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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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Some of the very best posts in our archives are the ones written by real brides actively planning their weddings and sharing their thoughts along the way. We want to bring you more of that! Today’s guest, Grace, was actually married this spring, but close enough :) We met her at one of our photo shoots for Volume 10, and when she told us she used our Joyful Wedding Planner throughout her engagement, we were tickled pink! Since we’ve been talking about all things ceremony for the last few weeks, I asked her to come on over and share more about hers. Take it away, Grace! – Emily

For about a week after getting engaged, my time was mostly spent daydreaming about our engagement day and gazing at my beautiful ring (ha!). Once I shook off the “engagement high,” I dived into planning our wedding — I could hardly wait! My excitement quickly turned to frustration, though, as I was overwhelmed with the number of options and decisions there were to make, as I’m sure y’all can relate to. I needed a solid guide that would come alongside me and my husband as we created a wedding that was uniquely ours. Thankfully, the Joyful Wedding Planner came to the rescue!

From the very beginning stages of wedding planning, my husband and I knew that we wanted to get married in the mountains, a place we both love and where we’ve made wonderful memories. We also knew that we wanted our wedding day to glorify and display the love of Christ, and for this reason, the ceremony was the most important part of the day for us. It was not only the part of the day that we would officially be declared husband and wife, but also a chance for us to show our family and friends that we did not take marriage lightly and were making a serious commitment to one another. It was also a chance to show the power of Christ’s love in our lives and the power we would rely on for our marriage! Lastly, we wanted our marriage to signify the joining of our two families into one.

After having a solid handle on what we wanted for our ceremony, I worked through my planner to help figure out exactly what I wanted for each detail:

— For the officiant, we knew that we wanted an individual that displayed a strong love for the Lord, was eloquent in speaking the beauty of the Lord’s love for us, and had mentored us through our relationship.
— We also decided to include two wedding rituals. The first was the lighting of the unity candle to represent our new life in Christ, our two lives becoming one, and the joining of our families. I just loved the imagery of two flames merging to become one! The second ritual we took part in was communion.
— We picked readings (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:25-33 and 22-24) to show that we were choosing to love each other in our marriage and to illustrate the roles that we were promising to take up.

The planner encouraged me to come up with a Plan A and a Plan B for the ceremony in case of weather, and to make sure that we could be happy with either outcome. Thankfully, our venue gave us the option of holding our ceremony outside or inside of the barn, giving us two beautiful settings (one rain-proof!). If it was held outside, it would be held in front of a large tree with arching branches. If it was inside, the barn setting would be accented with twinkle lights and draped cloth, fitting for our mountain setting. We ended up having our ceremony inside of the barn because of a high forecast for rain, and it ended up being intimate and beautiful!

My husband and I both agreed from the start that we would recite traditional vows (writing our own would have been too much pressure for us!). That was an easy decision to check off the list :)

For our processional music, we chose two favorite songs to display both of our personalities: one of my husband’s favorites (“Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel) for the family and wedding party entrance, and one of mine (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for mine. Our communion song was “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” Our ceremony music was played by dear friends on piano, flute, violin, and oboe.

When the ceremony was finished, we wanted to end on a joyous note and decided to have a bluegrass band play a lively tune and have our guests throw flower petals in the air to join in the celebration with us as we walked out as husband and wife!

Thinking back on it, the ceremony was the sweetest and most joyous moment of the day (and probably my life!) and everything my husband and I valued and loved was displayed perfectly through it. I am so thankful that the tone for our marriage was set on that day. Planning for the ceremony was so sweet but being married now is even sweeter!

All photos by Blue Ribbon Vendor Ally & Bobby!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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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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