57 Wedding Ceremony Songs to Make Your Day Sound Like the Two of You


We've got your processional, recessional, and classical needs covered

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

View More: http://allisonandres.pass.us/non-floral-centerpieces

One of the wedding questions I’m asked most often is, “How do we write a perfect for us, super moving wedding service?” Luckily, that is one of the easiest answers in wedding planning. Here is how: you pick a basic structure for a service, and pick meaningful-to-you wedding ceremony songs and readings to make the service your own.

But the truth is, finding perfect wedding ceremony songs can be a little tricky, because the requirements of venues and officiants vary widely. (A Catholic church is not going to let you play Dylan, no matter how lovely the song.) Plus, personal taste in music for wedding services is all over the map. But there are a few unifying factors for music that works really well in a ceremony: You want music that’s somewhat emotional, not crass (there is a time for “Baby Got Back,” but it’s not during the service), and familiar. You want to have your guests feel enveloped in a warm hug by the music, not trying to figure out what the hell it is.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up songs for each part of your wedding service, and divided them up by type. Want pop standards? Classical music? String quartet covers of classics? We’ve got you covered.

So go forth and create a meaningful wedding service with minimal tears. Well, minimal tears from you. I can only assume your guests will cry buckets over how perfectly you’ve expressed your love in music.

Please share what music you’ve used or are using in your service in the comments! After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, so you should invite the not yet married to follow your lead.

Wedding Ceremony Songs: processionals

Velvet Underground: “I’ll Be Your Mirror”

The Best Part: “When you think the night has seen your mind/That inside you’re twisted and unkind/Let me stand to show you that you are blind/Please put down your hands/’Cause I see you”

YO LA TENGO: “OUR WAY TO FALL”

The Best Part: “I remember your old guitar/I remember I Can’t Explain/I remember the way it looked around your neck/And I remember the day it broke/I remember the song you sang/I remember the way you looked tonight/And I remember the way it made me feel”

THE COrRS: “HASTE TO THE WEDDING”

“TWA BONNIE MAIDENS”

KEB’ MO’: “EVERY MORNING”

The Best Part: “And when I’m with you, it feels like heaven/And you’re an angel, holding me/Your sweet, sweet loving sets me free”

LOREENA MCKENNITT: “BRIAN BORU’S MARCH”

JOSH RITTER: “BABY THAT’S NOT ALL”

The Best Part: “In orbits round the glow/Cover lets and down/Will catch you when you fall/Baby that’s not all”

THEME FROM THE WEST WING

BOB DYLAN: “FOREVER YOUNG”

The Best Part: “May your hands always be busy/May your feet always be swift/May you have a strong foundation/When the winds of changes shift”

MAGNETIC FIELDS: “THE BOOK OF LOVE”

The Best Part: “The book of love has music in it/In fact that’s where music comes from/Some of it is just transcendental/Some of it is just really dumb/But I, I love it when you sing to me/And you, you can sing me anything”

THE WEEPIES: “SOMEBODY LOVED”

The Best Part: “Now my feet turn the corner back home/Sun turns the evening into rose/Stars turning high up above/You turn me into somebody loved”

MUMFORD AND SONS: “SIGH NO MORE”

The Best Part: “Love that will not betray you, dismay, or enslave you/It will set you free”

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL: “YOU HAVE STOLEN MY HEART”

The Best Part: “Invitation only grants farewells/Crash the best one of the best ones/Clear liquor and cloudy-eyed, too early to say goodnight”

IZ: “SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW”

The Best Part: “The colors of the rainbow/So pretty in the sky/Are also on the faces/Of people goin’ by”

BILLY JOEL: “SHE’S GOT A WAY”

The Best Part: “She’s got a smile that heals me/I don’t know why that is/But I have to laugh when she reveals me”

BEN E. KING: “STAND BY ME”

The Best Part: “If the sky that we look upon/Should tumble and fall/Or the mountain should crumble to the sea/I won’t cry, I won’t cry/No, I won’t shed a tear/Just as long as you stand, stand by me”

LEONARD COHEN: “HALLELUJAH”

The Best Part: “There’s a blaze of light/In every word/It doesn’t matter which you heard/The holy or the broken hallelujah”

WEDDING CEREMONY SONGS: RECESSIONALs

Johnny Cash: “I Walk The Line”

The Best Part: “I find it very, very easy to be true/I find myself alone when each day is through/Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you/Because you’re mine, I walk the line”

The Beach Boys: “God Only Knows”

The Best Part: “If you should ever leave me/Though life would still go on believe me/The world could show nothing to me/So what good would living do me?”

