Music is just one of the many considerations a couple needs to make when planning their big day. Will you use a band or a DJ? What kinds of music will you play at the ceremony and cocktail hour? How do you create the right energy that will get people dancing and appeal to the multi-generational guest list?

These are all questions my fiancé and I have pondered over the past eight months. Naturally, working for a music company, I sought my colleagues’ advice and picked up some expert tips along the way.

Band or DJ?

This depends on a few things:

  1. The personality of the couple
  2. The audience you are catering to
  3. The atmosphere you are hoping to create

For us, what mattered most was making sure everyone would get up out of their seats, dance and have a good time. Because my fiancé is from a large Italian family, and I am from a large Irish family, we are catering to three generations of guests with very different backgrounds. From my grandmother, who loves a good Elvis Presley love song, to our young millennial cousins who can out-tweet and out-snap me any day, we have a lot of musical interests to cover.

We decided to go with a band for the live atmosphere and performance aspect. Fortunately for us, there have been a number of Man Made Music weddings over the years, so finding our band was one of our easiest decisions. I knew I wanted something that could cater to a broad audience, read the room and react to their energy. We ended up going with a New York City band called the Hometown Sweethearts who perform weddings and other live events.

Our band performs regularly in the city, so we caught a Thursday night show at a bar with some friends before we committed. Not only was it a great night out, it gave us the confidence in our decision by allowing us to see them in action.

With all the other decisions a couple needs to make when wedding planning, music should be one of the more fun ones! Always try to check-out your options live, whether it is a DJ or a band, to get a feel for how they perform. Make a night of it with family and friends who can help you narrow down your options.

Remember, the reception music is just part of your day. Always take into consideration your ceremony’s venue and whether or not you plan to hold an after party to make sure you’ve got the music covered from “I do” through last call.

Justine Ryan is Account Director at Man Made Music.
Talk to her on Twitter @jryan423.

Music has the ability to change your mood, set the tone in a room and even create suspense, humor or sadness in a film. But beyond all the emotional power of music, did you know that it can actually improve your health and well-being? And it goes way beyond reducing stress and improving your workouts!

Simply listening to uplifting music can help ease hospital patients perceived pain according to this study*. The benefits of music on health range from helping cancer patients manage stress and anxiety, to aiding the recovery of stroke patients. Researchers in Finland determined that stroke patients who listened to music had improved attention and verbal memory. They also had a more positive outlook compared to patients who didn’t listen to music.

In addition to easing perceived physical pain, music can also help you keep a positive mental outlook when you may be prone to bouts of depression. Be careful with this one though, the type of music makes all the difference! Classical, uplifting music can work wonders, while heavy metal and techno risk making depression worse.

On a personal level, I recently braved a wide awake double wisdom tooth extraction. Granted there was nitrous and novicane to manage the pain, but my greatest concern were the noises I would hear as they pulled the teeth! Not to mention, I have a terrible fear of any sort of surgery and a low pain tolerance… Knowing that music has been proven to relax patients before surgery, our music supervisor at Man Made Music armed me with a calming playlist. I hit play while sitting in the waiting room and, as soon as the surgery began, I jacked up the volume and let the music be my focus.

After the fact, I can confidently say that the calming playlist did the trick. I felt more at ease and was attuned to something other than the unpleasant procedure, feelings and noises I was experiencing.

There are many studies on the proven benefits and the power of music when it comes to our health. Eased pain, decreased depression and anxiety and improved outlooks. However, music is rarely activated in the healthcare system at large. Would surgeries seem easier or patients feel less stressed with a calming playlist? Would recovery feel more manageable with uplifting tunes? The beauty is music can always be curated and customized for an individuals tastes to help them through a medical experience. A healthier / calmer / happier society would be the ultimate benefit.

* Source:
Music and health — what kind of music is helpful for whom? What music not? Trappe, HJ. Medizinische Universitätsklinik II (Schwerpunkte Kardiologie und Angiologie), Ruhr-Universität Bochum Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 2009 Dec;134(51-52):2601-6

The In-Flight Tomato Juice Mystery Decoded

Ever been on a flight and felt like ordering a tomato juice? You’re not alone. A 2003 study in Germany showed that about 3% of all tomato juice consumption took place from the air. In that year alone, Lufthansa reportedly served passengers over 316,000 gallons of tomato juice.

So what is it that makes tomato juice so appealing from 35,000 feet above ground? The answer, according to researches at Oxford University, is not in the altitude, but rather, the sound of the airplane. More specifically, the drone of the airplane engines deadens passenger’s sensitivity to flavor, causing a dulled sense of taste. Tomato juice, says Professor Charles Spence, has an “umami flavor” which is “one of the only tastes that is strong enough to be perceived over the sound of the engines.” Spence is one of the professors behind the concept of “sonic seasoning,” which hypothesizes that the perceived taste of food or drink can be altered depending on the presence of sound or music.

Beyond tomato juice, your best bet when jet-setting is actually crunchy or spicy foods, as these are the most likely to cut through the white noise and still make a noticeable impact on your taste buds.  An added defense could be to tune into music that lights up the sweet or salty areas of the brain through sonic cues.

Sonic Seasoning and Your Health

Sonic seasoning doesn’t have to be relegated to aviation. Simply listening to music that triggers certain areas in your brain can allow you to perceive the food you eat as more sweet, salty, sour or bitter.  My diet would personally benefit from being able to eat air popped popcorn with a little salt over the movie theater version.  Perhaps salty sounds, like the ones in the video below, can help me do just that.

Next time you feel unsatisfied reaching for the low fat fruit yogurt over the berry pie (this happens to me almost on a daily basis!), try listening to music that triggers your “sweet” receptors in your brain.  The subtle “sonic seasoning” could be just what you need to trick your brain into thinking you’ve just had a sweet treat when you’re really making a smart choice for your diet and health.