Playlist: Decided

Since March was a relatively light month for wordless weddings, we thought we’d throw in an extra treat for you guys today. Instead of just featuring songs from just last month’s weddings in today’s playlist, we’ve resurrected some classic APW wordless weddings for your listening and viewing pleasure. We’ve included one of my all-time favorite wordless weddings, Jennah & Gary’s Hilarious Austin Wedding, which I refer to mostly as the “flying chicken” wedding. And also, not to get all best-ever on y’all, but Kiara & John’s wedding not only has all the style, but also has a song I still remember, “French Navy.” BAM.

And while you listen, how about lending your opinion to our next playlist in the comments? It’s occurred to us over the past few weeks that most of the playlists we’ve been putting together have been of the secular variety. So this time we want to hear your suggestions for best religious ceremony music. Then over the next few weeks, we’ll round up some of your suggestions into a future playlist. As someone who had a Jewish wedding, and whose parents had an Episcopal wedding, this is for real how I roll. Trumpet voluntaries, hymns, gimmie your best stuff. Signed, the girl who would never play One Direction in her ceremony (SORRY MADDIE). Your staff, as ever, tries to give each of you someone to identify with. Classical ladies, let’s do this up right.



And now, the musical stylings of Decided:

Decided from practicalmaddie on 8tracks Radio.

  1. “All Your Life” by The Band Perry from Laura & Kate’s Science-Meets-Literary Nerd Chic Wedding
  2. “Midnight City” by M83 from Katie & Peter’s International London Bash
  3. “The Best is Yet to Come” by Michael Bublé from Alyssa & Kyle’s Seattle Zoo Wedding
  4. “Earth Angel” by The Penguins from Alison & Nick’s Comedy Theater Wedding
  5. “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele from Jacquetta & Shaneequa’s Self-DJ’d Reception
  6. “Love is Like a Bottle of Gin” by Magnetic Fields from Lyn & Chad’s Kick-Ass Santa Barbara Historical Museum Wedding
  7. “So Long, Lonesome” by Explosions in the Sky from Kayce & Matty’s DIT Hawaiian Labor of Love
  8. “French Navy” by Camera Obscura from Kiara & John’s Laid-Back Small Scottish Bash
  9. “Escape Artist” by Zoe Keating from Kate (APW’s copy editor!) & Kevin’s Green San Francisco Church and Beer Hall Wedding
  10. “Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello from Jennah & Gary’s Hilarious Austin Wedding with a Flying Chicken

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  • Liz B.

    I seriously considered walking down the aisle to an excerpt from Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, specifically the variations on the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”. The hymn is beautiful in and of itself- add that to the fact that Appalachian Spring is a ballet about getting married and the start of that marriage and it’s perfection. Even though we didn’t use it, my heart sings every time I hear it.

    For more info on the song, here’s the wikipedia link (which includes the lyrics):

    • Lauren

      I love this song! That is a great idea! I am trying to think of something different than what I hear usually and that would fit well….I played this song in band in high school (nerd level: super high, but band at my school was a big deal). I am getting married in September and may put that song into consideration! Thank you for sharing!

      • We played it a lot in high school band too. I think was our director’s favorite song and I’ve loved it ever since. We used a recording of John Williams’ arrangement of Air & Simple Gifts as our prelude while the guests were being seated.

  • My cousin got married when she was 41 years young, after one broken engagement and some very serious relationships that ended up not going anywhere. She embraced the later-in-life pairing and her recessional song was the Hallelujah chorus, with the program noting something cute about reflecting the bride’s feelings about tying the knot. She never takes herself too seriously, so it was a nice addition to the moving, often tearful ceremony :-)

    • A-L

      We did Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, too!

  • Lizzy

    I’m not 100% sure whether you mean explicitly religious music or just classical… But: as a former professional classical musician, I put a ton of thought into our ceremony music. I reallyreallyreally didn’t want something you’d find on a “Top 10 Wedding Classics” compilation CD. I wanted classical but also modern, happy, quirky. I also was kind of set on having a multi-movement piece woven through the different parts of the ceremony for cohesion, as opposed to seperate pieces.

    Here are some I seriously considered: Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (several movements, like the Scherzo and Nocturne, in addition to the Wedding March); Copland’s Appalachian Spring (I tried so very hard to find an arrangement for fewer than 13 musicians. If I could have hired that many, this is what I would have chosen, without a doubt); Barber’s Excursions for piano, minus the melancholy second movement; Ibert’s Trois Pieces Breves for woodwind quintet. And finally, I decided on Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for woodwind quintet, movements 1,3, and 4 for prelude, processional, and recessional respectively. Raucous and joyful, and perfect for our amphitheater in the woods setting.

    After the main recessional, we are having the children lead everyone out in a parade to the tune of “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy…” which could count as religious, I think!

    Hope someone finds that helpful!

    • Rebekah

      “. . .Down in my heart.”
      “Down in my heart to stay.”

      Thanks for putting a smile on my face today!

      • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

        And for starting that song looping in my head. I hope there’s lots of jumping around when everyone gets to:
        And I’m so happy!
        So very happy!

  • Janna

    We had a friend sing “For the Beauty of the Earth” while we planted our tree. We had a religious ceremony, but that was our only hymn/non-secular song. It was lovely. It may or may not have been inspired by the wedding in Little Women (either way, it was lovely).

    • Coco

      That was the hymn I am thinking of for my wedding, also inspired by Meg’s wedding :)

    • Julie

      My fiance and I are walking down the aisle in two weeks to “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Yay Little Women.

  • Teresa

    My best friend and his wife played Clair de lune by Debussy as their families were coming in to the church and being seated at their church wedding (I can’t remember which church…sorry), and it was beautiful!

  • Mary

    We used the chorale from Jupiter for the bridal party entrance (which my HS marching band always played as a warm-up, and is incredibly beautiful). I entered to the traditional Here Comes the Bride, but had my pianist, who is a good friend, transition into Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring when I reached the front of the church as a tribute to my parents (my mom walked down the aisle to it for their wedding).

  • While I plan on having a Jewish ceremony I’m not going to walk down the aisle to “Sunrise, Sunset” (despite the fact that Fiddler on the Roof is THE BEST). Going to jump on the classical (or at least instrumental and not pop/rock music) bandwagon here and offer my suggestions:

    I would like to walk down the aisle to the Han and Leia Love Theme from The Empire Strikes Back (on that note, has anyone ever used “I love you.” “I know,” as their vows? Seriously get back at me, we’ll be besties). And I would like for the recessional music to be either the Ceremonial Music at the end of Star Wars, or the opening music for Star Trek: The Next Generation (boldly going…where many people have gone before but still, an adventure!).

    For others who are of the Religion of the Nerd, another good option could be the Kahless and Lukara Aria, which Worf sang many a time in Star Trek: Deep Space 9. And I am also, for pre-ceremony music, seriously considering a string quartet version of the Game of Thrones opening credits music (so addictive!)

    • Naomi

      Ok. Let’s bond for a second over being both Jewish and nerds together. Our rabbi was pretty clear that for the most part, the music during our ceremony should be Jewish in some way (mostly probably to avoid things like the wedding march) so the bridal party and groom will be walking in to Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and I’ll be walking in to Dodi Li.

      HOWEVER! We were able to convince our rabbi to let us have one little surprise at the end of the ceremony (only our parents and the rabbi know about it). Instead of simon tov u mazel tov after we break the glass, our trio (flute, violin, and cello) will bust out the Throne Room song (I’m assuming this is what you meant by the “Ceremonial Music at the end of Star Wars”) and we’ll recess to that in a blaze of triumphant awesomeness.

      And to answer your “I love you” “I know” thing, it’s not in our vows, but we did get our wedding bands engraved that way. His says “I love you” (because I’m giving it to him) and mine says “I know” (because he’s giving it to me). It’s sort of hard to read them, but we know how awesome we are. : )

      Oh. Also the text that we’re printing inside of the kippot my mom’s making is the star wars font.

      • BB

        Which versions of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and I’ll be walking in to Dodi Li did you choose? There are a million!

        • Naomi

          I don’t know what they’re called, but when I think of those songs, there’s a particular tune that automatically comes to mind and that’s the ones that we’re doing. I’ll definitely double check with my musicians in advance to make sure they’re thinking the same tunes as I am. I think the ones that I know are the more traditional/mainstream tunes.

          I thought about doing another tune for Dodi Li that our rabbi recommended, but since it’s just instrumental, most people wouldn’t even know it was dodi li, so I wanted to go with something more recognizable.

      • Hoooray Jewish nerds–and yes, the throne room music.

        I’m inter-marrying a lapsed Catholic who now identifies as atheist, and while I am a practicing Jew I’m pretty agnostic about the whole thing (I’d call myself religious but not spiritual, haha) so it is going to be a pretty flexible, non-traditional service if we have our way. Which we should. Which means: ALL THE STAR WARS MUSIC PLEASE.

      • Anon

        Another Jewish nerd here.

        Also, I totally didn’t think of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav as an option, because it’s not so lovey dovey (well, not lovey dovey between people, it’s very lovey dovey about Jerusalem). It might not be so appropriate for me because it’s too emotional, but not what I’m looking for on my wedding day. Homesickness and longing for a land far away is not exactly what I’m going for. I love that song so much though.

        • Naomi

          Yeah. I didn’t think of it at first for a wedding song either. It was on a list of Jewish songs our musicians could play (along with other very much not wedding songs like the theme to Schindler’s List…). FH saw it on the list and instantly decided he wanted to walk down the aisle to it and it was kind of hard to argue with him since he very rarely has super strong opinions about the wedding. Also there’s a lot of Jerusalem imagery and metaphor within the Jewish wedding ceremony (stuff about celebrating with bride and groom in the streets of Jerusalem, etc.) so it’s not completely irrelevant. Most people there probably won’t recognize it anyway (his mom’s family is Catholic and his dad’s family is fairly secular) and it is a really beautiful tune that’s a good tempo for a stroll down the aisle, so I think it’ll work out. : D

  • Kristine

    In my previous life, I was an assistant wedding director at Duke University Chapel. (Side note: TOTALLY worth a visit if you are near Durham. It is gorgeous. Go now!) One of my favorite recessional pieces was Widor’s Toccata from Symphony No. 5. The organ music just filled up this amazing space… It was upbeat and breathtaking all at once. If you are working with a talented organist, it will blow your mind.

    • Durham forever…live here and love it. (Not a Duke fan but the campus and the chapel are incredibly beautiful.)

    • One More Sara

      The organist at my church growing up was SERIOUSLY AWESOME. He would play that song just on regular Sunday services bc he felt like it. I had no idea how hard it was, and now I’m wishing my church hadn’t burned their bridges with him. (I still thought about asking awesome organist to come back from FL to play my wedding, but my mom is still active in the church music program and she wants me to use the current music guy. tear :'( )

    • Elsie

      Yes, that was our recessional! My husband thought it a bit too common, but I just love how joyful it is.

  • Amy

    I walked down the aisle to the Beatles “All You Need Is Love” and the processional (just my husband and I) was to “Sign, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder.

    Our first dance was to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.”

    My sister walked down the aisle from a song from the Sense and Sensibility soundtrack. I LOVED it.

  • Rebekah

    I’ve heard a lot of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” at weddings. I’m planning to use “God Gave me You” by Dave Barnes/Blake Shelton if I can, The SO’s favorite song is “In Christ Alone” and I want to use Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real’s “All of Me” during communion.

  • Samantha

    My fiance and I have chosen 3 out of the 4 songs needed for our Catholic wedding. We will be walking down the aisle together to Canon in D by Pacabel and we will be using Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Ave Maria as preparation of the gifts and Communion songs. We are still stuck on recession songs! Oh man, having such a hard time finding something upbeat and fun but still religiously appropriate and playable on the acoustic guitar.

  • JessPeebs

    We Played “As the Deer” “Come thou fount (of every blessing)” and “Be thou my vision” as preludes – Religious/Hymns
    “What A Wonderful World” for seating of the family and processional for the bridal party – Secular
    “Cannon in D” for me :) – Classical
    and “All you need is Love” as our completely unexpected recessional

    FYI – outdoor, religious ceremony

    • Shelly

      We sang Come Thou Fount in our outdoor, religious ceremony as well. Love that one :-)

      • Our processional and recessional were both secular songs, but we sang “Come Thou Fount” during our ceremony as well!

        • Lily

          We did Come Thou Fount as well! It was wonderful!! We also had a quartet of women do an a cappella version of Beautiful Savior as the processional :)

      • Denzi

        Yup, Come Thou Fount was our processional. :D Love it, love it, love it.

  • KateM

    We had a ton of classical music. For Preludes Air from Suite #3 in D Major ~Bach, Ava Maria~ Bach Gounod, Largo from Xerxes ~ Handel.

    Bridesmaids Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
    I walked down the aisle to an a capella women’s voices singing Arise My Beloved an arrangement of Song of Songs
    As we had a Catholic Mass, there were plenty of opportunities to throw in classical music.
    Ave Verum Corpus- Mozart
    Magnificat- Rossini
    The Heaven’s are Declaring- Beethoven

    • Samantha

      Thank you for this! Not very many people use/need to use explicitly religious/classical/non-secular music. It’s hard to track down these days, besides what Catholic websites suggest.

  • Elizabeth

    1) The bridesmaids and groomsmen will process to Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke).
    2) I will process to Trumpet Tune (Clarke).
    3) Brother of the groom and groomsman, will sing “The Call” (Williams).
    4) Sister of the groom and bridesmaid, will sing a part of “Ubi Caritas,” the Duruflé setting.
    5) We wanted the recessional to be Toccata in F Major (Widor), but the organist didn’t feel comfortable playing it anymore (it is hard!) so we are doing Rigaudon (Campra).

    This is for an Episcopal wedding and we had a lot of strict rules (no Wagner’s Bridal Chorus allowed, for example!)

  • Katelyn

    We’re planning on using the same recessional music as my parents, Ode to Joy….if I could round up the choir group from Sister Act 2 (including Lauryn Hill) to sing it I totally would.

  • We had an liturgical wedding, and a decidedly Celtic styling to our ceremony music (not entirely on purpose, but we loved it anyways!). I entered to St. Columba’s tune (which is really really lovely), and we played both “Be Thou My Vision” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” during the communion section of our service. I love hearing those hymns at Mass and now I have the added enjoyment of remembering softly singing those words next to my brand new husband many moons ago :)

  • Ericka

    We are both of us some flavor of Protestant Christian, although both of us are offbeat/heretical theologically; I’m ELCA Lutheran with atheist tendencies, he’s Presbyterian with Masonic roots.

