The Wedding Ceremony - Elite Guide for Music & DJ's

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This is the ultimate guide on how to DJ a wedding ceremony. This information is extremely useful whether you are a DJ, a wedding planner, a bride or anybody else that is in charge of music for a wedding ceremony. This information has been compiled from professionals doing thousands of successful ceremonies for brides and grooms. Read this information carefully because you only get one chance to do it right! In this article we will discuss...
  • How should we schedule the DJ and music...start and finish times
  • Where to set up the DJ
  • Do I need wireless microphones? How do you mic the bride and groom?
  • Hooking in a live musician keyboard or guitar
  • Picking out your ceremony music
  • Ceremony events and music timing
  • The most common ways the service is provided; locations

How should we schedule the DJ and music...start and finish times:
One mistake many brides make is not starting the DJ early enough to play prelude/seating music. You should have the music started at least 15 minutes prior to the actual start of the ceremony but 30 minutes is most recommended. Upon the conclusion of your wedding the DJ will typically play about 10 minutes of post-ceremony music while your guests exit. Depending on the length of your ceremony, the total time span usually runs anywhere from 45-75 minutes for the prelude music, ceremony music & post ceremony music combined. It's wise to plan on scheduling your DJ for a 75-minute time period. This allows for a buffer in the event things get started late.

Where to set up the DJ:
By far the best place is in the back (behind the guests) with speakers facing the front. There are a number of reason for this. For one, it eliminates any possibility of the DJ sound system showing up in your pictures. It also has a much more balanced sound that everyone will be able to hear more evenly. It strongly helps to prevent microphone feedback, especially when using a lapel style microphone. It allows your officiate to know that everyone can hear him/her because if they can hear themselves through the speakers, everyone else can. Last, the DJ has the best line of sight for all the events from this position and is not a visual distraction to your guests.

The need for wireless microphones:
Wireless is always the best way to go for ceremonies for the sake of convenience and safety both. They can be placed almost anywhere and do not need cords running to them. Handheld, lapel and headset versions are all very popular. Depending on the size of your ceremony, and the strength of your officiates voice, you may not need them at all. If you do, we most recommend headset versions for the officiate, especially when outdoors. Lapels will pick up a lot of ambient and wind noise and are much more sensitive to feedback and hollow sound. Many of the DJ companies, like Elite Pro DJ will carry the very small condenser headset microphones that are skin color and barely noticeable. You may also need a microphone for readers or vocalists. In this case, you should always go with a wireless hand held style microphone and stand.

A very common question we hear is "how do you mic the bride and groom? Well, in most cases you don't as this is not a common practice however, it can be done. When the bride and groom really want microphones for their vows then the most practical way is for them to use a hand held microphone. They can either share one by passing it back and forth, it can be put on a stand between them or they can both have an individual microphone. It's very difficult to wire the bride with a body pack and lapel microphone and most of the time it ends up not working well at all, so the methods mentioned within this article are about your best and safest options.

Hooking in a live musician keyboard or guitar
A big mistake is assuming that you will be able to have your guitar or keyboard player hook into the DJs mixer. Most DJ mixers are not designed for live instrument hook up and will not work for this application. This type of hook up requires a mixer that has the right line impedance for musical instruments and may still also require direct boxes. Be sure to discuss with your DJ if your intent is to have an instrument run through the system. At Elite Pro DJ, we offer specific mixers that easily fill this application for all types of sources including instruments, recorded music playback and microphones combined.

Picking out your ceremony music
Because DJs at ceremonies have become much more popular, most DJs have a pretty good library of music to appropriately provide for most ceremonies. There are however situations where the bride and groom may have a very eclectic taste in music, in which case your DJ service may not have access to all the songs you want. If this is the case, you may need to provide some of the ceremony music to your DJ.  Most DJs are set up to accept multiple types of music formats such as CDs, MP3, flash drives and could even hook up your iPod or iPhone to their system to play the specific music you provide. Another consideration is that a lot of the music couples want may be classical music, of which there are typically dozens of specific versions. This also holds true for instrumentals of more popular music, there could many versions available. In this case it's best to provide the DJ with exactly the version or versions you want. You can either pre-record these yourself or just email them to your DJ service using Dropbox, Skydive or even mailing a CD in advance. These are all things you will need to discuss with your DJ.

