How to Make a Wedding Soundtrack: Creating Memories With Music

Eschew the church organ. Skip the reception bands and DJs. Create a wedding soundtrack by asking friends and relatives to contribute meaningful music that reminds them of you as individuals and as a couple. Arrange the songs betwixt your own selections, and you’ll have a unique musical context for your special day. Whether you call it a wedding, a union ceremony, or a commitment celebration, the basic concept is the same: two people are joining in a bond and asking friends and relatives to share the joy. If you like to think outside the box, a wedding soundtrack might be the right tack for an otherwise traditional day. Creating a wedding soundtrack will help any couple, heterosexual or same-sex, hold a memorable wedding.

In these days of digital music and Apple’s iTunes music store, acquiring a bevy of songs cheaply and easily is quite manageable. For the wedding ceremony and reception, all you need is a sound system for playback and a music guru to be in charge of the sound. This is the kind of work a DJ or musical director would have to arrange anyway, so you may even save a little money by handling the music digitally.

Your invitations can explain the wedding soundtrack concept and ask people to reply with music they hope to see included. You can also leave the details up to a music-savvy friend who will contact your guests directly and solicit ideas to be combined with your own. Either way, advanced planning will result in a wedding soundtrack that is meaningful and smoothly coordinated.

Using a wedding soundtrack is a great way to get your friends and relatives actively involved in your special occasion. Maybe your best friends (i.e., “best man,” “maid of honor,” or whatever you want to call these people) have appropriate tunes from your past to contribute? Your college friends may remember certain songs of yore that take everyone back to more innocent days. You and your partner might include songs reminiscent of when and where you met. You might even employ an emcee who can introduce some of the songs at a reception and talk about why they’ve been included. Or let people in the wedding party each introduce their own special song for you as a couple. It’s not hard to see how using music will allow for a celebration of the past as well as the future.

With some careful planning, you can decide which songs should be grouped together and played at different times. Party-oriented songs might be saved for a setting like a reception, and the more reserved tunes might be better at the ceremony itself. Non-dance tracks can be used during a dinner, when all parties are seated and engaged in conversation. Quieter background music can set the tone while everyone is waiting for the ceremony to begin or during other “down times” on your wedding day. Use your own judgment for how to match the music from your wedding soundtrack with the best part of the occasion.

If you still want to do a conventional walk-down-the-aisle by a parent, why not let the parent pick a song that reminds them of the child they are “giving away”? “Here Comes the Bride” is self-explanatory but incredibly trite. Maybe Dad’s special song for his daughter would add a touch of charm instead? Or to play with gender conventions a bit, maybe Mom can walk her son down the aisle to a tune of her choice as well. If you’re taking the reins and having a less traditional wedding, this can keep parents involved.

When you write thank-you notes for the gifts you’ve received, as most couples do, you can also send along copies of your wedding soundtrack on CD. It’s a little time-consuming to burn CDs, but the materials themselves are cheap. You’ll already have all the music in a digital format. Certainly, you’ll have more songs than you can include on an 80-minute disc, so just select the highlights. And in addition to pictures, your wedding soundtrack will allow you to share the occasion with people who were unable to attend.

While you’ll need to tease out all the details and determine how a wedding soundtrack is best implemented in your own ceremony, the idea is a creative, fun, and meaningful way to incorporate music into your public commitment.

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