Five Lessons For Wedding Singers

By Ron Stauffer on March 3, 2013


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I'm not a professional singer by any means. I've never done a paid gig before and I've never sold a single record. However, singing is a passion of mine, and I've sung for audiences many times. Sometimes this has been in a chorale, sometimes it's been as part of a play or musical production, and sometimes I've sung alone.

Though singing for an audience is a very similar experience no matter the format or venue, there's one kind of singing that is different in my experience than others: singing at weddings.

When I first met the woman who is now my wife, I was thrilled to learn that she was also a singer, and that she had a beautiful and confident voice. I was even happier to learn that she and I sing well together. Before we were married, we started singing together informally and have since sung together at a few weddings.

Over the years, I’ve learned some of the nuance of singing at weddings through experience, so I've written down a short list of just some of the lessons I've learned. I hope you find them helpful.

Lesson #1: Weddings can be more emotional than other performances.

While it’s obvious you should practice your song over and over ahead of time, one thing that practicing may not prepare you for is the sheer emotion you may feel while onstage, especially if you’re at the wedding of a dear friend or family member. It can be hard not to let your emotions affect your performance. A few years ago, my wife and I sang at my sister’s wedding, and our two daughters were the flower girls. They were so beautiful walking down the aisle in their dresses, and tossing their flower petals on this day which was so special, that I was nearly moved to tears taking it all in—all while trying to sing! Singing with a frog in your throat and holding back tears is very difficult and can make your voice suffer. If you’re going to sing at a wedding, try to at least be prepared for the the emotional impact and try to sing through it.

Lesson #2: Singing at your own wedding might not be a good idea.

If you’re the type that gets emotional or has performance anxiety, trying to sing at your own wedding may just be adding one more thing to stress over and worry about. Also, missing one of your lines because you’re distracted can change your wedding song from being something special and tender, into an embarrassing moment that you'll remember for many years.

My wife and I had planned on singing at our own wedding, but she (wisely) decided as the date drew near that we should instead record our song ahead of time and play it during the ceremony. This was a brilliant idea! On our wedding day, the sound tech just hit "play" on the song we had pre-recorded at a professional studio a few weeks before, so the final product sounded perfect, and we didn’t have to worry about remembering our lines. We just held each other close and listened to our song while a slideshow of our lives played on a big screen. This was SO much more relaxing! I’m glad we decided not to do a live performance at our wedding.

Lesson #3: Your song is an integral part of the timing of the ceremony.

During one wedding we sang at, we sang right before the bride walked down the aisle, so it was crucial for us to coordinate with the sound crew to make sure the song started exactly on time and ended on time. I’m pleased to say everything went off without a hitch, but I'm sure this was only because we had practiced very carefully for several hours during the wedding rehearsal, working through the kinks, starting and stopping, looking for the queues from the sound tech, until the timing was perfect.

Lesson #4: Prepare to make sure your throat doesn’t dry out!

I know this is always good advice no matter where you’re singing, but oftentimes preparing for a wedding is so hectic and disorienting that on the actual wedding day it’s easy to forget little things like preventing dry mouth. To prepare for this at one wedding, I placed a little cup of water in a hidden location where nobody would see it, right next to our microphone so I could take a sip before singing. I'm so glad I remembered to do this! (Note: I’ve since spoken to a vocal coach who has recommended a product called Singers Saving Grace, which is a throat-spray you can use instead. I’m sure I’ll use this in the future, but I didn’t know about it before.)

Lesson #5: If you want a video, have a dedicated camera person!

At one of the weddings we sang at, we sang Josh Groban’s song "The Prayer," and I completely forgot to make sure it was videotaped. While there were several people in the audience who had their video cameras rolling during the ceremony, none of the people that we knew have footage of it and there’s no way to go back and try to find out who was taping when we sang. Still to this day, several years later, we’ve still never found a video of it. This made me sad because I really wanted to see it. And I felt like an idiot because I even had a camera AND a tripod, all ready to go! But because I didn’t assign one person as being the official video person, it simply didn’t happen. Lesson learned. These days, I always have a dedicated person assigned to man the video camera.

In all, I think you should sing at a wedding if you ever get the opportunity. It’s extremely flattering to be asked to do so, and if it all goes right, you will help contribute in a meaningful way to the people you love on their special day. They will be thankful and remember your song for the rest of their lives. Just make sure you’re prepared for this unique type of performance. Good luck!


Peter Trott, Coos Bay

Peter Trott Flag
over 6 years ago

Nice article. Lesson 2 is especially true...

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Sharon de Bruyn Flag
about 7 years ago

I enjoyed your article Ron, thanks for sharing.

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Peter Trott, Coos Bay

Peter Trott Flag
over 6 years ago

Lesson 2 is worth the price of admission.

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