Wedding music: your guide from ceremony to reception

Whilst Mr Ed Sheeran may be one of the most frequently played at weddings, there are endless other options (if he doesn’t float your boat, of course) to choose from for your wedding music. From classic wedding songs to a live band, your wedding music sets the tone for the day, so it’s vital that you think carefully as to what to play and when.

Breaking it down you’ve got a few key moments where music is crucial for creating the right vibe: the ceremony, the wedding breakfast, your first dance and the last dance.

emma warren wedding first dance

Before we get ahead of ourselves...

How much of your wedding budget should you allocate to music?

Well, that depends on how important live music is to you as a couple. You can easily create an epic party atmosphere with a DJ (or even a Spotify playlist and some decent speakers!), but for some couples, there’s just no beating the real thing. Consider a live band for your evening celebrations or an acoustic guitarist to provide the soundtrack to your ceremony.

So, just how much does a wedding band cost? This all depends on a number of factors and how long you want them to perform. But, roughly speaking you’re looking at £900 for a duo, £1,300 for a three-piece band, around £1,800 for a four/five-piece band and around £2,500 for a six-piece band.

Top tips to get the most for your money:

1) Find a local band - less travel can means less cost

2) Book your wedding band early - you’ll have more choices and can lock them in at this year’s price

3) Go for a band with fewer musicians - you don’t need a big band to get your guests dancing, did you know even duets have a loop pedal to create a fuller sound?

Now that you’ve got the budget sorted, let’s get down to the fun bit.

zara and alex ceremony music

Photography by DM Photography

zara alex wedding ceremony music

The ceremony

Your ceremony music will be (somewhat) governed by the type of ceremony you are having. It’s worth checking in to see how many songs are suggested to fit in with the format of your ceremony, and whether there are any restrictions on the type of music you can have, for example, songs with religious references are a no-no in a civil ceremony. It’s always worth checking before you get your heart set on something that you’re not able to have.

Generally speaking, you’ll want a song to walk down the aisle to, a couple to accompany you signing the register and one to walk out to as newlyweds. Arguably one of the most significant is your ‘aisle’ track, it’s likely to be the most emotional part of the day, so you’ll want to choose wisely. If you do, it’ll give you all the feels when you and your partner hear it for years to come.

Some of the most popular choices for wedding ceremonies are string quartets, acoustic guitarists and pianists, but don’t stop there- there are also steel pan bands, barbershop quartets and swing music bands if you’re looking for something a little different.

When it comes to choosing songs for a wedding, you’ll often be able to browse a song list from your chosen musician or band. Don’t forget you can always ask them to learn something new if you have a particular love song in mind which isn’t already part of their repertoire. If you’re keeping it simple with a DJ or wedding playlist, here are some of the best wedding songs (including some featured in team Prezola’s own wedding ceremonies!):

Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles

Ho Hey - The Lumineers

Is This Love - Bob Marley

Can’t Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley

At Last - Etta James

Songbird - Fleetwood Mac

Claire de Lune - Debussy

Friday I’m In Love - The Cure

Sweet Disposition - Temper Trap

It Must Be Love - Madness

Stand By Me - Ben E. King

Marry You - Bruno Mars

All of Me - John Legend

Can’t get enough? Check out more on our ceremony music playlist.

alice matthew first dance

Photography by Humà 06

The wedding reception

This part of your wedding is a great opportunity to include some of your favourite tunes, ones that make you turn the radio up but perhaps lack the sentimentality of your ceremony music. For your wedding breakfast, choose tracks that you and your guests will love, to create a relaxed and happy vibe, getting everyone warmed up for the party later in the evening.

First dance songs

Love it or hate it, the first dance is your opportunity to kick off the evening celebrations on the dancefloor. With the right song, a few kitchen run-throughs in the lead-up to the wedding and a couple of glasses of fizz, you’ll be on to a winner. Choose something that reflects you as a couple, whether that’s something romantic, upbeat or even a classic re-imagined.

You’ll be asked what you chose for your first dance for decades to come, so make sure it’s a good’un! In need of a little inspiration? Look no further than our carefully curated first dance playlist, including these timeless wedding dance songs:

You Send Me - Aretha Franklin

A Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen

L-O-V-E - Nat King Cole

Come Away With Me - Norah Jones

Still Falling For You - Ellie Goulding

A Sky Full of Stars - Coldplay

You’ve Got The Love - Florence + The Machine

Heartbeats - José González

Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac

Best Day Of My Life - American Authors

You Make My Dreams (Come True) - Daryl Hall & John Oates

Your Song - Elton John

ellie and george first dance song

Photography by Hajley

ellie and george wedding reception

Evening party songs

So, you’ve said ‘I do’, cut the cake (should you choose to have one), you’ve enjoyed your wedding breakfast and even survived the first dance without stacking it. Now it’s time to unwind with some ultimate bangers! It’s always a good idea to include a few good wedding songs that will be universally loved across the generations (can we recommend ‘I’m a Believer’ by The Monkees), to get everyone up on the dancefloor.

Last but not least, you’ve got your ‘final dance’, which is the last song of the night and the track that will leave your wedding guests howling ‘ONE MORE SONG!’. Classics like The Rembrandts’ ‘I’ll be there for you’ or Queen’s ‘Don’t stop me now’ are the perfect way to round off the celebrations.

Oh, and don’t forget a playlist for the morning of the wedding! Our getting ready playlist is here to help you settle any pre-wedding jitters and get you and your wedding party smiling throughout those ‘getting ready’ photos. Think Shania Twain and Aretha Franklin. You’re welcome.

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