Choosing The Right Songs for Your Wedding Ceremony

Clementine live ceremonyClementine duo performing at a church wedding (photo courtesy of

Choosing the right songs can add a truly personal touch to your ceremony, help put you at ease, and leave your guests with something to remember forever. But if you’re wondering “where do I start?” then don’t worry – we’ve put together a short guide to help you get started.

Can I choose any music I want for my ceremony?

Yes… almost.

Bear in mind, though, that certain venues have strict guidelines on what music can and can’t be played. Secular ceremonies as well as religious ones have their own set of rules – mild bad language (‘oh my god’) can be deemed inappropriate. If you’re having a humanist wedding, you can’t have songs with references to other religions or deities – for example, hymns and songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ would be rejected. Conversely, some churches won’t allow secular music during the ceremony.

If you’re not sure whether a particular song will be allowed at your ceremony, a quick check with your officiant (that’s the vicar, registrar or celebrant who’s performing your ceremony) – or your wedding organiser if you have one – will put your mind at ease.

How much music will I need?

There are 4 key moments during the wedding ceremony where music is typically played:

  • As your guests arrive
    Ideally, some gentle and lighthearted songs tend to work best here. Most couples tend to leave this bit to us, but you can choose the songs if you like. We often stick to the better known classics here – songs your guests young and old will know.
  • As the bride enters
    This is your main song choice moment! Slower, gentle songs tend to work best. You may also find it helps to calm your nerves, and slow your pace a little. It’s very easy to rush! Choose a song that will help you enjoy the moment.
  • During the signing of the register
    2 or 3 songs will probably be all that is required, here. Some relaxed, mellow songs work best here, and allow you to focus on signing and having the photographs taken.
  • As the newlyweds leave
    A lively, crowd-rousing song is best – something to lead you out with a cheer! Consider a brighter, more up-tempo song for this. You can always leave it to us if you’re not sure.

Choosing the right songs

Here are a few tips to consider:

Lyrics – Have a read of your chosen song lyrics before you make your final decision. You might find the song has very negative undertones without realising on first listen. Perhaps this might not bother you, but your guests might be! You may also need to clear your song lyrics with the officiant in advance.

Walking down the aisle – This tends to take only 30 seconds or so (or even quicker, if you’re nervous and walking faster than normal!). In musical terms, one verse and one chorus of the song should be plenty long enough. If you book Clementine for your wedding ceremony, we’ll be happy to help you choose the best part of your song to use.

Note: if you’ve asked a friend to play for you who hasn’t played at a wedding ceremony before, you might want to pass them on this tip, so they can practice shortening the song to make sure they’re prepared on the day. Otherwise you may be standing there at the altar for a while waiting for the music to finish!

As the guests leave – we will usually continue to play as guests depart after the newlyweds have left, although this tends to take only a few minutes – they’ll be keen to get out and shower you with confetti!

What song have you got in mind for your ceremony? Any tips we’ve missed you’d like to share? Leave your comments in the box below… we’d love to hear from you.

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