Whether it is a live band or recorded music, you need the perfect songs for your church wedding. However, given the Catholic Church’s setup, it may be a challenge to pick the song that will work best for your particular parish, guests and still conform to your theme. We present to you a selection of some of the top fifteen songs that you can use in your wedding.
So, what are the best songs for a Catholic wedding ceremony? First, there are Psalms that the church has set aside for different segments of the nuptials. Similarly, there are allowances for the couple to incorporate their favorite songs. Common selections include: “Ave Maria,” “Ode to Joy,” “A Father’s Love,” “Be My Vision,” “Oh Perfect Love,” “Hallowed,” “Marriage prayer,” “Because You Loved Me,” “Love Divine,” “On Eagle’s Wings,” “Only Imagine,” “Marriage Prayer,” “Amazing Grace,” and “God Beyond Praising.”
They say that there is a song for every mood and occasion, especially for weddings. We look at the importance of song selection and the factors to consider when picking a playlist for your church wedding. Read on as we help you make this important decision for your big day.
Importance of Song Selection
A Catholic Church’s liturgical song is necessary for provoking a worship atmosphere and religious veneration. The believers believe that the Holy Spirit will descend on the ceremony and bless the union through music. It also gives the couple knowledge and wisdom to help them tackle the daily challenges of married life.
Besides, the type of song selection will determine the reception’s outcome, given that it is the pinnacle of the ceremony’s celebrations. The songs you select here should have an entertaining tempo that helps bring out the wedding’s merrymaking.
You may choose secular or religious songs, but most importantly, they must have a vital message for the couple and the congregation. For instance, a great song may remind the newly-weds that they need to support each other all through their married life and remind the guests of the ceremony’s essence.
Through religious songs, you can connect with God, thus maintain the essence of God’s presence in the ceremony and the union. Having a great wedding song will enable the couple to communicate with God to ask for His blessings upon their married life and bind their love and faith.
When selecting your wedding songs, consider traditional Catholic wedding songs and popular contemporary options. Similarly, the attendees may be from different religious backgrounds; hence, you need to include them too.
However, even in the spirit of inclusivity, you still need to remember that the church has a say in song selection. The wise decision is to adhere to the church’s rules and traditions and consider playing the common songs they play at other such ceremonies.
The good thing is, there is more freedom for you in song selection during the reception; here, there are no strict rules that dictate the songs you add to the playlist. All you need to do is ask the band or the DJ to incorporate them for you. You may go for the popular contemporary songs as long as they are in line with the theme and the guests are comfortable listening to them.
Most Catholic wedding songs carry so much meaning in the verses. Through them, the spouses can learn how to appreciate and assume family and societal responsibilities. The wedding songs can also advise the spouses on the best way to relate to each other’s families to maintain family ties and eliminate any conflicts in the future.
Lastly, there are some songs that the church chooses on behalf of the couples. These are constant and are mostly from Biblical verses. For instance, The Psalms are common recitations by the church during weddings. Here, the cantor may recite them, or the congregation may join in response. These songs are very important as they form part of the nuptial mass.
The Top 15 Catholic Wedding Songs
One key decision that you need to be keen on when making about your wedding is the song to play because all the guests will listen to each song during the ceremony. You need to pick songs that match the theme and express reverence to God and the marriage institution.
You need a wide selection for your playlist due to the many events during a typical wedding mass. The church already has its type of music as part of the liturgy, so all you need to do is find your favorite songs to incorporate in other parts of the ceremony. You can have them as extra songs after the recitations or play them during other events. Here are some songs to help you choose.
1. Love Devine – Charles Wesley and Rowland Pritchard
Like most Catholic songs, this piece is a lovely hymn, a composition that honors the ceremony and marriage’s essence. It is a favorite, especially as a gathering song, so playing it ensures that everybody can join in singing to celebrate God’s everlasting love in blessing the union and thanking Him for His infinite mercy. There is a sacred touch to it since it centers around a theme of the couple learning to express their love through Christ.
