The music sets the mood for your ceremony and reception.
The style of your wedding plays an important role and may be ruled by where the ceremony is taking place. Churches usually have restrictions so you will have to pick from a list of songs they will allow. If you have a preference, discuss this with your cleric.
You can hire an organist and soloist or opt for pre-recorded music. This is a preference, but this should be well organized either way. You will need pre-ceremony music, the procession for the attendants and bride, romantic songs during the ceremony, and the recession.
Whoever you choose to provide the music for your wedding, make sure they attend the wedding rehearsal. Be clear when you want the songs to begin and discuss the volume in advance. The music should compliment your wedding, not dominate it.
You should have the payments prepared before the ceremony and it might be a good idea to pay the final fees before the ceremony begins, so you won't have to bother with it later. Assign someone to deliver the payments in an envelope, and make sure the organist and soloist are paid before leaving the ceremony site.
the wedding reception
The popular choices for the reception are live music or a disc jockey. Get some recommendations from newlyweds and ask about fees. Ask the band manager or DJ for references and check them. Make sure whoever provides the music dresses and presents themselves professionally.
Ask for play lists and how the fees are calculated. Some charge by the hour, others by the event. Find out if a deposit must be paid and when the balance is due. (The balance is usually paid during the reception but sometimes they want that in advance too.) There are several pros and cons to both live bands and DJs.
The cheaper option, a DJ gives you the most versatility, but the song choices will be limited by what CDs he/she has available. DJs that have extensive wedding experience know the proper cues for music during pre-dinner drinks, the dinner and the dancing. They're more likely to have the music of your choice and know when to start the dances for the bride and groom, attendants, parents, dollar dance, etc.
Discuss everything. If they don't have a song of your choice, many DJs will be willing to buy the CD and add it to their collection. If not, you can provide the CD or audio files for them, but this really shouldn't be necessary. Communication is vital for a smooth-running wedding reception.
When you sign a contract, make sure it states which DJ will play your music. You don't want to assume your favorite DJ will be there only to find some flunkie shows up. Also, find out if there will be an assistant. This helps tremendously for equipment set-up, organization and packing up after the dance.
live music, band
Choosing a band for your wedding reception will cost you more than a DJ. Live music is ideal for a super-formal wedding and the sound quality is much better. The larger the band, the higher the fees will be.