The Chime of the Wedding Bells by Jay Maxwell

January 12, 2011 by Jay Maxwell

The Chime of the Wedding Bells


When most people ask you what you do for a living and you tell them that you are a mobile disc jockey, they probably think of you spinning tunes and playing songs that people can dance to. Of course, if you had to explain to someone what a mobile DJ does, you would likely give them that same one sentence explanation. There are times though when a DJ’s musical expertise expands beyond the dance floor and into other avenues where music is needed for the occasion. One such venue is providing music and sound amplification for wedding ceremonies. If you are not currently offering this service to brides, I highly recommended adding it to enhance your appeal when couples are deciding which professional DJ service to employ for their big day.

In the past few years, we have seen a definite trend of brides and grooms getting married in nontraditional settings, where they prefer to have a DJ play the music rather than have musicians on-hand. When brides do get married in a church, they rarely hire a DJ to provide the music. Instead, they will opt for traditional instruments played by musicians, usually piano or organ, or perhaps a string quartet. But many brides now choose to get married outside under grand oak trees, in a garden, in their backyard, or even on the beach. Others get married at the facility where the reception will be held to save both money and travel time, especially if it is designed to handle both parts of their big day.

Often brides will hold their wedding ceremony where there is no electricity (the beach for example) and still expect the DJ to play music and amplify the officiant with a microphone. You need to provide battery-operated equipment, preferably with built-in wireless microphones, along with either a CD player or other way to play music. (See sidebar for our specific solution and other audio considerations)


Many brides know what song they want for their first dance and the type of music for the reception, but need our assistance for choosing music for the ceremony. We have often encountered couples who have not given any thought to the prelude music, or even to what song to play as the mothers are seated. During the consultation with the bride and groom, they rely on our experience to guide them to make their choices. We help them by asking certain questions and also by having the music choices ready to play for them, so they can get a feel for what we are talking about. After all, how many brides know what “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” or “Arioso” really sound like until they hear them?

One of the first questions we ask is what type of instrumentation they prefer (strings, brass, harp, piano, flute, guitar, etc.). For an outdoor setting we recommend staying away from a “full” sound like an orchestra or organ because those would not sound natural outside.

Another important consideration is whether or not anyone else will be providing any music during the ceremony. (See sidebar for some thoughts on PA options.) Also, ask if anything “extra” is to occur during the ceremony like a unity candle or sand ceremony (the latter being an alternative to the unity candle ceremony, suitable for windy beaches!). If so, there is usually music played in the background during this parts.


Naturally the biggest question to ask is about the service or ceremony music. There are three different sections to consider: prelude music, music for participants to enter, and the recessional. For the prelude music the majority of brides still prefer the traditional classics that have been played for generations. But one recent variation is to play music by a group called The Vitamin String Quartet. In the past year, many brides have both requested this group or have been highly receptive to the idea when we suggest it to them. The VSQ has hundreds, if not thousands, of contemporary songs that are played in a classical style. Based on brides’ requests, we have nearly 100 of their songs in our library now and add more each month as more brides discover this opportunity to have some of their favorite contemporary songs (Lady Gaga’s hits for example) played—classical style—during the prelude portion.

The music will change when the participants enter. People will know that the wedding is starting when the mothers (and sometimes the grandmothers) are being seated. Traditionally, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Arioso,” (both by Bach) or “Ave Maria” (various) are played, but other selections are also given in this issue’s list. The groom, officiant and groomsmen will then enter, if they are not escorting the bridesmaids in. When the bridesmaids enter, they will usually enter to Pachelbel’s famous “Canon in D” or “Spring” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. A recent contemporary song used for this entrance is “Over the Rainbow, What a Wonderful World” by Iz (Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole).

For the all-important bride’s march down the aisle, she will either want the traditional “Bridal Chorus” (from Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin; aka “Here Comes the Bride”) or… “Anything other than that song!” Brides are clearly in one of two “camps” on this choice. Either they have always dreamed of walking down the aisle to the traditional tune, or they want to be sure to choose something different. Other frequent requests are “Canon in D,” or the various versions of “Trumpet Voluntary,” or “Trumpet Tune.”

The final section of music is the recessional. As for knowing when to start the recessional song, to be on the safe side, ask the officiant what their final words will be. Often it is, “Ladies and Gentleman, may I present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. ___.” However, they may close in a final prayer or have another short statement to make. Although most brides and grooms are still choosing traditional music for the prelude and entrance songs, about half our couples in the past year chose modern songs for the recessional. Many popular choices are “All You Need Is Love” (Beatles), “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz), “Hey, Soul Sister” (Train), “How Sweet It Is” (James Taylor) and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” (Stevie Wonder).

Though the ceremony will take between 15 and 30 minutes, you will likely spend much more time helping the couple plan this very important stage of their day. During the consultation, finish the ceremony planning first. Then, turn attention to the reception where you can then assist them in creating the rest of their memorable event—by choosing music that will keep their guests smiling and dancing when they say “Play Something We Can Dance To!”

* Processional

1. Bridal Chorus “Here Comes the Bride” (Wagner)

2. Canon in D (Pachelbel)

3. Trumpet Voluntary-Prince of Denmark (Clarke)

4. Trumpet Voluntary (Purcell)

5. Trumpet Tune (Purcell)

6. Trumpet Tune (Stanley)

7. Spring “Four Seasons” (Vivaldi)

* Recessional (traditional)

1. Wedding March (Mendelssohn)

2. Trumpet Voluntary-Prince of Denmark (Clarke)

3. Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

4. Hornpipe-Water Music (Handel)

5. Rondeau (Mouret)

6. Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel)

7. Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)

* For expanded wedding ceremony song lists, check out a copy of Mobile Beat’s January 2011 issue (#133). Subscribe today to receive a hard copy magazine 7 times a year, plus instant access to online issues!

Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (34 Posts)

Filed Under: 2011, Mobile DJ Performance Tips, Playlists, Songs & Music Charts