Wedding Recessional Songs to Help You Dance into the Sunset


Or at least into your reception

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

51 Modern Wedding Recessional SongsPerfect wedding recessional songs are often hard to find, and can be really tricky to choose. Everyone cares about what song is playing while you walk down the aisle but for some reason, they don’t care at all about what will be the first song of your married life. I mean, think about it. The wedding recessional song is the first song of your marriage. Forget your entrance to the reception. Forget your first dance. This is the ACTUAL first song of you being actually married. (And since nobody ever seems to care about it, it’s the perfect place to make a statement, without your mom having an opinion.)

With that in mind—let’s take a few moments to think about selecting the perfect wedding recessional song. Something that says you two ARE MARRIED NOW and it’s the best thing ever and ever.

Before I go any further, a pro-tip. It’s very important that your DJ or live musicians know exactly WHEN to start playing your music. Instructions are usually left at the vague, when we’re about to walk back down the aisle. This often leads to a deafening gap of silence while you both stand awkwardly waiting, and praying that the music starts. This is not what you want. Your exit music should start after you kiss (if you do) and then definitely when you turn to face your guests. That’s the cue for music.

In fact, before you pick a song, let’s imagine how this whole thing will go. Towards the end of your ceremony the officiant says the magical “you may now kiss your partner” words and everyone applauds! And smiles! And cheers! And the music begins. You both turn to see everyone you love. The music climbs to the perfect crescendo as you hold hands and triumphantly glide back down the aisle together, full of love, and everything is amazing till the end of time. Now you just need to imagine what that song sounds like. Is it triumphant? Romantic? Danceable? Or heck, is it classical? (Because we’ve got you covered on that front over here.)

We’ve compiled a list of modern wedding recessional songs that will help you set the mood for that glorious walk (or dance) into the married life sunset—or at least your reception.

You can add the playlist to your Spotify with this link. (And add your song suggestions in the comments!)

51 Perfect Wedding Recessional Songs

  1. Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
  2. Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
  3. Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
  4. This Kiss – Faith Hill
  5. Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
  6. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
  7. XO – Beyoncé
  8. Everything – Michael Bublé
  9. Summertime – The Sundays
  10. Stuck On You – Meiko
  11. The Origin of Love – Hedwig & The Angry Inch (Stephen Trask)
  12. Time After Time – Iron & Wine
  13. Always – Erasure
  14. Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
  15. Safe And Sound – Capital Cities
  16. Sweet Child O’Mine – Taken by Trees
  17. Cowboy Take Me Away – Dixie Chicks
  18. X The Legend of Zelda – Keeper of the 8 Bits
  19. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Haley Reinhart
  20. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince
  21. Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  22. Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend
  23. Today – The Smashing Pumpkins
  24. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
  25. OH – Ciara
  26. Life is Better With You – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  27. I’m Into Something Good – The Bird & The Bee
  28. Soul Meets Body – Death Cab for Cutie
  29. Heartland (Pure Country Soundtrack) – George Strait
  30. You Gotta Be – Des’ree
  31. Believe in Love – Indigo Girls
  32. Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  33. She’s in Love with The Boy – Trisha Yearwood
  34. Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer
  35. Dancing Queen – ABBA
  36. Say You Won’t Let Go – James Arthur
  37. What I Wouldn’t Do – A Fine Frenzy
  38. Heroes – David Bowie
  39. Time of My Life – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes
  40. Sea of Love – Cat Power
  41. You and I – Ingrid Michaelson
  42. Home – Phillip Phillips
  43. I Swear – John Michael Montgomery
  44. Only Love – Ben Howard
  45. Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette
  46. Fade Into You – Mazzy Star
  47. Thank You – Dido
  48. Sirens – The Weepies
  49. Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg
  50. Ice Cream – Sarah McLachlan
  51. 1234 – Feist

Do you need song ideas for your ceremony? What about first dance songs? We’re totally here for you.

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.

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  • Tolkien Gay

    We used the Parks and Rec theme for our recessional- It was the perfect blend of quirky and celebratory. Our guests got a kick out of it too!

