I am in no way discounting the skills of good professional DJs and I'll be happy to explain in another blog entry why I think they are fantastic for the reception--and why it's so important to choose the right one. I also enjoy working with DJs who provide good sound equipment for the officiant in their package as it makes my job a little easier.
But for the processional and recessional music and perhaps a musical interlude? I'll opt for live music every time. We have no shortage of great musicians available for weddings here in central Florida. I have officiated ceremonies with harp, flute, string quartet, piano, classical and Spanish guitar, bagpipe and steel drums.
Accomplished musicians are simply more adaptable to the situation than recorded music. If your choice is between a friend with a boom box and a professional DJ, go with the DJ. But even they can't make a song longer if your bridal party gets to the front before the song ends. They can only replay the song from the beginning or go with the silence. A live musician can choose an appropriate section to repeat without stopping and guests are none the wiser.
While I have seen this happen, typically the bridesmaids and then the bride arrive at the front well before their respective songs are over. In that case, the DJ has to fade out the volume where a live musician can end the piece with a well-timed flourish at the logical end of a measure.
I'm inserting this paragraph on 07/707/12 because of an experience at a wedding this weekend. It's something I've witnessed before that is unlikely to happen with a live musician--equipment failure. I've never seen a flute have technical difficulties. On top of the DJ having trouble getting the computer to boot up, he queued the wrong song for the bridesmaids. I was able to whisper the correct piece for him to make the change, but there was nothing I could do about the bride walking down the aisle to what must be the most common and recognizable recessional march. Yep, her father escorted her to her groom to the music most commonly used for the triumphant couple to leave their ceremony as husband and wife. A harpist or pianist wouldn't make that mistake.
Perhaps it's the romantic in me, but I just find live music for the ceremony to be a beautiful touch. Aside from the adaptability to the moment, live music lends a bit of elegance, even when we're talking bagpipes and steel drums. If your budget allows for a musician to play at your ceremony, and they may not be as pricey as you fear, give it some serious consideration.
Healing Strings of Brevard (harp)
Jan Jennings (harp)
Nicole Scott (flute)
Alpheus "Ali" Adam (steel drums) - I'll go ahead and put him on here, even if he is a Chelsea FC fan.
Franke Lutz (steel drums)
Classern String Quartet
I'll go so far as to put in a little extra punt for Petra at Healing Strings of Brevard. She brings live music to the bedside of ill and dying patients both in the home and in clinics or inpatient settings as well as performing at weddings. I admire people who use their gifts and talents to comfort others and make the world a kinder place.
Photo Attribute: I shamelessly stole the above photograph from Josephine Lee, of Vancouver Harp. Alas, I live on the opposite side of a continent and in another country, but should you find yourself getting married in the Vancouver area, go ahead and give her a call. If she's anything like her website, she must be awesome.