Music opens most wedding ceremonies, and you don’t want to start yours on a sour note. If you choose to have a family member or friend (read non-professional) play recorded music for your ceremony, there are some steps you can take to increase the chances that it will go well.
First, have a person dedicated to this role. We’ll call them your PRYM (person running your music). Don’t ask an usher or personal attendant (who have other tasks right before the ceremony) to run your music, too. The PRYM should be responsible enough that they will pay attention throughout the ceremony so they play the appropriate music at the right time. They should also be technically savvy enough to know how to repeat a song, fade it out gracefully, and quickly transition between one song and the next. Have your PRYM attend your rehearsal, so they know how the ceremony is going to run, and so they can practice, too.
Second, advance work is key to having your music played without mishap. Make sure all the music you want played is downloaded to the device to be used. You don’t want to rely on Youtube, wifi availability, or other technical requirements beyond your control on your wedding day. Have the music in a separate playlist and make sure the PRYM knows where it is.
Speaking of the device – make sure its battery is fully charged, and that the PRYM knows any passcodes on the device. You’ll also need to provide a speaker to amplify the music as the device speaker will not be sufficient. If the speaker requires electricity, make sure that is available at your ceremony venue.
I’ve seen some PRYMs do a reasonable job, and many who miss cues, don’t know how to handle the device well, are texting on their own phones when the recessional music should be starting, and who play the recessional song for the bride’s entrance. If music is important to you, I strongly suggest you have a professional DJ or live musicians play for your ceremony. If that just isn’t in your budget, or the music isn’t important to you, follow the advice above and keep the music as simple as possible – ideally one song for everyone to enter and one song for everyone at the end of the ceremony – to keep things from starting on a sour note.