    Hymns we considered for being beautiful or meaningful, but ended up rejecting for being too limited for us in their visions of God and grace:

    “They’ll Know We Are Christians” — used at my best friends Catholic ceremony when I was younger, and it was perfect for her
    “Amazing Grace” — cliche for a reason; it’s beautiful!
    “Be Thou My Vision” — would have fit the folk-traditional style of music we were after, but we weren’t quite feeling the words
    “For the Fruit of All Creation” — I don’t know if this one’s ELCA-specific; it’s set to the “Sleep, My Child” tune

    The hymns we ended up going with:

    *Processional, “Simple Gifts,” instrumental. My deceased father’s favorite song.
    *Congregational Hymn/Unity Candle Lighting, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” words tweaked a bit. He sang this a lot during basic training and identifies with the beauty-beyond-struggle themes; I love it for identifying God as “Love” so that the congregation, who are a mixed bag of atheists and varieties of Christian, can all sing without betraying any of their own beliefs
    *Recessional, “May the Road Rise to Meet You,” instrumental. My childhood pastor sang this arrangement to end every service, and it is so comforting and lovely to me.

    • Lizzy

      I’m a UU, and many of the hyms in our hymnal are old-fashioned Christian ones with “Lord” and “Jesus” replaced with things like “spirit” and “source” :)

      Can I ask what arrangement of Simple Gifts you used?

      • Ericka

        Just the chordsheet, with a good guitarist friend providing the base and a good fiddle/violin playing friend doing the melody and improv. :)

    • “How Can I Keep from Singing” is definitely one of my faves from my days in church choir. So joyous!

      • E

        “How Can I Keep From Singing” is my favorite from church choir as well. I sing it to myself all the time. Fun story – just a few weeks ago, my husband, who NEVER sings in church even on the rare occasions we attend and doesn’t tend to remember hymns, randomly started singing it while cleaning. I seriously whipped around and said “wait, you know that song? I LOVE that song!” and he said it was one he learned in Sunday School and it had always been his favorite hymn.

        We’ve been together 6 years, and never knew that we both had the same favorite hymn. It just never came up (not even during wedding planning)!

  • alyssa

    I love this! Traditional Church Wedding, bumpin’ New Year’s Eve Reception over here…

    Mothers seated: Canon in D – Pachabel
    Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: Rondeau – Purcell
    Flower girl then Bride – Organ Symphony – Saint Saens
    Communion: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – written by Robert Robinson
    For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti – Sufjan Stevens (a communion song if there ever was one)
    To Be Alone with You – Sufjan Stevens
    All communion songs were sung by Shayla Smith, my amazing cousin:
    Recessional: Sigh No More, also sung by Shayla. We started at the happy part of the song though: Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you; it will set you free!

    Excited for the rest of the submissions!

    • alyssa

      Note that we didn’t ask anyone in our congregation to sing, but many people who knew the words sang along anyway and it was great :)

    • ADORE your inclusion of Sufjan in your sacred music :) And your cousin’s voice is gorgeous!

  • Jenn

    We had a Catholic/Jewish interfaith wedding, and the music was my favorite part. We walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of a silly love song I composed for my partner when we were first dating. The rest of our music included:

    “Wherever You Go” by David Haas, based on lyrics from Ruth and Song of Songs, sung as a duet (
    “An Irish Blessing” by a small choir of friends (and my friend on viola) (arr. by director of ND folk choir):
    piano version (by Jeanne Cotter) of “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (mp3 here: – this was our recessional

  • Maria

    So, I’m a little more classical and he’s a little more alternative/techno/remix/everything, so I walked down the aisle to Canon in D… remixed by Ronald Jenkees! ( It actually came on when we were listening to his iPod in the car and I was so excited – I’ve always loved Canon in D (even after playing the cello part in middle school orchestra) but it can be a little on the stodgy traditional side, so this was a perfect blend of us and set a perfect mood for the beginning of the ceremony. And he was super proud of the choice, too, which was cute.

  • Emily

    I’m not religious, but one of my favorite songs is Al Shlosha D’varim. We sang it in choir. It’s beautiful. The translation, as best as I can remember is, “The world is sustained by three things: by truth, by justice, and by peace.”

  • Anon

    I got married in the winter in a religious ceremony. I had an awesome pianist/musician so I let her play what she wanted for the prelude, but the rest of the ceremony music was as follows:

    -Snowdream by He Yan for the seating of the parents/attendants
    -Reminiscent Joy by the O’Neill Brothers is what I walked in to
    -When I Say I Do by Matthew West was sung by my sister for our hands/blessing of the rings (we didn’t do a unity candle)
    -Go My Children was a hymn in our Lutheran Hymnal that was sung by the whole congregation. (it turned out so well, I wish I had them sing more)
    -Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing was our recessional

  • kathleen

    I blogged about our ceremony music (generally traditional, classical, sacred stuff) a while back, so I’ll copy-paste the titles here. It’s pretty badass and organ-centric, with some typical stuff and some off the beaten path. We also had everyone sing a hymn (Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing) and a couple of friends sang art songs during the service. I like music. :)

    Sonata IV in B-flat, Allegretto – Felix Mendelssohn
    Prelude in G, BWV 541 – J.S. Bach
    Suite, Op. 5, “Sicilienne” – Maurice Durufle
    Toccata in D, “Dorian,” BWV 538 – J.S. Bach
    Meditation (trans. Maurice Durufle) – Louis Vierne
    Sinfonia, “We Thank Thee, Lord,” BWV 29 – J.S. Bach
    Wedding party processional: Prelude to a Te Deum – Marc-Antoine Charpentier
    Bridal processional: Sonata III in A, Introduction – Felix Mendelssohn
    Recessional: Symphony no. 1 in D, Final – Louis Vierne

    (here’s a link to my post if you’re interested:

    • Laura

      Yay for Charpentier’s Te Deum for the processional! I loved using it.

