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A celebrant’s top tips for ceremony music

Oh hey there, it’s Shelley – by day, I work at Top Dog and on the weekend, I moonlight as a marriage celebrant. Working in both fields keeps me super invested in the music at a ceremony, so here are some tips!

Go live if you can.

Live music is magic at a ceremony. There is nothing better than a soulful vocal, a romantic tune played JUST FOR YOU. So, what are your options for live music? Well, I mean, really, they are endless, but the most popular things I am seeing currently are: strings, solo and duo acoustic lineups, and traditional jazz ensembles. When choosing a lineup for your ceremony, watch videos, have a listen to tracks, and make sure that you LOVE the sound they are putting out. Ensure they’re set up early to get the tunes started for your guest’s arrival – nothing better than setting the scene early. Don’t forget to chat about song choices early. If your musician needs to learn one of your favourite songs, they will need time to perfect it!

iPod – No worries!

So if live music isn’t your jam, it’s not in your budget, or if you just prefer your favourite songs in their original format, then playing the songs through a speaker is the way to go. Chat with your venue and celebrant to see what options you have to play music, whether they can press play for you, or whether you need to allocate a guest. Personally, I let everyone have access to my speaker. It is a beast of a Bose unit, and any guest can press play via Bluetooth using their phone. You won’t even know who is doing it! You send them into the ceremony early, I chat with them about the cues, give them a printout of the script to read along if that helps, and then remind them about fading out and not just cutting off a song when you get to the top of the aisle. It’s so easy, and I am yet to have a guest fail me on the tunes!

Choosing songs – how on earth do you narrow it down?

My main advice here is to choose songs you love. Don’t get stuck trying to choose from the list of most popular ceremony songs or focusing too much on finding a ‘love song’. Pick songs that you both love, that mean something to you and that will give the vibe you are after on the day. Wedding ceremony music doesn’t need to be lovey-dovey and romantic – upbeat works just as well and will have you skipping all the way up or down the aisle. Some of my recent less common and favourite tracks have been:

Baby, I Love Your Way – Big Mountain

(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You – UB40

Lovefool – The Cardigans

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

You Make My Dreams (Come True) – Daryl Hall & John Oates

How many songs will I need?

Okay, so for the aisle, you will need one, but some like to have their wedding party walk down to one song, then another separate song for the couple. So, potentially two for the aisle.

Then, depending on whether or not you sign the official documents during the ceremony, you may need a song or two for that. I say I’ll always get it done in one, but sometimes people get chatty, and it’s good to have that second one ready just in case.

Then, the recessional, the finale! Pick something fun and uplifting so that it can be heard above the cheering when we announce you as married. Walk back down the aisle together with a pep in your step, and your guests will embark on the next part of the day with a party vibe already activated!

At the end of the day – it’s YOUR big day, and you should include songs that set your hearts on fire. Who cares about the rest of the world? Are you an unabashed Madonna fan? Well, let’s get ‘Into the Groove’! If your heart beats to the rhythm of rock and roll instead of Ed Sheeran and his serenades, then give your guests a taste of ‘I Was Made For Loving You.’ Music at your ceremony isn’t background noise. It’s going to set the tone for the rest of the night and be the anthem to all of your wedding anniversaries!