Your wedding day is an opportunity to showcase yourself, your relationship, and your love for your partner. This is something Carly Pearce knows well, both as an artist and recent bride.
On October 6, 2019, the country music artist—she's best known for the hits "Every Little Thing" and "I Hope You're Happy Know"—married fellow singer-song writer Michael Ray in a romantic wedding outside Nashville that she describes as "beautfiul and very tailor-made to me." "I enjoyed planning the wedding," she says. "It was the one thing, outside of music, that I got to completely make my own. And Michael enjoyed it as well! I was happy he wanted to be apart of it."
More recently, Carly released her sophomore self-titled album, "Carly Pearce" on February 14, 2020. "So much happend to me in the last year-and-a-half, and I feel like I'm just more sure of myself because of fallling in love, because of a lot of experiences, and because country music fans have allowed me to have my music be valid in this world," she says. "Just, a lot of confidence has come out of the last couple of years, and I feel like it's all over this record more than anything else I've put out."
Meet the Expert
Carly Pearce is a country music singer and songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her self-titled sophomore album, "Carly Pearce," was released by Big Machine Records on February 14, 2020.
When we sat down with Carly following the album's release, we chatted about the whirlwind time and what it was like to plan a wedding (herself!) while on the road for 200 days last year. Naturally, we also gushed over her wedding photos—seriously, she pulled out her phone mid-interview—and bonded over the importance of music at a wedding, and how the right playlist can set the mood for every moment on the day itself, and every memory to follow.
To help you create a memorable playlist, we asked Carly to break down the day's biggest moments, reflect on how she felt on hers—and, ultimately, share song suggestions that fit every mood and moment. Her main advice? "Make the music about you," she says. "Don’t try to follow a guideline! Get creative!"
The Moment You Wake Up
Your wedding-day playlist can begin the moment you wake up and realize, "Today's the day!" On her big day, Carly says she felt "all kinds of emotions, but the biggest one for me was, like, jittery and excited." To match that feeling, she recommends cranking up "Going to the Chapel" by The Dixie Cups—and anything by her favorite artist, Dolly Parton.
Getting Ready With Your Bridesmaids
To that point, Carly recommends getting the party started early! "My bridesmaids and I were drinking Champagne and drinkingwine early," she admits with a laugh. The perfect song for this moment? “Man I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain, obviously.
Walking Down the Aisle
"As you're walking down the aisle, it's so many emotions and I cried," she says. She recommends "Made For You" by Jake Owen for this special moment. "At our wedding, we actually danced to this song," she says. "I was overwhelmed by joy and emotion."
Walking Down the Aisle—as a Married Couple!
Once it's official, Carly says it's officially time to party! "After saying 'I Do,' for us, it was like, 'Let the party begin," so we got everyone ready," she says. "I think you need to play 'Crazy In Love' by Beyoncé."
The First Dance
"It’s your first moment as husband and wife, really, in front of people," Carly says of the first dance. "I was overwhelmed with that. I felt like everyone was looking at us, and there was just a lot of love from both sides. I was just feeling loved from everyone." While Carly and Michael chose "Made for You" by Jake Owen for their first dance (and, naturally, had him perform it live), she says she couldn't possibly recommend a song for another couple. "That moment is about what is unique to your relationship. It could literally be anything, and it doesn't have to be the sterotypical love song. It can be whatever means something to you as a couple," she says. "For us, 'Made For You,' just had a raw, real, country vibe to it that really that felt real to us."
The Father-Daughter Dance
For the father-daughter dance, Carly changed into a short gown by Hayley Paige, and she and her father surprised everyone with a mashup, or what she calls a "hodgepodge," of songs. "I didn't want it to be too overwhelmingly sentimental because my dad and I aren't that way, we're just close," she says. "We did a verse and a chorus of "Isn't She Lovely' by Stevie Wonder and then busted out into “The Git Up” by Blanco Brown, which is like a viral dance video, and we did the dance." The takeaway: Tailor-make this moment! "If you want to do the mushy-gushy thing with your dad, that's fine," she says. "But, for us, we wanted everyone to understand that we were about to party, so we actually flipped it and did the father-daughter dance last and had Michael come on as we were finishing our dance and he did a little piece of it, then everyone came on the dancefloor." Carly says it was perfect because the dance was Michael's idea. "It was a moment that Michael helped create with my dad, and I will never forget it," she says.
The Mother-Son Dance
At her wedding, Carly says the mother-son dance was a "really intense moment for everyone." "Michael's a crier, and he gets it from his mom," she says. "They were sobbing!" They chose a song by Emily Shackelton, the artist Carly wrote "Every Little Thing" with. "She has a song called "I Loved You First" that she wrote for her son—that's the beauty of Nashville, he heard this song and sobbed over it and wanted to play it at the wedding," Carly says. "Again, it doesn't have to be a song that everyone has heard. It just has to be special to you, and that was really special to him." So much that Carly says, "He was, like, guttural crying! At some point, someone was like, 'Is he alright?!' and I was like, 'He's fine, let him cry!'"
The Grand Finale
"I don’t remember what was playing when we left at the end of the night," Carly admits with a laugh. That said, she does remember how she felt: "I felt overwhelmed with love! It was like a dream. I couldn't believe it was over it went by so fast!"
At their wedding, Carly and Michael continued the celebration—see a theme here?!—with an after-party at "the old honky bar" where they fell in love listening to old country music together. For them, an "older traditional county song" felt right to wrap up the night. Her pick? "When You Say Nothing at All" by Alison Krauss. She adds, "We got up and sang at the bar!"
"Carly Pearce" is available for purchase here.