Wedding Music

Last updated: November 14, 2010

Music Basic ceremony music includes the prelude, processional, and recessional.  Music for the prelude is usually light and soft and is played while guests are being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin.  Processional music is played as the family, bridal party, and bride enter.  A new song is usually played for the bride, as is highlights her entrance and brings attention to her.  The most common song for the bride's entrance is "The Wedding March".  Recessional music is played as the bride and groom make their exit and may continue to play as the wedding party, family and guests leave.  Some couples also choose to add special music or interludes during significant moments, such as the lighting of the unity candle.

When choosing ceremony music, first check with your ceremony site and officiant to see what music would be appropriate.  Some have strict guidelines on the kind of music that is played during the ceremony.  Next, factor in the size of your ceremony site.  If you are choosing to play music from a CD, make sure there are enough speakers around the site so all yours guests can hear.  If there will be a live band, figure out where would be the best spot to have them.  Also, consider the size of your wedding in general.  If you are having a small, intimate wedding, it would be unreasonable to have a full 22-piece orchestra.

Traditional prelude music
Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)
Greensleeves
Ave Maria
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Someone to Watch Over Me

Traditional processional music
Bridal March (Wedding March) aka Here Comes the Bride (Wagner)
Cannon in D (Pachelbel)

Traditional recessional music
Ode to Joy (Beethoven)
Wedding March (Mendelssohn)
Hallelujah Corus (Handel)

Your reception is a time for joy and celebration of being a newly married couple!  It's also a time for interacting with all your guests.  For reception music, you will want to have some soft, romantic music for slow dancing, but also some fun and funky music that will make your guests want to get out there and shake it!  You may also choose to have certain songs for significant moments such as the first dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, last dance, bridal party dance, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss.

Again, check with your reception venue to see what music would be appropriate.  Some venues have rules on the volume of music during certain hours.  Size is still an important factor.  If you are in a huge hall or ballroom, figure out where to place speakers so you can get the best sound.  Decide if you want to hire a DJ, band, or just have music playing on a CD.  See what suits your personal taste, the tastes of your guests, your budget, and space.  An orchestra presents a more formal, elegant reception.  A DJ presents a louder and energizing reception, and tends to have a wider variety of songs.  A live band can play either upbeat or soft music, and can adapt to the tone of your wedding.  Tip: Play both old and new songs to encourage guests of all ages to get out there and dance.  Whether you have a band, DJ, or friend in control of the music, be sure to let them know what music you do - and do not - want played.  Also let them know of any moments to stop the music, or to play certain songs for certain moments during the reception. 

Check your budget.  DJs usually are the least expensive, but can depend on the equipment needed, day of the week, time of year, and how long you hire them for.  A live band would be a little more expensive, as there are more people to pay.  It can depend on the number of musicians, day of the week, time of year, and how long you want them to play.

Popular songs for:

Cake cutting
How Sweet It Is (James Taylor)
That's Amore' (Dean Martin)
Pour Some Sugar On Me (Def Leppard)
Cut the Cake (Average White Band)

Father/Daughter dance
My Girl (The Temptations)
Butterfly Kisses (Bob Carlisle)
Father's Eyes (Amy Grant)
I Loved Her First (Heartland)

Mother/Son dance

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Wind Beneath my Wings (Bette Midler)
A Song for My Son (Steve Moser, Mikki Viereck, Ray Allaire)
Moon Dance (Van Morrison)

First dance
The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra)
Endless Love (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie)
From This Moment On (Shania Twain)
Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)

Last dance
I've Had the Time of My Life (Bill Medly and Jennifer Wames)
The Party's Over (Nat King Cole)
The Dance (Garth Brooks)
Wonderful Tonight (David Kersh)

Wedding party dance
Friends In Low Places (Garth Brooks)
Friends (Elton John)
We Are Family (Sister Sledge)

Garter and bouquet toss
Wild Thing (The Trogg)
Another One Bites the Dust (Queen)
U Can't Touch This (MC Hammer)
You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate)