Marriage is not only a union of two people, but also a union of families. Families get together to witness the wedding and get to know each other better in the process.
Music is an important aspect of any wedding and has several purposes. Family wedding songs in particular celebrate the union of a bride and groom and their future together. From Ben E. King’s Stand by Me to Rina Sawayama’s Chosen Family, there are countless timeless songs to choose from for your special day.
Artists have been releasing wedding songs for decades, even centuries. Below, some of the most popular and heartfelt songs are listed in chronological order.
Family Wedding Songs
1. Stand By Me – Ben E. King (1961)
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
2. All You Need Is Love – The Beatles (1967)
Nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
All you need is love
3. Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
4. You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor (1971)
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again
5. Lean on Me – Bill Withers (1972)
You just call on me brother
When you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
6. Loves Me Like a Rock – Paul Simon (1973)
Oh, my mama loves me, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Like she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages and loves me
7. Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel (1977)
I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are
8. Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr. (1979)
I am very proud
Of my daddy’s name
Although his kind of music
And mine ain’t exactly the same
9. We Are Family – Sister Sledge (1979)
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
10. Through the Years – Kenny Rogers (1982)
Through the years
You’ve never let me down
You turned my life around
11. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper (1983)
If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting
Time after time
12. Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler (1988)
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be
I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
13. Love Can Build a Bridge – The Judds (1990)
I would whisper love so loudly
Every heart could understand
That love and only love
Can join the tribes of man
14. Family – Dolly Parton (1991)
Some are preachers, some are gay
Some are addicts, drunks and strays
But not a one is turned away
When it’s family
15. I’ll Stand by You – The Pretenders (1994)
I’ll stand by you, I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
16. Seasons of Love – Rent (1996)
It’s time now to sing out though
The story never ends
Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life
17. You’ll Be in My Heart – Phil Collins (1999)
This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here don’t you cry
18. By Your Side – Sade (2000)
And if you want to cry
I am here to dry your eyes
And in no time
You’ll be fine
19. Father and Daughter – Paul Simon (2002)
I’m gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you’ll always know
20. You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban (2003)
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
21. My Wish – Rascal Flatts (2006)
My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
22. Welcome to this Day – Josh Kelley, Melissa Etheridge (2006)
Welcome sweet sun ray (sweet sun ray)
Love is no secret
Look all around you
Welcome to this day
23. Make You Feel My Love – Adele (2008, originally by Bob Dylan, 1997)
When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
24. Use Somebody – Kings of Leon (2008)
I’ve been roaming around
Always looking down and all I see
Painted faces fill the places I can’t reach
You know that I could use somebody
You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you
25. Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (2009)
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I’m with you
26. Count on Me – Bruno Mars (2010)
You can count on me like one, two, three
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it
I can count on you like four, three, two
And you’ll be there
27. Family is Family – Kacey Musgraves (2015)
Can’t live with or without ’em, you might talk about ’em
But if someone else does, well, then you’ll knock ’em out ’cause
When it’s all said and done, they’re the only ones that you got
28. Blended Family (What You Do For Love) – Alicia Keys (2016)
There ain’t nothing I won’t do for us
It may not be easy
This blended family, but baby
That’s what you do, what you do, what you do
What you do for love
29. Family – The Chainsmokers with Kygo (2019)
I know water that’s thicker than blood
That’s deeper than love with my friends
People come and some people go
And some people ride to the end
30. Chosen Family – Rina Sawayama (2020)
We don’t need to be related to relate
We don’t need to share genes or a surname
You are, you are
My chosen, chosen family
Tips for Picking Your Wedding Music
Prelude, Processional, Recessional, and Interlude Music
One of the most important things to consider when picking the music to be played at your wedding is when they will be played.
Prelude music refers to the music played in the background as guests enter the venue and take their seats. The nature of prelude music is typically lighter; it sets the mood for the ceremony ahead. This is played as early as 45 minutes before the doors to the venue even open.
