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The easiest way to guarantee I will cry buckets of tears at your wedding ceremony? Include “Be Thou My Vision.” We sang it during our ceremony, and to this day, anytime I hear it, I’m immediately transported right back to June 23, 2012. There’s something incredibly powerful about music and its ability to bring emotion to life’s most special moments – your wedding ceremony most certainly among them.

A darling reader bride recently asked us to share some of our favorite outdoor ceremony music suggestions, so I’ve happily compiled a few selections, from processional to recessional. (These would all work well whether you’re getting married indoors or out!) My main tip for outdoor ceremonies, though? Be proactive about the sound system, if you’re not hiring live musicians. If you want your guests to be able to sing along or enjoy the music, make sure everyone can hear it.

P.S. The linked headings below lead to a Spotify playlist, where you can listen to our suggestions! A perfect activity for a weeknight dinner :)

Favorite wedding ceremony classical processional songs:
• Wedding March – Mendelssohn
• Canon in D – Pachelbel
• Ave Maria – Bach or Schubert
• Water Music – Handel
• Ode to Joy – Beethoven

Favorite wedding ceremony hymns and songs:
• Abide With Me
• All Creatures of our God and King
• Be Thou My Vision
• Come Thou Fount
• In Christ Alone

Favorite non-religious ceremony songs:
• Wedding Processional – Rodgers and Hammerstein
• Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis
• Falling Slowly – from “Once”
• Make You Feel My Love – Adele
• A Thousand Years – Vitamin String Quartet

Favorite modern recessional songs:
• The Real Thing – The 5 Royales
• Book of Love – The Monotones
• Brighter Than the Sun – Colbie Caillat
• Everlasting Love – Carl Carlton
• Love, Love, Love – The Clovers

One final tip? When picking music, think about the overall feel of your big day – is it classic? romantic? laid-back? upbeat? Pick music that will tell your story and maybe even make you tear up when you hear it at a friend’s ceremony years later ;)

We have more ceremony music suggestions (along with heaps of helping ceremony planning recommendations) in our Joyful Wedding Planner. Snag one over in our shop!

Image round up: Jen Dillender, Tanja Lippert, Jen Fariello, Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington and Perry Vaile

kristin Written with love by Kristin
3 Comments
  1. avatar Savannah Fannon reply

    Any suggestions on playing music outdoors?

  2. avatar Patti reply

    I’m a church organist and singer and play at weddings all the time. For outside ceremonies, it will depend on what musicians you will have. I heard a string quartet playing Beatles tunes at a wedding and they played “Here Comes the Sun” as the bridesmaids came down the aisle. I’ve heard a recorded instrumental of “Someday My Prince Will Come” at an outdoor wedding. One of my daughters used recorded dulcimer music for her wedding that included the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” and for her recessional, she used “How Sweet it Is (to be Loved by You)” by James Taylor as her recessional. It was perfect.

  3. avatar EvDressau reply

    This is a great reference, I think I will listen to these music before my wedding, and then find out that I feel suitable for my wedding song.

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Though most of us have attended several wedding ceremonies by the time we need to plan our own, the basic structure can still be confusing! I distinctly remember worrying that we’d somehow leave some important element out (like the kiss!!) just because we’d somehow overlooked it! Thankfully, our officiant was on hand to make sure everything important was included, and I’m sure yours will be, as well.

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Nancy Ray from Whitney and Cory’s wedding

Depending on whether you’re getting married in a church and/or with the blessing of a certain denomination, you might have more or less latitude in designing your order of ceremony. Here, we’ve outlined the basic elements in a Christian ceremony to get your wheels turning on what might be included and where there are opportunities for customization (and so that you don’t forget anything truly important :)).

Don’t worry too much about how long or short your ceremony is – your guests love you, and if each piece of your ceremony is purposeful, they’ll see that. That being said, be sure to take your guests’ comfort into consideration – don’t make them sit outside in the sun or stand for an hour-long ceremony!

One final tip? Make sure you confirm with your officiant how you two would like to be announced for the first time: as Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas? As Mr. and Mrs. John and Emily Thomas? As John and Emily Thomas? It’s a big moment, and one you want to make sure and get just how you’d like it! :)

Looking for more ceremony tips? We’ve got a whole slew of them in our wedding planner, and I’d also recommend checking out our posts on how to write your own wedding vows and nine of our favorite romantic wedding vows for inspiration!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Savannah Fannon reply

    Love it! Are there any suggestions for music in an outdoor ceremony?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Savannah! I love that idea! We haven’t written that post yet, but I will put it on the calendar :) In the meantime, I think you can’t go wrong with live string versions of modern songs for an outdoor ceremony!

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