Well you can! I certainly did. But before you get too excited, here are some things to consider when choosing the music for your wedding ceremony.
Firstly, what type of ceremony will it be? A garden ceremony? A church ceremony? A ceremony at your reception? Each of these venues will have its own limitations and advantages. Let's take a look one by one.
While you'll generally have plenty of room if the ceremony takes place in a public park or garden, things like acoustics make work against you. For instance, the direction of the wind blowing may cause the string quartet not to be heard clearly by the congregation. If an instrument is being played acoustically, that is without amplification, it is always best if there are walls and a roof surrounding it. The reason is that sound bounces off walls and surfaces. The size and height of the walls and roofs will always affect the sound. An acoustic performance outside has nothing to contain it therefore sound escapes quickly.
Another consideration with garden ceremonies is that there may be a lack of power source. If you are considering using music on a CD player, you may need a very long extension lead. Common sense, I know, however, it is amazing how these little details get overlooked.
The size of the church, the denomination, and the physical space at the altar, will certainly have an effect on the type of music that you will eventually have played at your ceremony. Some churches do not allow popular music and are only limited to hymns and classical music. You'll need to check this with your church. Some churches have their own choir, and consequently may have room behind the altar for a performance group. Alternatively, there may be some room at the side of the altar or at the front of it. Once you've checked with the church how much room is available, you will then be able to work out what ensemble types and sizes are available for you. Generally speaking, a string trio can fit into at 2m x 2m (9ft x 9ft) area. Keep in mind, you will also need to provide chairs for the performance group and sometimes even music stands.
A lot of churches have their own organ, and usually an organist can be booked through the church. If you decide to go down this path, obviously, you won't be choosing the latest Celine Dion song to be performed. The instrumentation of your ensemble will largely dictate the type of music that will be available for you. As a rule, if you are going to have classical music or hymns, stick to a classical type ensemble. Examples of this are string ensembles, woodwind ensembles, brass ensembles, choirs, classical guitarists, classical harpist, organists and opera singers. You could even organize a large orchestra, if there is room and of course a budget.
If you want modern music performed at your ceremony, you may want to book a contemporary male or female vocalist along with a keyboard player, guitarist or small ensemble. Some vocalists can perform with backing tracks and this can prove quite economical. Of course the other alternative for both classical music and modern music is the CD player. The challenge with the CD player option, especially if the CD player is in a back room of the church or somewhere not in direct viewing line of the altar, is the timing of entry of the music cue. Even if the CD player is close by, I implored you to choose a CD operator who is alert and on the ball. It would not look good if the music starts while the priest or vicar is still speaking. Worse still, everyone may be sitting waiting for the music to start. Something as simple as hitting a play button can make some people nervous in this situation. You need to choose someone who can handle a bit of pressure and is perhaps is a bit technical. In this situation, it is better to be safe. You'll only get one chance to get it right.
CEREMONIES AT THE RECEPTION
For some couples, it is convenient to have the ceremony just before the Reception. This eliminates another venue to organize and make things simpler. Again, you'll have all of the music choices that you would at a church, along with the CD player option.
An advantage here maybe that the entertainment you book for the wedding reception, ie the band, maybe able to perform during the ceremony as well. You may only need to book one group for both the ceremony and the reception. This will certainly save you some money. Alternatively, any classical type ensemble is able to be booked and perform the reception for an hour and perform before, during and after your ceremony.