  • Laura

    My (ELCA Lutheran) ceremony music was the wedding decision I agonized over the most. I wanted to take advantage of my church’s amazing organist, trying to pick from my favorite hymns was crazy difficult, and I attempted to use traditional music without doing the same songs you hear at every church wedding . Here is what we ended up with:
    Processional: Te Deum by Charpentier (the London Festival Orchestra’s version of this is outstanding)
    Hymns: Love divine, all loves excelling (used a lot, but I never considered not using it – a tradition in my family)
    All Creatures of Our God and King
    Recessional: Fanfare by Lemmens
    My entire childhood I had imagined walking in to Trumpet Voluntary, like my mother did, but ultimately decided it was too over done (still love it SO MUCH). Also considered the hymn section of Jupiter from the Planets for processional, Bach’s My Spirit be Joyful for recessional, Crown Imperial for recessional when I was feeling royal, Guide me O though Great Redeemer, Let All Things Now Living, Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee, Praise to the Lord the Almighty for hymns – basically every hymn in the Lutheran Book of Worship, I considered. I have a traditional music and hymns problem, guys.

    • MDBethann

      Laura, I massively agonized over my ELCA Lutheran music too – maybe we should start a support group? The LBW (Lutheran Book of Worship) has so many wonderful hymns and my childhood church has a fantastic organist. Couple that with the fact that I’ve played the trumpet since the age of 8, including many years at church, and it was a hard decision for me too.

      I pretty much set up a classical church music channel on Pandora and listened to it daily at work, with a spreadsheet open on which to record the names & composers of pieces I liked. Our list for our May 2012 wedding was the following:

      O Waly, Waly (English Folk Tune, organ only)
      Rigaudon (Andre Campra, trumpet & organ)

      Candle lighting and Seating of Mothers
      Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach, organ only)

      Bridal Party Processional
      Canon in D (Johann Pachebel, trumpet & organ)

      Bridal Processional
      The Prince of Denmark’s March (aka Trumpet Voluntary, by Jeremiah Clarke, trumpet & organ. As a trumpet player, this was a MUST for me)

      The King of Love my Shepherd Is (I think my parents said they used this at their wedding)
      Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
      You Satisfy the Hungry Heart (communion hymn)
      As the Grains of Wheat (communion hymn)

      Unity Candle Lighting – One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story, beautifully sung by my cousin)

      Wedding March (Felix Mendelssohn, organ only)
      Hornpipe from Water Music (Georg Friedrich Handel, organ only)
      Ninth Symphony (aka Ode to Joy, Ludwig von Beethoven, organ only)

  • The Band Perry’s “All Your Life” as been at the top of my wedding song playlist for a while now! I love that song and its sentiment.

  • Denzi

    We had a wedding from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, presided over by an ELCA Lutheran pastor, with as much Catholic added in as possible to honor our Catholic upbringings. (I know. It was the weirdest, most traditional liturgical amalgam of things ever.) And we stuffed it as FULL OF MUSIC as it could go.

    My awesome old piano teacher, who is a liturgical composer in the Catholic Church, did our music. (His name is Paul Tate, in case you spot him in your Gather Hymnal. *grin*) So I have no idea what the prelude was–any time that needed soft instrumental medelies, he just did them off the cuff.

    Processional: Come Thou Fount
    Hymn after the Declaration of Consent: Be Not Afraid (by John Michael Talbot, one of T’s favorites)
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90 – In Every Age (by Janet Sullivan Whitaker)
    Offeratory Hymn: We Are One Body (by Dana Scallon from Spirit & Song Vol. 1)
    Communion Hymn: Bless the Lord, My Soul (Taizé)
    Recessional: Be Thou My Vision

  • Lindsay

    I love love love Pachelbel’s Canon in D…but I’ve heard it at almost every wedding I’ve been to and assumed our guests had too! So to keep in line with the classical sound I love, but with a twist, I walked down the aisle to “Mothersbaugh’s Canon” from The Royal Tenenbaums. It was secretly meaningful to me (my husband couldn’t have cared less…the music wasn’t really his thing) because it’s from one of my favorite movies…but that wasn’t obvious to everyone else, which meant that the important tone of the ceremony was maintained….until we walked out to “The Promise” by When in Rome (and of Napoleon Dynamite fame…another favorite).

    Also, “Tuolumne” by Eddie Vedder (from the Into the Wild soundtrack) played while we lit our unity candle and our MOH/Best Man signed the marriage certificate as witnesses.