Cake: “Love You Madly”

The Best Part: “I don’t want to think about it/I don’t want to talk about it/When I kiss your lips/I want to sink down to the bottom of the sea”

The Muppets: “Life’s a Happy Song”

The Best Part: “Life smells like a rose with someone to ping with someone to pose/Life’s like a piece of cake with someone to pedal, someone to break/Life is full of glee with someone to saw, someone to see/Life’s a happy song when there’s someone by my side to sing along”

Death Cab for Cutie: “Stay Young, Go Dancing”

The Best Part: “Cause when she sings I hear a symphony/And I’m swallowed in sound as it echoes through me/I’m renewed, oh how I feel alive and through autumn’s advancing/We’ll stay young, go dancing”

The Ramones: “Baby I Love You”

The Best Part: “I can’t live without you/I love everything about you/I can’t help it if I feel this way”

Philip Phillips: “Home”

The Best Part: “Settle down, it’ll all be clear/Don’t pay no mind to the demons/They fill you with fear/The trouble it might drag you down/If you get lost, you can always be found”

Prince and the Revolution: “Kiss”

The Best Part: “I want to be your fantasy/Maybe you could be mine/You just leave it all up to me/We could have a good time”

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: “That’s What’s Up”

The Best Part: “Then I found forever/Hey, hey love/We’ve been best friends forever darling/That’s what’s up”

Stevie Wonder: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours”

The Best Part: “Then that time I went and said goodbye/Now I’m back and not ashamed to cry”

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” 

The Best Part: “Remember the day that I set you free/I told you you could always count on me, darling/From that day on, I made a vow/I’ll be there when you want me/Some way, somehow”

QUEEN: “CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE”

The Best Part: “There goes my baby/She knows how to rock ‘n’ roll/She drives me crazy/She gives me a hot and cold fever/Then she leaves me in a cool, cool sweat”

Wilco: “I Got You (At the End of the Century”

The Best Part: “All the way back in the seventies/You were my little TV queen/Y’er Tarzan and friend Janine/I got you/I got you and I still believe”

The Postal Service: “Brand New Colony”

The Best Part: “I’ll be the waterwings that save you if you start drowning/In an open tab when your judgment’s on the brink/I’ll be the phonograph that plays your favorite/Albums back as you’re lying there drifting off to sleep”

The Verve: “Bittersweet Symphony”

The Best Part: “I’ll take you down the only road that I’ve ever been down/Have you ever been down?”

The Beatles: “Across the Universe”

The Best Part: “Images of broken light, which/Dance before me like a million eyes/They call me on and on across the universe”

The Cure: “Just Like Heaven”

The Best Part: “Spinning on that dizzy edge/I kissed her face and kissed her head/And dreamed of all the different ways I had/To make her glow”

Ray LaMontagne: “You Are The Best Thing”

The Best Part: “Baby, we’ve come a long way, baby/You know, I hope and I pray that you believe me/When I say this love will never fade away”

Mariah Carey: “Always Be My Baby”

The Best Part: “You’ll always be a part of me/I’m part of you indefinitely/Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me/Ooh darling ’cause you’ll always be my baby”

Fleetwood Mac: “Landslide”

The Best Part: “Oh, take my love, take it down/Climb a mountain and turn around/And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills/Well the landslide will bring you down, down”

Elton John: “Your Song”

The Best Part: “So excuse me forgetting/But these things I do/You see, I’ve forgotten/If they’re green or they’re blue/Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean/Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen”

Taylor Swift: “Love Story”

The Best Part: “Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone/I’ll be waiting, all that’s left to do is run/You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess/It’s a love story baby, just say yes”

Jackson 5: “I’ll Be There”

The Best Part: “Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter/Togetherness is all I’m after/Whenever you need me, I’ll be there”

WEDDING CEREMONY SONGS: classical wedding music

John Williams: “Hedwig’s Theme”

J.S. Bach: “Sinfonia from Cantata No. 29”

Jeremiah Clarke: “Trumpet Voluntary”

“Prelude from Te Deum”

Jacques Ibert: “Trois PiÈces BrÈves”

Henry Purcell: “Rondeau from Abdelazer”

Handel: “Water Suite, no. 2 in D Major”

“Rondeau from Sinfonies de Fanfares”

J.S. Bach: “Suite for Orchestra No. 3 in D Major”

Bach: “Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major”

Aaron Copland: “Variations on a Shaker Melody”

Felix Mendelssohn: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61-111”

Barber: “Excursions Nos. 3 and 4”

Claude Debussy: “Clair de Lune”

Gustav Holst: “Chorale from Jupiter”

Bedrich Smetana: “MÁ Vlast Moldau”

Léo Delibes: “The Flower Duet”

Franz Schubert: “Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat Major”

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

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  • Dess

    APW to the rescue! Just found out some of our music choices aren’t going to work, but I’m not worried ’cause we’ve got this list! Whew.

