Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

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PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOW COMPLETELY RETIRED, SO I'M NO LONGER TAKING ANY WEDDING BOOKINGS. I'M LEAVING THIS BLOG ONLINE IN CASE IT'S OF ANY HELP TO YOU IN PLANNING YOUR WEDDING, BUT I WON'T BE MAINTAINING IT, SO APOLOGIES FOR BROKEN LINKS OR OUT OF DATE INFORMATION! This blog is structured as a series of questions and under each posting, I've provided what I hope will be helpful advice for you in planning your humanist wedding. All of the posts are on one page, but each one has been condensed in size, so to read the full details, just click on the post title or 'read more'. When you get to the end of the post, just click on 'home' to get back to the full page of posts or 'older post' to move on to the next post. If you're interested in a particular subject, you can also click on the list to the right or you can do your own search by using the box below.

I've started with a wee video, so happy viewing, happy reading and happy wedding planning!

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What advice do you have about incorporating music into the ceremony?

The first thing to say is that anything goes! Well, almost! Given that you've chosen to have a humanist ceremony, religious music (including a hymn) isn't suitable, but there are so many other options - classical, jazz, pop, rock, folk, you name it.......

You need music in 3 main parts of the ceremony - for the entry of the bride ('processional' music), during the signing of the Marriage Schedule and for the bride and groom to leave ('recessional' music). Think carefully about the mood you want to create during each part of the ceremony - for example, most people choose something light and reflective to accompany the signing of the Marriage Schedule (about 5 minutes of music is ideal, so 2 tracks is perfect), but then have something with more impact for the end of the ceremony - to make everyone smile and to get the party started! 

I've had a few couple recently where the bride has chosen the song she wants to enter to and kept it a secret from the groom (hoping to get a tear out of him of course!) It's a great idea, especially if you girls are happy to let the guys choose the last track for your grand exit and keep that a secret from you! LOL!

Although music on a CD player or IPod is possible in most indoor venues, it isn't usually great outside because the sound is easily 'lost', especially if there's a breeze. Having said that, I have a Bose sound dock for my iPod that I'm happy to bring along on the day - it works off a battery and produces an excellent sound, even outdoors. 

But of course you can't beat live music! Lots of couples have a piper to play as the guests arrive and you might decide to be piped in and out of the ceremony too. The pipes could be a bit loud to accompany the signing, but you can always send your piper out of the room to play or away into the bushes (!) if you're outside, so that it's a bit quieter! There are of course lots of other choices, including a string quartet, a jazz band, a pianist, fiddle player, ceilidh band, harp or clarsach player or a singer. You can book musicians through agencies such as:

I also have numerous contact details for musicians happy to work in the central belt and they include:

Drew at thistlepipingcentralscotland
Donald Mackenzie (Glasgow based)
Keith at Premier Pipers who cover the Glasgow, Loch Lomond and Stirling areas
Jonny Graham

Fiddle Players:

Lorna Swan (pictured) who also plays the clarsach (Reel Ale Ceilidh Band)
Patsy Seddon who also plays the harp


Iain Hood who can also provide a lovely harp and flute duo
Patricia Roberts who also sings, beautifully...
Heather Downie who also sings, just as beautifully!
Pauline Vallance ditto!

John Rankin at (John sings and plays piano)
Andy at Lucaspiano also sings too

Marcus Ford (who is also part of the wonderful Ritz Trio)
David Mckellar (David sings popular music covers as a solo musician and also plays in 'The Dawn Patrol' wedding band) 

Jazz musicians:

Marcus Ford who is a solo jazz guitarist and also part of:
The Ritz Trio (pictured left, great guys, great musicians!)

Patricia Roberts, who sings traditional Scottish songs and also plays the clarsach
Heather Downie - like Patricia, Heather also accompanies herself on the clarsach

And on the subject of singing, I can't! So if you're going to have everyone sing a song, don't rely on me to lead you. Seriously, just don't go there! (I'm only pretending in this pic of Cathy and Douglas getting married in the Perthshire hills above Comrie)

Communal sining can work well, but I reckon only if the following things are in place:
  • Someone who can really sing well to lead the song (not me then...)
  • Good accompaniament by musicians used to accompanying singers 
  • Enough guests (50+ I'd say) to really 'gie it laldy' for you (f you're not familiar with the Scots terminology, translated that means "to pull out all the stops and sing with great enthusiasm or gusto"!)
  • The words to the song need to be printed onto an Order of Ceremony for everyone
  • The song itself needs to be something meaningful to you - don't choose a song just to 'pad out' the ceremony - there's never any need to do that in a humanist wedding ceremony!
Examples of songs that I think have worked well in wedding ceremonies in the past include both traditional folk songs and pop songs. The latter work best with the original CD track to sing along to, karaoke style, and these examples are pretty much guaranteed to get everyone laughing and singing:

  • 'That's Amore' by Dean Martin
  • 'When I'm 64' by the Beatles (or 'Love me do' or 'I wanna hold your hand')
  • '500 Miles' by the fabulous Proclaimers
  • 'I'm a Believer' by the Monkees
  • 'Walking on sunshine' by Katrina and the Waves
  • 'Bring me Sunshine' by Morecambe and Wise
  • 'Cant Take my Eyes off you' by Andy Williams
  • 'Take a Chance on Me' by Abba
  • 'Love is in the air' by John Paul Young
  • 'Happy Together' by The Turtles
  • 'Wonderful World' (especially The Ramones version!)
One option is for a guest or guests to perform the song and then have everyone else join in with the chorus - this worked really well at a wedding recently when friends of the bride and groom took on the parts of Danny and Sandy to sing 'You're the One That I want' from Grease. Everyone was in stitches and I still laugh when I think about it now! This picture by Martin Weir captures that moment perfectly:

Of course, more serious songs work well too, Scottish folk songs like 'Wild Mountain Thyme' or 'Mairi's Wedding' for example. Some of these songs are quite difficult to sing though and it's advisable to have a confident lead singer or a performer who will sing the verses and invite everyone else to join in with the chorus.

There are by the way a number of classical songs in the 'Sharing the Future' booklet (available from the The British Humanist Association) These have a more traditional and almost 'hymn like' feel to them, but with secular words of course. There is also a humanist version of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' with "Mother Nature made them all" instead of "The Lord God etc..." Google it - you might like it and it's a nice compromise if you (or your family) want a traditional feel to the ceremony.

Music adds a very special element to a wedding ceremony and it's worth spending a bit of time choosing something that feels just right for you. Music is, after all, the food of love!

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1 comment:

Stringsaloud String Quartet Glasgow said...

Thanks for the recommendation Mary! Mairi from Stringsaloud x