Playlist: Hip Ceremony Music

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Have I ever told you that I grew up in a home with literally thousands of classical records on vinyl? I did. We listened to classical music at home, and religious music at church, and to be honest, I didn’t know much about pop music till high school. And while I rarely listen to classical music these days, there are some places I just can’t stray from my roots: Christmas (gimmie some religious Medieval music!) and weddings (classical, classical, religious). Which is why I was in charge of APW Classical Wedding Music Playlist.

But when we started putting together this playlist full of ceremony music, APWers, as ever, changed my mind on a few things. This list is hip (with hints and whispers of tradition). Each of these songs makes me feel like I’m being welcomed to a wedding I very much want to be at. For those of you working on the (seemingly impossible) task of picking wedding music, may this inspire you.

And, as summer is winding to a close (what? already?) a huge thank you to Monogamy Wine, which has made these awesomely long, and informative crowd-sourced playlists possible all summer. I raise my glass of delightfully chilled white wine in their honor!

Hip Ceremony Music from practicalmaddie on 8tracks Radio.

Processionals for Family/Friends/Party:

  • “I’ll Be Your Mirror” by Velvet Underground
  • “I Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash
  • “Our Way to Fall” by Yo La Tengo
  • “Haste to the Weddingtraditional, performed by The Corrs
  • “Once Upon a Time in the West” by Ennio Morricone
  • “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
  • “Twa Bonny Maidenstraditional, performed by Siobhan McDonnell
  • “Love You Madly” by Cake
  • “Life’s a Happy Song” by The Muppets

Processionals for Brides/Grooms:

  • “Every Morning” by KebMo
  • “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie
  • “Heartbeats” by José González
  • “Baby, I Love You” by Ramones
  • “Brian Boru’s March” traditional, performed by Maurice Lennon
  • “Baby That’s Not All” by Josh Ritter
  • “The West Wing Theme” performed by The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
  • “Home” by Phillip Phillips

Hymns/Ceremony Music:

  • “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Yspilanti” by Sufjan Stevens
  • “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan
  • “The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields
  • “Somebody Loved” by The Weepies
  • “How Can I Keep From Singing” performed by Judy Collins


  • “Kiss” by Prince
  • “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine
  • “Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons
  • “That’s What’s Up” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
  • “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
  • “I Got You (At the End of the Century)” by Wilco
  • “You Have Stolen My Heart” by Dashboard Confessional
  • “Brand New Colony” by The Postal Service

Classical Wedding Music

First Dance Songs, Vol. 1

Unexpected Parent Dance Songs

Last Dance Songs (For Your Wedding)

Cocktail Hour Songs

**This post was sponsored by Monogamy Wines. Thank you Monogamy for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Jen

    This playlist is awesome! Hell yes to “Heartbeats” and “Widows in Paradise.” That song gives me goosebumps.

  • alyssa

    Aw, yay! Widows in Paradise was our communion song and we left the church to Sigh No More. :)
    LOVE the idea of Love You Madly by Cake! Whoever suggested that is a genius.

  • Grace

    The fact that the Muppets are on here just made my life.

  • What a broad list! Classical options! Cake! The Ramones! The Velvet Underground! The MUPPETS!

    Also, the theme song to “Once Upon a Time in the West” is gorgeous, and feels so much more serene when Charles Bronson isn’t fighting bad guys to it.

  • Steph

    Great lists! One other neat bride processional suggestion — a friend walked down the isle to “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5 sung with acoustic guitar accompaniment. I went with a traditional wedding march and have no regrets about that, but that was one of the prettiest/sweetest bridal entrances I’ve seen :)

    • Emily

      We had a ton of suggestions for guitar/string trio arrangements that sounded (I’m assuming) awesome. We just couldn’t share them, obviously. :)

  • I hear you on the Medieval Christmas music!

    My plan is to never plan another wedding. But I’ve loved pulling up these playlists while I’m breastfeeding. :)

  • Catherine McK

    I want to be friends with the person who processes to the West Wing song, my ears lit up (um.. what’s the actual appropriate equivalent for ears?) when it started. Lovely and happy.

    • Sarah

      Oh my God YES. Instead of numbers, we’re naming tables after our favorite things as a couple and one of them will be The West Wing.

    • LM

      The West Wing was my processional! When I entered, it took a couple seconds but then I could see the recognition among the other WW fans in the crowd. I highly recommend it to any other WW lovers.

    • Emily

      I confess: I thought they were crazy at first. (There was more than one person who suggested it.) But then I listened, and it totally worked!

  • Laura C

    It’s probably wrong that the Muppets song is making me think that “Walk Through the Fire” from Buffy would be a good processional song?

    Man, all the songs I think of for the ceremony are totally inappropriate lyrically speaking.


      Or maybe the end of “I’ve Got a Theory”?

      • Because you really don’t need the WHOLE song of anything you use.

        • “Tara’s Song” would also totally work.

          Ok, after this playlist, I’m playing all of “Once More With Feeling” on spotify.

          • 1. You guys are my people.

            2. Oh man, “Where Do We Go From Here?” as the processional makes me want a wedding redo.

    • THISis a thing. Just so you know.

    • Oh my god. A large part of me is like “YES GOOD” but then an equally large part of me knows that any ten seconds of Once More With Feeling and I will find myself busy having Buffy and Spike feels at my own wedding.

  • Jessica B

    And again, APW nails it with “the thing I needed right now” feature.

    Literally just got a bunch of questions from our DJ and my dude and I just looked at each other like “whhaaa?”

  • Awwww Forever Young by Bob Dylan! Yes, yes, yes.

    • meg

      It was suggested as a cover, and I was like HELL NO ORIGINAL PLEASE. I’ve actually been looking for a playlist to put this on, it seems like a song that should really be used for weddings.

      • This was our rescessional song. It is perfect for a giddy, joyous exit. And, as a happy follow-up to the story, a friend gave us a print of the chorus lyrics to hang in our new baby’s nursery. She hadn’t attended the wedding and didn’t realize we named our daughter after Dylan, but she figured we seemed like the kind of people who liked him. Love!

      • AmandaS

        When I heard it on this playlist yesterday, I immediately opened my music for the google doc and added it to the cocktail/dinner hour section. So there you go!

        Plus my dad loved Dylan and my mom hates him (I love annoying my mother and honoring my father who passed away 2 years ago)

    • I picked Forever Young for my dance with Duncan at the reception. Bob Dylan is this whole thing in my family. I’m named after a song he wrote for his ex_wife of the same name, and my Lil brother is named Dylan! We`z is some crazy folk.

  • mimi

    Great choices here! I processed to Sweet Thing by Van Morrison (partly because of The Five Year Engagement, which has a great soundtrack). When my sister got married, they used the theme from Up (“Married Life”) and also the theme from Rudy.

    • I can’t hear the theme from “Up” without so many tears! It’s just so sweet.

      • megan

        We’re going to play that song while we cut our cake.

  • Rebekah

    I’m very, very seriously considering “Sweet Child of Mine” as our processional.

    These playlists rock.

    • Tania

      We’re having Thunderstruck by ACDC as our recessional so I am so with you on Sweet Child of Mine!

    • You guys, you guys, you guys! There is this amazing cover of Sweet Child by this band called Metalachi. If you are considering the song I highly recommend giving their version a listen. It’s exactly what their name implies +awesome.

  • Heather

    I love the song “God Only Knows” for a wedding and would have used it in a heartbeat if the opening to the HBO show Big Love didn’t creep to mind every time I hear it. Darn you Bill Hendricks and your slow motion, multi partner figure skating!

    • We danced to God Only Knows for our first dance, and my husband’s Big Love-watching family thought we chose it as a joke because I am Mormon. It makes me laugh, but also sort of ticks me off because I love subverting tradition as much as the next APW-er, but in what world does that mean I want to make a joke out of the first dance? Also, why is my religion still a punchline? Argh.

    • Steph

      Ha, I just started watching that show a few months ago and have been marathoning it, so when I see this suggestion pop up now, I’m in the same boat! “But it’s the Big Love theme song…I can’t wear skates to this event.” Though I much prefer the other association I used to make with the song (the ending of Love, Actually at the airport) because…yeah, the group skate thing is just weird.

  • I Walk the Line. God Only Knows. THE WEST WING THEME. APWFTW.

  • Oh, and because I’m having a serious moment with George Harrison, might I suggest “I’d Have You Any Time”, or “Long, Long, Long” (my beautiful friends ( just sang it as our other beautiful friends’ processional).

    • Liz

      Love George Harrison! My sister’s first dance with her fiance will be “If Not For You.” I’m jealous of how great a song it is!!!

