When I was in college, my senior capstone project involved working with a local wedding venue to revamp their marketing strategy to make them appeal more to the local community, and specifically to students on our campus. We got to talk to the venue manager and one of the first things we asked her was what her couples didn’t like about the venue.
It might seem weird to start off with a negative, but I promise my trip down memory lane has a point to it.
She told us that one of the biggest complaints is that their ceremony site was limited to a very small selection of pre-approved music. As a bunch of college seniors, we didn’t think much of it, shrugged that tidbit of knowledge off to focus on all of the details we could spin into positives, and moved on. But, as a bride, I started thinking about how big of a deal music can play in your wedding day. And, since you’re not limited to any particular song selections at The Chandelier, the choices are endless.
I’ve never been much of a music person. I enjoy it, but I can’t identify the artist or name of a song 9 times out of 10 and my vows literally included a line about me making up song lyrics. Kevin, on the other hand, might as well have a photographic memory of song lyrics and can still rap songs that he hasn’t heard since high school if they happen to come on. So, when it came to wedding planning, music was one of the last things that I had on my mind. I knew I wanted a good DJ, but I trusted him to pick the songs and keep us on the dance floor. Similarly, when my videographer asked if I had song preferences for our videos, I stared blankly at her and just told her to choose what she thought fit us.
But, as wedding planning progressed, my attitude towards our wedding music changed significantly. I knew I needed to pick the big songs, like our first dance and what I would dance to with my Dad, but didn’t think much past there. It was one of the last things I did, but it is hands down one of the easiest ways to personalize your day – and it doesn’t cost anything extra. It can also be one of the most impactful.
When it came time to decide on the rest of the songs for our wedding, I had no idea where to begin. I’d looked up lists and thought of songs I knew, but nothing seemed to stand out, so I started listening to the radio all the time. Slowly but surely, I found songs that I loved. It wasn’t until after the wedding that I realized how much the music meant and how thankful I was that we took the time to make the music ours.
When I was walking down the aisle, I was about a quarter of the way to the ceremony site when I heard the first bit of my song. That was the first moment that it became real that I was actually walking toward my future husband and about to say I Do. Bride to bride, if you choose nothing else, choose the song you’re walking down the aisle to. I still get choked up every time I hear that song – and I hear it a lot now because it just so happened to win Song of the Year at The CMA Awards. The funny thing is I almost didn’t choose it, because I was afraid it was too “popular,” but I decided I liked it too much to care. That’s a whole other story for another day, but for now I’ll just say to make choices that you love, regardless of what others will think.
We still let our DJ choose the vast majority of the songs for the night, but we chose the big moments. Every single song meant something to us – even if it just meant that we loved it – and it truly personalized our day so much. We had friends send us Snapchats of our songs on the radio after the wedding, so we know it was actually noticed by others, but it’s also what led our videographer to some of her choices for songs in our video. The videos sounds and look great to anyone watching, but to us we’re brought right back into that moment because we know that song.
So, if you want the easiest way to personalize your wedding, here’s a list of a bunch of moments you can choose the music for:
Ceremony Song Opportunities
- Family Entrance
- Groom Entrance
- Bridal Party Entrance
- Bride Entrance
- Special Ceremony (candle lighting, feet washing, prayers, sand ceremony, cord ceremony, etc)
- First Kiss & Bride and Groom Exit
- Bridal Party Exit
- Guest Exit
Reception Song Opportunities
- Bridal Party Entrance
- Bride and Groom Entrance
- Bride and Groom First Dance
- Bride/Groom & Parent Dances
- Wedding Party Dance
- Background for Toasts
- Cake Cutting
- Open the Dance Floor
- Dollar Dance
- Grand March (on repeat, or just to kick it off)
- Bouquet Toss
- Garter Toss
- Wedding Anniversary Dance (all couples start dancing, then your DJ/Band announces anniversaries in increasing increments until the couple married the longest is the last one dancing)
- Alma Maters or Fight Songs
- Final Dance of the Night
- Private Last Dance
- Grand Exit
and if you really love choosing music, here are some Playlist Opportunities
- Engagement Party
- Bridal Shower
- Bachelorette and Bachelor Party
- Wedding Week
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Wedding Morning/Getting Ready
- Prelude for Guest Arrival
- Cocktail Hour
- Wedding Portraits (play off a phone or small portable speaker to make portraits more fun)
- Reception Dinner
- Reception Dance or Must Plays for Reception
- After Party
- Wedding Video (mini playlist, depending on the length of your video(s))
Feel free to mix and match these and make them work for you. Every timeline and ceremony plan is a little different, so some song options may not work for you or you may have opportunities for songs that we didn’t list here.