Wedding Day Helpers

Bout pinning Autumn Light PhotographyWhile we are there to make sure your wedding party and family don’t have to work on the wedding day, there are some traditional roles they must fill.  Here are some things your wedding party and family might need to know they are expected to do:

Maid/Matron of Honor

  • Holds the grooms wedding ring and the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony, and arranges bride’s train at alter
  • Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate (if required in your state/county)
  • Helps the bride during reception
  • Helps the bride change into her going-away clothes and takes care of bride’s wedding attire after the reception
  • Troubleshoot emotional crisis

Best Man

  • Makes sure that the groom’s wedding-related payments are prepared and delivers them (if not done by the wedding planner)
  • Sees that the groomsmen and ushers are properly groomed and attired and arrive on time
  • Instructs the ushers in the correct seating of guests (if not done by the wedding planner)
  • Keeps the bride’s wedding ring and hands it to the groom during the ceremony
  • Witnesses the signing of the marriage certificate (if required in your state/county)
  • Drives the bride and groom to reception if there is no hired driver; has a car ready for the couple to leave after the reception and drives them to their next destination if needed
  • Offers the first toast to the bride and groom at the reception
  • Gathers and takes care of the grooms wedding clothes and returns rental items
  • Dance with the maid of honor and the bride during wedding party dances


  • Give the maid/matron of honor a break when needed and help hold the bride’s dress
  • Hit the dance floor when the music kicks in, and dance with the groomsmen in the first formal dance sequence
  • Supervises the children in the wedding party during the ceremony if asked
  • Assists the bride at the reception as requested
  • Participates in activities such as the receiving line and bouquet toss


  • Dance with the bridesmaids at the reception
  • Help guests who need directions to the reception site

Mother of the Bride

  • Sit at the parents table if there is one
  • Dance with the father of the bride and the groom during the first formal dance sequence
  • Remind the bride how special she is (we love this one!)

Father of the Bride

  • Walk your daughter down the aisle
  • Father-daughter dance
  • Give a wedding toast and/or welcome
  • Final wedding payments
  • Be a good host

Mother of the Groom

  • Mother-son dance

Father of the Groom

  • Dance with the bride at some point during the reception

House Party

  • Man the guest book
  • Hand out favors or programs


  • Escort guests to their seat prior to ceremony
  • Roll out the isle runner if there is one
  • Act as general guest guides
  • Greet guests warmly and with manners

Traditional Duties for Wedding Party and Family

BM Dresses - Autumn Light PhotographyWe hear from couples, wedding party and even family asking, what are we supposed to do?  So, here are some traditional roles/duties for some key players in the wedding to help out the couple in preparation for their big day:

Maid/Matron of Honor

  • helps the bride select the bridesmaid’s attire and the bride’s dress
  • helps communicate details to the bridesmaids and works with them to coordinate any bridal showers or bachelorette party, as well as coordinate bridesmaids’ gift to the bride (if given)
  • helps address save the dates, invitations and write escort or place cards as needed
  • keeps record of gifts given at showers and parties

Best Man

  • organizes the bachelor party
  • helps communicate details to the groomsmen, including helping them with their attire, and coordinates groommens’ gift to the groom (if given)


  • offer to help with pre-wedding tasks as needed
  • help scout out bridesmaid attire and pay for entire ensemble (unless bride’s family offers)
  • help plan and pay for bridal shower and bachelorette party


  • attend all pre-wedding festivities
  • pay for wedding day attire (making sure to order in a timely fashion)
  • help the Best Man plan the bachelor party

Mother of the Bride

  • be a sounding board
  • help the bride select ceremony and reception sites
  • help the bride choose her wedding dress
  • be a pre-wedding ambassador sharing information on showers and where the couple is registered
  • share local knowledge and be welcoming to the groom’s parents
  • compile names and addresses of your family and friends to be included in the master guest list
  • talk to the grooms family about who they want to add to the guest list
  • help research family or ethnic traditions to incorporate into the ceremony
  • determine what the bride wants you to wear on the big day, and coordinate with the mother of the groom
  • attend the bridal shower

Mother of the Groom

  • when the engagement is announced, call the bride’s parents as soon as possible and express your excitement
  • host a dinner to introduce the bride to the groom’s family if necessary
  • be aware of expenses typically covered by the groom’s side and offer financial assistance to the groom if appropriate
  • choose your dress, try to coordinate with the brides mother
  • get to know your son’s fiancée
  • prepare your guest list
  • offer to help scout out ceremony and reception locations, or offer recommendations for florist, caterers, and other vendors
  • attend bridal shower and buy a gift
  • spread the word to your side of the family on where the couple is registered
  • keep track of your lists RSVP’s and offer to make last minute calls for responses on your side of the family
  • plan and host the rehearsal dinner

