Whenever I think about my favorite weddings at Pratt Mansions, inevitably it’s the music that triggers the memory, the underlying “soundtrack” of the event that created a magical feeling of never wanting the night to end.
Where do you begin? Think for a moment of some famous films and their inspirational soundtracks: Out of Africa, The Godfather, Titanic, Jaws, A Star is Born or The Way We Were. Where would “The Godfather” be without that incredible violin solo? When you hear those themes you’re immediately transported. Music plays an essential role, as important as the acting and directing.
Please note, I am not proposing using a movie sound track for your wedding, just making a point about the role of music in creating memories and setting the tone for a successful party.
Choosing live music or a DJ is the first question and I will discuss the pros and cons of both in a future blog. But whichever you choose, it’s important to break down the 4 parts of the event: ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and after party. Carefully considering music for each part is a good way to start.
The ceremony requires thoughtful music whether it’s in a sacred space, on a farm or a hotel venue. At Pratt Mansions, strings, a harpist, or a flute and classical guitar combination all work beautifully and play off of the landmark nature of the venue.
Cocktail hour requires a different energy. Nothing is better than a cocktail pianist on one of our Steinways playing “Great American Songbook” favorites like “Just the Way you Look Tonight” or “Fly Me to the Moon.” Take some time to do a little investigation of what you like on Spotify or Pandora. Remember, there are many different generations to consider at a wedding, Pleasing everybody is not easy. Choosing familiar, romantic tunes that are recognized by every age group is a subtle way to use the cocktail hour to build an element of suspense and excitement.
Now onto dinner. As your guests enter the ballroom to find their table and meet other dinner guests, the music acts as an ice breaker. Here, different genres with a variety of tempos is preferable: Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Stevie Wonder, and who can forget “When a Man loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge. Cool and sophisticated without bringing down the energy in the room, that’s great background music. The next time you’re at your favorite restaurant, listen to the music (and the sound level). There’s a good chance there’s something about it that makes you enjoy the vibe and the food even more.
At Pratt Mansions we offer a European-style reception. Instead of dinner and dancing all in one room for the entire evening, we leave the ballroom after dinner. Your guests descend the grand staircase to the first floor. Now the music has taken on a new role, establishing the atmosphere for an after party and dancing. Pratt Mansions becomes a nightclub. Pulsating music greets your guests. Now is the time for the First Dance followed by plenty of Motown, Top 40 and 90’s pop. You get the idea. Nothing gets people on the dance floor faster than “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas or “Sweet Caroline” – there’s a reason these songs are hits: people love to hear them.
The next time you are at a wedding and having a great time, take a moment to think about the role the music is playing. You can’t have a movie without a soundtrack. You can’t have a wedding without one either.