  • I’m Methodist, and my choir sang John Rutter’s arrangement of “Be Thou My Vision” for us while we lit candles. It was beautiful, and a ton of people thought it was awesome that we had a choir sing!

    Also, we recessed to the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation on the pipe organ. So there’s that.

  • Rachel

    My fiancé and I met in our college orchestra, so classical music is a must for our (Jewish) ceremony. I absolutely love the fourth movement, Adagietto, of Gustav Mahler’s 5th symphony. Legend has it this movement was actually the way he proposed to Alma, his wife. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but unfortunately it’s more often associated with funerals than with weddings…time to reclaim it!

  • Lizzy

    I haven’t figured much out, but I really want to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D played on the cello. (I even have a friend that plays!) Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring is also one I hear frequently.

  • Rosie

    A couple of hymns we had at our wedding that I haven’t seen mentioned so far: ‘Here Is Love Vast As The Ocean’ and ‘I Stand Amazed (How Marvellous, How Wonderful)’. I’m not sure if it’s practical but I can imagine Vltava by Smetana being a wonderful piece of wedding music. Also it would be great to have the first movement of the third Brandenburg Concerto by Bach as a recessional, there’s so much joy in it!

  • Theodora

    For those of you looking for more traditional hymns, this is a great source:

    You can search by tune name, title, topic, etc. There is some sheet music. You will see both the lyrics and hear a piano-ish sound with the melody.

    Some favorite hymns that might work for weddings:

    “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
    “All People that on Earth Do Dwell” (Tune: Old 100th)
    “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”
    “The King of Love My Shepherd Is” (based on Psalm 23) – there are several tunes, the one called “St. Columba” is an ancient Irish melody. It would even be lovely on guitar, just by itself.

  • Sam

    Ok, I’m not classical or religious. And we are having a totally secular ceremony, despite both being Jewish. BUT if I weren’t I would pay good money (and tried) to have Diego’s Umbrella play their version of Hava Nagila. It is SO. MUCH. FUN.

  • Julia

    For our outdoor Methodist ceremony, we of course are opening with For the Beauty Of The Earth. Our other two hymns are by the contemporary gospel/hymn writer, Mark Miller (who is also my fiancé’s favorite professor). First, his setting of The Lord’s Prayer, which we love because it uses gender- and class-neutral language for God. Then we’re gonna dance down the aisle at the end to All My Days. Because it rocks!!!

    Another great one is Draw The Circle Wide (also by Mark Miller). We ran out of room for songs because we’re trying to keep the ceremony short, but if we could have had one more, it would have been this one. It’s one of the theme songs for the movement within the Methodist church that wants to fully embrace, marry, and ordain LGBTQ people.

    • Diane

      This post makes me so happy :-) Hello from one reconciling United Methodist to another!

  • A-L

    I walked in to Wagner’s wedding march and we recessed to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. I wanted the bridal party to walk in to Delibes’ “Flower Duet,” but the musicians changed it up at the last second (as in, I was insisting the sanctuary wasn’t ready because they were playing some Saint-Saens [sp?], until I figured out there had been an executive change by the musicians).

    Other possibilities we considered were:

    He Has Made Me Glad
    If You’re Happy
    Hymn of Promise (my favorite hymn)
    and the most traditional, Love Divine All Loves Excelling

    • Julia

      I love Hymn Of Promise!!!

  • Kelly

    We had a Catholic wedding ceremony and used contemporary Christian music rather than a hymn or classical music. My husband is not religious, but he comes to church with me and gets involved by singing along- we love when the music is upbeat so it was really important to us to find songs we both found meaningful.

    Our Processional was Testify to Love:
    Our Recessional was Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing):

  • Hannah

    I am just starting this process so this list is super helpful! We’re having a Catholic wedding, too…does anyone know if the hymns sung must be in the vernacular? I am an opera singer with lots of opera singer friends and I always thought Bach’s (or the real guy, whose name I don’t remember) “Bist du bei mir” would be a beautiful prelude song. Also I know it’s done but it’s done for a reason…Schubert’s “Ave Maria” or the Bach/Gounod version (both of which I find breathtakingly beautiful). I also love Mozart’s Laudate Dominum from Vespers. I’ve sung a wide variety of things at weddings, but for fans of standard hymns “The Gift of Love” is a version of “Wally Wally” aka “The Water is Wide” that is nice and wedding appropriate . If you want a really beautiful, stirring, classic musical theater prelude song give “This is my beloved” from Kismet a listen..the tunes are all by Borodin so they are lush and gorgeous. Lastly, a special secular song is “Tatooine” by Jeremy Messersmith…super mellow and sweet with passing Star Wars references.

  • ErinC

    I’m going to have a small choir sing John Rutter’s “As the Bridegroom to His Chosen” and Maurice Durufle’s “Ubi Caritas”.

    I’d also recommend “Be Thou My Vision”.

  • Although our wedding is shaping up to be a strictly pop-and-video-game-music affair (and it will be awesome), I’m obsessed with early choral music (Palestrina, Josquin, Tallis, etc.) so if we were having a church wedding I would probably have to insist on some boy sopranos just on general principle.

