Opting for a civil ceremony rather than a religious one is becoming increasingly popular these days. It allows for flexibility with everything from the vows you say, to readings and importantly (for the sake of this post), the music you choose. At face value, this sounds great, however, with so many songs to choose from, how do you decide on the music you want to hear and how it’s played?
Before we get to the ins and outs of civil ceremony music options, it’s important to note that there are certain laws governing what you can and can’t do if you choose this option.
- Firstly, the ceremony must take place at a registry office or at a venue approved by the local council. You must hire a registrar to conduct the ceremony and you need at least 2 witnesses.
- Secondly, any readings, songs or music you choose cannot have any religious references, so no readings from religious books, hymns or anything you’d likely hear in a place of worship.
Luckily for you, most songs and pieces of music aren’t religious so you have a dizzying array of songs to choose from!
There are four parts of the ceremony that lend themselves perfectly to musical accompaniment:
Of course, you can substitute readings with performances of songs instead if you’d like to include more music.
Whether you’re here to discover songs to use during your ceremony or musicians to play them, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for a way to make your ceremony truly unforgettable, hiring a classical musician or acoustic soloist is the very best way to do this. A live musician is able to tailor the length of songs to suit each part of the ceremony, finding ideal points to end songs or extend them if necessary, which sounds so much better than just fading out a playlist!
How To Choose Your Ceremony Musician
A live performance creates an intimate and magical feel to your special moment that can’t be achieved with a recording. Musicians can play beautiful renditions of songs that make them sound completely different, or play modern versions of older songs to bring them more up to date. Whatever you’re after, one of our fantastic acts will be able to enchant your guests for this important part of your day. Nearly all these acts will learn a song of your choice as standard – perfect for your walk down the aisle!
The first thing to consider, is do you want a singer? Acoustic soloists and duos can provide a fun, personalised and inspiriting accompaniment to your ceremony. Most will be more than happy to learn a special song of your choice. Alternatively a classical singer is ideal if you want to inject a touch of class into your ceremony.
If you’d rather have an instrumental version of your favourite songs, hiring a classical musician is a great way to make your ceremony sophisticated and elegant.
A pianist is incredibly versatile and will create a classic and romantic feel as you walk down the aisle. They’re able to play classical as well as modern songs and are sure to touch the hearts of all your guests.
For a truly heavenly sound, the harp is the most romantic instrument out there. Our fabulous harpists are guaranteed to provide a spellbinding ambience like no other.
Providing a rich and full sound, a string quartet will captivate your guests from the second they begin to play. Whether you’re looking for a classical or contemporary performance, these highly-trained musicians will create a high-class feel to your ceremony. If you don’t have the space or the budget, most are available as duos or trios instead!
For romantic arrangements of your favourite songs, a classical guitarist is a great choice. The gentle emotive tones of a guitar are sure to draw a few tears from your guests!
A Gospel Choir
If you’re looking for spine-tingling harmonies and heartwarming happiness then look no further than a gospel choir. These incredible vocalists will deliver stylish arrangements of contemporary songs as well as traditional gospel tunes, for a mesmerising and memorable performance.
What Music Should I Play?
So back to those 4 parts of the ceremony that you’ll need music for. We’ve chosen our favourite songs to complement each section, but if your song isn’t there, don’t worry! We’ve also compiled helpful lists of ceremony songs in every style for you to peruse for more inspiration!
The Arrival Of The Guests
Often overlooked, the prelude music played as your guests arrive will set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. Uplifting music works best but romantic or rocky numbers can also work. It’s best to check with your venue what time your guests will be admitted as the waiting time is often shorter than in religious ceremonies. Once you know how much music will be needed you can plan from there! Here are our top picks for pre-ceremony music.
