Your Pinterest boards and your saved images on Instagram are probably full of beautiful wedding portraits, carefully set tables, and wedding dresses fresh off the runway. In short: You're surrounded by inspiration for all things décor, color palettes, and fashion. But recessional music? It's not exactly something you have swirling in your head when you imagine your wedding day. But remember that music sets the tone of your ceremony in a big way, so it's important to consider what guests will hear. If you're not quite sure where to begin, wedding planners and musical experts share their best advice for picking recessional music.
Here's what you need to know as you start the search for yours.
Firstly, what is recessional music?
You made your grand entrance, you and your new husband or wife read your vows, and you kissed to sealed the deal. Now, you turn around to greet everyone you love, all in the same room, at the same time. What song is playing as you walk hand-in-hand into your future together? As wedding planner Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events says, "Recessional music is the song that plays at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony when the couple, their wedding party, and their families exit and walk back down the aisle."
What's the history of recessional music?
While Weinberg notes that every culture has a different take on post-ceremony tunes, nearly every type of wedding uses music as a way to keep the celebration moving. She adds that one of the most popular recessional songs, appropriately titled "Wedding March," was composed in 1842 by Felix Mendelssohn. Though it was meant to be an accompaniment to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it didn't become popular until Queen Victoria's daughter, Victoria, The Princess Royal, played it as she exited the church with her new groom, Prince Frederick Williams of Prussia, in January 1858. While traditional couples might still go with the famous tune, there are several other classical and non-classical music choices that more modern twosomes might select for their exit.
Why is recessional music important?
As Weinberg says, recessional music has a very important role: It's the start of the party! And more than that, it's an opportunity be creative and say something about who you are as a couple. Michael Taylor, the CEO of Star Talent, Inc., explains it best: "The song is an opportunity to let all in attendance know how you feel at the moment you are finally married. Wedding couples should view their Recessional Music selection as a personal statement of celebration, love, joyfulness, and the beginning of the 'soundtrack' for your future together."
Consider live musicians.
Since the more serious portion of the wedding day has passed, Weinberg says it's time to get your guests excited to head into cocktail hour and the reception. One idea is to have a live band—complete with several instruments—that will be loud and engaging. If you're into jazz music, it's an opportunity to channel your inner New Orleans spirit and go big band, for example.
Consider love ballads.
Before you roll your eyes at tried-and-true ballads from some of the most iconic singers, consider how your guests will feel (especially your older ones) when they hear a jam they love come on right after your first kiss. Taylor suggests going with anything from "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli to "Love on Top" by Beyoncé. Other options that might be fun? "I Melt with You" by Modern English.
Most importantly, the song should feel right. And it should get you excited to celebrate your new marriage. "The recessional music is an opportunity to have a little fun, show your personality, and break the tension and seriousness with a unique, upbeat song you both love," Taylor says. "If you can envision yourselves dancing out of the ceremony to it, you have the right choice."