    Choral music, period, is a huge weakness of mine and I’ve always secretly dreamed of having a Christmas wedding so that there would be an excuse to incorporate this updated “O Magnum Mysterium” – so contemplative and moving. Or there’s one of my favorite pieces of all time, Faure’s Pavane, notable for being one of the only times a flute has ever managed to sound sexy (comes in non-choral flavor too if you’re not wild about having ambiguously depressing French lyrics all up in your incidental music).

    For instrumental, although I enjoy listening to SUPER EPIC GIANT ORCHESTRA as much as anyone, in the context of a wedding I gravitate toward smaller-scale solo or chamber pieces. I gave serious thought once upon a time to using Schubert’s Piano Trio in E Flat, and I’ve always thought some of Shostakovich’s preludes would be amazing recessionals – I love #2 today but my favorite is always changing!

  • We had a varied mix of songs for our wedding.

    During our ceremony after everyone had walked in, we used:
    In Christ Alone,
    How Great Is Our God,
    How Great Thou Art.
    It’s a mix of old and new hymns we love, and sung by everyone.

    All The Heavens (by Third Day) and In The Arms Of The Savior (by Tam Stout, used with permission) were played while we had communion, lit our unity candle and signed our marriage license. (Seriously, just do it during the ceremony. Git er done!) ;)

  • We’re having a very traditional Anglican service, and as I sing in our church choir, music is going to play a big part! We haven’t made any final decisions yet, but I’m planning to have Parry’s ‘I was glad’ as the processional (it was used at the Royal Wedding, but that’s NOT why I’m having it – I just think it’s glorious to sing).

    During the service, we’ll have some more contemplative music – ‘Ubi caritas et amor’ by Durufle, and ‘For the beauty of the earth’ in the setting by Philip Stopford (Youtube it, it’s gorgeous.) Recessional will probably be the Widor Toccata, as our organist is fabulous and pulls it off brilliantly.

    I’m struggling to decide on hymns, there are so many I like – though because we live in Wales, we definitely have to have ‘Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer’ – it’s the only thing my fiance has insisted on (in terms of music, anyway). Some other options I’m considering are ‘Lord of all Hopefulness’, ‘Love Divine All Loves Excelling’ and ‘O Praise Ye The Lord’.

  • Jess

    We didn’t end up using it, but I would have loved to have Shen Khar Venakhi (Thou Art a Vineyard) in my ceremony. It’s an old Georgian hymn from about the 11th century, and is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, especially as performed by the a capella group Kitka.

  • Bonnie

    We had a full Catholic mass. For the processional, we had Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Mouret’s Sinfonies de Fanfares (the Masterpiece Theatre theme). For the offertory hymn that everyone sang, we had Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (it’s often used for funerals, but it has some really meaningful things to say about living love). For Communion, we had Taste and See (because my husband likes it best). My favorite was the recessional– Joy to the World (we got married the first week of January, so it was still technically Christmas- and it was perfect for what I was feeling at that point).

  • Elsie

    Music for our ceremony: (Christian, traditional, and involving many musicians– not just the two of us, but in addition, members of our bridal party have played for many, many weddings, and so there were certain things that were out because of overuse– e.g., I love Canon in D, but it would have driven my bridesmaids crazy)
    – Widor’s Symphony No. 4, Andante cantabile
    – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
    – Mouret’s Rondeau
    – Widor’s Toccata

    Hymns: What Wonderous Love, Be Thou My Vision, and Lift Up Your Heads, Oh Ye Gates, plus a psalmody of Isaiah 55

  • Erin(ita)

    Shortly after my long-term and I finally submitted to engagement, the world as we knew it crumbled in numerous unexpected, bomb-dropping ways. The period following our proposal was exhausting, devastating, and thoroughly tested every single vow we were heading toward. We are now in the best place we have EVER been, and finally planning our wedding. I have long been tempted to walk down the aisle to “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Grant us Peace). My current favorite recordings are by Alivia Biko and Elisabeth Von Trapp. We’ve never been particularly religious (I love spirituality, but organized religion tends to give me a rash), but this song is such a beautiful bit of hope for the future, and a soothing balm on some of the things we’ve gone through to get there.

  • Miriam

    We haven’t yet decided if we’re including this particular melody in our Jewish wedding, but there is an incredible arrangement of the Sheva Brachot (the seven blessings) along with several other parts of the Jewish wedding liturgy by Danny Maseng. We both love it, and it’s what I listen to when I need to refocus on what this crazy 2-months-before-the-wedding period is all about.

    You can listen to an excerpt of it here: (“Wedding Suite,” about halfway down).

  • elizabeth

    We had a Catholic service and used contemporary music:

    Processional & Opening Song: The Summons (THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS TO SING IN CHURCH OF ALL TIME AND EVER. I adore the melody–an old Scottish one–and the lyrics)

    Responsorial Psalm: God is Love, and all who live in love, live in God (This is not technically a psalm but is generally allowed; written by David Haas)

    Bringing up the gifts: Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling

    Communion Songs: Strength for the Journey, Grace Like Rain

  • Diane

    I love this thread! I’m a United Methodist pastor and my husband-to-be is a soon-to-be seminary professor, so we both have really strong opinions on the music :-)

    Recessional is Widor’s Toccata from Symphony No. 5. Hands down, that is my favorite organ piece of all time. We even chose the church we’d get married in (not the one I serve) based on the awesomeness of the organ and organist in playing it.