  • Yael

    While I love both Dancing in the Dark and Just Like Heaven, I’m not sure I’d want to use them for a wedding. Just Like Heaven is about pushing the person you love away, and Dancing in the Dark is not happy either. That being said, I’d never heard Life Is Better with You and am adding that as a possible song on our playlist!

    • Em

      Life is Better with You is so great!

  • savannnah

    We used Do you Believe in Magic based on the singular fact that it made both of us want to dance and smile. But I have to say that after a long time of picking out both the processional and recessional I actually did not hear any music during the ceremony. I know it played because people commented on both songs (we used Sigur Ross – Hoppipolla for the processional which I loved) but I have no memory of hearing the music walking down or back the aisle.

    • Mrs H

      Oh that is the perfect recessional song!

  • Sonnie

    Walking up the aisle is one of my favorite memories of the whole day. We used Rather Be by Clean Bandit and as everyone recessed back into the lobby of the chapel we all started dancing and hugging and crying and it was everything I though being married would be. I still feel that rush whenever I hear that song.

    • Yael

      I love that song and it so reminds me of when A and I started dating and falling in love.

    • Her Lindsayship

      omg I love that song, great choice!

    • sofar

      “Rather Be” is one of my and my husband’s songs.

      Good choice.

  • theteenygirl

    These are so fun! Kind of wish I had chosen a recessional song. Since a friend was the one clicking “play” I just had her pause the song I walked down the aisle to and at the end of the ceremony she clicked play and it started up again.

  • rebecca

    Team Indiana Jones theme song here!

    • Yael

      A and I went as Indy and Marian Ravenwood for Halloween this year and as he stepped into the room wearing a leather jacket over an open button-up, brown fedora and carrying the grail (our kiddish cup) to the soundtrack, my heart definitely started to beat faster.

  • penguin

    We used “I’m a Believer” by Smash Mouth (the version from the Shrek soundtrack). They started playing it right as my husband stomped on the glass, then we kissed, I grabbed my bouquet from my MOH and we walked out. It was perfect because it was IMMEDIATELY upbeat, which I loved.

    Also, we were technically married before we walked down the aisle at all since we’d already signed the ketubah and the rabbi had signed our state marriage license. We didn’t feel married until after the ceremony though.

  • Stephanie B.

    We used “Linus and Lucy” for our recessional. It was perfect for the lighthearted tone we wanted to create.

  • Colleen

    We used Never Gonna Give You Up — it’s upbeat, the sentiment is right, and it meant rickrollling everyone before they could request it at the reception (maybe don’t take music ideas from us though — our father-daughter dance was to Let’s Go Crazy and our first dance was to No Children).

    • lamarsh

      No Children by the Mountain Goats? That is bold.

      • Elizabeth

        No kidding….props

    • Zoya

      Aaaaand you win.

    • I love all of this.

  • Her Lindsayship

    We used “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness, it was ridiculous and perfect for us. The ceremony itself was very personal and emotional at some parts, so having a really upbeat, silly rock song at the end gave the whole event the tone we wanted. Plus our ‘walking back up the aisle’ photos show us beaming and dance-walking through a laughing crowd of our favorite people – perfection!

    • Yael

      I love this song and now I have to listen to it.

    • Elizabeth

      Ahhhh! we are using this for when the wedding party enters the reception!!

    • kayceeee

      Yessss! This is what we used too. My dude fought me on it for the longest, but this was one battle I was not giving in on. It ended up being perfect and people loved it.

  • Laura C

    We used “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds, which for some reason we chose nearly a year before the wedding, and it was perfect.

  • lamarsh

    We used Wherever is Your Heart by Brandi Carlisle and it always makes me so happy.

  • LJ

    We used Happy (from Despicable Me) by Pharrell Williams because a) it’s totally awesome and upbeat and b) we love that movie (dressed up as minions for Halloween even).

