Picking songs for your wedding ceremony is not an easy task. With so much to think about and organise in the lead up to the big day, ceremony music can be one of those things that gets left to the last minute. If you don’t know where to start with your song choices, fear not. Even as a wedding musician, it took me ages to decide what songs to have at my own wedding!
How many songs do I need to choose for the ceremony?
For most wedding ceremonies you’ll need to make music choices for the processional (entrance) and the recessional (exit) – but there’s also usually a space for two or three songs during the signing of the register. So that’s up to five songs that you’ll need to have lined up.
As a singer and guitarist, part of my service is having your bespoke songs played live and acoustic at the wedding ceremony. It’s a great way of giving your ceremony a personal, unique touch – and is a lot more elegant than having to arrange someone to play songs from a phone or iPod! The big advantage of having a live musician like myself is that I can adapt your chosen song so that it matches the walk down the aisle. So that might be cutting out verses or even changing lyrics – anything is possible so you can truly make your wedding music unique to your big day!
Following on from my previous blog posts Top 10 Wedding Ceremony and First Dance songs and Top 10 Unusual Wedding Songs, I thought it would be useful to put together a more comprehensive list. Some of these are slow and romantic, some are upbeat and fun – so these should suit most types of ceremony, depending on the ambience you want to set. Many of these would also make a good first dance song.
It’s early November 2017, and things are finally starting to quieten down at Pat McIntyre HQ! It’s been an amazing 10 months or so – my busiest yet, with 56 wonderful weddings and 5 still to come before the year is out. Things feel very strange at the moment, as it’s Tuesday and I have no gigs or events coming up this weekend. With a weekend in Prague (for a wedding, ironically) and a weekend in Mallorca aside, the last time I had a “weekend off” was at the start of February – and that’s because I was just getting back from New Zealand. So a busy year indeed, and with a bit of downtime, it’s time to catch up on some tasks that have been pushed down the list of priorities – starting with my blog.
Choosing a wedding song
Wedding music is one of those things that often gets left to the last minute. Choosing songs for the wedding ceremony is tricky – there’s the bridal entrance to think about, the signing of the register and the recessional (married couple exit). Later on there’s the first dance – so that’s potentially five or six songs to choose, each of which will help set the tone for your big day and reflect your personalities.
As a wedding musician, I get asked all the time which songs are popular picks at weddings, and way back in January last year I posted my ‘Top 10 wedding ceremony and first dance songs‘. However I also get asked about rare/more unusual choices, and I fully had the intention of writing a follow-up to that blog post. Well, better late than never, so here goes!
Here’s a selection of ten songs requested for me to play by couples that are a little out of the mould of the ‘typical’ wedding song. They may be slightly outside-the-box or just rare gems that I’d never heard before. Hopefully these tracks may give some inspiration to the bride or groom-to-be searching for something a little different – maybe one of these will be your perfect wedding song!
In no particular order…
Keb’ Mo’ – Closer
I was introduced to this brilliant song by my good friends Christopher and Victoria back in 2011, when I had the privilege of playing at their Dorset wedding. I instantly fell in love with this song and I’ll often slip it into a drinks reception or pre-wedding ceremony playlist. Keb’ Mo’s soulful voice, the chilled acoustic guitar work and brilliant lyrics make it a winner in my book.
Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feeling
A song many will know from the film ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ but one that was new to me, I’ll be honest! When I heard the intro I was a little thrown as to how to make this into an acoustic first dance song, but then I heard the lyrics and fun vibe of the song and thought, yes, I get it! This actually works really well acoustically, and is a great upbeat start to the evening as a first dance, or even during the wedding ceremony itself.
Jack Johnson – Angel
Jack Johnson’s music is well known and a popular choice at weddings – “Better Together” is the main song that springs to mind. However, this track from his 2008 album Sleep Through The Static is one that is maybe less known and it’s one that I love playing! Subtle, heartfelt and just beautiful, I think this is a sublime wedding song.
Derek Gust – I Do
Very obviously a wedding song, but one that probably not many will have heard of. The lyrics are certainly perfect for the big day, and I played this as a bridal entrance song once – a really lovely choice for the ceremony.
Samm Henshaw – Only Wanna Be With You
Introduced to me earlier this year by couple Hannah and Dan, I was blown away by this piece of songwriting genius. As far as I’m concerned, this song should be just as popular as All of Me by John Legend, but is still a little under the radar. I think this track is just brilliant – have a listen and judge for yourself!
Madness – It Must Be Love
Ok, not an “unusual” song by any means – but it’s surprisingly rare to hear this at a wedding, other than maybe during the disco in the evening! I played this during the recessional (married couple exit) at a wedding ceremony earlier this year and it makes a really good choice with just acoustic guitar and voice. Upbeat and fun!
Mr & Mrs F – Love is on the Radio
This song brings back fab memories of Amanda and Iwan’s amazing wedding at Fforest in West Wales. Originally by McFly, band member Tom Fletcher and his wife Giovanna recorded this cute acoustic version, and it works brilliantly as a song for the wedding ceremony, drinks reception or as a first dance.
The Ramones – Baby I Love You
One of those songs that everyone knows, but no-one really thinks to have at a wedding! Originally recorded by the Ronettes in 1963, this version by the Ramones is maybe better known, and it can work really well with just acoustic guitar. I played this as a first dance and it worked a treat.
The Script – I’m Yours
Not to be confused with the Jason Mraz song of the same name, this track by The Script is definitely one to check out. A lovely chilled acoustic track, with perfect lyrics for the wedding ceremony or first dance.
Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life
And finally, this little gem from American outfit Bright Eyes. Not a song I know a lot about, but the heartfelt lyrics and delicate delivery make it a beautiful choice, particularly apt for the wedding ceremony.