We hope this helps clarify some of the roles!  Next up, we’ll review duties for the wedding day.

photo provided by Autumn Light Photography

Working with an iPod

Dance floor Miranda Marrs Photography

Photo by Miranda Marrs Photography

Using an iPod for your reception?  We see many couples contemplating this option during the planning stages, either as a money-saving idea or because they have capital-O Opinions about music and what should play when.  There are some definite plusses and minuses to this strategy, but there are a lot of factors to consider!

1. Start Early

Don’t wait until the week of the wedding to sit down and slam a list together.  Give yourself and your partner enough time to disagree and reassess and create backups.  Start with music you already own, and work from there to fill in the holes.  Also, we suggest creating different playlists for the different portions of your reception – pre-ceremony, processional, recessional, cocktail/dinner hour, special dances, and dance party.

2. Amplification

Make sure your venue has speakers that work with your device! Additionally, if you’ll be using an emcee or using the venue’s sound system for your ceremony, make sure you have microphones.  Be sure there is a second microphone, in case the primary one fails.

3. Mix It Up

Play music people know!  Also, include a mix of songs from different generations, so as to appeal to the cross-section of your guests.  When you’re putting your songs in order, think about your flow for the evening. Build your dance floor up, then drop it down for a couple of songs, then up, down, and crescendo.  This will keep your guests from tuning out the music when it all starts to sound too similar.

4. Technical Bits and Pieces

Cross-fade your songs.  Blank air time makes people sit down.  You want your songs to flow one into another, so that those blank spaces go away! Also, backups.  Definitely bring a backup device, power cords, etc., just in case someone tips a drink on your laptop or steps on your iPod.  Finally, whoever is running your music will be forever grateful if the wedding day playlists are the *only* playlists available to them.

5. To Emcee or Not to Emcee?

When we have couples doing their own music, we really, strongly suggest that they appoint a family member or a friend as the emcee for the event.  Just having someone on a microphone explaining what’s happening will keep your reception moving on track.  Give that person an agenda and a script that they can customize to make their own.  The script may seem superfluous to you, but there’s a world of difference between “Announce the cake cutting” and “We’re going to take a short break from the dancing to watch Billy and Sue cut their cake!  Please direct your attention towards the stage, and let’s see if Sue plays nice or smears frosting in Billy’s hair.”

6. Using Streaming Providers

If you’re thinking of using Spotify or another streaming provider, be sure to take precautions, as beautifully summed up on this blog from A Practical Wedding.

Working with a Band

Band Mary Fields Photography

Photo by Mary Fields Photography

Using a band for your reception?  Should be awesome!  Bands are a wonderful way to get all of your guests on the dance floor as well as reflecting your taste in music.  Here are some key ideas to consider when you’re hiring a band or working with one to create a plan for your reception!

1. Their Playlist Should Match Yours

The first thing you need to consider when choosing a band is the style of music.  If you love Motown, choose a band that has a lot of Motown on their list!  If you dig the Sinatra era, there’s nothing better than a full band with brass to bring that distinctive sound to your dance floor.  Be careful to select a band that does what you love, though – asking a great Motown band to play Sinatra all night makes the band unhappy and ultimately leads to a less fabulous party.

2. Equipment and Lighting

Bands need a lot of space, so be sure your venue has enough room for your guest tables and a dance floor plus a stage.  During the hiring process, you should check with your band on whether or not they need a stage and what the dimensions are for their set up.  Bands mostly have dance lights, but not so much the specialty lighting you might find through a DJ.  Definitely ask up front if their set up includes lights, if that’s something you want!

3. Set Lists

While you don’t want to dictate every song for your band to play during the evening, be sure to go through their materials and highlight for the band any must play or do not play songs.  Also, feel free to ask your band for set lists a few weeks prior to your wedding.  That’ll give you an idea of how their transitions will go, and if they’re hitting the right blend of fast and slow for you.  Finally, be sure to give the band any songs they might need to learn for special dances (first dance, father-daughter, etc.) well in advance of the wedding.  That way, they have time to learn them and practice together prior to your wedding!