- Everything – Michael Bublé
- Real Love – The Beatles
- The Scientist – Coldplay
- Crazy Love – Van Morrison
- Beautiful Day – U2
- Better Together – Jack Johnson
- Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
- Marry Me – Train
- First Day Of My life – Bright Eyes
- In My Life – The Beatles
- You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder
- What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Over The Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- Love – Lana Del Ray
- Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
- On Top Of The World – Imagine Dragons
The Bridal Entrance
If ever there were a time for music to define a moment, this is it. Your walk down the aisle in a civil ceremony is often shorter than in a a religious one, due to time constraints, the size of the venue or both. Try to choose something that not only do you love and represents you as a couple, but that works well as just a verse and a chorus. You don’t want to have to cut it off at the wrong time because you’ve walked too fast! Don’t be afraid to ask your venue for a walk through so you know how long you have. Here are our 15 favourite processional songs, but if you’d like some more inspiration, check out these 100 songs to walk down the aisle to.
- Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
- Crazy In Love – Beyoncé ft. Jay Z
- Hoppipolla – Sigur Ros
- Here, There and Everywhere – The Beatles
- She – Elvis Costello
- One Day Like This – Elbow
- Trumpet Voluntary – Jeremiah Clarke
- Sea Of Love – Cat Power
- I’m Kissing You – Des’ree
- Crazy Love – Michael Bublé
- Beautiful In White – Matt Johnson
- Portuguese Love Theme – Love Actually Soundtrack
- Concerning Hobbits – Lord Of The Rings Soundtrack
- Today Was A Fairytale- Taylor Swift
- November Rain – Guns N’Roses
For some more processional music inspiration, why not take a look at these beautiful classical pieces for your wedding ceremony or movie themes to walk down the aisle to?
Signing Of The Register
This part of your wedding ceremony is where a live musician is able to put on an actual performance rather than providing background music. Depending on how long you take to sign and how many photographs you take, this section can take anywhere from 4-10 mins, so it’s ideal to choose 2 or 3 songs. Your musician will be able to amend the song lengths to suit what’s going on instead of have to fade out songs on a playlist, which is always a bonus!
This part of your civil ceremony is perfectly suited to beautiful and joyous love songs, so that’s what we’ve chosen for our favourite 15 songs! What do you want to hear at this momentous occasion?
- Kiss Me – Ed Sheeran
- From This Moment On – Shania Twain & Bryan White
- How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
- My Girl – The Temptations
- Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
- Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
- Songbird – Eva Cassidy
- You’re My Best Friend – Queen
- Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
- God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
- Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
- You Do Something To Me – Paul Weller
- Perfect Day – Lou Reed
- Paradise – Coldplay
- You Are The Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
The Recessional Walk
You’ve said your vows, signed the register and it’s all official – you’re married! The only thing left to do is take your first steps as a married couple and walk back up the aisle towards the party of the century! A recessional song should be filled with joy and excitement, but really anything goes. If there’s something you really want to incorporate into your day that brings joy to your heart, it will probably make everyone smile too, so your walk back up the aisle is the perfect place to play it!
We’ve listed our favourite below, but if you’d like even more song ideas, you’ll love these 100 recessional songs to close your ceremony with a bang!
- Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship
- You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall and Oates
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)- Stevie Wonder
- Got To Get You Into My Life- The Beatles
- Best Day Of My Life – American Authors
- A Sky Full Of Stars – Coldplay
- I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas
- We Are Family – Sister Sledge
- The Power Of Love – Huey Lewis and The News
- This Kiss – Faith Hill
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
- Greatest Day – Take That
- Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney
- We Go Together – John Travolta & Olivia Newton John
- You & Me Song- The Wannadies
How Can I Book?
So there we have it. We really hope you’ve found some inspiration for your civil ceremony music and are ready to check out our incredible acts that will make your dream become a reality! Click on their profiles, watch their videos and find out if they are right for you. At Entertainment Nation we also have the best selection of wedding bands for your evening reception. If you need any help or are ready to book, get in contact on 0800 53 000 35 or email [email protected]. Alternatively fill in the super-quick enquiry form on their profile and we’ll get back to you ASAP!