  • SarahRose472

    We hadnt actually planned a recessional but it turned out to be one of my favorite memories of the wedding: Our officiant was one of my best friends who knew “our song” was “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. This friend also is an amazing singer, composer, and choral director, so along with one of my husband’s friends who sings and plays the guitar, she arranged it as a surprise for the two of them to sing as we walked back down the aisle.

    Still smile and get the warm and fuzzies thinking about it. Brb, gonna go remind my friend of this memory and how great she is.

    • suchbrightlights

      Wow. That is a good friend.

  • Eenie

    THANK YOU APW FOR MAKING THIS A SPOTIFY PLAYLIST! I needed something new to listen to today during work.

    • Eenie

      We did not recess at the end of our ceremony, but we ended our ceremony by me popping open a bottle of champagne and playing “My House” by Flo Rida.

  • Zoya

    We used “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie! Got a big laugh, and the lyrics are actually pretty appropriate if you take them at face value.

    • Elizabeth

      OMG. THIS IS AMAZING

    • sofar

      This wins!

    • LJ

      We used it for our entrance into the reception!

  • Alli

    We recessed to “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, mostly because I love the feeling of the end credits in Baby Mama and I wanted to recreate it lol

  • lex

    I’m thinking of using “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo, even though it’s a liiiiittle raunchy. It’s just so fun and makes we want to dance!

  • Abs

    We did “500 Miles” by the Proclaimers, because it’s as close as we have to an “our song,” and we expected that we would feel happy and goofy. This was the right choice.

    I really wanted to have the Star Wars theme song, but husband vetoed. It was our cake-cutting song instead, but I don’t think anyone heard it.

    • Zoya

      Did people sing along? I feel like I can never help myself when I hear that song out in the world…

      • Abs

        I honestly have no memory of anyone’s reactions–we were in our own little bubble of happiness at that moment. But if they had, that would have been awesome.

  • Jan

    We used Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine. I know the meaning of the song is sometimes interpreted darkly, sometimes happily, but whatever, I like it. It has a fun beat and, frankly, we were tired of trying to find something so we just went with it (our guitarist bailed on us right before the wedding so we had to go with a plan B that we never developed, and I just didn’t really care at that point.)

    • Katie

      omg, this song makes me break out in happy dancing every time I hear it! I love Florence <3

    • Em

      Oh this is GREAT. You’re right, it’s such a fun beat, and we saw them perform this live a few years ago and it was AMAZING. (If you ever get a chance to see them perform, DO IT.)

  • Katharine Parker

    If you use Dancing in the Dark, please dance down the aisle a la Bruce and Courteney.

  • Elizabeth

    We are thinking of using “Take Me Home Tonight” as the recessional but after reading this I think it might have to be the song from the LEGO movie….

  • Katharine Parker

    Choosing a first dance song was one of the hardest parts of wedding planning, so I’m glad I did not have to choose a contemporary recessional (hi, organ and brass quintet here, we went baroque on music and it was grand). I probably would have chosen something like “You Make My Dreams Come True” if I didn’t have to factor in my husband’s opinions.

    THAT SAID, make sure if you want photos of yourselves walking down the aisle that you walk slowly enough that your photographer has the chance to take a few shots. Don’t rush to fit the music!

    • Katharine Parker

      Or “Your Kiss Is on My List.” Hall and Oates either way, though.

    • Zoya

      Ooh, good point about the photos! Some of my favorites from our wedding are when we stopped in the middle of the aisle to dance for a few seconds. :)

  • sofar

    We did “Moonwatcher” by Ishi for our recessional.

    We wanted something by a Texas band.

    Also, want to echo the importance of timing. We told our friend to hit play “Right after we kiss, right before we walk.” But that friend got confused. So we definitely had that few seconds of standing there followed by walking in silence while our friend fumbled with his phone.

  • We did the VSQ version of Don’t You (Forget About Me), which is definitely a nostalgic post-breakup song and was definitely subliminally representing my loaded feelings equating getting married with entering a certain type of adulthood (see also: using The Killers When You Were Young for our processional).

