Instrumental Music Only...
Any songs with words will only serve to compete with the reader.
Played At A Soft Volume...
Again, you don't want to have the music competing with the reader. Use your rehearsal to try out different volumes for the background music, and try to find a volume that is comfortable for the reader while being loud enough to be heard by the guests.
During the rehearsal, keep in mind that a crowd tends to absorb sound, so the volume used during the rehearsal may not be exactly right for the ceremony itself. Usually, you'll need to make a slight adjustment up in volume during the ceremony.
That Fits The Reading...
An Irish/Celtic tune for an Irish reading, a Native American tune for the Apache Wedding Blessing, Greensleeves for a reading at Christmas time. Although it may not be possible to make a match in all cases, look carefully at the title, words, and meaning behind your readings and enlist the help of your DJ/Musician(s) and Celebrant to help you choose some good songs.
That Fits The Ceremony...
Does your ceremony have a theme or is there a certain mood you are trying to create? Keep these in mind as you choose the background music for your readings and/or poetry.
And That Fits The Reader...
You may want to give the reader some input into the song that will be playing in the background as he/she reads. Perhaps you'll want to give them a choice of two or three songs for their reading. You may also want to give them the choice of not having background music for their reading. In fact, if you've chosen a reader that is particularly soft-spoken, you may want to reconsider using background music with that reader.
Some Wonderful Background Music
The number of instrumental pieces that could be used for background music is endless. New Age music is particularly fitting for readings, and an instrumentalist playing piano, harp, organ, violin, or guitar is also very apropos. Here are just a few to consider from some of our favorite artists...
Intermezzo (from "Carmen") - Georges Bizet
Sicilienne - Gabriel Faurer
Lasia Ch'io Pianga - George Frideric Handel
Modere: 1st Movement (from "Sonatine") - Maurice Ravel
Carolan's Quarrel - Dirk Freymuth
Down By The Sally Gardens - Dirk Freymuth
Give Me Your Hand - Dirk Freymuth
The Gentle Maid - Dirk Freymuth
Fragrant Fields - George Winston
Black Stallion - Carmine Coppola performed by George Winston
Colors/Dance - George Winston
Early Morning Range - George Winston
Woods - George Winston
Playground - Henry Adam Curtis
Autumn Landscape - James Sutcliffe
Rocket To The Moon - Jim Brickman
Blessings - Liz Story
Wedding Rain - Liz Story
Dona Nobis Pacem - Michael Manring
A Different Shore - Nightnoise
Night In That Land - Nightnoise
Southern Jukebox Music - Penguin Café Orchestra
Living In The Country - Pete Seeger performed by George Winston
When The Snow Melts - Phil Cunningham & Manus Lunny
Silver Salmon Bear - R. Carlos Nakai
Ukranian Carol - Spencer Brewer
Caranna - Tim Story
Simple Gifts - Tracy & Thea Silverman
Bon Voyage - Vince Guaraldi performed by George Winston
Monterey - Vince Guaraldi performed by George Winston
Remembrance - Vince Guaraldi performed by George Winston
Theme To Grace/Lament - Vince Guaraldi performed by George Winston
Young Man's Fancy - Vince Guaraldi performed by George Winston
The Gathering - Will Ackerman
Night Slip - William Ackerman
Acroyali - Yanni
Swept Away - Yanni
The Mermaid - Yanni
Blessed Jesus - Johann Sebastian Bach performed by Liona Boyd
Amazing Grace - John Doan
We Three Kings - Barbara Higbie
Joy To The World - Bruce Mitchell
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Kenny G.
Away In A Manger - Kenny G.
Little Drummer Boy - Kenny G.
Silent Night - Kenny G.
The Chanukah Song - Kenny G.
Away In A Manger - Liona Boyd
Silent Night - Liona Boyd
Wexford Carol - Nightnoise
Silent Night - Steve Erquiaga
Next, let's see how music can enhance your vows.