2. On Eagle’s Wings – Josh Gobran
This song is one exceptional piece that has fit well over the years in weddings, especially during the Holy Communion. It is quite a traditional song, so any couple would love to play it on their big day. This song relays the message of keeping the marriage institution’s sanctity, and the lyrics are directly from Bible passages.
3. Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
There are various renditions of this song by different artists, each with a unique style. You can either go for this version or pick any other version by an artist that fits your music taste. This particular version of the song by Elvis is a top choice for many couples, especially for the Holy Communion. Given that it is an older version (sung in 1971) only makes it richer and genuine. You are sure to express your prayerful side and your devotion to God through this song.
4. Hallowed – Jennifer Knapp
This music is a modern adaptation of prayer that is a great choice for a pre-communion song. There’s no better way to feel closer to God than through prayer; therefore, this song will set the prayer mood for the whole congregation, and through it, you can express your devotion to God. It is a fun rendition that everybody will enjoy since it breaks the normal Lord’s Prayer’s monotony.
5. The Hymn “ Oh Perfect Love”
Hymns are generally calming for the congregation. This particular one, for instance, is soothing, yet so beautiful, making it a top choice for pre-communion or pre-homily. Since most of the congregation may be familiar with it, it may be a good idea to add it to your playlist.
6. Celine Dion – “Because You Loved Me”
Celine has set the bar high for artists in the love music genre, and this particular song is a clear indication. Although she sang it in 1996, it is still a popular song at many weddings. This song gives a strong love message that can express the couple’s intense emotion and, subtly, God’s love to us. If you listen to the lyrics, you will find out how fondly she speaks of the strength of love. This song will be perfect for a couple to mark this special day.
7. Marriage Prayer – John Waller
This song is a true depiction of a message straight from the heart of the composer. The depth of the lyrics and the artistry involved work together to invoke God’s blessings over the couple. It is sure to set a reflective tone for your ceremony. It is also effective in reminding you and all in attendance of the union’s sanctity, and even years later, hearing it will remind you of your wedding. You can comfortably add this song to any part of the ceremony, especially the reception.
8. Only Imagine – Mercy Me
Remember, there is the worship part of the ceremony, which this song brings to the listeners. It also helps that it is a great contemporary song that works well for any couple that wishes to bring out their modern side. Playing this song will likely bring everyone back to the heart of worship and serve as a reminder that God is the center of it all.
9. A Father’s Love – Bob Carlisle
Bob is known to release deep, heartfelt songs that carry heavy emotions about human feelings. In this particular piece, he expresses a father’s love through the lyrics. We all know that God’s love surpasses that of a father, so you can play it at the father-daughter dance to show your love for him with your heavenly father in mind. This song will be a great dedication from daughter to father.
10. Ode To Joy – Beethoven, Mozart
Nothing beats the classical greats. This piece is perfect for the event, especially if the church provides an orchestra. The melody will certainly fill the congregation’s ears as well as their hearts, considering a church’s superb acoustics.
You may go for more modern arrangements of this song, but it is a great live piece for your wedding either way. This song is perfect for the recessional as you and your partner leave the church. The tempo is right to give it an uplifting touch, so you will not go wrong with this particular song choice.
11. Be my Vision – Assad Audrey
This version is another song with various covers to select from, based on your preferred tempo and rendition. It is originally a hymn from Irish poetry with a deep message for the listener. It expresses the believer’s devotion to God, and you can relate it to devotion to your partner as well. It is a great reflection piece that will engage the guests, especially those married; they will also remember their wedding when listening to this song.
12. God Beyond Praising – Sarah Kroge and Focus
We all know how beautiful the choir sounds when they sing hymns, backed up by brilliant instrumentalists. This song is one that you can add to your lineup, especially for the Holy Communion. If your church has a choir, you can have them sing this piece, and surely, their heavenly voices will make it sound better.
