Friday, May 18, 2012

Cheap music for your wedding

Nearly $4,500 gets spent on music at the average wedding and reception. Have you considered a virtual DJ? According to the Real Weddings survey by, music for the average wedding costs $4,484. That's $503 for the ceremony and $3,981 for the reception.

A band and a DJ? That's one nonstop reception.

But there are alternatives for those whose budgets don't stretch that far or who would rather spend that kind of money somewhere else.

Start by asking what you and your intended want versus what you think weddings are supposed to have. Do you really need a vocalist at the ceremony? Does your reception need wall-to-wall dance tunes or just some nice background music?

The wedding singer?
For what it's worth, I've been to exactly one wedding with a featured vocalist -- and because it was the groom's sister, she didn't cost anything. No one appeared to suffer the lack of a diva at the other ceremonies I've attended.

Suppose you do want someone to sing "Oh Promise Me" and no one in your family wants to sing it? Talk with the church music director -- maybe a chorister freelances at weddings -- or contact the music department at an area college or high school.

Schools are a good bet for the ceremony music, too. Marjorie Asturias hired a couple of student violinists to play her wedding, paying $75 for processional and recessional music. That was the 2003 price, so expect to pay a little more these days. But it will still be affordable, and you'll help young artists defray college expenses.

My daughter used an iPod and borrowed speakers instead of a DJ or live musicians. She made her bridely entrance to Pachelbel's Canon in D, which seems to be replacing the traditional wedding march by Mendelssohn.

Virtual DJs
A live band can be great fun at the reception, but, as noted earlier, they're not cheap. The iPod played on at my daughter's reception -- music she and her husband enjoyed plus some tunes designed to appeal to a broader audience.

Lauren Rathvon used the "WeddingDJ" iPhone app for her January 2012 nuptials in Sarasota, Fla. The $4.99 app let her organize music for both the ceremony and the reception, including the option to fade the end of one song into the beginning of another, as a live DJ would -- "a nice touch," Rathvon says.

Using a virtual disc jockey was one of several ways Rathvon kept costs low, which meant the guest list could be long. Total expenditure for 113 people for a seven-hour event was $2,100, including outfits for the wedding couple.

Being creative let them have the wedding they wanted. Being frugal meant they didn't go into debt to achieve it. That's a song worth singing.

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