  • louise danger

    yay a bunch of the classical music i like/picked is on the list! (…shh i might’ve gotten some leads from APW’s previous article about this) We might be having a Catholic church ceremony, so I dove deep, deep into the rabbit hole of Stuff I Love and Stuff My Colleagues Recommend (I work at a conservatory). My goal is a brass quintet plus the church’s organ. I love early choral motets, but my favorite pieces tend to be Christmas and Easter stuff (and Communion, which we are not doing), so I had to look elsewhere.

    The ones I picked:
    0. Richard Stoltzman – Maid with the Flaxen Hair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEITVTcGbzc
    This is normally a piano piece but it’s so, so, so pretty on the clarinet. I wanted it very badly for my processional or for the prelude, but my fiance became unspeakably sad when I auditioned it for him, so that’s out. :

    1. Bernstein – One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzIQdg5BmmU
    Although Catholic churches are pretty well known for not allowing secular/pop/showtunes music, this one is an exception for some reason in a lot of parishes and diocese. So if you’re itching to show off your showtunes gams, go for a classic! This would be part of the prelude.

    2. Bach/Gounod – Ave Maria (for organ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsdvnYfsye8
    Another prelude piece.

    3. Mussorgsky – the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5r8sa863Ts
    The last prelude piece, for the seating of the moms and signaling the beginning of the ceremony since it has a different tone from the others.

    4. Charpentier – Prelude to the ‘Te Deum’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCsqtRBxMIw
    Processional yaaaaaaa

    5. Bach – Sinfonia from Cantata 29 https://youtu.be/1Csynke0maE?t=1m1s
    Recessional. And I picked this one because a commenter on the previous APW ceremony music thread described it as “like a million angels high-fiving” and I auditioned it and realized holy jeez that’s exactly what this sounds like :o

    If we don’t have a church wedding, I don’t know what the music is going to look like, I have too many favorites. I keep trying to convince my fiance that the reception playlist should be 100% Queen, Bowie, and Prince, but it’s been a difficult sale to make so far. Alas.

    • Dess

      Brass quintet and organ=Yaaaas. If we were having an indoor/church ceremony, that would’ve been my goal too!

      • louise danger

        sooooo good *___* let the music just ricochet around the rafters for a little while. as someone else commented on that previous thread: go for that organ music! when else do you get to use it?

        we are probably going to be married outside in a state park overlooking a river so this is kind of all moot now (depends if the priest is available), and if that’s the case then i’m looking at fiddle/dulcimer/folk-type arrangements instead. the only thing i have on that list so far though is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kZASM8OX7s Ashokan Farewell, for the prelude or maybe the processional.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhS6OsdBxLI I really love the King George IV Reel, too. Maybe a recessional.

        @__@ why is there so much perfect music

        • Dess

          Jay Ungar and Molly Mason have so many good tunes!

    • Lisa

      I was going to mention Pictures at an Exhibition! Also “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations is a good classical wedding piece.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhnMd1Jl7SA

    • Lizzie

      YESSSS Flaxen Hair! That was our processional, played simply on the piano. Gave me the most amazing tranquil-chills ever.

  • savannnah

    Hedwig’s theme is my ringtone and brings me happiness every day. I also just convinced my fiance that I’m gonna walk down to the west wing theme and it won’t be too weird.

    • Lisa

      I don’t know who put that one on the list, but it is pure genius. We briefly considered doing the theme from Up during the wedding, but husband really wanted to incorporate the organ.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaLegF2hAxI

      • savannnah

        I could not handle anything from Up- I would be a ugly crying mess- I don’t cry at movies usually but I made my sister leave the the drive-in after that opening scene. But is is a lovely song!

        • Tinamerwin4

          <<a:t. ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::::!!bc431a:….,.

