Ask a wedding musician: Should we have a ceilidh at our Scottish wedding?

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to your wedding music – and even more to ask about. 

We put your most-asked wedding music woes to the experts…

IMAGE | Struve Photography

Can we give our band a set list to play?

You might think your taste in tunes is the best around but drafting up a set list for your chosen live act probably isn’t the best way to go.

Dave, a musician from the band Too Many Vices says, “Every so often you will get someone who wants to pick each and every song, but all the songs they’ve chosen are currently in the charts and eight of them are Ed Sheeran songs – no offence to Ed Sheeran!”

The problem with a set so restricted (other than Sheeran overload) is that it’s only going to appeal to a subsection of your guests, which means the dancefloor won’t be as full as it should be on such a celebratory occasion.

So try to take a more balanced approach.

“We ask our couples to give us four or five songs they really must hear throughout the night, and then we’ll put together a more traditional set list around them,” says Dave.

“We’ll look at the five songs the couple have chosen and try and tailor our set list to their taste, so if there’s a few rocky songs, we’ll make the set a bit heavier!”


IMAGE | Struve Photography

We want to have a ceilidh, but we’re worried people won’t get up and dance – what do we do?

While the ability to ceilidh dance is muscle-memorised for most Scottish people, you’ll find that when the first chords for the Gay Gordons strike up, even the most boisterous wedding dancers come over all shy.

How do you get people up on the floor having fun?

“The key to a great ceilidh band is an excellent dance caller,” says David from The Big Shoogle Ceilidh Band.

“A good caller will encourage people onto the floor in a friendly, tongue-in-cheek and informal way. You want to make people feel at ease, because a few people won’t have done it since school.”

Before each dance, the caller will run through the steps in case any guests are rusty – or y’know, not Scottish.

“You want to teach them the moves without it becoming a dance class. We keep it very light hearted and fun,” says David.

And in the event of that select few still refusing to get up? “In extreme cases, we’ll grab a volunteer,” laughs David, “that gets everyone’s attention pretty quickly!”