Nine Helpful Wedding Music Tips

Photo Courtesy of Kern Photo

Live music is the soundtrack for your wedding day and it beautifies and enhances the aural and visual atmosphere of your wedding. Chances are that hiring a musician isn’t something that you normally do and perhaps this is your first time. You may not know what questions to ask music professionals, or where to even begin. That’s why I wrote the following checklist as a great place to start.

Instruments:
Choose instruments that reflect your personality and style. What sound and visual appearance will help to bring your vision to life? Is your wedding more casual or is it classic? Is it romantic or a lively celebration? What instruments will sound best playing your song selections? To decide what ensemble best fits your event, share the answers to these questions with your music professional and he or she can help guide you. You can also listen to music samples of a variety of different ensembles online. I offer many different ensembles featuring the flute, strings, piano, harp, and guitar, and I also have music samples for each. One of my groups is sure to be a perfect fit for your style, and if for some reason I don’t have what you’re looking for, I will gladly make recommendations for other musicians using my connections in the music world.

Number of Musicians:
Consider the size of your space and the number of guests that will be attending your ceremony. In general, plan to have at minimum one musician per 50 guests. It’s also a good idea to hire more musicians, such as a quartet, for large outdoor spaces. A duo that includes an amplified harp, guitar or piano can also fill a space with sound as effectively as a quartet. More isn’t necessarily better however. For small weddings in an intimate space, an acoustic soloist or duo is a great choice. Also consider your budget. The number of musicians that you hire is usually the single most important factor in determining the price of your live music.

Repertoire and Song Selection:
Can your music professional play the songs and styles of music that you want? Do you want to honor any family or cultural traditions with your wedding music? If a song that you want to have played is not included in the musician’s repertoire, ask them if they take special requests and if there will be an arranging fee. Each of my ensembles has an extensive repertoire and I’m also a professional music arranger which means that I regularly make special music arrangements for my clients at a reasonable price.

Amplification:
Most instruments are very resonant and their sound carries quite well, even in outdoor spaces. For larger events or in settings with lots of ambient noise, make sure that your music professional can provide quality amplification if needed. Some wedding venues don’t allow amplification, so don’t rely on having it until you’ve inquired first. I have both a battery powered amplification system and a high quality plug-in amplification system that I regularly use for our performances when needed.

Hire Experienced Music Professionals:
Your music professional should be an experienced wedding musician who is able to guide you through the music selection process. They should know what questions to ask be and able to foresee potential problems so that the music on your wedding day will run smoothly, and they should always present themselves professionally. Make sure that they are well trained, regularly performing musicians who are able to give you confidence in their musical abilities. I have over twenty years of experience performing music for weddings and I’m also lucky to love running the other aspects of my business as well.

Know What Your Musicians Expect
Ask your music professional what their policy is for environmental conditions including rain, temperature extremes and requirements for shade. Often the venue or musicians will provide these items, sometimes for an additional cost. Ask in advance what they expect you to provide for them at the performance. Some instruments are extremely vulnerable to weather and sunlight and others are more hardy. I will play solo flute in adverse weather conditions but I don’t ask string players to join me! Most likely your guests won’t want to be outside if the weather conditions are bad either. I request natural or tent shade for stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello) during hot weather and sometimes, one armless chair for each musician.

Extra Costs:
When you’re hiring musicians to play for your wedding, be aware that there may be extra costs in addition to their basic fee. Make sure that you know what services are included in their basic fee, and what services are available at an extra cost. Extra costs can include fees for travel, musician tent rental, amplification, special music arrangements, additional microphones, and moving equipment between the ceremony and cocktail locations. I don’t like surprises and I’m sure that you don’t either, so my music quotes includes a list of the services that your quoted price covers, and also a list of optional add-ons and how much each one costs.

Consultation:
Ask your music professional if they will meet with you so that you can talk about your wedding with them in person and hear them play. I provide a complimentary consultation either before or after you book. Or, if you don’t have time to have a consultation, you can use my Wedding Music Planner.