4. Breaks and Filler Music

Bands tend to have very specific time periods that they like to play, and it’s going to differ from band to band.  Band breaks may have a large impact on your agenda for the evening, so it’s worth knowing when you hire whether they prefer certain set lengths, a particular number of breaks, dinner at a certain time, etc.  That will help you decide when to cut your cake and when to keep the attention focused on the dance floor.  Many bands will specify that they include a DJ to play during band breaks.  Do a little digging to see if this is really an emcee and DJ that will be present, or just a playlist of recorded music that will play in the background while the band disappears.  If your budget allows for it, hiring a DJ to act as emcee and keep the dance floor hopping during band breaks is a wonderful investment.

Working with a DJ

DJ Enzo Flashbox Photography

Photo by Flashbox Photography

Using a DJ for your reception?  Excellent choice!  DJs offer you a level of flexibility that is unmatched by bands, plus a great emcee for the evening.  Here are some key ideas to consider when you’re hiring a DJ or working with one to create a plan for your reception!

1. You Get What You Pay For

DJs, especially, are a vendor where we see a lot of brides hitting the low budget panic button in an effort to save a little money.  If you’re at the beginning of your process, consider the following: your DJ is the single most important vendor when it comes to keeping your guests happy.  The mood of your reception, the tenor of your dance party, and the attention of your guests is all dependent on having a strong emcee who can read the dance floor and give the people what they want.  Also, a professional firm will have redundancies – a back up DJ in case yours is ill, extra equipment in case there’s a problem on the wedding day, and experienced support if needed.

2. Equipment

Don’t be surprised if there is an additional charge if you are having your DJ do the sound for your ceremony as well.  To a great DJ, this means a second sound system, additional microphones for your officiant, readers, etc., and potentially stressful timing if there’s no coordinator to assist with your entrance.

3. Lighting

DJs have lighting!  This is a super find for you, because it can minimize the number of vendors on your list.  If you’re looking for colored uplighting or a monogram on your dance floor, your DJ can probably provide it.  Larger, more established companies may have additional lighting options as well.

4. Make Your List and Check It Twice

It’s always helpful for a DJ to have a must play and/or a do not play list.  If you can keep these fairly concise, that will give your DJ room to fill in with songs that will pull your guests out onto the dance floor.  Even a short list of favorite songs from you and your partner will help your DJ pull together awesome playlists that reflect your taste.

5. Choosing the Highlights

Be sure to choose your special songs in advance, so that your DJ can have them all ready to go!  At a minimum, you’ll need to choose songs for your first dance, any dances with parents (father-daughter, mother-son), and your private last dance, if you have one.  Everything else – if you trust your DJ, leave those songs up to his/her discretion.

6. Friendor DJs

Your friend may know how to rock the dance floor at a club, and you may love his or her musical taste – but your friend is not a professional wedding DJ.  There’s a lot more to a great wedding DJ than keeping the dance floor packed all night.  Most importantly, an experienced wedding DJ can smoothly ferry your guests from event to event through well timed and precise announcements, then crank up the party when the time is right.  Plus, then your friend gets to enjoy your wedding rather than working!

Making Music at the Reception

Feagin Hayden wedding Ben Q Photography 570

Photo Courtesy of Ben Q Photography

You made it to the reception! Yes! And now, of course, it’s time to party. Whether your vision for your reception involves a genteel meet and greet or a rocking’ dance floor, music will set the tone for your guests and an emcee will keep them pointed in the right direction. When it comes to reception music, we see couples choosing from one of the following three options (or maybe mixing them up!): a live band, a DJ, or an iPod.  We’ll talk about each of these options in detail in posts later on this month, but here’s a quick overview!

Bands are a *fantastic* way to create a fun party for your guests. Nothing gets people dancing like live music. There are so many styles available, too, that you can absolutely pick something that appeals to you and your sweetie! Whether it’s a three piece country band or a cover band with its own horn section, a band can bring a special flair to your reception.

If a band is outside of your budget, there are some amazing DJ options out there as well! One advantage of a DJ over a band is that a great DJ can read the crowd well and change the music up a bit if he or she isn’t getting your crowd on their feet. Additionally, DJs generally have a lot more experience as emcees, which can make your reception flow more smoothly from a guest perspective.

Sometimes music just isn’t a priority, and in that situation, we see people turn to technology. Using an iPod to provide music for your reception is definitely possible. There are some great apps out now that allow you to manage your playlist on the fly, or give guests the ability to add to a playlist with special requests. We always suggest supplementing an iPod with an emcee, whether it’s a professional or a volunteer from your family and friends.