      • EF

        we did this :-D

      • stephanie

        I will add “Hedwg’s Theme” to every wedding playlist ever, but I think West Wing might be… Maddie?

        • Eenie

          I love that the west wing theme is just some random HS’s youtube video that’s just racking up the views!

  • Keri

    Our pre-ceremony music is going to start with “DJ’s choice” classical guitar during seating (because #lazybride) that transitions into 3 classical guitar over songs we picked off iTunes (artist – Chris Richter) – “Here Comes Your Man” – groomsmen assemble, “Such Great Heights” – prelude, and “Ho Hey” for the processional (one of “our songs”). Then for the recessional, a song my fiancé picked from the big list of APW songs somewhere: “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” I was super pleased with that pick because it was familiar but not one I’d think of, and he’s very excited for the tonal “switch-em up!”

    In other #lazybride news, we also did DJ choice for announcements because we’re not entirely sure what this entails and were all out of fucks to give at that point in the questionnaire.

    • louise danger

      ooh thank you for the Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher earworm :D what a delightful song for a Monday

      • Keri

        After I posted this, I played it on my laptop and my fiancé walked in and started bawling. (T minus 6 days).

  • Sarah Dee

    I feel like we are going full on weird but here it goes!
    I hired a solo violinist because our venue is small and she assured me that one violinist would be enough to fill the room… We are both of mixed celtic heritage and live in the US where my entire family has the big catholic wedding so lets just say they will find my choices interesting…

    I’ll be walking in to a violin rendition of On My Own from Les Mis (1:05 to 1:57 in the video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5TsA6CHpII

    Wedding party’s entrance: Concerning Hobbits
    https://youtu.be/gmn7QFvIwDM

    Hand Fasting – no music

    Recessional – Wind that Shakes the Barley
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsGau4-O8I0

    Postlude – Highland Wedding

    Sometimes I worry I may be going too literal with the whole Irish wedding thing (despite the songs from Les Mis and LOTR) but I love the sound of a fiddle <3

    • Jessica

      Sounds awesome! As a violinist myself (although it’s been way too long since I’ve played in public…) I would just say that one violin won’t sound too small at all, but I would make sure that she has enough amplification (eg a mike and sound system). Once a space fills up with people, their soft bodies absorb a lot of the sound, and a noise that would carry across the room loudly when it’s empty will get lost among the crowd.

    • Kaitlyn

      I LOVE this recessional piece.

  • cpostrophe

    We’re having a band play a string version of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” as our processional, and they’ve also agreed to do 15 minutes of classical as people are being seated, but I need to pull together about 15-30 minutes of pre-game music between when people start arriving and when the band starts and the Classical suggestions are exactly what I’m looking for.

    Also, we’re having an informal bar night the night before the wedding just so folks coming from out of town can mingle and have their reunions; and we just put together the 4 hour party playlist over the weekend. Listening to it on the way to work is getting me SO HYPED for this thing.

  • louise danger

    oh also – for any of y’all Pride and Prejudice fans, the Purcell Rondeau from Abdelazar linked above is the original/inspiration for the Netherfield Ball Lizzie/Darcy dance in the 2005 movie (when everyone else in the room disappears), if you’re looking for pretty violin music

  • SJ

    I walked down the aisle to Liz On Top of The World from the 2005 movie soundtrack. All instrumental and so, so gorgeous.

  • EF

    so many great suggestions here. and i love the queer and POC musicians included!

    we used ‘the world is ahead’ from the hobbit as the processional (after having played a lot of traditional irish fiddle music as people gathered) — remember, of course, we’re super nerds and our tables were named after places in lord of the rings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyUQMHtXwY0

    recessional was ‘married life’ from up and boy did it make people cry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjAWAUc_33k

    then went into ‘we belong together’ from toy story 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr9nRWPzKRo

    all these were on spotify, which is what i used for all the music.

    • stephanie

      I shot one wedding where they used “Misty Mountains” as the processional and it was SO GOOD.

