more traditional reading.

The Recessional:

You kiss! You break the glass! You jump over the broom! You’re husband and wife! With a flourish, the music starts up, and you process out, together, off to have a fabulous time at your reception.  Recessional music is a place to have a lot of fun – it’s kind of like the beginning of the part.  Get creative here! Think big!

Layla & Lewis on their way out!

Layla & Lewis on their way out!

Example: Layla & Lewis were pronounced, kissed, and the air filled with love and James Brown!  I remember before the ceremony, when I was going over the ceremony with the DJ, he was filling me in on the music used.  he said, “And then they’ll kiss, and I’ll play James Brown – which is AWESOME.”  We wedding vendors get really excited when our couples let us do crazy things!

The Postlude:

This is the music that plays as your guests mill about a little and get up and head to the reception or cocktail hour.  In theatre terms, this is the “Post Show,” the music that plays after the bows and applause.  It can be more upbeat and casual than the Prelude or music used in the ceremony, as it’s the bridge to your reception.  If you were hesitant to include a very fun or over the top song in your Prelude, this is a great place for it.

Example: Marisa & Patrick played the Back to the Future theme as their guests exited!  You may think their dog Einstein is named after a certain scientist… when, in fact, he is named after a certain dog in Back to the Future.

A companion post with song suggestions will be following later this week, so stay tuned!

This past weekend, on Pi Day, at the Maryland Science Center, in the Planetarium (!), my friends Marisa and Patrick officially tied the knot.

Their first dance!

Their wedding was so THEM. From their groomsdog, Einstein (who even stayed for the reception, and danced the night away!), to the Periodic Table of Seating, the hand-folded origami flower centerpieces & bouquets, to the mini-beakers filled with LED tealights used as escort cards and ambiance. And that’s just off the top of my head!

Periodic Table of Seating

Periodic Table of Seating

I was just a guest at this ceremony, and loved this reading that Marisa and Patrick chose to include in their ceremony – so sweet and so true.

Marisa, Patrick, & Einstein!

Falling in love is like owning a dog
an epithalamion by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!

Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

I love wedding invitations.  Mostly, I love stationary and paper and cards of any kind and I love weddings – so, therefor, I have to love wedding invitations.

I got a really lovely one from a couple who is having their wedding in early April – they’re having a book and literature theme, and really took it to heart with the invitation.  The groom, Gordon Bond of BluzDog Graphics, designed these!

[Edited to Add: Gordon emailed me to let me know that the response to his amazing wedding invites was so overwhelming that he is now custom designing wedding invitations!  If you’re interested in contacting him to make some awesome invitations just for you, check out his new website – Custom Wedding Invitation Design by Gordon Bond – Custom Not Cliche]

It’s a card – here’s the front:

And the inside – just like a book! – with a little bookplate, featuring the couple and their cat, along with a library card pocket with the actual wedding information!  On the back are directions to the venue.

The groom is a graphic designer, and they had mentioned they found the book cover that was just perfect for the invitations and looked like them too, so they scanned that (and added in the kitty, if I am not mistaken).  I love how off beat they are, how fun, how interesting and interactive and especially how much they reflect the couple being married (just about my favorite wedding thing ever!).

Even though you’re reading my blog, and you’ve seen my website – do you still have questions about what, exactly, a Celebrant is?

The fabulous Celebrant Foundation, where I was trained, put together this promotional video, to showcase everything they offer and encourage others to “Love the art of life – become a Celebrant!”

If you’re not interesting in diving in, head first, to the world of ceremony & Celebrants, it’s still a fabulous resource to learn more about what a Celebrant REALLY is!

Take a look!

I have to say – it’s truly inspiring to me that I get to be a part of people’s big moments – it brings a lot of happiness and joy into my life to share in my couple’s own happiness & joy!  This video really captures how passionate we Celebrants are about our vocation.

Rehearsal Dinners are always a blast. More low-key than the wedding dinner the next day, everyone’s super excited for the upcoming nuptials, and it allows the bride, groom, bridal party, and parents some quality time to relax, eat some good food, and have a fabulous time before the big day!

But sometimes people forget about the actual purpose behind the Rehearsal Dinner – the Rehearsal! It’s an important element of the wedding ceremony, and can really help to alleviate stress on the day of the wedding.

I don’t always suggest having a rehearsal – if you’re having a very straightforward wedding ceremony (no rituals or ceremonies in the ceremony itself, a minimal wedding party, no music changes or cues), it’s not always necessary. But I do recommend having a rehearsal if you have more than three people on each side of the wedding party, children involved in any way, shape or form, or any rituals or traditions that you may want to practice. It’s also a great way to have everyone in the wedding party know who everyone else is on the day of, which can make everything run really smoothly on your wedding day.

The whole bridal party!  The people standing where honored guests, like grandparents and parents, who walked down the aisle and then were seated.

The whole bridal party! The people standing where "honored guests," like grandparents and parents, who walked down the aisle and then were seated.

My rehearsals usually last about 45 minutes – much longer than the actual wedding ceremony! I usually begin by introducing myself, and giving a brief explanation of what we’re going to be doing. I love when the bridal party will introduce themselves, as it makes it easier for me to know who everyone is!

The Bride & Groom show the bridesmaids where to stand

The Bride & Groom practice breaking the glass!

We start by practicing the processional. Everyone lines up in the order that they’re going to enter in. It usually helps if your day of coordinator, venue contact, or very helpful friend can be there to make sure everyone is lined up. If the DJ or band can be there, awesome – if not, we’ll practice without music (and I’ll make sure to go over the cues with them before the ceremony the next day). I’ll show everyone where I am going to stand at the front, and then we’ll start walking!

The Bridal Party, all lined up

The Bridesmaids, all lined up

Once everyone gets to the front, we can figure out how everyone is going to stand, so people can know where they’re supposed to go. The great thing about rehearsals is how casual they are! People can be shifted and moved and changed to make sure everything is just perfect at the front.

Practicing the Rings

Practicing the Rings

We can also establish how the bride and groom will stand in relation to the officiant – I prefer my couples to face each other, or (ideally) face catty corner, slightly out towards their friends and family. You get great photos this way, can see each others’ faces, and you don’t have to stare at me the entire time (believe me, I’m not going anywhere).

The Bride & groom practice breaking the glass

The bride & groom show the bridesmaids where to stand

We’ll run through the ceremony (quickly – “cue to cue,” so to speak), then practice the kiss (yay!) and the recessional.

Then we do it all again! Just to make sure everyone knows where to go.

Practicing the Recessional! Her groosman partner couldnt make it to the rehearsal.

Practicing the Recessional: Her groomsman partner couldn't make it to the rehearsal.

Practicing the Recessional: A groomsmen had to drop out of the wedding, so two bridesmaids recessed together.

Practicing the Recessional: A groomsmen had to drop out of the wedding, so two bridesmaids recessed together.

As I said, it’s great if a representative from your DJ or band or whoever is doing the music for your ceremony can be there – as well as your venue contact, day of coordinator, or very helpful friend who will be lining the party up before hand. This is especially helpful if the bride and groom are NOT seeing each other before the ceremony – so you can figure out the logistics of them avoiding each other until their big moments!

The Happy Bridal Party, right after the ceremony!

The Happy Bridal Party, right after the ceremony!

I don’t have a lot of photos of rehearsals, so the photos scattered through this entry are from my best friend’s wedding in June, when the boyfriend acted as my official photographer for all wedding related events. Afterwards, we went out for a great dinner of pizza and beer at a very cool restaurant that was full of used books – and everyone got to take home two of their own! What a fun rehearsal dinner.