How to Incorporate Family Traditions in Your Wedding Music

A piano with a white boutonniere on the keys.

For many soon-to-be-married couples, the wedding day is a celebration not just of love, but of family. So, it’s only natural that you’d want your wedding music to pay homage to your heritage as well as the loved ones who surround you on this special day.

How does music fit into your family? Maybe there are some songs that are particularly special to your relatives–like a grandmother’s favorite hymn, or something by a band that you and your parents both love. Perhaps your family’s cultural heritage has a specific style of music that you’d like to intertwine with this momentous event. Whatever your family’s musical traditions look like, you can incorporate them into your wedding to make your day even more unique and special. Here’s what we suggest.

Identify meaningful songs for the “family moments” in your ceremony and reception

If you’re sticking to the typical timeline of a wedding ceremony and reception, there are lots of milestone moments that will allow you to seamlessly incorporate family musical tastes. Here are a few examples:

  • The grandparents’ entrance, which traditionally takes place after the prelude and signals that the ceremony is starting
  • The parents’ entrance, which traditionally takes place after the grandparents’ entrance and before the bridesmaids
  • The family dances (e.g., father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, etc.), which take place during the wedding reception

By examining the outline of your wedding’s order of events, you’ll be able to easily pick out which moments could potentially spotlight your musical traditions. In other words, you’ll be using family songs for family moments.

Make use of the prelude

The prelude is the background, instrumental music that plays before the ceremony begins, as guests are entering the venue and taking their seats. It sets the tone for the event, quieting the room and giving the guests a sneak peek of your wedding’s overall theme.

But prelude doesn’t have to be “filler music.” It’s easy to sprinkle some meaningful family tunes into your prelude set list, making this time of anticipation even more significant. You can even tell your family members to keep their ears open for some special songs during the prelude, curated just for them. Just remember to keep your prelude songs relatively quiet and calm–you can save the more boisterous tunes for the reception.

Ask a family member to perform at your wedding

Two guitarists playing at a wedding on a grassy lawn.

When integrating family and music, you can even take things beyond the list of songs you’re compiling. Perhaps you have a family member who is a talented vocalist or instrumentalist, who might be willing to lend their talents to your special day. It’s not uncommon for couples to feature a solo musical selection during the wedding ceremony (it’s a great way to break up the officiating portions of the service, if you expect that they’ll run a bit long, and it also gives you and your partner some time to just relax and take in the moment). Asking a musically gifted family member to perform a special, romantic song could be a lovely addition to the event and would be another way to combine family and music during the big day.

Ask your family members for song ideas

When in doubt, turn to the experts. If you know that you want to include some special family music in your wedding celebration, but don’t know how, you can always get your family members in on the planning! Your immediate or extended family may know of some musical selections that would be a nice and sentimental addition to your ceremony or reception.

A note of caution: soliciting input from your family members has the potential to lead to a deluge of frequent (though well-meaning!) advice for your entire wedding service. So be sure to set clear, specific boundaries about what you’re asking for (e.g. “We’d like to pick one special family song to play during the ceremony. Do you have any ideas that match our theme?”).

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