Ideas for wedding ceremony music and hymns
Whether you’re having a church wedding or civil ceremony there is a big difference to what wedding ceremony music you can pick. If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s some inspiration for your ceremony music…
Civil ceremony music
Although the rules have been relaxed in the past, the main thing you will have to bear in mind when picking out your civil ceremony music is that it must contain no religious references (this goes for your wedding readings too). Some registrars are more lenient than others, while others will allow instrumental versions of hymns if there are no words sung, but it’s always worth checking well in advance to avoid any last-minute panics.
The main pieces of music you’ll need for your civil ceremony are your processional (your entrance music), the music for the signing of the register, and your recessional (which plays as you leave the ceremony). Your music choices will be a lot shorter than those of a church, as the aisle walk and signing tend to take less time.
We love the sound of live musicians for a civil ceremony, as it can really help to set the atmosphere, especially in a large ceremony venue. A string quartet or harpist is perfect for an elegant venue, or you could opt for an acoustic guitar for a more casual ceremony. Alternatively, you could opt for your favourite music on a CD or MP3 player – just be sure to check that the sound system is set up well in advance. Some of our favourite modern picks include:
- At Last, Etta James
- All Of Me, John Legend
- All You Need is Love, The Beatles
- A Thousand Years, Christina Perri
- One Day Like This, Elbow
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Stevie Wonder
- Beautiful Day, U2
- God Only Knows, The Beach Boys
- First Day of My Life, Bright Eyes
- Happy, Pharrell Williams
See more information on civil ceremony music here.
Church wedding music
If you’re having a ceremony in a church, then you’ll have to choose slightly more music than a civil ceremony, because your service is likely to include hymns. There are usually at least two hymns during a church service; one after the bride arrives, and one after the final prayers, just before the end of the service. However, depending on your chosen church and service, there may be up to four. We’ve listed some of our favourite hymns here to inspire you, but be sure to speak to your organist or musicians beforehand to check that they know the hymns you’re requesting.
As well as the hymns, you’ll also need entrance and exit music, as well as music for while you and your new spouse sign the register. You may want to use the church’s musicians, such as the organist or choir, but this will cost you extra, so be sure to check with your vicar. Alternatively, you may want to hire your own musicians, such as a string quartet, or simply play the music on a CD or MP3 player. However, we always advise that you check your music choices with your priest or vicar, as some churches are stricter than others when it comes to both music choices and whether the music must be recorded or live.
Some of our favourite classical suggestions for entrance and exit songs for a church ceremony:
- Clair de Lune, Debussy
- Canon in D, Pachelbel
- Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, from ‘Solomon’, Handel
- Trumpet Voluntary, aka the Prince of Denmark’s March, Jeremiah Clarke
- Salut D’Amour, Elgar
- Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, Wagner
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, J S Bach
- Wedding March – Incidental Music No.9 from Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mendelssohn
- Toccata from Widor’s 5th Symphony in F
See more information on wedding hymns here.