Contract:
It is important to work with musicians who provides a contract so that expectations for both the musicians and client are clearly defined in advance. A contract also shows that the musicians are professional, reliable, regularly performing musicians. I always provide a contract so that expectations on both sides are clear.

Contact:
Do you have specific questions about your wedding music? Are you looking for a wedding musician? I’d love to hear from you!

Contact Me >

Inspire Duo

Photo courtesy of Preston Utley

About Inspire Duo
Inspire Duo is a flute and piano duo featuring the music of Christen Stephens (flute) and Craig Woodward (piano). We create purely improvisational music inspired by people, art and life. No two performances are alike. Our influences come from our classical training coupled with our love for jazz and modern music. We are available to play for events in Denver, Boulder and throughout Colorado and also collaborate with local visual artists and dancers. Inspire us, listen, and be inspired.

What interests you? Click below to learn more:

Inspire Duo Artist Collaboration
We collaborate with artists and art galleries

Inspire Duo Custom Recordings
Order a custom recording by Inspire Duo today

Inspire Duo Event Bookings
Book Inspire Duo to play at your next event

Top Wedding Songs for 2017

Are you selecting songs for your wedding this year? Or are you planning a romantic event such as an anniversary or engagement? With all the decisions that you have to make in planning a wedding or event and so many options for music, it’s helpful to start with some great ideas. These songs are are compilation of some of the most romantic wedding songs for 2017. Some of these songs are new and some are classics that have endured the test of time, and all of them are songs that we have in our repertoire.

In addition to the song selections on my repertoire list, I also love arranging new songs and can create custom arrangements for your wedding or event. I’d love to hear your ideas for songs, and even if you think they’re a little out there, I can usually make an arrangement that will work beautifully. CONTACT me today and let’s chat about your ideas.

All of Me (John Legend)
Best Instruments: My flute and piano/keyboard duo is the perfect combination for this song with the flute taking the place of the vocals. Violin also sounds great as a replacement for the vocal line.

Amazed (Lonestar)
Best Instruments: The flute can beautifully replace the vocals in this song and piano/keyboard or guitar easily replaces the background chords and rhythms.

A Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
Best Instruments: This song sounds wonderful with my flute and piano/keyboard duo, string quartet, or flute quartet.

Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)
Best Instruments: This very orchestral song works well with with my string quartet or flute quartet.

Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis)
Best Instruments: My flute and guitar duo or flute and piano duo is a perfect fit for this song with the flute taking the place of the vocals and the guitar or piano playing the background.

In My Life (Beatles)
Best Instruments: My flute and guitar duo is a perfect fit for this song.

Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
Best Instruments: My flute and guitar duo is great for this song because the flute can replace the complex vocals and the guitar will provide a solid chord structure and rhythm underneath.

Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
Best Instruments: My flute and piano/keyboard duo or violin and piano duo is perfect for this song. It also works really well with my flute quartet or string quartet.

Reign of Love (Coldplay)
Best Instruments: This song sounds great with my flute and piano duo, flute trio, string trio, flute quartet, or string quartet. The flute is a great replacement for the vocals in this song.

The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra):
Best Instruments: My flute and guitar duo is a great fit for this song.

Twist and Shout (Beatles):
Best Instruments: My flute and guitar duo is the best combination for this song.

Unforgettable
Best Instruments: This classic song sounds best with my flute and guitar duo, flute quartet, or string quartet, all of which help to fill in the complex chords.

Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
Best Instruments: This very orchestral based song sounds great with my flute quartet or string quartet.

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Best Instruments: You can’t beat the Louis Armstrong version of this classic song. The best ensembles are the flute to imitate Louis’ husky voice, accompanied by guitar, harp or piano/keyboard.

Welcome to Inspire Duo “Life Inspired Improv.”

Inspire Duo is a new duo featuring the music of myself on flute and Craig Woodward on piano. We create purely improvisational music inspired by people, art and life.