    If I was getting married today I’d totally do Erasure’s Always, because I’ve gotten at least 600% mushier in my old age ;)

  • Fance

    We’re getting married in 2 months (from today – yay!) and just had this discussion last week. In light of our love of all things space, sci-fi, and fantasy…we’re doing the Cantina Song from Star Wars: A New Hope (probably the Vitamin String Quartet version)! One of our first dates involved watching all 3 originals in bed with Chinese food during a blizzard. We were having Friday wine and kind of tossed it out jokingly, but then decided…why not!

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  • My partner and I are trying to figure out how to use You and I (#41) in our wedding music. I love it, and it makes them laugh and often incites dancing in the kitchen. I’m a financial advisor, and wrestle about playing a song with the lyrics “Lets get rich….” given my profession.

  • kayceeee

    We did I Believe in a Thing Called Love from The Darkness and it definitely set the mood for the reception as fun and light-hearted. Plus, I just love that song. It’s cheesy, but a fun cheesy.

    • suchbrightlights

      High fives on that choice!

  • sage

    Reading this list, I feel both a) a little sad that my church only allows a restricted list of songs for the recessional, procession, etc. to be played on organ; and b) relieved that we had a short list to choose from because I don’t know how we would ever choose otherwise!

  • Mrs H

    We had God Only Knows by the Beach Boys and it was just so perfect and magical feeling. Also our venue overlooked the ocean, so it felt right.

    • That song makes me cry every damn time.

    • whatever_elke

      Yes! We almost chose God Only Knows but decided on Wouldn’t It Be Nice. We saw Brian Wilson perform a couple years ago and I was unabashedly crying.

      Sounds like it was perfect for your celebration :)

  • kjswiss

    Our processional song was “At My Most Beautiful” by R.E.M. When I first heard it as a middle schooler back in 1998, I knew: I AM GOING TO PLAY THIS SONG AT MY WEDDING. And then I did! https://www.instagram.com/p/BaIf5lgje6V/?taken-by=kjswiss
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BZK4hBKhqZ-/?taken-by=kjswiss

  • suchbrightlights

    I have a song that I closely associate with my husband. He has a song he closely associates with me. We flipped a coin to see whose was the processional and whose the recessional. Mine (Northern Lights by The Dangerous Summer) won for the recessional, and I sang (horribly off key because I was crying) the lines that reminded me of him as we walked out. I don’t think the photographer was in the right place to get pictures of that, but we’ll find out when the pics come in.

  • Alyssa

    We used Our Own House by Misterwives. Or at least we planned to. The winds picked up during our ceremony and our speaker blew over so there was actually no music at all. But it still makes me think of our wedding day whenever I hear that song.

  • J Swanson

    “Let’s Grow Old Together” by Lanae Hale. :-D

  • Marty

    The music was one of my favorite parts of our wedding because it definitely set the tone. Our recessional was “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News. It was perfect and fun.

  • whatever_elke

    “Before I go any further, a pro-tip. It’s very important that your DJ or
    live musicians know exactly WHEN to start playing your music.
    Instructions are usually left at the vague, when we’re about to walk back down the aisle.
    This often leads to a deafening gap of silence while you both stand
    awkwardly waiting, and praying that the music starts. This is not what
    you want.”

    This is definitely not what I wanted but it IS what happened! Ha. Something I clearly had not thought of. I had visions of us kissing and then turning around and triumphantly skipping down the aisle with our dog. We DID get to do that but only after several awkward beats of staring at everyone/the DJ.

    In the end it was fine and maybe the photographer got some good/silly photos of us right then?

    Oh, and we did our recessional to the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t it be Nice.” We also had a mini banner made with the phrase and hung it in our DIY photo area :). Easiest photobooth background ever! (and no I did not DIY my banner (or ANYTHING, I thought that I would but in the end I was true to myself, ie not that crafty and a procrastinator); I always get them from this Etsy shop they are awesome: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GIRLBYE )