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Ceremony Music Tips | Paint Your Ceremony Your Way | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Letter10 Creative

Classical music wafting through the air, elegantly winding through the gathered group of family and friends – or would you prefer a little Celtic lilt to put a spring in your step on your special day? Or what about that special hymn grandma always used to sing? Or that pop tune or show tune you always sang as a kid - or first danced to as a couple? Or what about something totally different - something composed just for your special day?

When most people think of “wedding music” what pops to mind is often Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (“Here comes the bride…”) or Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” or perhaps Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” You might imagine a church organ or perhaps a classical quartet. Many couples do choose some variation on the above for their wedding music - and why not? Classic, elegant choices that are easy to walk to, and that are tested by time, will never go out of style. Would a bride avoid wearing a long gown and decide not to exchange rings simply because everyone else does? Traditional choices can say as much about you as non-traditional choices, if chosen from the heart.  This type of connection with tradition and the past can be comforting, sentimental, and certainly can make your decision-making simpler!

 But sometimes couples choose music that’s a little different - and again, why not? It’s your day to paint the town - the music will paint the atmosphere and color the feeling of your celebration - why not choose music that has significance for you personally? That touch of you in the music will touch your guests as well as bringing you smiles - or tears - or a lift in your every move. Again, if the tunes that are significant for you are also popular with others, then go for it! If not, the sky’s the limit!

I had the honor of playing for a wedding where the bride had arranged or composed the music for her own wedding - including a special song performed by a friend. At another, the bride commissioned a friend to create medleys of a series of special songs - primarily Broadway songs and hymns, and chose popular but non-traditional classical music for the prelude. Many couples wish to have entirely classical music for their weddings, but prefer to completely avoid the traditional wedding standards. There are too many options to list here, but you may wish to look into music by Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, for the classic sound that’s not “wedding standard.” And by the way - don’t think of these composers as the stodgy old men you often see in pictures - if Bach really were the person we think of when we see his stiff representation in portrait, do you honestly believe he would have fathered 20 children? Or composed the intensely energetic music he did? Bach, in particular, composed some of the most versatile and awe-inspiring music ever heard - and a great deal of his music has been arranged for many different combinations of instruments, and is often heard at weddings, though never as the standards that could be considered “over-used” - so check him out! I’ve also recently played as recessionals:  “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles and “Landler” from Sound of Music; as processionals: “Til’ There Was You” and “Fanny Power.” I’ve played two weddings where the request was for music throughout the ceremony – essentially a soundtrack - a mix of styles, in one case with music continuing even as background for the vows, and the entire ceremony built on musical selections that were particularly special for the couple.

Want to get even more unique? Vermont boasts a huge variety of composers and song writers. If this is of interest, you may wish to contact Steve Klimowski, clarinetist from  the ”Classic Consort” - also director of the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble – for names of Vermont composers who might suit your style. Why not consider having a special song composed just for your special day? It would lend a whole new meaning to the phrase “playing our song!”

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.

 

Vermont Bride Magazine Lookbook Issue No. 7 | Wedding Inspiration and Resources for Vermont and New England Weddings

The seventh issue of the Vermont Bride Lookbook is here! This issue is full of gorgeous inspiration from an elegant and luxurious spring garden wedding to a rustic, winter soiree at a cabin in the woods. Browse ideas from real Vermont weddings held all over the state, in a variety of venues and styles. Check out our vendor directory and find out more information about each vendor by simply clicking on their ad.

The Lookbook is easy to view on all devices, from your desktop to your smart phone, and you can even bookmark pages or share content to Facebook, Pinterest, or via email. It is definitely an essential resource for any modern bride or groom planning their wedding! The best part is it is free to read and will be available to you any day, any time, and for as long as it's on the internet, which is basically forever. Check it out now! 

 

Musican Choices From The Heart | Ceremony Music Inspiration | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Letter10 Creative

I still often cry at weddings. This may sound like a strange admission from someone who plays music at weddings all the time. Especially a flutist - no one wants a flutist sputtering and squeaking into their instrument during their processional. Rest assured, I have learned to turn off the faucet at the right times, but, well, I do often cry at weddings. 

It doesn’t seem to matter for me whether a couple has chosen Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for processional or “When You Wish Upon a Star;’ ”Adagio” from Handel’s G major flute sonata  or the Celtic tune “Fannie Power;” Schubert’s “Ave Maria”  or Journey’s “Don’t’ Stop Believin;”  Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” or “Laendler” from Sound of Music; the Filipino popular song  “Ikaw” or the Jewish traditional song “Dodi Li” (my beloved) or the Broadway hit “’Til There Was You.” When I know the choice of ceremony music is heartfelt and reflects either the bride or groom’s love of tradition or their desire to be unique in a particular way, especially when I know that a particular tune brings tears to their eyes - I do frequently get caught up in the joy and emotion of the moment.

