Modern Wedding Ceremony Songs

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For nontraditional couples, modern wedding songs are a popular choice.

Classic, traditional wedding songs are always nice but there aren’t any rules saying you can’t shake things up a bit and play some contemporary wedding music during the ceremony instead.

Matthew Lister Wedding Guitarist

Many modern wedding songs are themes from romantic movies such as Love Actually and The Princess Bride, while others are popular love songs, radio hits or even just songs that aren’t love songs yet still match the tone and mood of the occasion.

Just as there are no rules about what genre of music to play during your ceremony, there are no rules about what songs to play either. Feel free to play any modern song that means something personal to you and your spouse, even if it isn’t a love song.

Ceremony music should be songs that are meaningful, emotional and celebratory. However, it should be noted that some wedding venues, such as churches or synagogues, might have restrictions on what type of music they allow in their venue so be sure to check with the person in charge before selecting your wedding music.

Although some of the songs listed below are considered classic rock or oldies and may not seem all that “modern” to younger brides and grooms, it should be noted that in the music industry, anything that isn’t classical music is considered modern music.

Some such popular modern wedding songs include classics such as Van Morrison songs, Frank Sinatra songs, Beatles songs, Elvis Presley songs, U2 songs as well as songs like Storybook Love by Mark Knopfler and the Glasgow Love Theme by Craig Armstrong.

The specific songs listed below include prelude songs, processional songs and recessional songs (Note also that many songs are appropriate for all three parts of the wedding ceremony and are sometimes listed in more than one section):

Here are some suggestions for modern wedding ceremony songs:

Modern Wedding Prelude SongsModern Prelude Songs:

Prelude music is played while the guests are being seated. It keeps the guests entertained and helps set the mood for the ceremony. Here are some modern song suggestions:

All of Me– John Legend
All of Me is a piano power ballad co-written by John Legend and Toby Gad and dedicated to Legend’s wife Chrissy Tiegan. Released in 2013, it became a number one hit in the United States during the spring of 2014.

Across the Universe – The Beatles
Across the Universe is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and performed by the Beatles. Released in 1969, the song has since become a classic. It is a popular choice for a prelude song due to its beautiful melody and sentimental lyrics.

Just Like Heaven – The Cure
Just Like Heaven is a song written and performed by The Cure which was inspired by a trip that the leader singer, Robert Smith, once took with his wife to the sea shore. The song was released in 1987 and became the band’s first hit in the United States.

Silly Love Songs – Paul McCartney
Silly Love Songs is a song written by Paul McCartney and performed by Wings. The song was written in response to criticism that McCartney only wrote silly, lighthearted songs. Released in 1976, the song became a number one hit in the United States and the single was certified Gold after it sold over one million copies.

Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
Can’t Help Falling in Love is a ballad written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss and performed by Elvis Presley. The melody is based on a love song from 1784 titled “Plasir d’Amour” written by Jean Paul Egide Martini. The song was featured in Presley’s 1961 film Blue Hawaii and was released on the film’s soundtrack. The song topped the British charts in 1962 and was later certified Platinum after it sold over one million copies in the United States.

Dance Tonight – Paul McCartney
Dance Tonight is a song written by Paul McCartney and released in 2007. The song became a hit in both the United States and England.

Modern Wedding Ceremony SongsModern Processional Songs:

Processional music is played while the wedding party enters. Two songs are usually played: One song for the bridal party and one song for the bride. Here are some modern song suggestions:

Once Upon a Time…Storybook Love – Mark Knopfler
Once Upon a Time…Storybook Love is an instrumental song written by Mark Knopfler and performed by Guy Fletcher. It was featured in the 1987 film The Princess Bride, which later went on to become a cult classic.

A Thousand Years – Christina Perry
A Thousand Years is a song co-written by Christina Perry and David Hodges and performed by Christina Perry. The song was featured in the 2011 film Twilight: Breaking Dawn. An instrumental version of the song, by the Piano guys, was later recorded and quickly became a popular wedding song.

Why Do Fools Fall in Love – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Why Do Fools Fall in Love is a Doo Wop song originally performed by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Released in 1956, it became a number one hit both in the United States and England and was later covered by The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

In My Life – The Beatles
In My Life is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and performed by the Beatles. The song was released in 1965 and is listed in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Modern Wedding Processional SongsSomething – The Beatles
Something is a song written by George Harrison and performed by the Beatles. The song was released in 1969 on the iconic album, Abbey Road, and became a hit in both the United States and England.

In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
In Your Eyes is a song written and performed by Peter Gabriel. Released in 1986, the song quickly became a hit in the United States. The song’s popularity surged again in 1989 after it was featured in an iconic scene in the film Say Anything where the main character serenades his girlfriend by playing the song on a boombox held over his head while standing outside her window.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen
Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a ballad written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. The song was written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and is performed by Judy Garland. It eventually became one of the most popular songs of the 20th century and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1939. Another popular version of the song is the ukulele version performed by Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

All I Want Is You – U2
All I Want Is You is a song written and performed by U2. Released in 1988, the song became a hit in the United States and internationally and was listed in Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Greatest Love Songs. The song has since become a popular choice for a processional song due to its string arrangement and romantic lyrics.