Stay tuned for more discussion on different music options and how best to navigate planning your reception music!

Vendor Spotlight: Dallas Wedding Music

Andre headshotAndre de los Santos is one of our favorite resources for putting together a string or other ensemble for anything wedding.  He is the owner of Dallas Wedding Music and Bollywood Strings and has been in business since 2010.  Since Andre has been a feature at many of our weddings, we wanted to feature him on the blog.  We hope you enjoy what he had to say!

When and how did you get into the wedding industry?

After working in an opera orchestra and a musical theatre, I decided I needed a change and wanted to play music on my own terms. I moved back to Dallas to be closer to my family in 2009 and opened Dallas Wedding Music in 2010.

Tell us about your favorite type of client.

I love my creative clients. I have performed bridal processionals ranging from Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov, The Cure, Elvis Presley to A.R. Rahman. I enjoy brainstorming with my brides and grooms how we can incorporate music that is sentimental to their relationship and tie those memories into the ceremony.
 DWS Ceremony Shot

What makes you different at what you do?

I always try to think outside of the box. In addition to ceremonies, the string quartet has performed live first dances, cocktail hours (with and without drums) and reception programs.

DWS Fun ShotWhat do you love most about weddings?

I love the feeling of being a part of a production. All of the bride and groom’s planning, visions and ideas come together in one day. The start of the wedding ceremony reminds me of opening night at the opera.
You can find out more about Andre at and see videos at  You can reach him at or 214-729-2177.

Photos provided by Greg Blomberg Photography and Flashbox Photography.

Vendor Spotlight: Cindy Horstman

Whether your ceremony is inside or outside, a harp is a lovely choice for ceremony music. It provides a different sound than strings, but can offer wonderful interpretations of both classical and alternative pieces. One of our favorite harpists in DFW is the fabulous Cindy Horstman, and we’re so glad she took a few minutes to chat with us on her music and her business! Read on!

Harpist ceremony music Bella Donna Chapel

When and how did you get into the wedding industry?

I got into the wedding industry while I was in college in the late 70s. I’ve been in business as a freelance musician for 37 years. I am based in the Dallas area and invite my clients to come hear me playa public performances, which is a great way to decide if you like a musician! Or I will record and send [clients] mp3s of possible songs for their wedding. I can create arrangements for the harp out of almost any piece of music.

2Tone Harp and Bass ceremony music
What makes you different at what you do?

One thing that sets me apart is that I play an electric harp. It sounds like a traditional harp, but the tone is better and stronger for outdoor ceremonies. In addition to playing solo, I am a member of a harp and bass duo called 2tone, with Michael Medina on bass. For weddings and receptions, we create out own arrangements that have a contemporary, jazzy feel and the response from brides and their guests is very positive! I think clients hire me because I try my best to respond promptly and professionally to their requests and because me arrangements sound unique. The best compliments I receive are from happy brides that say that I made their wedding very special – I want to help make it special for them because it is their day!

Harpist ceremony music

Do you have a funny story about a previous event?

One funny story was from a wedding at the Arboretum, in Mimi’s Garden. The guests were seated on the lawn and for some reason, the timing of the sprinkler system was not right. When the bridesmaids were walking up the aisle, the sprinklers behind the guests came on! The coordinator turned them off quickly, but when the bride was halfway down the aisle the sprinklers came on again under her and all the guests! They were quickly shut off and the ceremony proceeded. The wedding was covered in the Dallas Morning News, and the bride’s father was quoted as saying, “I guess in every marriage a little rain must fall!”

Cindy Horstman Harpist ceremony music

You can hear some samples of Cindy’s music on her website. She is available by email at or by phone at 214.207.9494.

All images courtesy of Cindy Horstman

Alternative Ceremony Selections

Wedding Bagpiper Bella Bee Photography

Photo courtesy of Bella Bee Photography

News flash – not everyone out there is a big fan of Pachelbel (gasp!). And you know what? It’s totally fine if classical music is not what you see for your ceremony! The ceremony is truly the part of the big day that should best reflect you and your partner, because it will make that moment of saying, “I do” all the more authentic for you, your family, and your guests. So what are some ways you can branch out, musically speaking?