    Hymns are “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (to the tune of Hyfrydol), “God Whose Love Is Reigning O’er Us” (tune: Lauda Anima; lyrics by Bishop William Boyd Grove, who will be presiding over communion at our wedding), “Be Thou My Vision,” “When Love is Found”/”The Gift of Love” (by Brian Wren), “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Spirit of God” (by Steve Garnaas-Holmes with tune Dove Song). Some of those hymns will be sung during communion which is why there are so many of them.

    Alternate hymns, which may make it into the pre-service music, were “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry,” “For Everyone Born (A Place at the Table),” and “Canticle of the Turning.”

    Someone upstream made a comment about the amazing Mark Miller. We are singing his communion responses from The Faith We Sing hymnal, so yay Mark!

    We’re still stuck on processional music but should make a decision soon…

  • We were totally overwhelmed trying to chose classical music, though we both wanted it (and live musicians) for our religious ceremony. Perhaps for the best, it was one of the things that ended up getting chopped in the name of preserving my sanity, though we seriously considered a section from Appalachian Waltz (Yo Yo Ma).

    We ended up using a speaker system and ipod. Our processional was “This Must Be The Place – Naive Melody” by The Talking Heads. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that we used this, and it may be one of my favorite memories – so perfect for that moment and very unique. Our recessional was “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I felt like it was just on the verge of overdone, but loved how joyful it was. I also liked that they tied together around the theme of “home”. I’m sure not one else noticed, but it made me happy.

  • My husband and I are Catholic, and these are the songs we used in our wedding Mass.

    A Wedding Blessing (Hayes)
    Wherever You Go (Norbet)
    Song of Thanksgiving
    We Are Called (Haas)
    The Servant Song (Gilliard)
    One Bread, One Body (Foley)
    Ave Maria (Schubert)

  • Caroline

    I’m seriously inclined to walk down the aisle to the Vitamin String Quartet’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. (I love that song so much!!) It isn’t exactly a religious song, but sort of is, and our ceremony will be religious. I’m also thinking about Erev Shel Shoshanim (if I could find a recording of it I liked) for that.
    My fiancé will probably pick something secular that he likes to walk in to. He wants a short ceremony, so we probably won’t include too much music IN the ceremony. We’ll possibly have the rabbi sing the Sheva Brachot, the seven blessings. (While it might be lovely to have guests sing a song, we aren’t the most musical crowd. There are a few people who might be up for it, but they would probably prefer the reception…)

    I’m hoping to find something like Siman Tov u Mazal Tov to get guests to sing us as we walk out. I feel like from a mostly non-Jewish guest list, Siman Tov u Mazal Tov is maybe not the best. Maybe Od Yishama? My thought is to put the lyrics in the program, and seed the audience with friends who know it or agreed to learn it, and have the Rabbi lead it.
    (We’re having a Jewish ceremony, if you couldn’t tell.)

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what other music people put forward. It hadn’t really occurred to me that we could do music in the ceremony and I’m liking the idea now.

  • Amy

    My husband and I are United Methodist and had a traditional wedding in our church. I was uncomfortable being stared at as I walked down the aisle, so we had the congregation sing a hymn for the entire wedding party plus my entrance. We chose the hymn “All Glory, Laud and Honor” it’s happy and has plenty of verses! During the ceremony we sang “Happy the Home when God is there.” For the final hymn (I wanted it to feel like a church service), we sang “God Whose Love is Reigning O’er Us.”

  • MDBethann

    I mentioned in response to someone else’s post that I had created a list of classical pieces based on listening to Pandora at work. Granted, these are my personal selections, but they might trigger something for you or, alternatively, plug the name or composer into Pandora and see what you get:

    The Prayer (the Josh Groban/Charlotte Church version)
    One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story; it was this or The Prayer for the candle lighting, but the female singer for the duet fell through so we did this as a solo & it was lovely)
    Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Beethoven)
    Canon in D (Pachebel, which we used)
    Prince of Denmark’s March (brass) (Clarke, which we used)
    Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach)
    Wedding March (Mendelssohn)
    Cantata No. 147 (Jesu Bleibert Meine Freude) (Bach)
    Sarabande for Brass Ensemble (Johann Christoph Pezel)
    Trumpet Concerto in E flat major (Johann Neopomunk Hummel)
    Rigaudon (Andre Campra, which we used)

    I will admit that some of my choices were traditional, but I LOVE classical trumpet music and couldn’t imagine myself not processing and recessing to a piece of classical trumpet music. Fortunately, my dad found a good trumpet player for me since, well, neither he nor I were going to play since we were busy walking down the isle (note: my dad is a trumpet player & passed his love of the instrument on to me).