  • I grew up in a household of exclusively Irish music. It was the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, all the time. Sometimes my dad would put on the Kris Kristofferson Silver Tongued Devil album to mix it up. It wasn’t until my sister started dating a guy who helped her download Napster and who burned her mix CDs that I started to actually listen to “current” music. I also got super into the Indigo Girls and bought all their CDs. I didn’t hear Bon Jovi until I got to college, didn’t listen to a Springsteen CD until I was 26 and my friend’s husband found out I had no idea what songs he wrote and determined it was a travesty. When Michael Jackson died, I realized the only song of his I knew was that one from the Center Stage soundtrack. I’m simply not a music person – I listen to the radio in the car, but when I’m alone in the house, I don’t turn the radio on. My husband always has music going, but I just don’t think to turn it on.

    All this is to say that picking music for us was really daunting. It’s challenging to pick stuff that everyone will like or that is personal to you when you’re just not that into music. We asked a couple of my college friends to play a couple of songs we liked on their guitars, which meant we didn’t have to worry about lyrics, and it wound up being one of my favorite things about our ceremony. We processed to The Streets of London for the bridal party and Great Big Sea’s “Sea of No Cares” for me, and then we recessed to Old ’97’s Question.

  • Ali

    Another Cake suggestion: their cover of Never Never Gonna Give You Up from the B Sides and Rarities album! Not totally family-friendly, but it’s very romantic. ;) “I’m never ever gonna quit, cause quittin just ain’t my shit”

  • Liz

    My current idea is to walk down the aisle to a TBD Andrew Bird song…basically whatever has the best extended pizzicato section I can find. Fiance and I met in orchestra and both play violin/viola…and if I want to kick it up a notch, I want to hire the string section of our college orchestra to play it!!

    One of my favorite Andrew Bird songs is Orpheo Looks Back…but I probably shouldn’t jinx myself to walk down the aisle to a song about a god who killed his goddess by looking at her…right? :) Unless I can spin it as he can’t turn back now!!!

  • megan

    I don’t understand the use of Signed Sealed Delivered at weddings. The chorus is cute, but the song seems to me to be about a jerk who ran around on his lady and is now trying to beg his way back into her life. I hope that’s not the place the fiance and I are in as we’re walking back down that aisle!

  • tiffany

    There are such great ideas on this playlist! Sadly I already have my heart set on my processional song and first dance song. Ever since I heard “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, I knew that it would be my first dance song at my wedding and if my partner didn’t like it, then maybe he wasn’t right for me (I realize now that that was a bit young and naieve of me). Luckily, my man agreed that while maybe not a traditional wedding first dance song (read sappy, slow, etc…), we both loved that it was upbeat and cold go for a man to a woman or vice versa. As for the processional song, ours is going to be “The Story” by Brandi Carlisle. I love that song, I love the build towards the end (I always picture that as being my first appearence as a bride) and can’t wait to walk down the beach to my soon to be spouse (barring the beach patrol showing up and raising a stink) to this song in less than two months… Wait, thats it!? Yikes!! I had better get stuff done!

  • Meghan

    I’m going to walk down the aisle to “She’s A Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones! Haven’t told my parents yet, but that song is just so awesome.

  • Kat

    another Cash song… but we’re considering using “Ring of Fire” for our recessional.

  • Madeline

    We *just* decided to use Haste to the Wedding as our recessional independently for our wedding next week! Makes me feel good to see it on “wedding ceremony list” even though we’re using it as a recessional not processional :D (We’re going Star Trek with our processional…)

    Lovely list!

  • Mezza

    Holy crap, Brand New Colony! We went to the Postal Service reunion tour stop in Brooklyn earlier this year, and they ended with that song, and I just went “….that needs to be in my wedding.” Pretty certain it will be our recessional in October. :)

  • The “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Yspilanti” is my tried and tested in Hymns category and it creates the best impact on people during reception.
    Michigan Wedding Reception

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  • Annmarie

    Don’t forget about Cloud Cult “Meet Me Where Your Going”.

  • has a number of songlists that are being updated in real time. The top 200 list is updated by the second. There’s also lists for first dance, etc., updated the same way. It uses requests coming into Gigbuilder from thousands of weddings and special events located throughout the country. Check it out:

  • Karli Kruschel

    I walked down the aisle to “Dearest” by Buddy Holly and it was perfect! Very sweet and intimate.

  • meow

    Weddings are so exciting! The very moment I step into the wedding venue and upon hearing the wedding songs, geee it sends shiver to my spine! Maybe I’m just so inspired even to be giving the best wedding songs list to my friends. Whenever I attend weddings, I see to it I list down songs I hear and also tell them to those who are looking for the best suitable wedding songs aside from the couple’s own OST.

    Nice Wedding Songs you got here, might check on them too! Thanks dear!!

    Best Wedding Songs

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