Choose a Different Instrument

Sometimes, the same song played by an electric violin or a saxophone instead of your traditional organ or string quartet can give you exactly the vibe you want for your ceremony. This is also a great way to give a more unique sound to your church ceremony – generally, your song choices will be regulated, but the instrument itself is a little more flexible. Bagpipes sound amazing in a cathedral, and provide a unique exit for the wedding party and guests.

Find Some Songs That Are More You

Pop, rock, jazz, country… What best reflects you? If you’re using a DJ or recorded music for the ceremony, the sky is the limit on choosing your processional and recessional songs. Some couples go traditional for everyone walking in, then set the tone for the reception with a fun exit song. Some couples toss all the traditional songs out the window and go for a more modern selection. Here are some popular recorded songs we’ve seen used in the last year or so that we’ve loved:

– A Thousand Years, Christina Perri

– God Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flatts

– Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Stevie Wonder

– I Do, Colbie Caillat

– La Vie en Rose, Louis Armstrong

– Make You Feel My Love, Adele

You can also check out these more extensive lists from Paper Heart Photos and Bouquet Sound, as well as A Practical Wedding‘s list of hip ceremony music.

Tap Into Cultural Traditions

Are you doing something during the ceremony that involves a cultural tradition – for example, a Celtic hand-fasting or a Navajo blessing? Weave your ceremony together by using music that honors that region or culture for the processional and recessional. Need a little inspiration on what to bring into your ceremony?  Check out the articles here and here from The Knot.

Vendor Spotlight: Nick DiGennaro Music

Ahhh, live music… Is there anything quite like what live music can do for an event? Everything seems a bit more now, and present. The versatile Nick DiGennaro, of Nick DiGennaro Music, agreed to answer our spotlight questions, so read on to see what this guitarist and general Lover of Music has to say!

nick digennaro,guitarist,jazz trio,classical trio,duo,solo

photo credit: Nick DiGennaro

How long have you been in the wedding industry?
My focus shifted to solo guitar, jazz and classical, about twenty five years ago as well as with a very acoustic sounding duo and jazz trio.

What are your favorite wedding trends right now?
My weddings this year seem to favor classical music and pieces that have withstood the test of time rather than music or a song that happens to be in favor right now. In that first group, I would put the Beatles music, some of which is fifty years old! I hope this is the trend. I wouldn’t want couples years from now watching the video and wincing at their song selection!

helmutt walker,nick digennaro,guitarist,ceremony music

What do you love most about music for weddings, specifically?
I love to play classical and Renaissance music when the guests are arriving for the ceremony. Along with the décor, it creates the atmosphere of the beautiful and significant event that it is and I believe contributes to the lasting impact felt by bride and groom as well as the guests.

What makes you unique from other musicians?
When an inquiry comes to me about a wedding, most of the time the bride is asking only about the ceremony. The fact that I also play solo jazz guitar (and duo and trio) does tend to make what I do unique. I explain for a small additional fee, I will go on and play the cocktail hour with jazz guitar which has a very different sound and feel so the music evolves along with the day. Then, the band or DJ can kick in when the bride and groom are announced. I have many brides choosing this when this option is presented to them.

ivey photography,nick digennaro,solo guitar,jazz guitar

Tell us about your most memorable and fun event/client experience.
Wow, that’s a tough one so I might go with the wedding we just did this past Saturday! Mike McCandless with Soundmasters DJ referred me to his bride’s father so the inquiry was about guitar and strings but he settled on solo guitar. He was handling everything even when I suggested that I could talk to the bride. Well, feeling that the violin was her request, I got him to add it and it sounded fantastic playing at the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney with such wonderful acoustics. The guests were so complimentary. We played the cocktail hour with the jazz trio at Stonebridge Country Club so being able to do the ceremony with the violin and the jazz trio for cocktails before Mike McCandless took over was just about as good as it gets!

Tell us one thing we might not otherwise know about your company.
I often see musicians (and DJ’s) that seem not to be able to recognize what the function is of their piece of the event-puzzle. I keep my focus on the client. I like the little byline that I came up with: “Our music features you!”

Do you have any special discounts or offers for Nick DiGennaro Music at this time that our blog readers should know about?
I can’t do much if it’s just solo guitar for the hour but for the Jazz Trio during the cocktail hour, I will take off 10% if this blog is mentioned.

sil azevedo,nick digennaro,jazz trio,ceremony music,cocktail hour

photo credit: Sil Azevedo Photography

Thank you very much to Nick! Follow this link to his blog, and listen to his samples online. You will not regret it!