Thanks for reading. I hope this blog post was of some use – if one of these makes your list, let me know! Best of luck with choosing your perfect wedding playlist.
Pat is a singer and guitarist from Bristol, UK, specialising in live acoustic music for weddings.
My next live performance at Smoke & Mirrors will be September 9th. Sorry that live public gigs are few and far between at the moment – I’m jam packed with private bookings every weekend throughout the Summer. Through the Autumn and Winter I’ll be adding more live weekend dates, so keep an eye on my gigs page https://www.guitaristforweddings.co.uk/gigs/for updates.
Well, after nearly 8 years, I’m saying goodbye to one of my resident venues Illusions Magic Bar. Sadly there will no longer by live music at Illusions at the weekend, but I’d like to say thank you to Mark, the staff, my fellow musicians and of course everyone that came down to watch me through the years!
Can’t believe I was there nearly a decade – how time flies! I remember the first few gigs when the music stage used to be near the bar, with the grand piano. Fun times! Then the renovation and the nice new stage that was installed. It’s always been a totally unique and fun place to play, and I’ve had some really memorable nights there!
I’ll still be continuing my regular gigs at Smoke & Mirrors in the centre, and will also post up any other public appearances on my gigs page.
On Friday 21st April I headed up to the fab The Park Hotel for Fay Stewart’s surprise 85th birthday party, arranged by her daughter Claire Stewart. Lovely afternoon spent playing some acoustic music during the meal and mingling with some lovely people.
On Saturday I headed up to Rendcomb College for Anna & Paul’s wedding celebrations. A new venue for me this one, and wow! What a place. A stunning setting for a beautiful wedding – and the weather was spectacular as well. Congratulations to an absolutely wonderful couple, it was a pleasure to play some acoustic tunes during the drinks reception.
I set up in the hall ready for the drinks reception. Amazing acoustics! I did a quick instagram video of the sound check (I failed to crop out the bit at the end when I posted the video, oops!!):
As everyone arrived following the church ceremony, they grabbed themselves a drink and most folks headed outside – so I did a quick move of setup and continued the music out in the sun. The beauty of my new Bose L1 PA system is that it’s super quick and easy to move locations!
Here are Paul & Anna’s song choices for the drinks reception:
Adele - Rolling In The Deep
Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar
Arctic Monkeys - I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Avicii - Wake Me Up
Avicii - Hey Brother
Beatles - She Loves You
Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer (acoustic version)
Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
Bryan Adams - Summer of '69
Counting Crows - Accidentally In Love
Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You
Ed Sheeran - Castle on the Hill
Ed Sheeran - Galway Girl
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Green Day - Time Of Your Life
Jackson Five - I Want You Back
The Jam - That's Entertainment
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
Jessie J - Price Tag
John Legend - All Of Me
John Newman - Love Me Again
Keane - Somewhere Only We Know
The Killers - Mr Brightside
Kings of Leon - Sex on Fire
Lighthouse Family - Lifted
Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger
Newton Faulkner - Dream Catch Me
Oasis - Wonderwall
Oasis - Don't Look Back In Anger
Oasis - She's Electric
Passenger - Let Her Go
Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
Yesterday saw my first appearance at the Kingscote Barn Open day. I’ve played at Kingscote many times, but this was my first appearance at one of their open days. What a fantastic day! Very busy, and such a great atmosphere – I highly recommend checking out one of their open days if you’re on the hunt for a wedding venue, or if you’re after some wedding inspiration.
A great day playing live music and chatting with wedding couples. Looking forward to returning to Kingscote Barn in June for Alex & Rebecca’s big day 🙂
Talking of live appearances, you may notice that the gigs page is a little bare at the moment. I’ve had a couple of people email this week asking whether I have any live shows coming up. Well – no, at the moment! My two resident venues Illusions and Smoke & Mirrors are currently putting together their musician schedule, so I’ll add my dates in as soon as they’ve got this organised.
Plus, enjoy welcome fizz on arrival courtesy of Perrier-Jouet!
If you’re planning your big day and need some inspiration, look no further than our Winter Wedding Fair.
We’re opening our doors for the best boutique wedding fair in Bristol, showcasing our beautiful, fully licensed venue, and our pick of top local wedding suppliers. What’s more, our in-house wedding planning team will be on hand throughout to answer all your questions.
A bit of an audio-geek blog post this one, but just wanted to shout about my latest and greatest piece of equipment – the Bose L1 compact PA System.
(stock photo – I have not grown hair!!)
I first heard one of these systems in action at a wedding last year. The DJ had two of these set up on the dance floor, and I couldn’t believe the sound quality and power that came out of those tiny speakers! It blew me away and I knew I had to get one in time for the 2017 wedding season.
A couple of weeks ago the delivery arrived. I eagerly set it up and plugged in my guitar and microphone. It’s nothing short of miraculous – the sound quality is astonishing from such a small unit and it’s ludicrously easy to set up. I don’t even need a mixer, although for the most part I’ll probably still use my mixer as it gives more control and flexibility over the sound.
The other great thing about this PA is that the speakers are all angled, so that you get full 180 degree coverage from one unit. I can place it in the middle of a room and it happily fills the space with glorious, pristine quality sound.
Setup with the L1 at Clevedon Hall
What this means for weddings is that I have a fantastically portable set-up for ceremonies and drinks receptions – and it’s even loud enough for the evening if required. It’s so much neater and will look much better in wedding venues – it means that I can get rid of 4 or 5 separate wires that I would usually have to plug in. This is going to give a much better appearance and take up less space – something which can be an issue in wedding venues.
I played my first gig with it at Clevedon Hall for their Valentines Day event and I’m already wondering how I lived without it!
An absolutely brilliant piece of kit which will add another level of slickness and professionalism to my performances – very excited to take this along to weddings in 2017!