Music is a beautiful element to include in your wedding.  I’ve seen it used in really cool ways – the traditional “Hear Comes The Bride” blasted over a little speaker in a park (unexpected and a beautiful moment!), or a bride’s entrance to a beautiful cover of the haunting Leonard Cohen song “Halleluah” (my personal favorite version is by Rufus Wainwright).

Some other favorite music moments:

  • A close friend of the bride’s mother performing “No One” by Alicia Keys as the couple processed out in a backyard wedding… they then stood on the back porch, overlooking everyone and in a tight embrace.  Just beautiful – and now I can’t hear that song without thinking of them!
  • At a small wedding ceremony that did not have a reception following, I hooked up the bride’s iPod to my speakers, and, immediately after being declared husband and wife, we played “Sparks” by Coldplay, and they danced – did I mention this wedding was on the sidewalk of Hoboken, overlooking the Hudson and the NYC skyline at dusk?  Talk about magic!

Here are some suggestions of fun, different songs to include in your wedding.  Talk to your DJ or band before hand to make sure they have the music.  If you’re DIYing your music, check with your venue or officiant to see if they have a speaker or PA system they can hook the iPod or computer up to, so everyone can be sure to hear the music.

  • Showtunes. I’m a theatre geek, so this one just seems perfect.  Their are some amazing love songs out there, that can be used as a first dance, recessional, processional, or even during a candle lighting or handfasting ceremony!  Some of my favorites that immediately come to mind: “Seasons of Love” and “I’ll Cover You” from Rent.  Or the non-love songs that just work: “Their Once was a Man” from Pajama Game, “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler, or “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel – my parents walked down to an instrumental version of that, and it was really lovely.
  • Beatles. When my mom got married, she wanted to use a version of “Blackbird” for her processional – All your life, you have been waiting for this moment to arrive.  Hauntingly beautiful.  And any of the fun love songs would be great for a recessional at the end (perhaps even ala “Love Actually” if you can find a band!).
  • The Magnetic Fields. One of my favorite artists, the Magnetic Fields are really Stephen Merritt and friends.  My favorite album of theirs is called “69 Love Songs” and it is, quite literally, 69 love songs.  Quirky and interesting, both sad and exhilarating, there is a song for everyone on this album.  “The Book of Love” could be used as a great reading in a ceremony actually – and the melodies and themes of some are really sweet (and really weird!).
  • Vitamin String Quartet. Do you have your heart set on using a popular song, but would really prefer to have it be more subtle or an instrumental?  Please take a moment to browse the Vitamin String Quartet’s albums.  They have almost any song I could think of recorded as an instrumental – no, really, almost any song.  This would be a great idea if your special song ISN’T really romantic or lovey – just throw the instrumental version in there!
  • Old Standards. “At Last” is a very popular wedding tune, and with good reason.  Some other oldies but goodies: “Beyond the Sea” (my personal favorite, hands down!), or “The Way You Look Tonight” (great for a bridal procession!).
  • Current Popular Songs. This is YOUR wedding.  If you want to process to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” – please do!  I love when people incorporate music that they obviously love into their wedding ceremony – so sweet and it helps your own personality to shine through even more!  See also the Vitamin String Quartet if you want to make it feel a little more “classic.”
  • Go with What You Love! If you love classical music – find something with meaning for you.  I did a wedding where the bride was a harpist, and they had a harpist play the music for the ceremony and at cocktail hour.  Don’t be afraid to find songs that you like and strip them down a little bit – like playing a pop song, but an instrumental.  If you’re doing a themed wedding, carry it into the music!

Another wedding related music tip: On the day of your wedding, make sure you or someone in your bridal party brings a copy of your DOS and DON’TS for the DJ or band.  When my parents got married, the band (a husband and wife) had a death in the family the night before the wedding, and had to send a replacement.  It wasn’t a major issue – the replacement band was fine, and the reception was still incredible – but minutes before the ceremony, my mom tracked me down and had me writing out the list of requested songs, as the new band didn’t have it.

I forgot the most important thing on the list: do not play “The Girl from Impanema,” which my mom, apparently, hates.  So of course, they played it (just a recorded version of it during dinner, but still).  Not a huge deal, as there was a lot going on, but if you’re having a larger wedding, or have really important music that needs to be played – it’s a good thing to hold on to and bring with you the day of.  It’s just a piece of paper, easy to remember to bring (just tuck it in with the license and other important day of paperwork), and can really avert a disaster.

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