It was my dream to do free improvisation with other musicians for a very long time, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until just recently. Several months ago, I was invited to a farewell moving away party for an acquaintance of mine. When I arrived, I found that I didn’t know a single person in the room except for the honoree of the party, and she was deep in conversation. I walked up to the first person that I saw and introduced myself. We quickly found out that we are both musicians who love to improvise, and we were both looking for someone to improvise with. That was the unlikely beginning of Inspire Duo.

When Craig and I met for our first rehearsal, we knew that this duo was something special. We instantly clicked musically and magic began to happen. Craig and I both have extensive experience with a wide range of music from classical to jazz and numerous other styles. We found that we could create a unique blend of these styles and add our own flair to make beautiful and wildly creative music.

We began rehearsing regularly and developed a vision for collaborating with local artists in order to introduce a whole new sensory dimension to their works, both through live performances and audio recordings. Each song that we improvise starts with an inspiration – an series of descriptive words, a piece of art, another musical composition, a photo, or anything really. Beyond choosing our inspiration, we don’t plan much what we will play in advance. One of us creates an initial musical idea which then takes shape as we continue to play. The music then spins from there as we communicate back and forth, building upon each musical idea and creating new ones. The great beauty of this kind of music is that we aren’t stuck to written notes on a page, or even a set of chords such as on a jazz chart. We are free to develop ideas as we play and interact directly with the environment around us using music.

Stay posted for updates on our live concerts. We need your inspiration! We also accept bookings to play for social events. Email me for information on hiring us for your next party or event by clicking on “Inspire Duo” HERE.

Listen to Music Samples Here

Flute Trio at the Design Studio in Niwot, Colorado


This weekend I played classical music in a flute trio representing the Boulder Symphony. We played for a partner of the symphony, the Design Studio in Niwot, Colorado. I was charmed with Niwot’s original old west style 2nd Ave. which I believe was their main street. The Design Studio was hosting their grand opening and it was quite a classy event. In addition to our live music, there was beautiful original art displayed throughout the store and a large variety of specialty food and drinks.

Flute Quartet Christmas Music at the Boulder History Museum

Our Boulder Symphony flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello) recently played for a Santa Photo Shoot at the Boulder History Museum. The day dawned in winter chill but indoors the museum was cozy and beautifully decorated for the holidays. Guests enjoyed drinks, cookies and other refreshments as they enjoyed our musical performance. It was a charming and traditional way to ring in the holiday season and everyone left feeling a little more festive.

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas Live at the Boulder History Museum

Wassail Song Live at the Boulder History Museum

Flute and Guitar Wedding Ceremony Music at the River Bend in Lyons, Colorado

In late June, our flute and guitar duo played for a wedding ceremony at the River Bend in Lyons, Colorado. The setting at the River Bend was perfect for this outdoorsy adventure loving couple. It was idyllic with mature trees, a lush lawn, and a river curving in front of high rock walls. The guests enjoyed drinks, socializing, and playing corn-hole by the river before the wedding. Our flute and guitar duo played a mix of classical, popular and jazz tunes for the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour, and then we played another hour for the dinner reception.

From the bride:
“Christen Stephens was a wonderful addition to our wedding – very professional, timely, and easy to communicate with to figure out details for the wedding. Music was beautiful and just what we were looking for. Highly recommended.”


Sample Prelude Music:
Invention No. 10 (Bach), Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison), Autumn Leaves, Everything I Do (I Do it For You), Annie’s Song, The Days of Wine and Roses, Berceuse, Op. 16 (Faure), Arioso (Bach)

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Canon in D ~ Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Flower Girl
The Ludlows ~ Bride’s Processional
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 ~ Recessional

Sample Cocktail Hour and Dinner Music:
Cheek to Cheek, All My Loving, Fly Me to the Moon, Entr’acte (Bizet), Try to Remember, Tango (Albeniz), Gavotte (Handel), To Make You Feel My Love (Adele), Giuliani Sonatas (selections), When I Fall in Love, Misty, Pastorale (Vivaldi), Unforgettable

