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Anyone in the midst of planning a wedding knows that wedding songs are one of the most important decisions to be made. But it isn’t until the couple sits down with their band or DJ to finalise their list of songs that they realise just how many they’ll need to choose. Most modern weddings have a running soundtrack throughout the various elements of the day, and there may be more parts of of your wedding than you realise.
But since we’re here to reduce your pre-wedding stress levels, not add to them, we have broken your wedding down into its various elements and provided our tips for choosing the best wedding songs for every aspect of your wedding, in chronological order.
1. The Processional
The processional is the time when the bride and bridesmaids, and any other members of the bridal party, make their way down the aisle. Ask any child what song is played when a bride walks down the aisle and they’ll most likely hum “Here Comes the Bride” (da dum de dum…), but in reality you can walk down the aisle to any song of your choosing. You will also need to choose a different song for your bridesmaids and other bridal party members, and perhaps another, cuter, more upbeat choice if you have flower girls and page boys leading the way.
2. The Recessional
Let’s take a moment to talk about “Love Actually.” Remember in the opening scenes during Peter and Juliet’s wedding, when their lovely friend Mark organised for the orchestra (who had previously been hiding in the crowd) to play “All You Need Is Love” as a surprise? That was the recessional. It’s the moment when the couple walk down the aisle in the opposite direction, and are now newlyweds.
3. Cocktail Hour
It’s known as “cocktail hour,” but you don’t have to serve cocktails. Basically it’s that awkward period of time between the ceremony and the reception, when you and the rest of your wedding party are most likely off having your photos taken, and you need to give the rest of your wedding guests something to do while they wait for you to return. Sometimes cocktails are served, and sometimes some hors d’oeuvres make their way around the waiting guests. The music that you choose for this section of your wedding should be easy listening at its best – nothing too exciting to put your wedding guests in full party mode while you’re not even there, but nothing that is going to make them feel bored or tired, either.
4. Entering Your Reception
It’s the moment many couples dream of: entering their wedding reception (often sporting a change of wardrobe as well) and being introduced as husband-and-wife. The music that you choose for this moment will go some way towards setting the tone for the rest of the reception. Think upbeat and happy: you’re looking to convey your excitement to the rest of your guests.
5. First Dance As a Married Couple
If you already have “your song” – the song that has a great deal of meaning between you and your partner, then this is the perfect choice for your first dance. It doesn’t matter if your song isn’t a traditionally romantic song: keep in mind that this is your wedding and the song you choose to play for your first dance as a married couple should be the song that has the most meaning to you, even if it is an R&B banger that has the rest of your wedding guests scratching their heads in confusion.
6. Father-Daughter Dance
Tradition dictates that the bride will dance with her father (or another male role model of her choice, such as a stepfather or grandfather) immediately after the couple’s first dance. For some reason the bride’s dance with her father is often more of a tear-jerking moment than the couple’s first dance, so it is your choice as to whether you choose to play music to accentuate the emotion associated with the moment, or whether you’ll lighten the mood with a more upbeat tune.
7. Reception Music
You’ll need a whole playlist of songs to last you throughout your reception, which may go well into the early hours of the morning. It is completely up to you whether you decide to create your playlist in advance; whether you allow your wedding guests to request songs; or whether you’ll give your DJ or band free reign to play the songs of their choice. If you opt to let others choose songs throughout the evening, we would advise providing your DJ or band with a “Do Not Play” list, so that you don’t have to worry that your embarrassing uncle will request something awkward like “Thank Heavens for Little Girls.”
8. Cutting the Cake
While almost every wedding will have some semblance of a wedding cake, not every wedding will have a specific song to mark the occasion. If you do decide to choose a song to play while you are cutting the cake, we would advise choosing an upbeat song, as the cake cutting portion of the wedding is often one of the most enjoyable for wedding guests to watch.
9. Tossing the Bouquet
The single women in attendance at your wedding will most likely be eagerly awaiting your bouquet toss, so give them a fun, upbeat song to listen to throughout the big event. The last thing you want to do is make your single guests feel embarrassed or depressed about not yet being married, and there are plenty of anthems that celebrate female power that you could choose from.
Choosing the perfect music for every element of your wedding is no easy feat, and the songs you choose will tell a story about you, your relationship, and the kind of wedding you’re holding (a strictly black tie wedding is unlikely to have hip-hop music featured on its playlist).
After all that effort, don’t let your wedding music choices disappear after the big day: create a graphic listing the various songs you’ve chosen for your wedding (or ask your most artistic bridesmaid to help you out with this task) and turn it into a clever canvas print. So many of your wedding memories will be tied in with the music that was playing at the time, so keep your wedding memories alive by displaying your wedding music selection for all to see.