A key factor to having an unforgettable wedding is having a killer playlist! From pre-ceremony to final send-off, the music is what sets the tone, enhances the moment, and carries you through. Just like the soundtrack to your favorite movie or broadway play, the music at your wedding can have the same effect. Making the sweet moments sweeter and the happy moments happier.

Hearing the songs that accompanied specific moments during your wedding day will bring you right back to that cherished moment in time, which you will remember forever. In this episode of The Wedding Duo Podcast, we’re talking about how to create that epic soundtrack for your wedding.

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The Prelude

It can help to think of your wedding day as a play, with different scenes. Decide on the vibe you are going for in each scene, and put together the soundtrack from that. To help you visualize the different “scenes”, check out our sample timeline!

The prelude is the first part of your wedding, as guests are arriving at the ceremony site. It’s a good time to start setting a really elegant vibe with some instrumental or orchestral music. This can be anything from classical to modern. There are some amazing instrumental covers of modern songs that have come out in recent years! Some of our favorites are:

  • The Brooklyn Duo
  • The Vitamin String Quartet
  • Guitar Tribute Players
  • The Piano Guys

Note: if you are DIYing your music, don’t use YouTube to play the songs. (It will be the longest 5 seconds of your life when that tooth whitening ad comes on in the middle of your ceremony!)

The Processional and Entrance of the Bride

As you move into the processional, continue with the elegant music from the prelude, then shift into the song for the moment the bride enters. 

This moment. 

All of the planning you’ve done, and all of that nervous energy has built up to this one moment. 

The reveal as the bride is coming around the corner or the doors open is pretty incredible, and you want to pair it with a song that perfectly captures the emotion of it all.

One of our favorite songs for the bride’s reveal is At Last, by Etta James. We remember one time that we used it, the first few instrumental notes of the song played, and then we timed it so that as soon as the door opened, the song croons, “at laaast”, and the bride is standing there. 

The bride’s mother said to us afterward that she had been doing a good job of holding it together, but when that note hit, she lost it. It was just such a powerful moment.

That is just one of the classic songs that is perfect for the bride’s entrance, but there are lots of great options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on a song.

  • The ideal reveal and processional songs start really simple, usually with just one instrument, or the singer singing, and then it picks up a bit when it hits the chorus. 
  • If the song has lyrics, they are important! Some songs just have perfect lyrics that hit on a part of your relationship story that resonates with you deeply. 
  • Do you really love a specific part of the song? You can orchestrate it so that the doors open at that moment! The DJ can either start the song close to that part, loop the first section, or just let the whole song play and give you a cue for when to open the doors or start walking.  

What if you don’t have doors to open at a specific spot (for instance, an outdoor wedding?)

Lots of weddings are outdoors, which will change the bride’s reveal, but can be just as powerful. We like to suggest that you use the first part of the song to walk to the back of the aisle. When you get there, just stop and wait. Enjoy the moment, and create a core memory by just taking it all in! You might find it tempting at this point to keep walking and just make it to the end of the aisle, but taking a moment to just enjoy it can create a cherished memory. Tell your dad or whoever is walking you down not to let you sprint to the front, or let your planner tell you if they are standing close.

Just take a pause to enjoy it. Then, when the song cues you, start walking slowly down. Even if you play the whole song, most songs are only 3 to 3.5 minutes long. They really aren’t that long, but because of all the excitement, they can seem that way. Everyone will love the opportunity to cherish the moment; not only the bride and groom, but the guests will love it too!

The Recessional

We like to make recessional songs a bit more celebratory and fun! The recessional song and the introduction of the couple are interchangeable in most cases, and here are some of our favorites:

  • American Authors, Best Day of My Life
  • Frankie Valley, Can’t Take My Eyes off You
  • UNK, Walk it Out
  • TI and JayZ, Bring Them Out

Cocktail Hour

For most of it, you as the couple aren’t even at the cocktail hour! Take the opportunity to adjust the vibe while you are off getting pictures and guests are having drinks. What type of vibe that is really depends on your personality. We usually use a soundtrack like:

A Rat Pack playlist: For more of a swanky vibe! This playlist has Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, James Taylor and is easy to listen to; or A Coffee Shop Playlist:  Some couples really prefer the coffee shop vibe, with Norah Jones, Michael Buble and Jason Moraz as the soundtrack to cocktail hour.

 

Dinner and Dancing

Between cocktails and dinner, there is a clear break in the event. The energy changes and people start to move into more of a celebratory mood. We like to keep the dinner music mostly love songs, but toe-tappy upbeat ones. If you get too slow and sleepy it can bring down the energy level.

Once dinner is over, it’s time to get the party started! This usually begins with introductions of the wedding party and the newlyweds. There’s so much opportunity here to have lots of fun and to begin engaging the crowd! There’s A LOT of options when it comes to picking music for this part of the event and that can feel pretty overwhelming for a lot of people. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Check out our post How to Choose Your Wedding Music for a complete rundown!

If You Have a DJ

Just because you have a DJ doesn’t mean you won’t have a say in your music. After all, it’s your wedding, and a great way to infuse your personal music taste into the event. Some couples have special songs that they want on the “must play” list, while other couples turn to the DJ as the expert and let them come up with everything. 

As you meet with your DJ, they get to know your personalities and will have a good idea of the vibe you are going for, even if you are not sure.

If You are DIYing Your Wedding

If you are not investing in a full wedding planner, but feel like you could use some guidance, check out the downloadable wedding music planner on our website. It is a valuable resource if you are DYing your wedding or even just looking for some inspiration! 

The music at your wedding should reflect your relationship. You’ve put all of this effort into planning it, and the music can be the last piece of the puzzle that just puts it all together. The songs we’ve mentioned in this post are just the heavy hitters that get used often, but there are so many more suggestions in our planner! Not only does it give you song ideas, but we’ve marked the good starting points in the songs.


We also offer one on one virtual planning sessions if you’d like more help. The virtual sessions come in packages of 1, 3, or 6 meetings. We’ll sit down with you for a 45-minute zoom session and create a timeline, help with the floor plan, the music, all of those pieces. You will also get a credit for our shop!

Your wedding will be memorable because it reflects your personality. Have fun with it, and choose what you and your partner want, music included!

Happy Wedding Planning!

The Wedding Duo: A Wedding Planning Podcast

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