By gosh, darling. You’re quite the music lover, aren’t you?
If anyone should know what music they want at their wedding, it’s you.
And we bet you’ve got a pretty good idea too.
You know you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.
You’d rather find uncommon wedding songs.
Not traditional, not mainstream. Not Canon in D and At Last and every other wedding song cliché. But you start searching the net for song ideas and suddenly you’re overwhelmed. You hit a mental block.
Congratulations! It’s actually quite normal to get stumped at this point. Plenty of awesome couples do.
a) the internet has a LOT of regurgitated material and
b) because wedding music is personal
Your wedding music sets the tone for the whole day, from start to finish. It needs to be meaningful. It needs to be special. It has to match the requirements of each moment of your wedding.
And, goshdarnit, your wedding songs should be very, very you! Right?
But planning your live wedding music doesn’t have to be a painful process. Live music may be one of the most important features of your wedding day, but that doesn’t mean choosing it has to hurt.
In fact, we think it should be fun. And straightforward.
And it should reflect exactly who you are.
Not what’s on every wedding songlist.
So we’ve written this handy guide to show you how to pick your perfect live wedding music. Let’s get right into it. Here’s 7 creative ways to discover your the best wedding songs for you.
#1 - Stop Googling Wedding Song Lists
Once upon a time, an awful band agency wrote out a list of clichéd wedding songs. And that’s what the internet shows you over and over again. Different titles, a bit less U2 here, a bit more Maroon 5 there. It’s awfully uninspiring.
Stare at those lists for too long and you’ll lose your own intuitive sense of good music.
If you wanted a mainstream, predictable wedding, you’d hire a generic band and let them at it. But you’ve got better taste than that, so you need to avert your eyes from those lists. They’re a trap for vulnerable wedding-planning couples. They’ll take you down a dark alley and eat your soul. And they’ll destroy any essence of ‘you’ in your wedding soundtrack.
If you’re very lucky, you’ll come across a specific and well-researched song list with original ideas. You’re allowed to take inspo from them.
#2 - Quit Playing It Safe
You’re not a boring person. And you’re not about to embark upon a boring marriage. There are a few wedding song guidelines worth considering.
But if you’re not a rules person, don’t sweat it. Your ideal song to walk down the aisle to is not anybody else’s business. It’s your wedding after all.
We love songs with a bit of cheekiness. One of our awesome couples wants our version of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths) with the killer lyrics:
And if a double-decker bus crashes into us,
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die
Be who you are on your wedding day.
If there are songs you love that break the rules, all the better.
We encourage that kind of thinking, because it’s personal and authentic. Even if the lyrics aren’t wedding-appropriate, for now, jot them down. There are ways to work around un-wedding songs.
#3 - Take Inspiration From Your Favourite Movie Soundtracks
Ask yourself this. What movie sums up my awesome wedding vibe?
Is it quirky, offbeat, colourful like a Wes Anderson film? It it packed with laughter and an indie-cool soundtrack? Or is it darling vintage? Audrey Hepburn perhaps? Maybe a childhood favourite? Make a list of your top five, and have your partner do the same.
Better still, get out the popcorn and snuggle up for a wedding-research movie marathon! Movie soundtracks are a great place to take wedding song inspiration. We adore them. Our current repertoire features songs from Juno, Amelie, Napoleon Dynamite, The Jungle Book, Cold Mountain & Robin Hood.
#4 - Make A Mixtape For Your Darling
There is nothing more romantic than listening through a mixtape your lover has made for you.
The whole process of putting it together is a gorgeous, intentional ritual. And it’s the perfect way to reconnect your brain to the songs that matter to you. We reckon you should both make one for each other, for love and giggles.
When you’re finished, you’ll have a great big list of inspiration for your wedding songs. The art of making a mixtape has been documented everywhere from Forbes to High Fidelity. Here’s how John Cusack’s character Rob Gordon in High Fidelity puts it:
“The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”
Keep it simple for this exercise.
Start with a blank cassette tape (who are we kidding, go ahead and make a new spotify playlist).
