I do a lot of liberal Jewish weddings , and it's almost always confusing for the couple choosing music to decided whether they should choose traditional music or modern/secular music for their ceremony. Here are some things to keep in mind if you find yourself in the same position.
When you choose the type of music you will have at your wedding and/or the band you will hire for the reception, it is important to consider that the main idea or 'mitzvah' of a Jewish wedding is to give the bride and groom great joy. The atmosphere of the wedding should make the happy newly married couple laugh and celebrate , along with the rest of the guests of course. One of the most essential ways in which this happens is through your selection of the music at your wedding reception!
In most Jewish weddings these days , the modern music is used as accompaniment to the meal or for dancing, but the hallmark of a Jewish wedding is the upbeat traditional Jewish music that accompanies the simcha dancing. The Hebrew word simcha means joy. This type of dancing is usually done in big circles, and even circles within circles, with the bride and groom always in the middle, sometimes being held up on chairs, or being taken by the hand joining one of the circles. Its always good to have a mix if you and your guests are varied in their ages , cultures and tastes.
After deciding together what types of music you plan to have at your wedding celebration, be sure that you ask the musicians you interview about their specific experiences with Jewish weddings. Maybe you can even ask to see a video or listen to a recording of a wedding that was similar to the one you plan to have. Ask for a list of songs that the band is familiar with. If you will have both Jewish simcha music and secular music, be sure they are adept at both and can switch easily from one type to another. Can they take requests?
Many Jewish wedding bands do a wide variety of different types of Jewish weddings and can easily handle not only Jewish music but also lots of typical non-Jewish wedding music. As you meet with potential musicians, try to paint a clear picture of the wedding you are planning and the ambiance you want.
If you have your heart set on a band that plays only Jewish or only secular music, consider using them and augmenting their selection with music from an iPod or CD player. Check with the band and venue beforehand to see if they will let you connect it to their sound system while they are on a break.
Most of all , think about the music YOU want...it's your wedding , and yours to enjoy first and foremost!
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