You know the right music can make or break your reception, but did you know it’s just as important for your ceremony? Music serves to set the tone, stir up emotions, and share a message with your guests, so picking the right processional and recessional songs is key—as is making sure they’re a good fit for the ceremony you have planned! We turned to our experts and asked them to share their top six tips for getting that music right.
Check with Your Venue
If you’re having a wedding in a house of worship, the first thing to do before you choose any songs is to talk to your officiant and see if there are restrictions to what you use. Some more conservative venues will have a specific list of traditional (often religious) songs for you to choose from, others might allow anything as long as it’s instrumental and has no recorded words, and the most progressive may be open to whichever music you choose (with the officiant’s review and approval first). Find out what rules you need to follow, and go from there.
Consider Your History
No matter how long the two of you have been together, there’s bound to be a song, artist, or genre of music that you both really connect to. Think back: Is there a tune you love to belt out in the car? One you always dance to in the kitchen? A song one of you has heard that makes you think about the other person? Or maybe a concert you went to together by an artist you really love? Any of these will help guide you toward a song or two that are really meaningful.
Read the Lyrics
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial that you read the lyrics before pressing “play” at your ceremony. Think about “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. It pops up at weddings all the time, but Sting himself has insisted that it’s about jealousy, obsession, and a lost lover—not how you want to kick off your marriage! Make sure the song is telling the story you really want your guests to hear, and keep an eye out for any lines or verses that may ruffle feathers.
Choose a Theme
For a little more cohesion, choose a theme to tie your processional songs together. That could be songs in the same genre, songs with a similar tempo, or songs from the same era. This will lead to a more even flow between songs as you and your wedding party process.
Make it a Surprise
To really personalize the ceremony, you and your partner could each choose your processional songs in private, and not share them until you walk down the aisle. Find a song that represents the way you feel about your partner, a tune they love that you know they’d be thrilled to hear, or one that holds a special memory. Let your planner or whoever is operating the sound system know what you’ve chosen, and make sure you both have tissues on hand!
Your recessional song should be one that’s uptempo, happy, and primed to get the party started. After all, you’ve just tied the knot! Pick a song that will make you want to dance down the aisle, and will have your guests singing along. Go for a surprise here, too! This could be anything from a gospel choir singing “Oh Happy Day” to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder to Beyoncé and Jay Z’s “Crazy in Love.” Have fun with this one!