Music for Your Ceremony and Reception

Most wedding ceremonies share common characteristics. The main sections are the prelude, seating of the mothers, processional, service, recessional and the postlude. Below is an outline of a typical ceremony to give you an idea of how the music fits into the service, though differences and variations are typical. Our musicians are experienced and flexible to accommodate your requests on your special day. Brides should feel free to choose traditional, classical, contemporary, or a mixture of musical styles for their service.

This is played while the guests arrive and usually starts 15 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. The mood of the music is usually light and melodic. Special requests are welcome for the prelude. Some couples leave this portion of music to the musicians' discretion.

The Seating of the Mothers
While the mothers are escorted down the aisle, special music is played. A cue is needed for the musicians when the mothers are ready to be escorted. Traditional pieces are Ave Marie, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring or Pachelbel Cannon.

Processional for the Attendants
After the seating of the mothers, the processional for the attendants is played. The musicians will need to know what the cue is before this begins. Often the processional simply begins after the seating of the mothers and no cue is needed. The musicians also need to know how many attendants there are. Traditional pieces are Pachelbel Cannon or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

Processional for the Bride
This begins immediately after the last attendant has processed. Separate music is traditionally played for the bride but some prefer to have the same music as the attendants. Of course, the traditional piece for the bride is the Bridal March by Wagner, known as "Here Comes the Bride." Many other pieces can be performed such as Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke, Ode to Joy by Beethoven or a movement from Water Music by Handel.

Pieces During the Service or Ceremony
Depending on the religious status of the ceremony, music can be played as an interlude between the readings, during the lighting of the unity candle or during communion. Some pieces appropriate for the service are those by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart or any other pieces or songs you want. A vocalist could also sing the Lord's Prayer with string accompaniment at the appropriate time during the service.

Recessional for the Entire Wedding Party
Often the music performed is of a faster tempo than the processional and is very jubilant in nature. Common pieces are Ode to Joy by Beethoven, Mendelssohn's Bridal March, Spring from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi or Rondeau by Mouret. The musicians will need to know what the cue is to begin.

Postlude Music
This is played while the guests leave the sanctuary and is typically 10 minutes. Some couples have special requests though often the music is left to the discretion of the musicians.

Planning a Reception or Corporate Event
In addition to weddings, Windy City Chamber Musicians also performer for corporate events, including annual meetings, award dinners, product promotions, fundraising banquets, building dedications, holiday parties, and store openings. We also perform for private holiday parties and functions. Although each event is unique, all involve similar planning issues.

Ensemble Selection
The ensemble you choose will be partially determined by the amount of guests present. As a general rule, we recommend a minimum of one musician for every 35 to 50 guests. This will maintain a proper balance between the music and conversation. Keep in mind that this figure is an estimation as the proper balance also depends upon which instruments are playing. The atmosphere is also a factor. For a dinner of 35-100 guests a cello/flute or cello/violin duet would be perfect. On the other hand, a grand opening event attracting several hundred guests could be highlighted with strings and trumpet.

Repertoire Selection
At most receptions we perform light classical music interspersed with some popular selections (jazz, show tunes, Broadway). Please let us know if you have any special requests. If the reception is honoring a particular person from another country, we could perform music of his or her nationality.

Indoor Events
It is important to take traffic flow into account when planning the setup and location of the musicians. Plan on each musician needing 4' x 4' of floor space. Place the musicians at opposite ends of the room from a bar or food stations. Allow ten feet between the closest table and the musicians, leaving room for the serving staff to move freely around the tables.

Outdoor Events
The main factors in playing outdoors are sound projection and protecting the instruments from the elements. The musicians need to play in shaded areas and, if possible, out of the wind. To prevent damage to their instruments, most musicians cannot play in weather below 60 degrees. Placing the musicians on or next to a hard surface, such as a patio or against a wall helps in sound projection. Raising the musicians up on a platform can also help the sound.

Other Considerations
The dress code for Windy City Chamber Musicians is concert attire; black tuxedo and black dress. Sometimes electrical requirements are necessary for amplification and lighting. Windy City Chamber Musicians are happy to assist you with any questions you may have.
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