13. “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”
Originally, this song is from St. Francis of Assissi’s prayer. However, there are other modern adaptations like the version by Susan Boyle and covers by other artists. This song is not only beautiful, but it also carries a strong message of humility and reverence to God.
It is also a great choice for the gift presentation part of the ceremony. With this song, you can express your undying love and dedication to your partner. You may also go for a children’s choir to make it more special.
14. “Ave Maria”
There are so many renditions of this song, both classical and modern. The classical version is in Latin, which is a beautiful language. However, you can go for a translated version or a cover like Beyoncé’s rendition for a more contemporary approach.
The song is also a great selection for the bridal procession. Whichever version you choose, you are guaranteed a beautiful song for your special occasion, and it helps that it is in Latin, one of the church’s original languages.
15. The Psalms
Every Catholic Church has the recitation or singing of the Psalms as part of the liturgy. These are the only songs that the church selects for you in advance. Each song has a profound message from the scripture to the couple or the congregation.
They are also relevant in highlighting the reason for the occasion and the expression of God’s divine love. With the Psalms, the priest can offer his wisdom to the congregation, and given that the song is responsorial, it will engage all your guests as they join in to celebrate the day with you. The most common choices are Psalms 34, Psalms 121, and Psalms 145.
How Many Songs Do You Need for a Catholic Wedding Ceremony?
There is no maximum or minimum number of songs that the couple should have at their wedding. It may depend on how many songs they need to fill up the “pauses” in the ceremony. It also relies on the components of the nuptial mass. The more events in the ceremony, the more songs you will need.
On the other hand, if you need songs for the reception, there are no guidelines whatsoever. You can have as many songs as you wish, depending on how long your reception will be.
Let’s find out the various spots that you need to consider filling when choosing the music.
This period is 15-30 minutes before the arrival of the bride. Here, you need to select a song that will entertain and lift the congregation’s spirits as they wait for the ceremony to kick off. Go for instrumentals, classical music, subtle love songs, or jazz.
The Bridesmaids Processional
This song is the one they play to accompany the bridesmaids as they pave the way for the bride to enter. Be keen to pick songs that are soothing so that the guests can watch the procession without distractions. Classic songs will be favorable in this case.
The Bride’s Processional
This choice is one of the most important ones you can make for the wedding. Being the moment that everybody has been looking forward to, this song must be ideal for the occasion. It has to match the wedding’s theme as well as the bride’s personality.
In most cases, the church already has a lineup of the Psalms for the mass; hence, you may consult them before the ceremony. They may be responsorial or solos, depending on the particular parish. They also come in various renditions and meanings perfect for the occasion.
Presentation of Gifts
There may be a song for this segment as the congregation brings gifts to the altar. It is mostly a short instrumental or a live choir song to accompany them to the altar.
The Communion Song
If it is a nuptial mass, then the congregation and the couple partake of the Holy Communion. It would help if you had a song playing here until everyone has their seats. The best selections are classical, liturgical, or solo songs.
These are optional songs that you can add to your playlist. You may have one playing during the unity candle’s lighting or flower presentation to the Virgin Mary. Lastly, you may add a song before or after the vows and the Homily. These songs will come in handy to fill the awkward silence in the church!
The recession marks the end of the nuptial mass as the bride, groom, and procession leave the church. Most couples go for instrumentals, but you can select a great celebratory song as you leave while greeting the guests.
Here, all the rules may fly out the window. Given that it is the merry-making part of the ceremony, they can choose all their favorite songs as they have fun with their guests. This segment is also the portion of the first dance and the father-daughter dance. Here is where you have the most fun when selecting your playlist.
If you wish to fill these gaps, you may have up to nine songs to select for the mass, depending on your parish’s lineup activities. The key is not to overdo it and to follow the rules regarding song selection.
How to Choose the Best Catholic Wedding Songs
There are so many factors to consider when deciding on the best song for your wedding. It depends on your preferences as a couple, your guests, and finally, your parish. All these factors will come to play to help you narrow down your choices. You need to find an option that works well for everyone by finding common ground. Both spouses need to involve each other to help find choices that they love and not offend the church or the guests.
