Ceremony Music: what you need to know

It doesn’t matter if you prefer the Star Wars Death March, Cannon in D or Video Games, your ceremony music is your choice and can be anything you want it to be! Live band, soloist, iPod or choir…there are no restrictions, so make sure you take the time to choose exactly what you want.  Here are a few tips on planning and choosing how your ceremony music will be delivered and what you need to know…

Ceremomy Music Radio on Chair .png

Band, soloist, choir, family friend or iPod? No music at all? 

Band or singer: Live music for your ceremony is the best option if it’s within your budget.   Choosing your musician is based on your personal style and the tone you want to set.  Musicians in Ireland put a huge effort into their website and social media so you can click and listen to their repertoire and get a feel for their style. Many bands will also play for your pre-dinner drinks and your reception. So speak them about a package deal.

iPod or recording: Having prerecorded music at your ceremony is a great idea if your chosen pieces are very unusual, your budget does not stretch to live performers, or if it’s just your preference.  What’s REALLY important if you choose this option is:

  • The person who is responsible for playing the music knows what they are doing.
  • They have tested the sound and know where in the song/instrumental they are starting from and where to finish.  A song cannot be just ‘stopped’, rather it needs to fade out naturally or end on a perfect cadence.
  • The volume has been tested and is set correctly.
  • They pay attention to the celebrant!!  The celebrant and the musician work together so the ceremony is seamless.  So the person hitting ‘play’ needs to keep an eye on the celebrant and not drift off into the ceremony!pao-edu-103398-unsplash

Choir: Personally I melt when I hear a choir sing, especially when it’s an upbeat jazzy group like the Dublin Gospel Choir or a children’s choir.  Guests love being involved, so while you might cringe at the thought of everyone clapping along to the music, your guests will love it! Remember your ceremony sets the tone for the rest of your day.

Guests joining in: I performed a ceremony where instead of a reading, the couple wanted their guests to join in on a song.  It was a huge success because of two things: firstly everyone had a copy of the words and secondly the song was lead by a great singer who could ‘get the crowd going’.

Family or friend who is not a professional singer: This option can work really well, but there are a few red flags I would raise:

  • If the singer can belt out songs at the end of a good party, but you have never heard them sing in broad daylight, you need to make sure they have the confidence to sing for your ceremony.
  • Standing in front of 100+ people and knowing this is their friend’s big day, can place pressure on the performer. So make sure to iron out all the kinks beforehand.
  • For most venues, the singer/musician will need sound equipment, and this will be an extra cost.
  • Again, it takes practice to sing into a microphone and balance the sound, so take the time to get this right.

No music: I have only performed one ceremony that did not have music.  But the circumstances were unique, it was just the couple, the photographer and of course, me. The noise of the flowing river was beautiful, and nothing more was needed. But in general, omitting music is not something I recommend.  Guests need a break from listening to the ceremony and a moment to reflect. Music is always the best choice for a break.

What music should we choose? You have to do your homework and really think about your favorite music, song, theme tune or instrumentals. Not just from today, but from your entire life.

I  have created a list of the most popular and unique music choices that have been used in ceremonies I have had the privilege to deliver.

In no particular order…

  • Song Bird (Fleetwood Mac)
  • Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
  • Signed Sealed Delivered (Steve Wonder)
  • Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel)
  • Air on G String (J.S. Bach)
  • She Moved Through The Fair
  • This I Promise You (Ronan Keating)
  • I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
  • Falling Slowly (The Swell Season)
  • The Rose (Bette Midler)
  • Cannonball (Damien Rice)
  • Suite for Solo Cello (J.S. Bach)
  • Lay Me Down (Sam Smith)
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis)
  • Marry You (Bruno Mars)
  • At Last (Etta James)
  • Clair de Lune (Claude Debussay)
  • Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone)
  • Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles)
  • Video Games (Lana del Ray)
  • Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison)
  • True Colours (Cindi Lauper)
  • A Thousand Years (Christine Perri)
  • All Of Me (John Legend)
  • Star Wars Death March
  • Highway to Hell (ACDC)
  • Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) 
  • The Promise
  • The Way You Look Tonight (Eric Clapton)
  • No Way To Say Good-Bye (Leonard Cohen)
  • Dreams (Fleetwood Mac)
  • When Doves Cry (Prince)
  • Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve)
  • Galileo (Declan O’Rourke)
  • Never Tear Us Apart (INXS)
  • All I Want Is You (U2)
  • Whatever (Oasis)
  • Glasglow Love Theme (Craig Armstrong) 
  • We’ve Only Just Begun (The Carpenters)
  • You’ve Got The Love (Ellie Goulding)
  • It Must Be Love (Madness)
  • How long will I love you (Ellie Goulding)

  • Kiss Me (Six Pence The Richer)
  • The Wedding March – Recessional (Felix Mendelssohn)
  • Prince of Denmark’s March (Jeremiah Clarke)
  • Ode to Joy (Ludwig van Beethoven)
  • Brandenburg Concerto No 3 (J.S. Bach)
  • Spring from Four Seasons (Antonio Vivaldi)
  • Higher Love (James Vincent McMorrow)
  • Is This Love (Bob Marley)
  • Sky Full Of Stars (Cold Play)
  • Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan)
  • Nella Fantisia (Ennio Morricone and lyrics by Chiara Ferraù)
  • Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Eva Cassidy)
  • I Promise You (Donna Taggert)
  • Hey Ho (The Lumineers)
  • In My Life (The Beatles)
  • This Is The One (Stone Roses)
  • Forever Young (Neil Young)
  • Hard to Concentrate (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
  • Home by (Edward Sharpe)
  • Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra)
  • Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)
  • God Only Knows (Brian Wilson) 
  • Viva la Vida (Coldplay)
  • You Make My Dreams Come True (Hall & Oats)
  • Your Song (Elton John)
  • Modern Love (David Bowie)
  • Queen of Sheba (Handel)
  • The Wedding March (Wagner)
  • Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring (J.S.Bach)

When should I book my musicians? Right now!! If you have your heart set on a band or musician, book as soon as you can, so you are not disappointed.

I also have a Ceremony/Wedding Music Board on my Pinterest page.  I will keep updating the list as I find new ideas.

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