  • Christine Hartlaub

    We started a playlist on Spotify when we first started dating and filled it up with songs that we loved and felt expressed our relationship at that moment, so our ceremony song choices are essentially coming straight from that playlist. For the processional, we’re planning on “Lucky” by Kat Edmondson, and for the recessional, we’re leaning towards “Heaven” by The Walkmen (yep, that’s a HIMYM reference). Both songs make us a little weepy when we think about them playing at the ceremony, and I think that’s a pretty good indication we’re on the right track. :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68xjjR5ztoQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOHlNR7Iq_U

  • Rhie

    In the alternate reality version of my wedding, we would process in to Outro by M83 and recess back out to Midnight City:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DJ3-BVMjOs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3k_QDnzHE

    • kate

      yaaaaas. we had some M83 on the ceremony music shortlist, didn’t make the cut, but i listened to it so much leading up to deciding that it’s still tied up with the wedding in my mind anyway. :)

  • Olive

    Our processional was an acoustic version of 500 Miles by Sleeping at Last, and our recessional was the more well known version of the same song by The Proclaimers.

    It was a random idea we came up with after I found the acoustic version, and I’m so happy we stuck with it!

    • Rebekah Jane

      I considered this one! I’m so glad someone else in this universe went with it!

  • Kat

    Every time the West Wing theme makes it onto one of these lists I’m so so happy. Lol
    Also I can’t listen to anything by Dashboard Confessional without dissolving into tears because my inner 14 year old is extremely sentimental. Yikes.

    • clarkesara

      Ha! I just saw that Joe Biden married a couple at the official VP residence, and was thinking that would be the perfect situation to walk down the aisle to the West Wing theme song.

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    My husband and I are huuuuuge classical nerds, so I wanted to share some of my thoughts on picking classical music for weddings!

    1. The biggest problem with choosing a piece is that most of them are too long for your purposes as is. If you don’t do audio editing, your best bets will be movements from Bach’s cello suites and shorter cuts from movie soundtracks. We chose a beautiful movement from one of Vivaldi’s violin concerti for our processional…it was only two and a half minutes long and we still had to edit it down.

    2. Are you hiring a live musician? Please don’t ask them to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D. They’ll secretly hate you forever.

    3. If you intend on making a playlist that mixes classical music with really any other genre, make sure you or someone you know is experienced in adjusting sound levels. Otherwise, if the volume is turned up loud enough to hear your classical selection, it’ll be BLARING your other selections and the transitions will be very jarring. I learned this the hard way during my teen years, when I’d routinely throw Debussy on the same mix CD as Shakira.

    In case you need more inspiration, here are a couple of pretty pieces we also considered using!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBw6IALsJk0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ftpj5BFJLU

    • louise danger

      the cantique de jean racine is so beautiful. A+ for bringing it to this thread :D

  • JC

    Every time APW posts one of these, I get new ideas for ceremony music, and it is the sweetest feeling!

  • clarkesara

    Question: I’m dying to walk down the aisle to “You’re My Best Friend”, by Queen. But is it too fast? I found an instrumental cover that I might use instead if I feel like it just doesn’t work as walking music. But Queen! Rad! Yeah! Yeah? Has anyone else walked down the aisle to upbeat/non-slow rock music?

    Heavily into “Modern Love” by Bowie for the recessional, but then I feel like that’s just way too goddamn much classic rock for the wedding of an indie girl to a punk dude.

    • kate

      we used england by the national and an explosions in the sky song for our processionals – both get a little rocky/fast part way through and it was fine! i think it’s all about the vibe you’re going for and what’s going to make you feel joyful/centered etc. at the time, so if you love it, my vote is go for it!
      (pro tip: your DJ might be able to manipulate the song a little bit to optimize too – slowing it down just a tad and/or starting it at a particular point)

  • Shawna

    We met through Beatles music but didn’t want to use any Beatles songs in the ceremony as we had a Beatles-themed party the night before the wedding (in lieu of a rehearsal dinner). So picking music turned into a crazy months-long process of feeling like we’d found an ok thing and then changing it because it just wasn’t right for us (too me vs us or too bland or too something).

    We ended up with these and they were PERFECT:
    The signal that the ceremony was about to start (not a processional for him bc he was already on the lawn): Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies (his long-time favorite band)
    Processional: If Not for You – George Harrison
    Recessional: What Is Life – George Harrison

    The pro and re reverse the order of the songs on All Things Must Pass, but they were simply perfect for us (quietly loving and then celebratory). We both know George’s music inside and out AND there’s a continuity with me and my parents because that was one of their main albums together so I’ve bopped to it since I was a kid. So all 3 of us walking in together to If Not For You toward him…it made a lot of sense. Plus it made everyone bawl (almost myself included).

  • Amanda

    I am processing in to Bob Dylan’s “Make you Feel my Love” on the piano, and we are recessing to The Addams Family Theme on the organ. Cannot wait!!