You might know the deal. You’re at a wedding reception and an A4 sheet of paper is unceremoniously thrust into your hand. Ahhhhh … Auntie Pauline has taken it upon herself to re-write the words to ‘Your Song’ and you can only stand as witness as she very sweetly and very brutally murders one of the best love songs of all time. But, what if you wanted to offer the happy couple something even more unique? Something even more personal? Here, Guestblogger and singer-songwriter Kevin shares his tips for crafting a tailor-made wedding song.
- Wedding Song Ideas
- Thinking Up a Title
- The Essential Wedding Song ‘Hook’
- Figure Out Your Chorus
- Time for the Verse!
- Prepare Yourself
- Give the Best Gift: A Personal Wedding Song
- See Also…
Wedding Song Ideas
Making a start is always the hardest part. Where can you get the idea that you can base your song on? Maybe you’ve already got lucky and a nugget of an idea popped into your head on the way to the shop. If not, you’re going to need to pin down your starting point. But, if you’re suffering from a touch of dreaded writer’s block, here’s a simple tip: get your pen and notebook, grab the egg timer from the kitchen and sit at a table. Set the timer to go off in 30 minutes and in that time, write down anything (yes, anything) and everything that pops into your head when you think of the couple in question. Don’t worry if anything that you write down is imperfect, in fact, ignore the inner-critic and simply jot down any fragments, words, memories that spring to mind. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not, it doesn’t matter if the thoughts have nothing to do with one another. This is about killing the editer and opening up that creativity a little bit. Oh, and don’t touch your piano, guitar, violin, kazoo, or maracas just yet. The music can wait for later. 🙂
Thinking Up a Title
After an intense 30 minutes, you should have a nice bunch of words to start working with. At this point, I always grab a thick marker and start looking for the bits that kind of match each other. Can you spot something that keeps coming up? What words already fit nicely together, and do these sum up the core of the couple you want to write about? I bet that there’s already a word or sentence that already jumps out at you – that you’re already falling in love with, just a little bit. It’s this magic little fragment that I recommend using as the title for your wedding song. The title is what will form the backbone of the song and will provide the guide and pivot point that will stop you from straying too far away from what you want to say.
The Essential Wedding Song ‘Hook’
Now you have a title, it’s time to match it up with a catchy melody. This ‘hook’ needs to be catchy enough to turn the heads of every wedding guest. Since this is about the melody and not the accompaniment, try to resist picking up your preferred instrument to write it. Take a walk around the room and sing to yourself – do it shamelessly and don’t worry about what comes out. After a while, 9 times out of 10, you’ll hit on an awesome melody, and you have your hook! So you don’t lose all your hard work, make sure to make a rough recording of the tune on your phone or laptop.
Figure Out Your Chorus
With a fresh hook down, you can now write the rest of the chorus. Your chorus will get repeated a few times during the song and is insanely important. Therefore, make sure that the melody feels good and works alongside your hook. When it comes to the lyrics of the chorus, you don’t need to get too detailed since you’ll have the opportunity to share an anecdote during the verses. Stick to the core of the song and keep it short and powerful. As soon as you’re satisfied with the melody of your chorus, pick up your guitar or sit at your piano and start figuring out which chords will work. If you don’t play an instrument, then call on the help of a musical family member or friend who can also play with you at the performance.
Time for the Verse
With the chorus on paper, it’s finally time to tackle your verses. Here, you can add much more detail. Try to describe what the couple have been through together – maybe tell the story of how they first met, explain what they find so special about one another or what they got up to on holiday. You could also write about a more difficult time that they helped each other through. Just make sure not to get too heavy, this is for a party after all.
Ok, so the song has been put together. You have your lyrics, the music has been composed, and you even have an awesome bridge. Well done! Now you need to learn that song inside and out. Since you’re going to be performing the song for the entire wedding party, you’re going to need to know it by heart – almost without thinking. If you’re not used to peforming in front of anyone, this might make you pretty nervous. Maybe you’re convinced that you’ll forget the words or miss a chord. The only way to counter this is to practice and practice and practice again until you can play and sing that song on autopilot. If you’re playing it on a guitar, sit in front of the TV and watch your favourite film while you play the chords over and over again. Try to get to the point where you only need to glance at your hands and can easily follow the story of the film. Repeat the lyrics in your head or just sing them out loud while you do something like the washing up – and keep doing it until you have them completely memorised. Then put the two together and repeat until your wedding song starts visiting you in your dreams! Sometimes, I’ll practice a new song for maybe two weeks straight before I even think about performing it.
During the wedding, or in the days leading up to it, speak to the person in charge of the order of ceremony and figure out when you can perform your song. I find performing the song just after dinner is a good moment to make sure you get everyone’s full attention. Be careful when playing your song during the party after dinner since it might interrupt the set of the DJ or band and at that point, everyone is likely to have a few glasses of champagne inside them anyway, so they may not be so receptive to a quieter song. Another little tip: if you play the song outside, make sure you’re amplified. Any wind will mess with the sound so use something like a compact line array speaker to make sure you’re heard.
Give the Best Gift: A Personal Wedding Song
So, you’ve sung your tailor-made wedding song for the newly wedded couple, put tears in their eyes and inspired the admiration of all the other guests. It’s almost certain that later on in the evening, the couple will ask you where they can hear their song. If possible, it’s a good idea to make a simple acoustic recording of the song so that you can actually give a copy as a wedding gift. Using free programmes like Garageband, you can make a good recording. Make it complete by saving the song to a personalised USB stick and include a little note. You really can’t give a more personal gift! 🙂
And that’s it! If you’re planning to give the gift of song to a couple you know, then I hope that these few tips will help you out. Do you have some tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!
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