"Incredible ceremony musicians that are also a joy to work with? Sounds like music to our ears (literally)! The ladies of Luna Strings are masters at creating the perfect balance of traditonal and modern ceremony music for your big day. It was truly an honor getting to work with the Luna Strings team at The Big Fake Wedding Atlanta, and we’re thrilled to share more about them in today’s Vendor Highlight. Enjoy!
“Luna Strings takes the ceremony experience to the next level! They are fantastic at the traditional, but equally as good at the modern! I loved getting to work alongside Katerina and her team to create the perfect blend of old and new to meet the needs of any bride.” – The Big Fake Wedding Atlanta Team
1. Tell us a little bit about the story of Luna Strings.
Luna Strings started in 2008 when my cellist friend and I were still in graduate school. We looked at each other one day and said “Okay, so when we graduate… then what do we do..?” We both really liked playing together and decided to ask a violinist to start a chamber music ensemble with us. Putting ourselves out there for weddings was the next logical step—brides were always contacting our music school looking for wedding musicians and we just started responding to as many ads as we could! We picked the name Luna Strings because we wanted something that would reflect feminine energy while still sounding professional and cool. We had (and still have) a lot of pride in the fact that we are a business totally dreamed up and run by self-employed women. Eight years later, here we are, having played hundreds of weddings at this point. We’ve worked with entire families, different generations, young clients, older clients, played for vow renewals, bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, retirement parties, birthday parties… we have been there for so many important moments in so many people’s lives!
2. What is your favorite thing about music?
My favorite things about music would be enough to fill a book, I think! But specifically, my favorite thing about playing music for weddings is that it’s our chance to give a client that perfectly soundtracked “movie” moment. I think everybody sometimes has a score playing in their head, whether they recognize it or not, and everybody has some sort of association of music (a song, a melody, a sound effect) for some important moment in their life. Playing for an audience as special as a couple making a commitment to spend the rest of their lives together is huge because you get to take that indescribable feeling that they’re sharing and bring everyone else in to the moment to share the feeling in some small way. We get to give people the chance to feel like they’re in a movie for that moment, and while they might not remember what we played twenty or fifty years down the road, they will never forget the way it made them feel.
3. Describe a highlight or pivotal moment in your career.
A highlight for us as a group was the wedding we played backing up Edwin McCain last year! We had a client he was close friends with, so they asked him to come sing “I’ll Be” and “Walk With You” during their wedding ceremony. Being children of the 90s, we of course knew those songs and had actually played them for other ceremonies before, but it was a bit different to get his personal string parts from him, rehearse with him, and play those songs in a beautiful venue for a large and appreciative audience. It was a lot of fun!
4. Who or what inspires you?
We’re absolutely inspired by all other strong women in business, no matter the business. We’ve all had amazing teachers with incredible careers who have given us a lot to look up to! As far as me specifically, I’m inspired by my dad, who has a 45 year career as a self-employed Porsche mechanic and race car driver under his belt (and is still going strong.) My dad was the first one to teach me to just figure out what I wanted to do and then find someone to pay me for it. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, but nothing is as fulfilling as being a musician, waking up every day, and seeing where this work takes me.
5. What is your favorite part of The Big Fake Wedding experience?
We LOVED the ceremony itself at the Big Fake Wedding. It was a wonderful combination of being able to show your attendees what we could do and being able to honor Tinika and Ronnell at their 10-year vow renewal. The ceremony was really meaningful and poignant. We enjoyed using our creativity in a different way to pick music and craft a ceremony based on more abstract things like colors, fabrics, and the other categories on the inspiration board. Music can be just as important of a design element as things like flowers and lighting and it was really fun to get to explore that idea!
As a working musician who plays 30+ weddings every year, one of the questions I’m most often asked is “How do I pick music for my ceremony?” The biggest thing I want people to understand is that music is just as much a design element of your wedding as any other choice, from the linens to the flowers to the color selections to the venue itself. Music can work together with any of those things to create a mood and an atmosphere that will have all your guests feeling like they’ve just walked into a perfect movie moment. Here are some tips and tricks to get you thinking like a wedding music coordinator.
FIRST, do some thinking about the big choices you’ve already made. Where will your wedding be held? What time of day is it? What type of attire have you selected for your wedding party, and what would you like your guests to wear? If you are having a wedding at a religious venue, check with them about music. Many denominations actually have very specific rules about what is and is not appropriate to play within the constraints of a wedding ceremony. If they don’t, it’s still probably best to stick with more traditional selections. You could mix things up with a contemporary song as your recessional, but it’s really best to pick music that will match the grandeur and significance of your space and respect the traditions of the people who have come through the doors over the years. If you’re having your wedding in a secular venue, you’re pretty much wide open as far as the types of selections you can make, but it’s still nice to think about things like the time of year, time of day, and level of formality of the event. Your music should augment, not clash with, these choices. In other words, a black tie ceremony might not be the right time for the Foo Fighters. A summertime garden party, on the other hand? Anything goes!
THEN, start by thinking about what you definitely don’t want to hear. I realize that might sound negative, but when it comes to music, most people have much stronger opinions about what they don’t like than what they do! If your ceremony musicians can nix a few bands, composers, or a genre or two right off the bat, it actually really helps us narrow down and define what it is you might like.
WHEN YOU PICK YOUR MUSIC FOR YOUR CEREMONY, you’re basically going to need four selections, although there are a few variables that might mean that you need one or two more or less than that. Typically, most of our clients select a piece of music for the seating of any important family members (mothers and grandmothers is the standard but we’ve seen it all), another for the bridal party, a third for the bride, and a fourth for the recessional. Don’t worry about the length of these songs. We can make anything as long or as short as you’ll need it. What you want to think is “slow-faster-big-happy.”
SLOW-FASTER-BIG-HAPPY: After the prelude, we want to play something that’s going to be a contrast to what we’ve been doing so that your guests know that we’re going to get started with the wedding. Since we’ve likely been playing lighter selections until that moment, a tempo change to SLOW things down is the easiest way to do that. For the family processional, you don’t want to pick anything that’s going to make someone feel that they’ve got to rush down the aisle, particularly if any elder members of your family will be processing. They should feel relaxed and elegant. Then, we can transition to something FASTER for your bridal party. Again, no one should feel frantic, but this is typically a more youthful bunch, so the contrast will work well with the demographic. More than any other selection, your bridal processional should be something that just feels BIG to you—whatever that is! It could be your favorite movie theme, a time-honored classical selection like the Wagner Bridal Chorus, or a famous love song. This is your moment. Relish it with whatever selection that will make you remember it forever. Your recessional should be something that feels HAPPY! Lilting, joyful, expressive, exuberant, loving, and celebratory are all good adjectives to consider here. Your recessional should get the party started!
I hope that helps! Thinking like this will get you on the right path in no time. If you still need some help, contact me for a quote on my consultation services, or to see if Luna Strings is available for your wedding—we’re pros at this kind of thing!
I do a ton of work with Atlanta-based string trio Luna Strings, of which I'm a founding member. The Atlanta wedding industry can seem imposingly complicated to many newly engaged couples just starting out with their wedding planning. Here's how to pick the group that's right for you! (hint: http://www.lunastrings.com)
1. The best ceremony musicians are just like the catchers on a baseball team.
When you’re hiring ceremony musicians for your wedding, trust me, you want someone who’s done this before. Timing a wedding right is HARD. Really hard. We have to judge, on the spot, how much music or how little music is needed, how loud or how soft to play, and we have to be ready to throw all those judgments out and revamp them in the next instant if we need to. It takes thorough musical knowledge and laser focus on what’s going on. And oh yeah—we usually can’t look at our music very much. So our goal with weddings is to be just like a catcher who’s just called a perfect game. Things should go so smoothly on our end that everyone forgets about us and focuses on the pitcher and the guy who hit the game-winning home run!
2. When picking musicians and music, think about who you and your fiancé are, not “what you think a ceremony should be.”
I mean this both ways—if who you are and what you want is a traditional ceremony with the musical accompaniment that’s been played for hundreds of years, that’s beautiful, and that’s what you should have. There’s a reason that those pieces are what folks have been getting married to just about as long as there have been weddings. Don’t feel pressured to choose something that isn’t you. However, if that ISN’T who you are or what you want; if your tastes run more towards opera, or folk music, or jazz, or that hit song that’s been all over the radio lately, or that indie band everyone’s been talking about… then the same thing holds true… don’t feel pressured to choose something that isn’t you! You should hire a group that can play what you want, and help you figure out what that is.
3. Your setting does play a factor for us.
I love playing weddings (I'm a wedding musician, after all!) but when your wedding is outdoors, there are some conditions that are harder to work in than others. Excessive heat or cold damages most instruments and the fingers of the people trying to play them. Level ground is vital for a harp, piano, or anything else you don’t want rolling away while you’re trying to play it. We’ll work with you and the venue as much as we can, and the solutions are often simple (usually a space heater, a fan, or some cover over us, and we’re good to go!) Just keep in mind—if the conditions will ruin your hairstyle, they probably will also mean that we won’t sound as good as we could, and we don’t want your music to be okay, we want it to be awesome.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask!
I know that while music may be something you’re passionate about (or maybe not, maybe you just really like the idea of live music at your wedding, and that’s OK too), chances are, it’s not something you have a lot of formal education in. We don’t mind. That’s where we come in! Unsure if a piece is too long (it’s not)? Too short (it’s not)? Don’t know a composer’s name or a band name or the name of a piece of music or a song? Just not even that sure where to begin? Ask us. We know the music world can be intimidating, and we love to help de-mystify it.
5. Don’t forget- this is the fun part!
I get plenty of late-night stressed out emails from clients that run something like this: “I don’t know whether to pick Song A or Song B! I don’t know how much music I’m going to need! I want Song C, but my parents will absolutely disown me unless I pick Song D…” My answer to all these people is simply this: don’t forget—this is the fun part. This is your chance to make your life sound like the movies. So hire ceremony musicians who can figure out all the tricky stuff, but then go with your gut… because at the end of the day, we understand that the deciding factor in choosing your ceremony music should be the way it makes YOU feel.