The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Wedding Music: PSA on a PSA.

Velvel writes:

The first dance set is the essence of your wedding. That's what counts. If you have to fight for one element, fight for this.

All your guests are there. Everyone still has all their energy. I'd recommend 55 minutes. Take no less than 45 minutes. Do not let the caterer, band or wedding coordinator try to make-up time at the expense of this set. Make sure the people in charge are clear on this. You are the king/queen. Make it happen.
I mostly agree with Velvel but I offer some 'aitzas' and a slightly different perspective (that, once again, could have something to do with our different locations). I also think that the second set can be as equally as important as the first for reasons I will explain.

1. The music is key. In fact, the music is the only really important element of the whole wedding. People will not remember the flowers or the color scheme or whether they had chicken or fish for the main, but they will remember the dancing. So, you have to get the music right. Just as you would spend time with the caterer or the florist with specific instructions, so should you spend time with the band leader. Beat him up till he hears what you are saying.

2. The first set, for the reasons Velvel mentions, is key. So:

A. Take Chosson - Kallah pictures (except for the touching pictures, of course) before the Chupah. There is no halachic basis for not doing so and its a huge tircha to make your olam wait an hour and more after the chupah.

B. Make sure the badekin starts on time and that you have someone herding the people into the chupah quickly thereafter. In order to do this you need to make sure someone is in charge of keeping tabs on the aidim and the mothers.

C. Talk to the caterer before the wedding at least 20 times to remind him that the first set has to go at least 45 to 55 minutes. 30 times is better. Ditch the middle course if necessary. It's all about the music.

3. Don't underestimate the second set. While Velvel is correct that everyone is there and energized for the first set, the people you really want stick around for the second set and the dance floor is much less crowded. This is particularly important at mega NY weddings that have upwards of 600 people. The dance floor gets ridiculously crowded during the first set and only opens up during the second set. Second sets can be much wilder than first sets.

4. Finally, if done properly and with thought and preparation, the music at the chupah can be the deepest and can change the whole nature of the wedding. Caveats: A. If you are having a friend or relative sing under the chupah, make sure he can hold a tune and that the band is playing the same key as he is singing, and B. Don't write your own music. Sorry to break it to you but you're not as good as Reb Shlomo.


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