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue – River Bend
Wedding Coordinator – Purple Summer Events
Photographer – Nine Photography
Musicians – Christen Stephens Flute and Guitar Duo

Flute and Cello Duo Wedding Ceremony Music at the Wedgwood Center in Boulder, Colorado

Photos with a watermark are courtesy of TomK Photography
In June, our flute and cello duo played for a very musical destination wedding ceremony at the Wedgwood Wedding and Banquet Center in Boulder, Colorado. The bride and groom had many fun song selections that they incorporated throughout their ceremony, and they each had a secret song that they chose for each other. The groom sang his secret song (“All I Ask of You”) to the bride as we accompanied on flute and cello. The groom even sang some of his vows. The ceremony was full of laughter and fun and was truly a celebration of love. I adored the vintage bottles and colored sand that the couple used for their sand pouring ceremony.


Sample Prelude Music:
New York, New York, The Sound of Music, The Ludlows, Can’t Help Falling in Love, Moon River, All of Me, Wildflowers (Tom Petty)

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach) ~ Seating of the Families

Canon in D (Pachelbel) ~ Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

I Want to Hold Your Hand (Beatles) ~ Flower Girls and Ringbearer

Sweet Child of Mine (Guns N’ Roses) ~ Bride’s Processional

In the Still of the Nite (The Satins) ~ Sand Ceremony

La Vie En Rose (Louis Armstrong) ~ Bride’s song for the groom

All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera ~ Groom’s song for the bride

Wedding March (Mendelssohn) ~ Recessional

Simple Gifts (Lord of the Dance version) ~ Postlude

Wedding Ceremony Vendors:
Venue: Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center
Photographer: Tom K Photo
Musicians – Christen Stephens – Flute and Cello Duo


New Wedding Ceremony Songs for 2016

I am happy to announce that I have added a number of new contemporary wedding songs to my 2016 repertoire. Below, I have grouped these songs in a way that would beautifully compliment each part of a wedding ceremony and cocktail hour.

Prelude Songs:
For the First Time in Forever from Frozen (solo flute)
To Make You Feel My Love – Adele (flute and guitar, flute trio, flute quartet)
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (flute and violin, flute and cello, flute trio, flute quartet)
All You Need is Love – Beatles (flute and violin, flute and cello, flute trio, flute quartet)

Processional Songs:
All I Want is You – U2 (flute quartet)
All of Me – John Legend (flute and violin)
A Thousand Years – Christina Perri (flute and violin, flute trio, flute quartet)
Reign of Love – Coldplay (flute trio)

During the Ceremony:
On Eagles’ Wings – Michael Joncas (flute and cello)

Cocktail Hour:
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey (flute and cello, flute quartet)
Feeling Good (solo flute)
Let it Go from Frozen (solo flute)
Such Great Heights – Postal Service (flute trio, flute quartet)
Wildflowers – Tom Petty (flute and cello)

Flute and Violin Wedding Ceremony Music in Boulder, Colorado

I was asked by local violinist, Jane Uitti, to join her on my flute to provide beautiful live music for a local mountain wedding ceremony in Boulder. This early autumn ceremony was held at the Wedgewood Wedding and Banquet Center, located just a few minutes drive into the Boulder foothills, combining the charm of the mountains with a convenient location. For her prelude music as the guests arrived, the bride chose all songs by Bach, and then we played traditional wedding ceremony music for the processional. It was a sweet and simple wedding ceremony accompanied by the sound of rushing water in the river below.

Prelude Music:
Air from Suite #3 in D major, Arioso from Cantata #156, Gigue from Suite #3 in D major, My Heart is Ever Faithful from Cantata #68, Sheep May Safely Graze from Cantata #208

Wedding Ceremony Music:
Processional ~ Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Unity Candle ~ Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)
Recessional ~ March in D Major from the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach