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PonchoMeg's Guide to Wedding Music

Updated on October 31, 2016

Love and Music - A Beautiful Marriage

"Music expresses that which cannot be said, but upon which it is impossible to remain silent." -Victor Hugo

Music can truly make a magical wedding day even more magical and wonderful. Sometimes, because we can experience so much emotion at weddings, music can even become the best way to really express everything we feel at a wedding. That is why wedding music is so important. But worry not; if you're concerned that planning the music for your wedding is going to be difficult, you can now rest easy. This guide to wedding music is here to help you!

It is divided into sections based on typical musical "sections" of a "traditional," heterosexual, American, wedding day (which is not to say that the format can't be tweaked by you, the reader, for ANY type of wedding day; of course it can! I am just most familiar with this format.)

It will progress in this order:

Prelude Music: The music that is heard before the ceremony begins, as everyone is being seated.

Processional Music & Bridal Music: The music that is heard as family, the bridal party, and the bride enter for the ceremony.

Interlude Music, Solos, or Hymns: Music that occurs throughout the ceremony, often during the lighting of the unity candle and other such traditions.

Recessional Music: The music that is played as the official ceremony concludes and the bridal party files out.

Cocktail Hour/Meet & Greet Music: Music that plays as the bridal party meets guests and/or before the reception.

Dinner Music: Music that plays throughout the meal. (Dinner, lunch, brunch)

Introduction Music: The music that plays upon the entrance of the bridal party to the reception.

First Dance Music: The musical selection that plays for the bride and groom's first dance as a married couple.

Bridal Party Music: Music that plays when the entire bridal party dances together.

Daddy/Daughter Dance Music: The musical selection that plays for the dance between the bride and her father.

Mother/Son Dance Music: The musical selection that plays for the dance between the groom and his mother.

Bouquet Toss Music: The music that plays as the bride throws the bouquet to the single women in attendance.

Garter Toss Music: The music that plays as the groom removes the garter from the bride and throws it to the eligible men in attendance.

General Reception Music Ideas: Music for everyone at the reception to dance to.

Last Dance Music: The musical selection that is played last to close out the evening and send everyone on their way.

I will also include some extra tips and helpful links at the end too, in case I haven't provided enough help for you here.

I hope you enjoy this guide to wedding music, and that it can be of some assistance to you. Have a beautiful wedding!

Peace and Love to ALL!

-PonchoMeg

Where words fail, music speaks.

— Hans Christian Andersen

PonchoMeg's Guide to Wedding Music

Prelude Music - Music to be played before the ceremony.

Prelude music is often low key, quiet music that plays in the background as people mingle, meet, greet, and are seated. Sometimes prelude music is live, and, in that case, may be more upbeat and played at an increased volume. Some general ideas for such music includes:

-Classical music

-Celtic Women

-Michael Buble

-Josh Groban

-Tangerine Dream

-Daft Punk

-Ian Tamblyn

-Kenny G

-Jazz music

-Choral music

-Enya

Specific song ideas are listed below:

Prelude Music Song Ideas

  • The Four Seasons - Vivaldi
  • Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven
  • Isn't it Romantic? - Glenn Miller
  • God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
  • Ain't that a Kick in the Head - Dean Martin
  • For Once in My Life - Michael Buble
  • Ode to Joy - Beethoven
  • Chapel of Love - Dixie Cups
  • The Rose - Bette Midler
  • I Do (Cherish You) - 98 Degrees
  • Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
  • Falling Slowly - from "Once" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
  • The Aquarium - from "The Carnival of the Animals" - Camille Saint-Saens
  • The Swan - from "The Carnival of the Animals" - Camille Saint-Saens
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Bach
  • The Soundtrack for "The Holiday" - Hans Zimmer
  • The Wedding Song - Kenny G
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Processional and Bridal Music - Music for when the family, bridal party, and bride are coming down the aisle.

Processional Music and Bridal Music can be one song, a series of songs strung together, or two very separate musical ideas all together. Some brides like to go the traditional route; others like to walk down the aisle to their favorite song or their personal anthem. Whatever you choose to do, here are some suggestions for your wedding's Processional and Bridal Music.

Processional Music and Bridal Music can be...

-Traditional, contemporary, unique

-Classical music

-"Standards"

-Favorite songs

-Personal anthems

-World music

-Folk music

-Choral music

-Instrumental music

-Whatever you want it to be!

Specific song ideas are still listed below for you though:

Processional and Bridal Music Song Ideas

  • Only Time - Enya
  • Bridal Chorus - from "Lohengrin" - Wagner
  • Canon in D - Pachelbel
  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • At Last - Etta James
  • In My Life - The Beatles
  • Come What May - from "Moulin Rouge"
  • Only Hope - from "A Walk to Remember" - Mandy Moore
  • Longer - Dan Fogelberg
  • Marry Me - Train
  • I'm Gonna Love You Forever - Jessica Simpson
  • My Baby You - Marc Anthony
  • This is What You Came For - Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna)
  • The Most Beautiful Girl in the World - Prince

Interlude Music, Solos, or Hymns - Music for during the ceremony...

Some ceremonies featured special traditions (the lighting of a unity candle for example) where music is needed. These musical selections are called interludes. They can be vocal, instrumental, traditional, contemporary, live, recorded, etc. Doesn't matter much. Choose whatever you like best for each tradition.

Some wedding ceremonies also feature soloists who sing or play special songs for the bride and groom (and their guests of course!) These songs are usually chosen specifically by the bride and/or groom for the wedding.

Finally, some weddings include hymns, sung either by soloists or hired musicians or by EVERYONE.

Here are some suggestions for music to be used as Interlude Music or Solo Music:

Interlude and/or Solo Music

  • Marry Me - Train
  • The Prayer - Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli
  • Come What May - from "Moulin Rouge"
  • You Light Up My Life - Leanne Rimes
  • You're Still You - Josh Groban
  • Yes - Demi Lovato
  • I See the Light (from Tangled) - Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi
  • Two is Better Than One - Boys Like Girls (feat. Taylor Swift)

Suggested Hymns / Sacred Songs

  • The Lord Bless You and Keep You
  • Ave Maria
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God
  • How Great Thou Art
  • How Can I Keep From Singing

Recessional Music - The music that plays as the bridal party exits after the ceremony.

Sometimes recessional music is just a burst of fun before everyone heads out the door. Sometimes the exit song must transition into a string of songs meant to be background noise as the bridal party does a meet and greet. In any case, here are some suggestions for Recessional Music:

Recessional Suggestions...

  • Wedding March - from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" - Mendelssohn
  • Ode to Joy - Beethoven
  • Hallelujah Chorus - from "The Messiah" - Handel
  • Magnificat in D - Bach
  • The Long & Winding Road - The Beatles
  • I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown
  • How Sweet it is - James Taylor
  • I Got You Babe - Sonny & Cher
  • Then He Kissed Me - The Crystals
  • Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
  • Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe - Barry White
  • Til There Was You - from "The Music Man" (There's also a great version by The Beatles)
  • Beautiful Day - U2
  • All You Need is Love - The Beatles
  • Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Frankie Vali
  • Yes - Demi Lovato
  • We are the Champions - Queen
  • Happy - Pharell Williams
  • Celebration - Kool & The Gang

Cocktail Hour / Meet & Greet Music - Music for that time between the ceremony & dinner...

The music to be played during the cocktail hour or "meet & greet" time can be very similar (if not identical) to the Prelude Music. So for ideas on Cocktail Hour Music, please see the Prelude Music section.

  • See Prelude Music Suggestions

Dinner Music - This is the music played while people are dining.

Dinner Music is also much like Prelude Music; it is meant to be background noise. So for general dinner music, see Prelude Music suggestions.

SOME people do slideshows during the meal. If a slideshow is going to happen, here are some song selections for the mealtime wedding slideshow:

Slideshow Song Suggestions

  • Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce
  • You're Still the One - Shania Twain
  • In My Life - The Beatles
  • Only Time - Enya
  • (I've Had) The Time of My Life - from "Dirty Dancing"
  • Heaven - Bryan Adams
  • Photograph - Nickelback
  • Landslide - Stevie Nicks
  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • It's My Life - Bon Jovi
  • Story of My Life - One Direction
  • You've Got a Friend in Me - Randy Newman
  • Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
  • 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
  • How Did I Fall in Love with You - Backstreet Boys
  • You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
  • Heroes - David Bowie
  • I Will Remember You - Sarah McLachlan
  • Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
  • Lean on Me - Bill Withers
  • Umbrella - Rihanna
  • Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
  • Crocodile Rock - Elton John
  • Live Like You Were Dyin' - Tim McGraw
  • Dirt - Florida Georgia Line
  • In My Life - The Beatles
  • Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
  • Closer to the Edge - 30 Seconds to Mars
  • Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
  • Seasons of Love - from "Rent" - Jonathan Larson
  • These Words - Natasha Bedingfield

Introduction Music

This is the music played when you, and your bridal party, enter the dinner and/or reception after the ceremony. Each person in the party is usually introduced, with the newlyweds presented last.

Here are some song suggestions for your bridal party's introduction music:

Introduction Music Song Ideas

  • I'll Be There for You - The Rembrandts
  • Get the Party Started - Pink
  • Me and My Gang - Rascal Flatts
  • Heathens - Twenty One Pilots
  • Ain't That a Kick in the Head - Dean Martin
  • Celebration - Kool N the Gang
  • All You Need is Love - The Beatles
  • You Shook Me - AC/DC
  • I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred
  • I'm Sexy & I Know it - LMFAO
  • Bottoms Up - Trey Songz (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
  • Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson (Feat. Bruno Mars)
  • Confident - Demi Lovato
  • Turn Down for What - DJ Snake and Lil' Jon
  • Tik Tok - Ke$ha
  • Dog Days are Over - Florence and the Machine
  • You're My Best Friend - Queen
  • Yeah - Usher (feat. Lil' Jon and Ludacris)
  • Here for the Party - Gretchen Willson
  • Shake it Off - Taylor Swift
  • I'm So Fancy - Iggy Izalea (feat. Charli XCX)
  • Power - Kanye West
  • Rock this Town - Stray Cats
  • Blow - Ke$ha
  • Jumpin, Jumpin - Destiny's Child
  • Everybody (Backstreet's Back) - Backstreet Boys

First Dance Music

The first dance is a VERY special moment for newlyweds. It is very important that the first dance song be *personal* for the couple. That being said, here are some suggestions to help you find the perfect special song for your special day:

First Dance Song Ideas

  • At Last - Etta James
  • Lucky - Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
  • A Thousand Years - Christina Perri
  • From this Moment On - Shania Twain (feat. Bryan White)
  • When You Say Nothing at All - Allison Krauss & Union Station
  • Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis Presley
  • Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers
  • Heaven - Bryan Adams
  • The Power of Love - Celine Dion
  • In My Life - The Beatles
  • My Heart Will Go On - from "Titanic" - Celine Dion
  • In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
  • Truly, Madly, Deeply - Savage Garden
  • It's Your Love - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
  • Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
  • When You Say You Love Me - Josh Groban
  • Marry Me - Train
  • Everything I Do (I Do it for You) - Bryan Adams
  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing - Aerosmith
  • You are so Beautiful - Joe Cocker
  • Come What May - from "Moulin Rouge"
  • It Had to Be You - Harry Connick Jr.
  • I Swear - All 4 One
  • Faithfully - Journey
  • No Ordinary Love - Sade
  • Here & Now - Luther Vandross
  • All My Life - K-CI & JoJo
  • When a Man Loves a Woman - Michael Bolton
  • Yes - Demi Lovato
  • All of Me - John Legend
  • Thinking out Loud - Ed Sheeran
  • For Once in My Life - Michael Buble
  • Make You Feel My Love - Adele
  • Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
  • Runaway - The Corrs
  • Amazed - Lonestar
  • Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
  • You've Made Me So Very Happy - Blood, Sweat, & Tears
  • I Can't Help Falling in Love with You - Elvis
  • It Had to Be You - Frank Sinatra or Harry Connick Jr.
  • Open Arms - Journey
  • Something - The Beatles
  • 2 Become 1 - Spice Girls
  • H.O.L.Y. - Florida Georgia Line
  • Have I Told You Lately - Rod Stewart
  • Power of Two - Indigo Girls
  • Because You Loved Me - Celine Dion

Bridal Party Music - The music you play if you want your wedding party to either dance excitedly together or dance awkwardly together...

Music for the Bridal Party is usually lighthearted & fun. Here are some suggestions:

Songs for the Bridal Party to Boogie to...

  • Friends - Michael Smith
  • Wannabe - Spice Girls
  • Friends in Low Places - Garth Brooks
  • We Are Family - Sister Sledge
  • Happy Together - The Turtles
  • Feel Right - Mark Ronson (Feat. Mystikal)
  • Cool for the Summer - Demi Lovato
  • Any of the songs on the "Introduction Music" list.

Daddy / Daughter Dance Music - The sentimental moment between a father & his daughter...

  • You are so Beautiful - Joe Cocker
  • My Girl - The Temptations
  • Butterfly Kisses - Bob Carlisle
  • Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel (Clay Aiken also does an outstanding version of this song.)
  • Hero - Mariah Carey
  • My Little Girl - Tim McGraw
  • Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel
  • Because You Loved Me - Celine Dion
  • Isn't She Lovely - Stevie Wonder
  • You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban

Mother / Son Dance Music - The special moment shared between a mom & her little boy!

  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • The Perfect Fan - Backstreet Boys
  • My Wish - Rascal Flatts
  • Stand By Me - Ben E. King
  • Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack
  • There You'll Be - Faith Hill
  • You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban
  • I Turn to You - Christina Aguilera

Bouquet Toss Music - The Bouquet toss can be a fun tradition at a wedding reception...

Call up all the single ladies & throw your flowers at them so they can fight over them.

Okay sounds good.

Here's some music to do it to:

Bouquet Toss Songs

  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
  • Man! I Feel Like a Woman! - Shania Twain
  • Run the World (Girls) - Beyonce
  • This One is For the Girls - Martina McBride
  • Redneck Woman - Gretchen Wilson
  • Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend - Marilyn Monroe
  • Material Girl - Madonna
  • Just a Girl - No Doubt
  • Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) - Beyonce

Garter Toss Music - Gather the single men...

The groom removes the bride's garter... often with his teeth or something, as his drunk groomsmen hoot & holler to encourage him. He then uses the garter like a rubber band & shoots it into a crowd of his drunk, single friends. They stumble about, someone emerges with the garter, & it will probably end up on his head.

During all this, here is the music I suggest playing:

Garter Toss Songs

  • Macho Man - The Village People
  • Theme from "Mission Impossible" - Danny Elfman
  • Wild Thing - The Troggs
  • Let's Get it On - Marvin Gaye
  • Bad Boys - Inner Circle
  • Kiss - Prince
  • One Way or Another - Blondie (or Mandy Moore)
  • Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
  • Oh Yeah - Yello
  • The Stripper - David Rose
  • S&M - Rihanna
  • For Your Entertainment - Adam Lambert
  • Do you Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
  • Private Dancer - Tina Turner

Plan on Having a Dollar Dance?

Dollar Dance Songs (Female): She Works Hard for the Money & Money, Money, Money. (Male): If I Had a Million Dollars & Billionaire

General Reception Music Ideas - Other stuff to dance to at the reception...

Group Dances are always good! Some great songs to do group dances to include:

-YMCA

-The Chicken Dance

-The Hustle

-Love Shack

-Cupid Shuffle

-C'mon Ride the Train

-Tootsie Roll

-Macarena

-Thriller (If you know it!)

-Cha Cha Slide

-Hokey Pokey

-Bunny Hop

-Gangnam Style

Other music to play? Well, anything already listed & the following songs are all good suggestions:

  • Moondance - Van Morrison
  • Lose Yourself to Dance - Daft Punk (Feat. Pharell)
  • True Believer - E-Type
  • It's Raining Men - Weather Girls
  • The Thong Song - Sisqo
  • Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
  • Footloose - Kenny Loggins
  • Dragostea Din Tei - Ozone
  • Life - E-Type
  • Jump Jive & Wail - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • Party Like a Rock Star - Shop Boyz
  • Barbie Girl - Aqua
  • When I Grow Up - The Pussycat Dolls
  • Circus - Britney Spears
  • The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson
  • Here for the Party - Gretchen Wilson
  • Pocketful of Sunshine - Natasha Bedingfield
  • Just Dance - Jamiroquai
  • I Like it, I Love it - Tim McGraw
  • Get Down - Backstreet Boys
  • Dance Like There's No Tomorrow - Paula Abdul & Randy Jackson
  • On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez (Feat. Pitbull)
  • I'll Be - Edwin McCain
  • Breathe - Faith Hill
  • The Reason - Hoobastank
  • A Moment Like This - Kelly Clarkson
  • Take it Off - Ke$ha
  • I Wanna Be with You - Mandy Moore
  • Can't Be Tamed - Miley Cyrus
  • Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
  • Every Time We Touch - Cascada
  • Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
  • Blackout - Breathe Carolina
  • Blow - Ke$ha
  • If I Had You - Adam Lambert
  • Sexy Chick - David Guetta (Feat. Akon)
  • Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad - Def Leppard
  • Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
  • Lady in Red - Chris DeBurgh
  • Let's Stay Together - Al Green
  • Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding
  • Love Will Keep Us Alive - The Eagles
  • Happy - Pharell Williams
  • Can't Stop the Feeling - Justin Timberlake
  • How's This? - Hyuna
  • Cake by the Ocean - DNCE
  • Harvest Moon - Neil Young
  • Hot in Herre - Nelly
  • Can't Hold Us - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • Rude - MAGIC!
  • Marry You - Bruno Mars
  • Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
  • Summer of 69 - Bryan Adams
  • Candy - Mandy Moore
  • Work It - Missy Elliott
  • Shut Up and Dance - Walk the Moon
  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody - Whitney Houston
  • Titanium - David Guetta ft. Sia
  • Dancing Queen - Abba
  • Any Way You Want it - Journey
  • Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top
  • In Da Club - 50 Cent
  • Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seger
  • So Young - The Corrs
  • Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers
  • I Love It - Icona Pop
  • Super Freak - Rick James
  • Bulletproof - La Roux
  • Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
  • Cheap Thrills - Sia

Last Dance Music

Pick one of these to be the LAST song of the night.

Pick a song to end the night on. When this song starts playing, that's everyone's cue to GET OUT! (But thanks for coming!)

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here...

— Semisonic

Last Dance Song Suggestions - It's the last one of the whole wedding... it better be good!

  • Last Dance - Donna Summer
  • Save the Best for Last - Vanessa Williams
  • Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day
  • Closing Time - Semisonic
  • What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  • Goodnight My Someone - from "The Music Man" - Shirley Jones
  • Bed - J. Holiday
  • Get the Funk Out - Extreme
  • Save the Last Dance for Me - The Drifters or Michael Buble
  • Don't You (Forget About Me) - Simple Minds

Make Your Wedding Day Special!

Remember: It is YOUR wedding. Pick music that fits YOU & the person you are MARRYING. Even if NOTHING you pick is in this guide!

Helpful Resources - Other great tips and web links

Wedding Music Tips:

-Make sure that the music is personal (to the bride and groom)

-Receptions can be divided musically (For example, the 1st half could be a live band playing family-friendly dance songs and romantic slow songs, and the 2nd half, when it's mostly young people and/or party gods, it could be a DJ playing house, dance, trance, dubstep, etc.)

-Receptions can also have cool activities in the place of music to dance to (karaoke, for example) but it could still be important to plan what will be included in the activity with whomever is running it.

-Soloists, small ensembles, bands, and DJs can book-up fast! Make sure to book musicians early. Also be sure that you pay any musicians well; if they are quality, give them quality pay. Some acceptable rates I have seen include: $50 an hour for a soloist and $100-$300 an hour for a band. (These are just examples.) Some bands/musicians/DJs may have set rates or negotiable rates. You will need to check with musicians in your area.

-If you have musician friends, by all means, if they're good... put them in your wedding! Seriously. I don't think I need to explain why, but in case I do, I have 2 main points: Friends are FREE, and they offer a deeper emotional experience than a stranger would. I mean... really.

-You can also be your own wedding DJ. I do not advocate this (1. because it takes away from your special day and 2. because it puts musicians like me out of jobs) so don't expect any more information on it. I'm just saying... you could. (But you shouldn't.)

-Check out these great links!

What did you think of this Wedding Music Guide?

Did my guide to wedding music help you out? Am I missing any of your favorite wedding songs? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Comments on PonchoMeg's Guide to Wedding Music

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      hola ponchomeg :) very nice lense you have here about wedding music and all the playlists you have for the wedding dj or wedding bands to play are perfect. Here are some amazing wedding bands in Los Angeles you might like, if you were in need of wedding musicians.