If you need help choosing your ceremony music, ask your DJ service for help with this. Most of them have done many ceremonies and can probably give you very good advice. On the Elite Pro DJ web site, you can go to our Music Request List, click on "Most Requested" then in the drop down menu box to choose from a variety of categories to help you choose and see what's most popular. One of the most popular groups for prelude instrumental music is the Vitamin String Quartet. This is a string ensemble that performs classical versions of very popular radio type songs, be sure and check them out.

Ceremony events and music timing

Most ceremonies are pretty basic but obviously some can be much more involved than others. For simplicity sake, we will stick with the most typical outline in order of events:

Please see the Most Requested music section of our Music Request List for the most often used Ceremony, Processional and Recessional song choices.

1. Prelude music starts 15-30 minutes prior to the ceremony
This can be pre-selected music by either you or your DJ. You could also just let your DJ know the type of music you prefer such as classical, popular instrumentals, classic love songs, etc.

2. Seating of the parents, grandparents, bridesmaids come down the isle.
There is usually one song played for this entire portion. This is usually a separate song from what the bride enters to but on occasion, we have seen the same song used for everything, including the bride entrance.

3. Bride comes down the isle
The bride chooses a specific song for this in most cases. See wedding processional songs at our Most Requested list for suggestions.

4. Ceremony begins
This lasts anywhere from 15-40 minutes. There is no music for the ceremony unless for a special ceremony event such as those mentioned in the next section.

5. (Optional) Sand Ceremony or Unity Candle Lighting during ceremony
There is usually a song of choice played for either or both of these ceremony events but in some cases there is no music played. This is totally a preference choice of the bride and groom.

5. Conclusion of the Ceremony
Bride and Groom are formally introduced and exit. The song played for this can be almost anything. It's usually a favorite song of the bride and groom and can be an upbeat song or love song. See wedding recessional songs at our Most Requested list for suggestions.

6. Post ceremony music
This begins and is basically a cue for the guests to exit (and get ready for that rockin reception!) This can be any type of music you choose. Check out Recessional songs at our "Most Requested" list for many options. As a special note, pieces from Vivaldi-The Seasons are also very popular for this.

The most common ways (and places) the ceremony music is provided:

At The Reception Venue: If you are having your ceremony at your reception venue, then this is the easiest for the DJ and the most affordable for you, especially if the ceremony and reception run concurrently. If the DJ is able to set up in the same location on the premise, without having to move the system, then most DJ companies will include this in their reception package price provided it fits in the booked time period. You may need to book an extra hour of overtime with the DJ and/or pay for additional microphones if needed but that's usually a pretty reasonable cost.

At The Reception Venue Address But In A Different Area Than The Reception: If your ceremony is at the same location as your reception, but in a different room or area on the premise, then this works a bit differently. Typically in this case, the DJ would set up the essentials of his system needed for the ceremony and then immediately move the system to the reception thereafter. Most DJ services will charge a small move fee associated with this service that can vary from $25-$100 depending on the service. If your reception is immediately following then you should be aware that there will be some music downtime while the DJ is moving the system, which can be anywhere from 15-40 minutes depending on location.

Ceremony Is At A Different Address Location Than The Reception: If your ceremony is at a completely different location, most DJ services can still offer you ceremony service but it will likely cost a bit more. Some DJ services, such as Elite Pro DJ, actually have different systems and service operators separate from your actual DJ who provides this service. Costs can range anywhere from $150-$300 depending on the company you are working with, your ceremony location and the number of wireless microphones you may need.

NOTE: If your ceremony is outdoors, make sure electricity is within reasonable distance (10-15 feet) from where the DJ is to set up. Most DJs will need a standard 110V, GFCI protected receptacle to plug in to. Be sure you know the facility or location has this available before locking into a ceremony contract with any service.

To DJ or not to DJ the wedding ceremony:
It's becoming more and more common for DJ services to provide the music for your wedding ceremony. If you don't already have live music or another source of music for your ceremony, then having your DJ provide this is an excellent and affordable option for you. Most of the local DJs are happy to provide this service to you for a reasonable cost provided you are also using them for your reception.

Whether your ceremony is at the same location as your reception or at a different location, most DJ companies will have a viable option available for you. If not, there are other companies, such as Pro Sound DJ & Rental, that offer excellent options for this service independently even if you are not using them for your reception.

Learn more...
Choosing Music for Your Wedding Reception
Bundling Wedding Vendor Packages
Using Reception Venue Recommendations for Vendors
Booking a DJ for a Wedding
Understanding Power, Sub Woofers & Specifications