The human voice is a wonderful instrument. And yet, we are surprised to hear so little of it at wedding ceremonies. Sure, you'll hear mostly vocalized songs at the reception, but what about using some vocal music at your ceremony?
The Human Voice
The human voice can accompany almost any instrument or set of instruments at your ceremony. From organs to guitars, from string trios to quartets to quintets, from harp to flute, and from piano to Celtic instruments, a good vocal soloist or duet [two people singing (e.g male-female)] can adapt to almost any arrangement. Also, songs can be sung without any instrumentation.
Using Recorded Vocal Music in Your Ceremony
Undoubtedly, your DJ will have many of the popular love songs used at weddings in his/her collection, so if you are having recorded music played by a DJ for your ceremony, make the most of it. Even if the DJ doesn't have the particular song you are looking for, with enough lead time, s(he) will probably be able to find it, so be sure to let the DJ know what you are looking for early.
When Not To Use Vocal Music
Unlike instrumental music, which can be used almost anyplace in a ceremony, you need to be a bit more particular in the case of a vocal piece. Songs with words should never be used in the following cases:
During the Exchanging of Vows and/or Rings
During Rituals where words are being spoken
In fact, we can make one blanket statement which basically says that songs with words should never be used during any part of the ceremony where words are being spoken. The reason is that the words of the song will be competing with the words being spoken in the ceremony. This could be distracting and/or confusing both for those in the ceremony who are speaking, and for your guests.
Consider Your Ceremony Location
Particularly for ceremonies taking place at religious sites, you'll want to make sure that any secular vocal songs or recordings do not violate the religious site's policies. Some sites will not allow anything but religious-oriented music. Others will be more flexible. It's best to check with the site of your ceremony to make sure the vocal music you want to use has "acceptable" lyrics. And, speaking of lyrics...
Consider Song Lyrics Carefully
It will be important for you to review all the lyrics of any song you want played at your ceremony. There are several reasons for this...
1) You want to make sure the words reflect you and your relationship.
2) You want to make sure the words are in line with your ceremony's theme and mood.
3) If it is a religious ceremony, you want to be especially careful that the lyrics are fitting. Especially with many of the modern-day love songs.
4) If it is to be a completely secular ceremony you want to make sure that there are no religious overtones to the music you choose. You might be surprised at how many times God is mentioned in many popular love songs.
5) Sometimes the title or chorus of a song imply love and faithfulness while the lyrics convey a completely different message. One such song that comes to mind is Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." The title and chorus of the song are completely appropriate for a wedding, yet the song is really about one person leaving another - more than a little inappropriate for a wedding!
Vocal selections can be a wonderful addition to your wedding ceremony. To find some good ones, with lyrics appropriate to most wedding ceremonies, use the "Songs For Different Parts Of Your Ceremony" section of our site. You can also surf the web, or ask your DJ/Musician(s) for some suggestions.