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  By Mike Valeriani

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Wedding Reception Music and
Wedding Ceremony Music

A flute being played by long fingersThe wedding reception music, or wedding ceremony music is the personal touch of your wedding. I am not going to give you a list of “to play” or “not to play” music; you know what to play and especially what not to.

The reason why I can’t tell you what music to play at your wedding, is that it is entirely up to your taste. I don’t feel right in giving you ideas for wedding music, because music is a very personal thing and it would be wrong for anyone to suggest a particular song or songs to play on the most important day of your life.

The advices I would give you would reflect my personal taste and chances that my personal taste for wedding reception music is the same as yours... well, are very slim. What I feel comfortable telling you is what is popular, according to what I have seen around in years of shooting weddings. For the church music people are more prone to choose classical music. This is also due to the fact that you don’t usually have much freedom in the church as the minister will “guide” you in his territory (actually I should say “his/her” territory, as once I have seen a woman minister... not being discriminative here, but to tell you the truth I was a bit shocked, having grown up in a strict Roman Catholic country).

What about weddings that take place at a Registry Office? Yes, there you have a lot more freedom... and this shows sometimes. At a Registry Office wedding I have once witnessed the bride and groom walking through the isle on a Star Wars theme. Thankfully they limited themselves to the music, so there were no Star Wars props around...

For the wedding ceremony music, Panis Angelicus (the penultimate strophe of the hymn Sacris solemniis written by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi) is always a big hit. When played properly (or even sang by a tenor) this music turns people very emotional. It’s a splendid piece of music that can transform a simple wedding ceremony into a time that will never be forgotten. It was sang majestically by the great Luciano Pavarotti, who in young age enjoyed singing it with his father in the local cathedral of Modena, Italy. Just a note: there is a rare 1979 documentary by the BBC about Pavarotti, a bit of which has been published on You Tube, where he sings along with his father. You can see it HERE.

Also the Ave Maria (Op. 52, No. 6 by Franz Schubert) is very popular during the wedding ceremony.

This is a Christian prayer to Mary, which is at the base of the Rosary in the Roman Catholic Church.

There are many composers that wrote music for this prayer, but the most famous or popular is by far the one by Franz Schubert. Here are the Latin lyrics that are almost always used at weddings that are celebrated in churches:



Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Benedictus fructus ventris tuae
Ventris tuae, Jesus.
Ave Maria

Ave Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Ora pro nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria


For the wedding reception music people usually choose what they want to dance. The dance is opened by the bride and groom with the First Dance, which is traditionally their first dance as a married couple. Your taste rules here.

I have seen that a lot of people choose jazz, blues, oldies or classics for their dance music.

Here is where you build the style, theme or character of your wedding. Your imagination rules... let it roll!

Whatever you do, make sure that for your wedding reception music you choose a band that you have seen playing! Remember... it's one day in a lifetime and you do not want any surprises.

Do not trust a fancy brochure or a nice looking CD: the can both be produces with relatively little money. Listen to bands with a live audience, so that there are no doubts that your wedding reception music will go as smoothly as everything else.




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