Music and memory enjoy a very special partnership, not unlike your own as soon-to-be-weds. We often associate a song we love with a strong positive memory; a powerful emotional response to both parts creates a response greater than their sum. This is why it’s vital to get the music right at your wedding, as the songs you choose to score each special moment will stay in the minds and hearts of everyone in attendance. We’re going to look at how to decide which songs you should and shouldn’t play at your wedding, so you and your guests will look back through glasses with a permanent rose-tint.

Choose Songs You’re Already Familiar With…

You’ll already know a great many songs between you, and you’ll know which ones make you laugh, cry or want to reach for the sky. With these tools at your disposal can choose a song for a certain point in the ceremony, confident that you know what its emotional effect will be.

The ‘Bridal Chorus’ is ceremonial, whereas ‘Flight of the Valkyries’ is dramatic and implies peril, not something the bride wants associated with her shining moment. If you saw Wagner’s name written down and thought “perfect, our processional song!”, you’d regret not having known the name of the piece when people start waving their arms around making plane noises.

Bride Walking Down the Aisle

…Not Songs You Don’t Know

Some surprises on your wedding day may be pleasant, but sharing the first dance with your partner to a song you’ve never heard before is one that definitely wouldn’t. To put it more generally, you wouldn’t want to prepare for a moment you’re expecting to be solemn and dignified, only to have that moment spoiled by a song that’s supposed to be silly or funny. Don’t throw your song-choosing caution to the wind!

Choose Songs that Fall Within Any Venue Restrictions…

People often marry in churches, synagogues and other religious establishments, and the religions these establishments belong to often don’t allow certain types of music. Be sure to find this out in advance and delete any inappropriate songs (usually those featuring coarse or sexual language) from the playlist. There’s plenty of other great songs you can replace them with, and you won’t accidentally offend any young or elderly guests either. A note to hip hop fans — Fresh Prince, yes, 50 Cent, not so much.

…Not Whatever Is On the Playlist and Hope It’s Fine

It’s easy to overlook a single song title when you’re faced with a list of hundreds. You might not even notice until the song starts playing how inappropriate for the occasion it is. Don’t, for the love of God, upset his representatives on Earth!

Embarrassed Bride

Choose Songs You Both Enjoy As a Couple…

You’re both the stars of this show, and you’ll be going through some of the most important rites of passage together. So why not think about other things you’ve experienced together? You’re bound to remember enjoying a particular song at a particular time somewhere down the line. If it’s meaningful to you both, in however small a way, it’ll help emphasise how meaningful each moment is to you both too.

…Not Songs Only One Of You Likes

Not that this should become a major issue, after all, you’re all there to celebrate. Even if there’s a song you absolutely cannot tolerate but your partner adores, it’ll only last for a couple of minutes, and it might bring joy to many of your other guests.

Do however bear in mind that, while you can’t please everyone, if there are red flags beside any particular songs, it would be considerate to not put the person who put them there through the agony of listening to them (unless you know it’s going to be taken as a joke). There’s a danger of such a song putting a dampener on one half of the happy couple’s special day, or even causing an argument. When that person’s expecting the happiest occasion of their lives, they’ll likely be more sensitive about a hitch like that than they otherwise would be.

Choose Songs Especially for Your Wedding…

It might seem like more effort than it’s worth, but you’ll sustain the overall effect of your unique wedding if you hand-pick each song. Some cliches are unavoidable, but if you can laugh about it with your partner and a couple of your friends, it’s still a valid candidate. If you can imagine the song playing at your wedding, and it seems suitable, whack it on the list. If not, there are plenty more to choose from.

Bride and Groom Dancing

…Not Songs You’ve Lifted from a Generic Wedding Playlist You Found Online

Your friends will smell the cheese from a mile off. It’s just not you. We all have our preferences and, as this is you big day, it’s your opportunity to rule the airwaves. Don’t let someone you’ve never met determine the atmosphere of your wedding; it’ll just seem like you’re not that bothered (and we’re sure you are).

Choose Songs Your Friends Have Suggested…

Imagine how popular your playlist will be if it consists of nothing but your guests’ all-time top tunes! Ask each guest for a few of their favourites and you’ll see the list grow and grow. Think back to times you’ve seen them lose it when their favourite song comes on, and pick that! Remember, nearly everyone at your wedding will be one of your guests, so it makes sense to cater for them nearly as much as does for you to cater for yourselves.

…Not Songs You Think They’ll Like, Or At Least Won’t Mind

These will be among your closest friends in the world, so don’t act like you don’t know what they’re into. Your friends will have shared many musical memories with you before, and you’ll let a valuable resource go to waste if you don’t tap into those good times you had.

Wedding Guests with Arms in the Air on Dance Floor

Choose Songs for Each Stage of Your Wedding…

Now you know the power that songs charged with different emotions can have, it’s time to deploy them accordingly to different stages of the wedding. Does this song feel like a cake cutting song? What about this one — can we welcome everyone to the reception to it? Is it welcoming enough or too serious? These are the questions worth asking each other!

Not Just Songs for Only a Couple of Wedding Stages…

If you’ve hired a professional wedding band, don’t let it go to waste. They’re hired to make every step you take on your wedding day significant. The wedding procession and the first dance are kind of a given, but why stop there? You have the opportunity to put your musical stamp all over your wedding, and you’ll make it all the more memorable if you do!

Guest post by Adam Mezzatesta of Bands for Hire

Images from…

Walking Down the Aisle: Delicious Photography

Embarrassed Bride: Hayley Ruth Photography

Bride and Groom Dancing: Lara Hotz Photography

Wedding Guests: Red White and Green Photography