Your wedding day is, in the very best sense, all about you. It’s a time when you  choose from a palette of colors, sounds, views and words that reflect you - as individuals and as a couple. If each choice, as you make it, stirs your soul, helps you to understand and respect one another better - your similarities and your differences - and brings on the joy or the tears or the strength or the vulnerability that you seek, that will be felt by others present at your wedding. 

This past year, I met with a wedding couple and as I was playing through a few possible processionals, the bride-to-be told me “That one made me cry!” Well, I played a few more possibilities just to be sure, but it seemed clear that “Sheep May Safely Graze” was the one that was meant to be the wedding party processional for her wedding, where her daughter would be the junior maid of honor. As I was playing “Sheep May Safely Graze” as a duo with my own violinist daughter months later at this wedding, and the bride’s daughter was walking up the aisle, well, yes, I held off the tears for the time being, but only due to years of experience. I’ve played “Sheep May Safely Graze” many times, as well as the Pachelbel Canon that followed for the Bride’s processional, but in this moment, knowing how the bride felt about these pieces, I felt the music with a fresh perspective, energy and emotion.

Some couples know exactly what they want, while some have no idea. Sometimes the process can feel easy, sometimes overwhelming. As you can imagine from the list of processionals mentioned above (all from weddings I’ve played in one calendar year), the options for wedding music can be wide open and virtually limitless. If you’re overwhelmed with the decisions about wedding music, first speak with the professional musician you’ve chosen for your wedding. They may be able to make some suggestions that strike a chord for you, and that they know sound great with the instruments you’ve chosen. There are also numerous lists of options available online - a google search may make the difference between not knowing where to start and - “aha! That’s perfect!” And of course there’s YouTube. Your professional may be able to send you links to videos to give you some ideas, or you can browse yourself.

Your first step: know that your options are very wide, but can be very simple if you know what clicks for you (bearing in mind that in some cases there may be an extra charge for special sheet music purchases or arrangements, or some options may be less suitable for the instrument combination you may have already chosen). Your second step: find the music that makes your heart skip a beat or that brings you joy or sighs or tears - or whatever emotion you wish for your day.  The loved ones who gather with you on your day will feel it too.

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She maintains a private flute studio for in Montpelier, Vermont and also teaches online to students worldwide.

 

Tips for hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony | Vermont Bride Magazine
photo by Eric Foley Photography

Perhaps you can perfectly envision your walk down the aisle - you can hear the exact music you want in your mind and see the whole scene perfectly. Or perhaps you don’t know exactly what you want, but you know the feeling you’d like the music to convey - perhaps slow and dreamy, or meditative, or regal and stately, or with a certain driving pulse underneath – or you just have a gut sense that you can’t find the words to explain. Or perhaps you’re somewhere in between - with some thoughts and feelings about what you’d like, some specific ideas, but haven’t nailed down yet exactly what you’d like.

Once you’ve given a little thought to the music you’d like to have at your ceremony, it’s time to start making contacts with musicians. Here’s a brief overview of the process of booking a musician. First, professionals in the wedding business (particularly Vermont professionals, in my experience!) do understand that most couples haven’t booked a musician for an event before, so are experienced in helping you through the logistics of the process - so just jumping in with the contact is most commonly just fine. But for a little broader understanding of details to keep in mind in consulting with a musician to be sure you end up with the perfect musician for your wedding with confidence in understanding the booking process, read on!

On your first contact, most couples are looking for the following information: 1) Is the musician or ensemble available for your wedding date and time? And 2) What would be the cost? 

In order to get the information you’re looking for and move on with the booking and planning process, with full understanding of the final cost, it can be really helpful to include the following information up front:

  1. The date and time of the ceremony (approximate time is usually  ok on the first contact) and whether you’d like music for the ceremony only (typically 20-30 minutes of prelude as guests are arriving plus processionals, recessionals, possible interlude  - typically 1 hour total, or 1.5 hours for Catholic ceremonies) or ceremony plus cocktail hour/reception, or reception only - and probable number of hours desired, if you know 
  2. The location of the ceremony (and/or cocktail hour/reception if relevant)
  3. Will your event be indoors or out? 
  4. If your wedding will be outdoors, will you be providing shelter for the instruments and musicians? Under what conditions would you move indoors? (Some musicians will not play outdoors; others require negotiations - and potentially extra fees - regarding specific details for protection of instruments and/or performers from sun, wind, extreme temperatures and rain)
  5. Will you require specific musical selections that are not among the typical standard wedding music options, or on the musician’s playlist? (in some cases, there may be additional costs for uncommon requests to cover purchase of new sheet music and/or time spent arranging and practicing; in some cases, your preferred repertoire choice may not be an option with a particular musician, or may require additional fees, and you may wish to know this before making a final decision to book)

Including this information can help you to get the clear answers regarding availability and cost that you’re looking for right up front. In considering musicians’ fees, bear in mind that some musicians have extensive training and experience, and often practice for hours a day, which may lead to higher cost than less experienced or less advanced musicians. Every musician I know has stories of mishaps of their own or their peers from their early days of playing for weddings. Among the stories I’ve heard:  arriving at the wedding site only to find that the instrument was not in the case and therefore being unable to play; hopping on the express train in plenty of time - only to find it was going the wrong direction - and missing the wedding; one group member getting lost and arriving at the wedding after it was finished (stories of younger players arriving late are very common); sheet music blowing off the stand in the middle of the processional because it wasn’t clamped down properly, causing a halt to the processional music (I’ve heard many variations on this story for all portions of the ceremony); music stands blowing over and/or music flying into the bushes and taking a few minutes to reassemble. I could go on - and haven’t begun to address musical expertise - but you get the idea - you often get what you pay for.

