Get Excited: Your Ceremony Music Problems Just Got Solved


Three cheers for supporting women who slay!

by Stephanie Kaloi

modern wedding songs vol 1 by atlantis string duo

Planning a modern, intentional wedding ceremony generally involves navigating where and when to go traditional versus personal—whether that’s figuring out how to add individuality to a formal ballroom wedding, or how to make sure your backyard BBQ feels as momentous as the commitment you’re making to each other—and choosing ceremony music is one way to solve this (timeless) problem.

Music can communicate so much—your feelings for your partner, your memories with family and friends—and your choice of music can say, “This is what this day is about for us.” That means you’ll tend to want to select music that has special meaning to you as a couple, or to your family and friends. And there is probably someone somewhere in your sphere of influence who has their heart set on a string quartet, and it may be you. Probably true statistical fact: weddings awaken a love of classical music in at least fifty percent of people.

TL;DR: This is why so many people opt for instrumental covers of modern songs as ceremony music. It’s classic, it’s timeless… and it’s unique and hip, all at once. So today we get to introduce you to Atlantis: A 21st Century String Duo, who offer awesome covers of modern song choices in traditional string instrument style. Available in person in Atlantic Canada, and in a downloadable album or individual tracks for the rest of us, Atlantis will help your wedding music blend the traditional and the modern without compromising your values or your budget.

track list from atlantis string duoAtlantis consists of violinist Sarah Beth Shiplett and cellist Katherine Moller, who are lifelong string musicians and have been performing wedding music together since 2012. (Live coverage in Atlantic Canada starts at $550 CAD for cocktail hour coverage and $650 CAD for wedding coverage, both of which include up to three custom violin-cello arrangements of your favorite songs. How cool is that?)

As the demand for their services outgrew the number of events they could physically play at, Sarah Beth and Katherine decided to go into the studio and record music that couples can use no matter where in the world their wedding is. (And no matter what their budget is!) Sarah became an APW reader while planning her own wedding last year, so you guys were the first people she thought of when the album was ready for release.

Modern Wedding Songs Vol. 1 is available for purchase on iTunes and Google Play for $12.49. Curious about the track list? It’s killer:

  1. “Thinking out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)
  2. “All of Me” (John Legend)
  3. “First Day of My Life” (Bright Eyes)
  4. “The Way I Am” (Ingrid Michaelson)
  5. “The Only Exception” (Paramore)
  6. “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz)
  7. “I Choose You” (Sara Bareilles)
  8. “Just the Way You Are” (Bruno Mars)
  9. “Halo” (Beyoncé)
  10. “Ho Hey” (The Lumineers)

Now if you’re reading along and thinking, “But wait… isn’t there already that string quartet that does covers?” the answer is yes—but Atlantis interprets the songs they cover quite differently. Atlantis puts more emphasis on literal interpretations of songs, which means Sarah Beth’s violin follows the original vocal line, and Katherine’s cello provides subtle background texture and chords, producing an overall more mellow tone. Their arrangements interpret the original song as faithfully and unobtrusively as possible to enable you to hear the lyrics in your head, thus conjuring up the feelings you have when you hear the original. As they explained:

Our goal is to create this sense of hearing the lyrics in your head as you’re listening to our cover, because the lyrics are what usually makes a song meaningful for a wedding. We try to stay out of the way, and to enable the connection between the person and the original song, which is obviously very important to them if they’re using it in their wedding.

Atlantis also offers totally unique 45-second versions of each song, which come in super handy. For every track on the album, there is both a full-length version and the shorter 45-second version. That shorter version isn’t a cut—it’s an entirely separate arrangement and recording that pulls together the beginning, middle, and end of each song. Why 45 seconds? That’s basically exactly how much time you need for a wedding processional/recessional or other transitional moment. Sarah Beth and Katherine, y’all! They’ve got your backs. Gone are the days when you had to figure out the best way to excerpt or fade in/out a song that you love for 45 seconds while you light candles or sign your marriage certificate. Now you can use an arrangement that’s been put together by experts.

At this point, it’s possible that you’re all, “Yes, Stephanie, I get that these women are seriously talented—but can’t I just grab an instrumental cover off YouTube for free?” And well, I can’t stop you, because… the Internet. But consider this: The covers on Modern Wedding Songs Vol. 1 are one hundred percent legal and fully licensed. That means when you purchase a track on iTunes or Google Play, the original songwriter (as well as Sarah Beth and Katherine) gets a cut. And when you consider that the songwriter wrote the lyrics and melody that speak to you so deeply you want to feature them in one of the defining moments in your relationship, 99¢ seems like a small price to pay (not to mention that the quality of the music you purchase legally is far superior to anything you can rip online). Purchasing legally licensed cover songs is one of the ways your wedding planning can reflect your values, by ensuring that the price of your download contributes to fairly compensating both songwriters and performing artists.

So whether you’re a pop aficionado married to a classical buff, dealing with a co-planner who has strong feels about traditional versus modern music choices, or you just love string quartets and supporting women who own small businesses, get on over to the Atlantis website. Download Modern Weddings Song Vol. 1, read more about Atlantis, hire them for your wedding, or just send an email telling them how cool they are.

Modern Wedding Songs Vol. 1 is available for purchase as an album or individual tracks on iTunes and Google Play.

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! ? ? ?).

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  • Bethany

    OMG. I think this has solved all my ceremony problems. I have my heart set on Sara Bareilles “I Choose You” and my jaw literally dropped when I saw it on the track list. I started trying to edit it myself but it has been more of a struggle than I anticipated. Buying ASAP!

    • I’m so glad to hear this! Eee enjoy! :) :) :)

  • LP

    The Way I Am was our first dance song :)

  • CrazyCatLibrarian

    I’m hiring a quartet that includes my college stand partner (we both play viola) and I can’t decide whether I want to walk down the aisle to The Piano Guys version of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, or the Romantic Theme from How To Tame Your Dragon…

    • Ooooh are you taking votes? Put me down for How To Tame Your Dragon if so! Gets me right in the feels every time. <3

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        I had never even known that was an option until I saw their playlist! We both loved the movie but it just didn’t occur to me. If I do Elvis it really needs to be that specific arrangement, and the group already has music for a regular version, so now I’m leaning towards the Dragon :)

    • Cleo

      not related, but hi fellow violist!!! Always get so excited when I see/meet another one :)

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        Hi! :)

  • Alyssa Andrews

    First Day of My Life. YES!

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