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Wedding Music Ideas

Behind every good wedding is a great soundtrack, one that can move guests to dance, to dine and sometimes, even to cry. Choosing the right melody for every moment, from the ceremony prelude and processional to the cocktail hour and couple's departure, can create a romantic, festive or even fun atmosphere for the event. Though often overlooked, music is an important and individual detail that can serve to truly distinguish your special day. So, here are a few hints on how to select the best songs for your bridal experience.

The Ceremony

Despite any notions that they many have about being "different," most brides still lean towards tradition when it comes to selecting the wedding songs for their ceremony. This means that much of the wedding's music is also likely to be a little more standard. For this reason, classics like "The Wedding March" by Mendelssohn will never fall out of fashion. Some variation still occurs however, often caused by cultural, personal or religious preference. Among the most common selections though, are these contemporary favorites and traditional tunes:

Prelude (played just prior to the ceremony):

  • "Clair de Lune" - Claude Debussy

  • "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey (instrumental)

  • "Four Seasons" - Antonio Vivaldi

Processional (played as the bridal party enters and proceeds down the aisle):

  • "Bridal Chorus" - Richard Wagner

  • "Canon in D" - Johann Pachelbel

  • "Mahtovu" (Jewish)

Interlude (played during any transitional moments in the ceremony with optional music):

  • "Ave Maria" - Franz Schubert

  • "The Lord's Prayer" - Ken Davies

  • "You Raise Me Up" - Josh Groban

Special Ceremony (played during any special ceremonies included in the wedding, such as the Unity Candle):

  • "Candle on the Water" (from Disney's Pete's Dragon") - Helen Reddy

  • "The Gift" - Jim Brickman

  • "The Rose" - Bette Midler

Recessional (played at the conclusion of the ceremony as the couple and bridal party depart):

  • "Hornpipe" (Water Music) - George Frideric Handel

  • "Ode to Joy" - Ludwig van Beethoven

  • "Wedding March" - Felix Mendelssohn

Postlude (played after the recessional for any remaining guests to enjoy as they depart):

  • "Allegro Maestoso for Organ in C Major" - Felix Mendelssohn

  • "Beauty and the Beast" - Angela Lansbury

  • "Trumpet Voluntary" - Jeremiah Clarke

The Reception

When it comes to selecting songs for a reception, there is an almost endless array of choices. However, much like any other article of decor, the reception music is usually a reflection of the bridal couple's unique sense of creativity and style. Depending on the wedding's theme, there may be obvious options for everything from background ballads to show-stopping swing numbers. Sticking to a particular musical style can help to narrow the focus, but should never be done to the exclusion of classic crowd pleasers like "Shout" or another which is omni present at your family/friends celebrations. Go ahead, dare to be different, but remember, these favorites are always appropriate too:

Cocktail Hour

  • "Days of Wine and Roses" - Andy Williams

  • "Escape" (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes

  • "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffet

Reception Entrance (wedding party)

  • "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" - Hank Williams, Jr.

  • "Let's Get It Started" - Black Eyed Peas

  • "Alabama Jubilee" (Hail, Hail, the Gang's All here - Fred Astaire

Bride and Groom's First Dance

  • "Can't Help Falling in Love" - Elvis Presley

  • "Here and Now" - Luther Vandross

  • "I Cross My Heart" - George Strait

Father / Daughter Dance

  • "Butterfly Kisses - Bob Carlisle

  • "I Loved Her First" - Heartland

  • "My Girl" - The Temptations

Mother / Son Dance

  • "Have I Told You Lately" - Rod Stewart

  • "I Hope You Dance" - Lee Ann Womack

  • "In My Life" - The Beatles

Dinner Hour

  • "Always" - Frank Sinatra

  • "Forever and Ever, Amen" - Randy Travis

  • "The Chapel of Love" - Dixie Cups

Cake Cutting

  • "Cuts Like a Knife" - Bryan Adams

  • "Eat It" - Weird Al Yankovic

  • "Sweetest Thing" - U2

Bouquet Toss

  • "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - Cyndi Lauper

  • "It's Raining Men" - The Weather Girls

  • "Single Ladies" (Put a Ring on It) - Beyonce

Garter Toss

  • "Fever" - Peggy Lee

  • "I Know What Boys Like" - The Waitresses

  • "She's Got Legs" - ZZ Top

Reception Departure (couple)

  • "Bye, Bye, Bye" - 'N Sync

  • "Happy Trails" - Roy Rogers

  • "See You Later, Alligator" - Bill Hailey and His Comets

Last Dance of the Evening

  • "At Last" - Etta James

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