Throw in any songs you’re already certain of and then:
- Think slow and dreamy about key moments in your relationship – how you met, your first date, first kiss, the first breakfast in bed, that awesome holiday you took together, that gorgeous proposal. Take each moment in turn, let your mind wander with them. See if any song memories or inspirations float into your heart. Jot down anything, no rules.
- Who did you see in concert together? Remember those special moments at that music festival you both love? Who played there? Which live bands do you always go and see? What are your favourite venues? What style of music is played there?
- What about road trips? What do you listen to in the car? What do you sing along to
- What songs do you catch each other humming while hanging the laundry, cooking dinner, showering?
- And what song does your partner hate? Do you sing it to them just to annoy them? Is it actually kinda cute? Would it be hilarious at your wedding?
#5 - Sort It Out Over Date Night
Choosing your wedding music doesn’t have to be a great big stress. But the solution is not to rush or avoid it.
The trick is to be intentional. Look at it with fresh eyes. Let the selection process be romantic, silly, enjoyable. The best way to do that? Incorporate it into date night.
Buy a six pack of craft beer and an epic bottle of wine. Order takeout and make a fun night of it. Just the two of you, taking a break from all this wedding planning.
Instead, break out the vinyl (or the cd collection if you’re uncool like us). And listen through your new mixtapes.
Chat, drink, laugh, sing along. Take turns dj-ing and dancing around the kitchen. And while you’re at it, you might decide to jot down any wedding music potentials.
The important thing is to keep it light-hearted. If you end up with a song shortlist in the morning, fantastic. If not, there are still other ways to find your songs…
#6 - Pick Your Wedding Band Before Your Songs
Another super smart way to approach your wedding song selection is to start with the wedding band you want to hire.
Think about the style of entertainment you want for the ceremony, canapés & reception. Think about instruments & genres you like. Your band’s sound will make all the difference to your songs.
Build your dream band in your head, then hit the interwebs. Maybe you want a folky banjo sound for the ceremony, then a big swing band sound at your reception.
The trick is to google something fairly specific like:
- folk wedding band + swing jazz
- or live wedding band with banjo and swing
- or alternative folk swing wedding music adelaide
Make sure you put in all the descriptors you want. And narrow your search results to Australia. You can include particular songs or artists in your search a la “wedding band + south australia + the ramones” please and thankyou google.
Google, much like the universe, will provide for you. But you have to give it enough info to find your dream band amongst the sea of agency bands.
You can get a feel for a band by their promo shots, sound samples and song list. Stalk their social media. Their Youtube & Instagram accounts will give you a good feel for how they’ll look and sound at your wedding.
And trust your gut. Do they look like rad people? Would you want them at your wedding? Find a band that feels right for YOU.
Once you’ve chosen the right band, everything else can fall into place. Pick up the phone and have a chat with them. They’ve been to way more weddings than you, so get their expert help.
A great band will have the know-how to make a wedding awesome. And they should be able to provide some live music inspiration that matches your personality and wedding style.
Remember, they’re professional musicians. What you’re struggling with now, getting your music right; they overcome at every single gig.
They know what works at weddings, better than anyone else. You can even give them your shortlist so far and get their ideas on how to make your songs wedding-perfect.
#7 - Use Your Support Network
Your parents, in-laws, bridal party and friends are lovely people.
That’s why they’ll be at your wedding. And we’ll bet there’s at least a few of them twiddling their thumbs, trying to figure out what they can do for you. They’d be thrilled if you asked them to help you out here.
Why not have your father pick your father-daughter dance? Or have both your mother and mother-in-law work together on picking your bridal dance? You could have your best man pick the reception entrance music and your maid of honour pick the exit music.
Now of course, this won’t work for everyone. But if you trust their taste (or give them guidelines to work within), it’d be a magical way to involve them.
So there you have it, dearest couples.
We invite you to savour the song selection process. Be creative with it.
You want to look back and remember the wedding planning as being fun, not a nightmare.
Great live music will make your wedding phenomenal.
Be brave and choose uncommon songs that’ll make your wedding as ‘you’ as possible.
We’ve been Fidel & Sarah, and you’ve been awesome. If you have any wedding music questions we can help you with, let us know. We wish you all the best!