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Wedding Songs

Get information on incorporating wedding songs into your wedding reception.

European classical music is commonly used during wedding ceremonies. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
European classical music is commonly used during wedding ceremonies.

Wedding songs allow couples to express their love through music. According to a report from the Bridal Association of America, engaged couples today spend an average of almost $1,000 on music for their wedding day. While most ceremony songs tend to be traditional, reception music evokes the tone and sets the mood for the celebration. Whether understated background music or lively dancing is preferred at the reception, engaged couples should consider their guests' preferences as well as their own tastes.

Ways to Incorporate Music

Couples can choose to have wedding songs played before, during and after the ceremony. A prelude should include music that inspires and is pleasant to the ear. Playing these songs 30 minutes before the ceremony officially begins sets the mood. The processional music begins when the bridal party enters the sanctuary. The most common song associated with the processional is Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus," more commonly referred to as "Here Comes the Bride." Some couples choose specific interlude songs during the ceremony to commemorate vows, scripture or other symbolic moments, such as lighting the unity candle. Once the ceremony ends, the recessional music begins; this song should fill the guests with joyfulness and make them want to stand and applaud the pronouncement of the newlyweds.

After the ceremony, most guests adjourn to the reception hall where the newlyweds join in the festivities. For the reception, the wedded couple can hire a disc jockey or band to play specific songs that can signify special memories to the couple. Choosing a disc jockey allows wedding guests to hear a multitude of music genres as most bands have a difficult time playing a variety of music types as country, hip hop, reggae or folk songs. If the couple is planning a more subdued wedding reception, selecting a chamber ensemble is recommended. Couples should keep in mind, though, that according to Brides.com, a four- or five-piece band should be hired for around 100 guests; if the band is too small compared to the number of guests, people might not be able to hear the music.

Popular Ceremony Songs

Wedding ceremony songs are generally understated compared to reception songs. If the wedding occurs at a church, couples should check with whoever performs the music during the ceremony. This person should provide plenty of suggestions regarding song selection. Most of the time, the songs do not feature a soloist, especially the songs performed before and after the ceremony. For the interlude, the congregation has its entire attention on the ceremony; this is an ideal time to have a soloist sing.

Popular song choices during the prelude include Johann Bach's "Air on the G String," Andrew Lloyd Weber's "All I Ask of You" and George Handel's "Sonata in G Minor for Flute and Organ." For the processional, favorites include Wagner's "Bridal Chorus," Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D" and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Wedding March." For the interlude, some considerations include Johann Bach's "Ave Maria," Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer" or the traditional hymn "Love Divine, All Love's Excelling." And to end the ceremony, couples may consider Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," Felix Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" or Sir William Walton's "Coronation March."

Popular Reception Songs

Reception song choices are plentiful, especially if the couple chooses a disc jockey. An online search renders a list of popular reception song choices; the selection abounds, especially on Web sites produced by deejays or forums where brides and grooms post their song lists. Although all of these special reception events are completely optional, some specific times the bride and groom can choose to play different songs include:

  • Introductions of the wedding party
  • Cake cutting
  • Garter toss
  • Bouquet toss
  • First dance
  • Mother-son dance
  • Father-daughter dance
  • Wedding party dance
  • Last dance

The first dance is the song selection many couples focus the most on, as it symbolizes how they feel about each other. This song can be a couple's special song or it could be a song with meaningful wedding lyrics. Some popular first dance songs include Etta James's "At Last," Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea." Some popular song choices for the father-daughter dance include "My Girl" by the Temptations, "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle or "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. Selections for mother-son songs feature "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men, "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion or "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts.

Two important things the couple should do is give the band or deejay a wish list of songs they want to hear during the course of the evening, as well as provide a do-not-play list, which can include specific songs or musical genres.

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