Wedding Music – The ABC of your wedding music.

by | Nov 4, 2019

Read all about music selection for your wedding day on our blog

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The ABC of your wedding music

I grew up with the beats of Mama Tembu’s wedding and the sexy Pata Pata long before I had any idea of who the famous Miriam Mkeba was, or what her songs represented. As a youngster I was just loving the upbeat rhythm and joys it brought into my life. If clicking on the Pata Pata link doesn’t make you smile and get your toes tapping, then you better leave the wedding song list to someone else!

No wedding is complete without a fantastic playlist. And whether you orchestrate this from your mobile phone and a Boom Box, or hire in a fancy DJ or band, it’s still one of the most exciting parts of the wedding.



Set the tone of your day with some fun songs – and there are so many. Show me the person who doesn’t smile listening to The Dixie Cups tune below and I will show you a sad old so-and-so:

“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married
Gee, I really love you
And we’re gonna get married
Goin’ to the chapel of love”

Yes, I can hear you humming along! Nothing wrong with that. Or how about a bit of “Walking on Sunshine” from Katrina and the Waves? Trust me, on the morning of your wedding, you will so get this. And it goes perfectly well with chilled champagne.



No doubt you and partner already have a list of favourite songs? You know – the song that played when you first met, the first time he asked you to dance, the first kiss…

If not, you will love today’s blog as we are looking at all the aspects of wedding music:

  • Walking down the aisle
  • Leaving the church
  • Dad and daughter/mother and son dance
  • The first dance
  • Keeping the crowd going
  • And getting them to go home

Traditionally the guy is in charge of the music, especially the arrangements, but of course, the ladies will have a say in the music selection. So much depends on the type of wedding you are having, the time of the wedding, the age groups and even the ethnic mix.



I have a soft spot for the traditional Wedding March. Call me sentimental, but nothing ‘announces’ a bride like old composer Richard Wagner’s pièce de résistance.

If you are serious about classical music for your entrance, has a wonderful summary of great classics ranging from Schubert’s “Ave Maria” as a prelude, to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” for the exit or recession.

Canon in D (Pachelbel’s Canon) in Cello & Piano is truly beautiful, but Wagner’s  Bridal Chorus of the Wedding March is the version we really think of when referring to the wedding march.

At our wedding, we opted for a modern and traditional mix. “The Prayer”, as sung by Celine Dion and Andre Bocelli, it created a meaningful entry. Listening to the lyrics was the perfect blessing for our union. And then, when I was ready to walk down the aisle, we played an abbreviated version of the traditional Wedding March. The best of both worlds, if you ask me.



Brunch weddings are typically subdued affairs and a little background music would be sufficient. No excuse though not to have something beautifully classic, perhaps jazzy.

Acoustic sounds and instrumental covers also work really well for brunch weddings. I love the extensive list compiled by this year which is great for morning weddings or walking down the aisle if the Wedding March feels a bit too severe for you.

Enya’s “Day without Rain” or “Come Away with Me” from Norah Jones by Café Instrumental, would soothe even the frailest of nerves on any wedding day. Norah Jones seems to do just that, and come highly recommended for morning weddings.



Evening weddings allow you to bring out the beats. And boy, do we have playlists for you on our Pinterest Board. Big on crowd participation? Bring on the chicken song and flash mobs. Did you know that a one-hour techno remix of this chicken song madness exists? I am not posting the link – just a friendly gesture to all the young brides out there J

The Black Eyed Peas – “I Gotta Feeling” may be from a few years back, but it still gets a crowd on the dance floor. Abba’s “Dancing Queen dates back to 1976, but see that crowd move.

Remember the Bee Gees? “Staying Alive” still has the ability to turn wedding guests in mini John Travoltas as they make the moves. And do not, I repeat, do not forget “Greased Lightning”…

For that moment when the bouquet is tossed, you can’t top Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. You know what they say – “if you like it you should put a ring on it!”



Fun playlist options could include eras or styles. You may put a playlist together with the best songs of the year you met, or the years you were born, for a bit of nostalgia. The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s – well really each decade – brings along its own top 20 hits.

My cousin decorated each of her wedding tables with a country theme – the places that they travelled to and are dear to them. Something similar can be done with your music for the evening. That trip you did to Italy? Eros Ramazzotti, Anastacia – I Belong To You (Il Ritmo Della Passione) is super-romantic. You will fall in love with the Grand Canals and Gelato all over again.

Fond memories of a romantic beach holiday? The happy tunes of The Beach Boys immediately come to mind – sea, sun and the smell of coconut tan lotion. Chris Rea’s On the Beach adds a bit of romance.

What about that Paris in Summer? If you have not heard Parisian Walkways by Gary Moore, you need to add it to your playlist right away.



Wedding Ideas Magazine reports that Spotify has revealed the top ten most popular songs couples are choosing for their first dance in 2019. “The beloved music streaming service compiled the list after analysing thousands of playlists titled “first dance”.

“Unsurprisingly, topping the global list is Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ followed by Etta James’ ‘At Last’ in second place, and coming in third most popular is Ray LaMontagne’s ‘You Are the Best Thing’.”

PS – If you haven’t clicked on the Ed Sheeran link to see the video, do so quickly before coming back for the rest of the awesome music we have lined up for you. It’s next-level romantic.



The Father and Daughter dance is always a real tear-jerker, and for this, we line up songs like: “Butterfly kisses” or “I loved her first”. Traditionally the father-daughter dance was combined with the newly-weds first dance together.

The father would dance with his daughter, and then midway through the song, he would hand over his daughter to her new husband. This signified the father’s trust and acceptance of his new son-in-law.

Nowadays it tends to happen the other way around, where the bride and groom would do their first dance together and then switch over to fathers and mothers. Often the father-daughter and mother-son pairings will break off halfway through the song to pick a new partner, making the dancing more inclusive. And before you know it everyone is on the dance floor and it is party time!



Sparkles are SO romantic and make the perfect photo opportunity when the bridal couple leaves for the night. Couple this with an exit tune like the old classic “All you need is love” from the Beatles  – who can forget gospel choir  version during the wedding scene in Love, Actually. Or play the lovely schmaltzy  “I don’t want to miss a thing” from Aerosmith and guests will know it is time to say their goodbyes. (If all else fails, subtly turn the lights up a bit!)

Music preserves memories for us in ways you can’t even imagine. “The songs we love become woven into a neural tapestry entwined with the people, seasons, and locations throughout our lifespan”, according to Psychology Today.

Petr Janata, associate professor of psychology at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain remarked explains: “What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye.”

You are the master of the mental movie that will playback your wedding memories – make it count!



She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.


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