Any given marriage ceremony is far from complete if beautiful wedding music is absent from it. This holds true regardless of how good the decorations look or how well the ULC wedding officiant has prepared to perform the ceremony; it behooves you, as the wedding officiant, to work with the couples whose weddings you perform to create meaningful playlists well ahead of the ceremony.
To help you complete this job, the Universal Life Church has compiled a lengthy list of classic and contemporary wedding tunes that virtually everyone will know (or at least recognize) and love at any wedding ceremony you perform. Feel free to put your heads together with the couples you work with to pick and choose from this list for the purposes of building a memorable and fun wedding playlist.
Classical Wedding Music
These orchestral and brass pieces are ideally meant to be played before or during the wedding ceremony. Traditional mandates that certain songs, like Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, must be played during very specific moments of the wedding; these times are noted in the song descriptions below, if one exists.
Click the titles of the songs to listen to them.
Written by a German violin prodigy, this song is an adaptation of Bach’s Orchestral Suite In D Major and was the first piece written by Bach to ever be recorded. Any wedding party is sure to appreciate the soft and sweet melody of this track, and it is undoubtedly one of the all-time classic pieces of wedding music.
The first movement of the Spring violin concerto, the first of four concertos in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons suite. Like the rest of the concerto it belongs to, the first movement is brisk, cheery, and sure to keep all wedding guests in a cheerful, perhaps giddy, mood.
Soft, slow, and reverent, this piano or organ piece was originally written by Bach to be played in a fast and loud manner. The chorale potion of the tune, which is the 10th movement of one of the German composer’s most popular suites, is generally omitted when it is played during weddings.
Considered to be the most famous piece of music created by its German baroque composer, this soft and romantic song is named after the four “voices” of music that play sequential and identical pieces of music. Pachelbel’s Canon is exceedingly common at wedding ceremonies, and is rated as high as Air on a G String in terms of popularity.
Another portion from Vivaldi’s world-renown set of four violin concertos, The Four Seasons; its orchestral beauty reminds the ULC staff of sunny spring days spent in lush green fields. While everyone might not have the same images conjured in their minds upon hearing this piece, its beauty and fast pace is sure to create a joyous atmosphere at any wedding ceremony you perform.
You may not know the name, but you’ll definitely know the tune. This is the definitive wedding song, as it is the one that traditionally is played when the bride walks down the aisle to join her husband-to-be at the alter.
View a video that compiles short audio clips of all of the above wedding music here.
Contemporary Wedding Music
While the classic tunes listed above may be what you expect to hear during a formal, sober wedding ceremony, but they are hardly the types of music any modern person would want to dance to once the wedding reception begins. It is for this very reason that the ULC Ministries staff has put their heads together and created a compilation of their favorite contemporary wedding music that will get everyone dancing.
L-O-V-E – Nat King Cole
It’s hard to resist dancing when you hear Cole’s voice on top of this track’s infectious beat. Already more than 45 years old, L-O-V-E is still being played and is well on its way to becoming a timeless classic. “L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see…”
Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson
An R&B song that bleeds Chicago soul, Higher and Higher’s energetic joyousness will make the wedding reception more and more fun.
Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stone magazine ranked this song as the fifth best guitar song of all time in 2007, and anyone who has heard its blues-rock riffs before knows exactly why. Play it at the wedding and let Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones entertain the wedding guests.
You Make Me Wanna Shout – Cover by Little Richard
Anyone who’s seen National Lampoon’s Animal House knows how much fun this song can be. The song was originally recorded by The Isley Brothers but the ULC Ministries staff finds Little Richard’s rendition to be more fun. It’s impossible not to grab your friends, family, and special someone and dance and shout! when you hear this energetic golden oldie.
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
One of the world-famous Australian hard rock band’s most popular songs, You Shook Me All Night Long relates the story of a man’s night spent with a beautiful woman.
Forever – Chris Brown
This hit 2008 electropop/R&B single sold nearly five million copies in the US alone and was praised by critics for its catchy dance sounds. Forever became a staple at weddings after a video of an entire wedding party dancing into the ceremony to the song was put on YouTube (see the above video).
Islands In The Stream – Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
Considered to be one of the greatest country music duets of all time, this classic is perfect for Western-themed weddings. Written by the BeeGees and first performed by two great country music stars in July 1983, this song unsurprisingly went platinum (sold two million copies) in the space of a mere five months.
Longer – Dan Fogelberg
If quick-moving rhythms and beats don’t interest you or your guests, then singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg’s best-known song might suit your tastes. The lyrics for this slow, acoustic love song came to Fogelberg as he lay in a hammock looking up at the stars while vacationing in Hawai’i. It peaked at the #2 spot for US songs in 1980 and was one of the most popular adult contemporary songs of that decade.
Have a suggestion for a classical or contemporary song that should appear on this list? Feel free to send it to us and we’ll gladly consider your suggestion!