First, your parish priest must be okay with the songs and hymns you wish to use at the ceremony, especially at the nuptial mass. You may have a long list of great songs that you would love to hear at your wedding, but, if, for some reason, the church leader does not find them appropriate for the occasion, you may have to reconsider.
Some parishes are more stringent with their laws to allow only specific songs to play, but if you are lucky, your priest and the church’s music director may be flexible to allow you to slip in your favorite songs.
The Catholics believe that a prayer combined with a song is intense and is akin to praying twice; thus, a good song should connect you to the heavenly powers. For a vibrant wedding ceremony, the couple needs to make certain crucial decisions.
First, will they have a live band or a choir? They also need to consider how well their song goes with the theme; the music’s theme should coincide with that of the wedding.
The music’s liturgical aspect is also very important since all songs and hymns should comply with the liturgical requirements. Doing so enables the attendees to blend in and sing along as they thank God for uniting the couples in Holy Matrimony.
The songs should effectively reflect the religious aspect of marriage first, even before the romantic part. You will never go wrong by choosing liturgical songs and hymns for your sacramental matrimony.
Moreover, the kind of music you choose for your wedding ceremony must be accessible/ pastoral, meaning that it should be simple enough for the congregation to sing along. This choice will make everyone feel included in the occasion, and the songs will conveniently proclaim blessings upon you and your spouse.
In case your choice of songs and hymns are not common, you can provide the guests with separately printed fliers or print them inside the wedding program booklet. Make sure you avoid instrumentals and solo songs during the liturgy, but if you must, you should probably wait until the sacrament of matrimony is over.
Your music choice should also gear towards the beauty of Christianity and that of the marriage institution. Hence, the church insists that a wedding song should be musical. A song’s beauty also depends greatly on the musician and the instrumentalists; a normal song or hymn may still sound magical if put in the right hands.
Some couples opt to find a musician first before selecting the wedding song. Doing so is vital in helping the couple get professional advice for their selection. The church may even advise you to find a musician with knowledge in the church’s liturgy and liturgical music. However, the bottom line is that you should include the church in the selection.
Lastly, in traditional catholic wedding celebrations, music is not necessary, but it is a welcome idea. Therefore, it is important to know how much music you need for your wedding and the most appropriate time to play them. This information will help you play by the church’s rules on marriage order.
Tips and Ideas for the Perfect Song Selection
The following are some tips that you may find helpful in your song selection.
- When finding liturgical songs, go for songs that you frequently hear during a typical mass, this way, your guests will be familiar with the music, and they will comfortably sing along. It also ensures that they may not be bored during the ceremony as they wait and watch.
- Online resources will help you select a good song; consider all the favorite songs and listen to them first before you pick one. Ensure that the song you find ogres well with your theme and has meaningful lyrics.
- You may want to personalize your songs to make them more special. You may pick a song that is dear for you and your partner, for instance, the first song you listened to or danced to first. The best song is that which holds so many memories for you and your partner.
- The church’s acoustics are also vital in deciding a great song, especially if you want to have a live band. The music may be beautiful, but it may ruin the song if the acoustics are not good.
Remember, a Catholic wedding is unlike any other wedding ceremony in other denominational churches. Here, you need to abide by the church’s rules and consult with your parish leaders on the best way to go.
While some churches leave it up to the couple to decide, the Catholic Church must approve of the selections first before allowing you to incorporate the songs. It implies that before you select any secular song, the church will have to agree that it is in line with the ceremony and not offensive to the church.
Nevertheless, you are still free to select the playlist you love, and there are so many options available. Pick a song that resonates with your love story to make your special day even more special. Even if your church is stringent to allow only certain songs, you still have a wide array of opportunities to select the perfect song for your reception. So, have fun picking the best songs for your wedding!