The Wedding Song – Paul Stookey
The Wedding Song (There Is Love) is a song written and performed by Paul Stookey. It was first performed at the 1969 wedding of Peter Yarrow, Stookey’s co-member in the band Peter, Paul and Mary. Stookey later recorded and released the song on his album, Paul, in 1971 and it became a hit in the United States and internationally.

Glasgow Love Theme – Craig Armstrong
Glasgow Love Theme is an instrumental song written by Craig Armstrong. It was featured in the 2003 British romantic comedy Love Actually, which later went on to become a cult classic.

Modern Recessional Songs:

Recessional music is played while the wedding party leaves. This music should be triumphant and joyous. Here are some modern song suggestions:

Beautiful Day – U2
Beautiful Day is a song written and performed by U2. Released in 2000, the song became a big hit in the United States and internationally. Beautiful Day is not a love song but is often chosen as a recessional song due to its upbeat tempo and celebratory lyrics.

Happy – Pharrell Williams
Happy is a song written and performed by Pharrell Williams. It was featured in the 2013 film Despicable Me 2. The song became a number one hit in the United States and internationally and became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2013.

All You Need is Love – The Beatles
All You Need Is Love is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and performed by the Beatles. The song was originally commissioned by the BBC in 1967 to be performed during Our World, the first live television production. Since the performance took place at the height of the Vietnam War, the Beatles used the opportunity to write a positive, inspiring song about the power of love. They released the song as a single the following month and it quickly became a number one hit.

Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Viva La Vida is a song written and performed by Coldplay. Released in 2008, the song became a number one hit in both the United States and England. Although not a love song, Viva La Vida became a popular choice for a recessional song due to its string arrangement and marching, upbeat tempo.

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
Here Comes the Sun is a song written by George Harrison and performed by the Beatles. It was released on their iconic 1969 album, Abbey Road, but it was never released as a single. Although not a love song, it is often chosen as a recessional song due to its beautiful melody and celebratory lyrics.

Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine
Dogs Days Are Over is a song co-written by Florence Welch and Isabella Summers and performed by Florence and the Machine. Released in 2008, the song became a hit in the United States, Ireland and England. The song is not a love song but it is often chosen as a recessional song due to its celebratory lyrics and upbeat tempo.

Everlasting Love – Robert Knight
Everlasting Love is a song written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gaydon and performed by Robert Knight. Released in 1967, it became a hit in the United States and England. The song has been covered by various artists such as U2, Carl Carton, Love Affair and German singer Sandra.

Modern Wedding Recessional SongsHappy Together – The Turtles
Happy Together is a song written by Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon and performed by The Turtles. Released in 1967, the song became a number one hit in the United States. The song has been covered by various artists such as Donny Osmond, Captain and Tennille, Weezer and Simple Plan.

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
What a Wonderful World is a song written by Bob Thiele and performed by Louis Armstrong. Released in 1967, it was not a hit in the United States but was in England. The song is not a love song but is often chosen as a recessional song due to its beautiful melody and celebratory lyrics.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is a song written by Nikolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson and performed by Marvine Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Released in 1967, the song became a hit in the United States. Various artists have covered the song, most notably Diana Ross in 1970.

Dancing on the Ceiling – Lionel Richie
Dancing on the Ceiling is a song co-written by Lionel Richie, Mike Frenchik, and Carlos Rios and performed by Lionel Richie. Released in 1986, the song became a number one hit in the United States. Although it is not a love song, it is often chosen as a recessional song due to its upbeat tempo and celebratory lyrics.

Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder
Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours is a song co-written by Stevie Wonder, Lee Garrett, Syreeta Wright, Lula Mae Hardaway and performed by Stevie Wonder. Released in 1970, the song became a number one hit in the United States.

Is This Love – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Is This Love is a song written and performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Released in 1978, it became a hit in the United States and England and became one of Bob Marley’s best known songs and one of his most popular love songs.

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
God Only Knows is a song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher and performed by the Beach Boys. Released in 1966, the song became a hit in the United States and England. The song came in at number 25 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was recognized by Pitchfork Media as one of the greatest songs of the 1960s.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen
Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a ballad written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. The song was written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and is performed by Judy Garland. It eventually became one of the most popular songs of the 20th century and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1939. Another popular version of the song is the ukulele version performed by Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

Hopefully, this list will help you in your quest to find the perfect songs for your wedding. Remember that this is just one sample of the many modern wedding songs out there.

If these songs don’t work for you, they may give you an idea of other modern songs you can use instead. If you have any suggestions for the list, leave a comment and let us know!

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