Top Celebrants Reveal their Best and Worst in Wedding Ceremony Music

Wedding ceremony music

Wedding music reveals a lot about the couple getting married – and has been an eye-opener for some of our Celebrants!

I spent some time last year quizzing some top Wedding Celebrants, and members of The Celebrant Directory, in the UK on their best and worst experiences with wedding ceremony music and asking them to reveal their thoughts and advice for those choosing those tunes.


What song springs to mind as the most memorable when it comes to ceremony music and why?

JASON & CATHY: We think the most memorable have been of a romantic nature. Two spring to mind but to pick one … my first my last my everything by Barry White has to be a fav. It was so unexpected and so loving.

LORRAINE: The fabulous song that a groom wrote for, and sang to, his bride as she walked down the aisle.  It was a complete surprise and he walked backwards, in front of her, while singing and playing the guitar – quite an accomplishment in itself!  It was AMAZING – not a dry eye in the room (including mine)

GLYNIS: The MOST memorable have to be the songs that I have MOST heard, especially this summer!  A 1000 years Christina Perri and Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major!  Only memorable because they been the most popular choices.  I did have one couple early on in my celebrant’s career and I was blown away by their upbeat, funky choice for the recessional!!  It was very unexpected as they were quite closed to me and I had found it difficult to get a good and open relationship with them beforehand.

What are your thoughts on live music at a wedding ceremony?

JASON & CATHY: Pick carefully if you are really sure it adds something. Mr Smith is a Session Musician and has played many weddings over the years and we’ve recommended many live acts to couples but it’s not for everyone.  If it really suits the theme then it can work …. Acoustic soloists and duo’s throughout the day are better than the wrong live act for the evening.

LORRAINE: I love it!  I did once hear a singer at a wedding who was truly awful but he was the bride’s hairdresser and he had begged her to let him sing (she did say afterwards that she wished she’d just let him do her hair).  There’s a moral in there somewhere!

GLYNIS: I love music and the most incredible live music at a wedding is when a friend or family member gets up and sings!  I had three ceremonies where the couple’s friends got up and sang and it was so special.  I always tell couples that these kind of acts make their wedding even more special!  My late dad had a beautiful tenor voice and was always asked to sing at friends’weddings – very special.

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Glynis German Celebrant 

What would you say are the most popular songs played?

JASON & CATHY: Be my Baby by The Ronnetts, Unchained Melody by the Righteous BrothersWe recently were exposed to Get Lucky by Farrell. That was fun!

LORRAINE: Over the last couple of years, it’s probably been 1,000 years by The Piano Guys…

GLYNIS: See first answer above!!  Modern mainly.

You have heard so many entry and exit songs, let’s be honest here, what is your least favourite song played and why?

JASON & CATHY: Well, our least favourite entry and exit song has to be…Honestly, anything by Celine Dion… sorry it’s a day ruiner for us.. unless you really want it and then we looove it!!

LORRAINE: ‘Stay with me’ by Sam Smith – it’s about a one-night-stand!  Please read, or listen to, the lyrics before your big day!

GLYNIS: It’s not that I have a least favourite as I enjoy all songs that couples choose as it’s who they are.  However, I am pushing the boat out for next year’s weddings and encouraging my couples to really go for it and choose songs that are not what they think they should choose but what they really want to choose.  I hope there’s no rap, grime, heavy metal etc as I hate those genres ha ha!!

What do you think when couples choose to get guests singing instead of readings during the ceremony? Fun or awkward?

JASON & CATHY: AWKWARD!!!.. oooh noooooo! Unless they’ve appeared on Broadway!

LORRAINE: The last time there was singing, it was brilliant!  I always check with the couple if one of their guests (or they!) will lead the singing – it’s always much better that way; much less likely to fall into embarrassed mumbling – especially if a competitive element is introduced!

GLYNIS: Oh my gosh, I love it!  I had two ceremonies this summer and those couples chose singalongs and it really lifted the mood!  So much fun, we were belting out those songs and it really lifted the energy.  I am trying to get next year’s couples to choose songs for a singalong and interestingly I am not having so much success…. yet!!

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Do you think music is necessary at a wedding ceremony?

JASON & CATHY: … anything that adds to the style and theme of the ceremony is worth considering but nothing is truly necessary and nor should it be in our opinion…

LORRAINE: Not necessary, but it can often enhance it

GLYNIS: YES!!  Absolutely!  The ceremony is the start of any couple’s BIG day and if I can make it memorable, magical and incredible as their celebrant, we have to have music too!  Look at some cultures and see how music plays a huge part and how it brings communities together.  A wedding day is all about a couple’s community, their tribe – let’s get closer through song and their wedding will be the one that’s talked about for many moons to come!

Do you have any advice for couples wanting live music for their wedding ceremony?

JASON & CATHY: Yes, lots and lots and lots… audition, both overt and covert, tie in the T’s and C’s and know exactly what your getting and the total cost, will they double as a playlist DJ?..check that it meets the venue requirement for Insurance and equipment testing and suitability. Talk dress code, and timekeeping and testimonials and importantly does your choice enhance you and your guests experience…. think carefully as it can be expensive and upsetting if your live band clears the room.

LORRAINE: Choose something that suits you, whether that is a string quartet or a ukulele band – if it’s your hairdresser listen to them singing before you ask them!

GLYNIS: If a couple want live music, I would suggest that they make moments to appreciate the music and not just in the certificate signing.  Really sit it out and listen.  I have a musician son and I see how musicians are background sound in so many settings and it saddens me that we don’t stop to listen to artists who have honed their craft through many years of study and practise.  So yes, if you have musicians playing, allow some time to just enjoy and perhaps explain why you chose those particular songs.

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Lorraine Hull, Liverpool Celebrant

Finally, what is your one top tip when it comes to choosing wedding music?

JASON & CATHY: Consider that it really adds to your Ceremony by enhancing the experience for everyone.

LORRAINE: Don’t stress about trying to be unique – be you!  It doesn’t matter if that means it’s ‘1,000 years’ (or even ‘Stay with me’), choose what you like and want.  If you want live music, as with all of your other suppliers, don’t engage musicians based on price – you often get what you pay for. Check reviews, listen to them, feel connected to them – they are an important part of your ceremony.  It would be better to have a well recorded piece of great music than a terrible live rendition.

GLYNIS: Think for yourself!  Not what you think other’s think wedding music should be!  And if anyone wants to do a flashmob during the ceremony, call me!!

Photographer Credit: Jordana Marston


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