An additional note: some musicians are more organized than others. If you do not receive a reply within 24 hours, this could be a source of concern. Your music planning process could be very simple with a musician who’s organized and replies promptly. With wedding vendors who do not reply promptly, your planning process, including repertoire choices and more, could be a nightmare. You deserve prompt communication! If you don’t receive that, it may be a red flag. (Bear in mind that occasionally communication doesn’t go through – I’ve occasionally received inquiries in my spam folder – a second attempt may be helpful in some cases). 

Once you’ve confirmed availability, pricing, potential shelter for instruments, and options for suitable repertoire choices, you should expect to receive a contract. Once the contract is signed by both you and the musician, and your deposit or retainer fee is received by the musicians (this may be 50% of the total fees, though this may vary quite a bit), you can rest assured that you have completed the logistical part of booking a musician, and can now move on to the fun part - refining your repertoire choices! This deposit/retainer fee is normally considered non-refundable, since the musicians will most likely be turning down other paid work for your wedding day between the time of booking and the time of your wedding. 

Starting off on the right foot with a good working relationship with your musicians can be a really helpful beginning to the process of setting the ambiance for your big day.  Vermont musicians will certainly help you to fill in the missing pieces and will generally be very understanding in the process, but conveying your understanding of their needs - in terms of time, protection of priceless instruments, respect for training and expertise, and conveying a bit of your feelings about what repertoire inspires you - can really help get you in a groove with the musicians in a way that drives everyone’s energy toward optimal results!

Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.

 

Amy Kuschel Charlston | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Charlston | Art Deco detailing adds a measure of decadence to Charleston's delicately beaded French Chantilly lace silhouette. A sassy, lower circle skirt of Point d'Esprit netting adds swing to this enchanting gown. A beaded bateau neckline with a barely-there ribbon tie along with charming cap sleeves add to Charleston's flirtatious spirit. Layered over a sexy bias cut satin slip for comfort and versatility, this classic, iconic flapper sheath silhouette is always in style.

Inspired by Old-Hollywood fashion from the 1930's and 40's, Amy Kuschel's newest gown collection highlights some of the most timeless and elegant styles from screen sirens like Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, and Katharine Hepburn. From hour glass hugging curves to flapper-esque sheeth silhouettes, each gown shines with its own style personality and movie star worthy charisma.

All of the gowns featured are available at Sewly Yours Bridal, by appointment only 802-660-9003.

Amy Kuschel Harlem | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Harlem | The cultural and artistic explosion that took place then made Harlem a gathering place for writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars. This gown captures that artsy, Jazz era vibe. Cosmopolitan French Pop Art lace makes this gown sing with a sensual and sophisticated high front neckline complemented by a low, open backline. Add signature four-ply silk crepe skirt to turn up the drama and intrigue of Harlem's languid, sexy sheath silhouette.

Amy Kuschel Broadway | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Broadway | You'll take center stage and win their attention in this ladylike trumpet silhouette designed to capture the essence of modern elegance. A softly curved low cut neckline and natural waist show off your curves. Demure cap sleeves adorn your shoulders. Delicate lace edgings create a feminine framing for your decolletage. 60s Garden Party lace adds a bit of playful romance...there's always magic in the air!

Amy Kuschel Libby | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Libby | Libby's bohemian spirit is effortless and elegant, bringing to mind looks from the liberated 20's and hippy days of the 60's. Libby's sheer blouse styling is fabricated in pebble silk chiffon exuding romance, intrigue, and charm. With a delicate tie back neck and open backline adding to the sophistication and allure. Our signature 4-ply silk crepe skirt creates a clean, fluid sheath silhouette with soft gathering at the waistline to show off your feminine curves.

Amy Kuschel Go Lovely | Art Deco Gown Inspiration | Sewly Yours Bridal | Vermont Bride Magazine
Amy Kuschel Go Lovely | The Go Lovely gown is fashioned after Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly in the 1960s Breakfast at Tiffany's. Who can resist these memorable post-war looks? So simple and elegant, a classic, iconic silhouette with Upper East Side sensibilities. six-ply silk crepe highlights Go Lovely's hourglass silhouette, flattering the female figure with a low cut softly curved neckline, elegantly shaped straps to gracefully frame the neckline. Fluid yet feminine with a natural waistline that cinches you at your smallest point.