Processional music refers to the music played as members of the wedding party make their way down the aisle. The length or number of songs you need to prepare for processional music depends on how many people are in the lineup.
The majority of couples choose to dedicate a particular song for the bride’s entrance; dramatic and touching songs are a perfect fit for the procession. Processional music is often the most memorable music at any wedding.
Conversely, recessional music refers to the music played as the ceremony ends and everyone exits the venue. Recessional music is generally upbeat and lively and gets the crowd rejoicing and dancing.
Interlude music refers to any music played during or after significant parts of the wedding, such as the signing of contracts and liturgical readings. Interlude music is usually played at a low to medium volume so as not to overpower or interrupt the ceremony. Classical music is often used as an interlude, though you are free to choose from any genre.
Hire Live Performers
If you are getting married in a church, odds are there is an accompanying choir that will sing the hymns.
If that is not the case, consider hiring live performers such as a band and/or a singer. Live performers can adjust to unexpected scenarios, such as the guests taking too long to enter or the procession being pushed back for a few moments, and continue playing.
Furthermore, having live music feels much more grand and memorable. The sound of the music is often better as well, instead of relying on sound systems and equipment that might not have the best quality.
With live performers, it is best to book them for an additional hour or two as planned, just in case the event runs longer than anticipated. Although this extra hour slightly raises the cost, you will avoid overtime fees which may be pricier than the extra hour of booking.
Before settling with a performer, make sure that you have seen and/or heard them play beforehand. Ask for a video recording, a sample, or a demo CD, and watch them perform before making any decisions.
Ask for Suggestions
In your RSVP, include a space for your invited guests to write their music recommendations. You may discover music you have never heard before but fall in love with immediately. Your close friends might even suggest a song or two that fits your taste in music exactly.
Make a Playlist
To start with, you and your partner can discuss your favorite songs and choose which you want to include in your wedding playlist. After screening the suggestions of your guests, you may include them in this playlist as well. This is helpful for the DJ manning the booth or whoever is in charge of playing the music at your wedding.
You also have the option to use pre-made wedding music playlists online. YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms have playlists curated by other people for your special day. The only disadvantage of using a pre-made playlist is that the music it contains will not completely fit your taste.
Compile a Do-Not-Play List
As the name suggests, a do-not-play list contains the songs you do not want to hear at your wedding. This may include offensive songs, age-restricted songs if there are children present, and any song that you and your partner just don’t like. A do-not-play list is especially useful if you hire performers or a DJ to take care of your wedding music.
Consider the Venue
If you have already chosen your venue, make sure to take into account its acoustics before choosing music or booking performers. It would not make sense to hire a string quartet if you are having a beach wedding, as the sounds of the ocean might overpower the instruments; similarly, playing rock or heavy metal music in a church might be seen as distasteful by clerics, parishioners, and some of your guests.
At-home weddings, intimate elopements, and small receptions require less sound equipment. This is because the venue is generally smaller, thus making music easier to hear. Even Bluetooth speakers and microphones can suffice.
Additionally, be mindful of specific venue restrictions and guidelines regarding music. Some may not permit live bands. Some may only allow music at certain times.
Have a Special Moment
If you and your partner are musicians and/or music enthusiasts, planning a special moment can surprise your guests and make the day even more memorable. Have a duet, play an instrument, or sing a song and dedicate it to your spouse.
Keep in Mind That This is Your Wedding
This is your special day — not your relatives’, not your friends’, and not your guests’. The music to be played at your wedding must suit your and your partner’s preferences first and foremost. Do not worry about pleasing everyone in attendance — that is often impossible, anyway. What matters most is that you are happy and content with the music choices you make.
Family wedding songs express the essence of a family: being there for each other through thick and thin, and loving and supporting each other come what may. Weddings essentially enlarge your family and playing family wedding songs in your ceremony symbolizes the beginning of new relationships and new chapters in your life.