Many us know what song we want for our march down the aisle long before we meet the person who will be joining us there. But does your partner agree? And what about the music for the rest of the day?
Your wedding may be a very gay affair, but it’s still a wedding, and things that you and your partner will fuss (and fight) over are the same for almost everyone. Music will inevitably be one of those things. The music you play during the ceremony itself and afterwards at the reception will set the tone and carry the crowd through the entire event. Of course you want to get it just right.
Will you insist on live music for the ceremony, through dinner, and on to dancing? Might you prefer a DJ who knows how to mix things up and engage the crowd? Or is a clever friend with a great Spotify playlist just fine, saving you the expense? These are things that all pre-nuptial couples need to consider.
There are, however, a few challenges that are particular to LGBTQ+ weddings. Not surprisingly, gender gives cause for pause. If you want songs written for same-sex lovers, there are options (Melissa Etheridge, The Indigo Girls, Sam Smith, Frank Ocean). Or for a more classic touch, is it ok if the song is about a woman but sung by a man, or vice-versa? The field then opens up enormously, of course.
Another way to go is neutral, avoiding pesky gender-specific pronouns altogether. Etta James’ At Last is a perennial favourite, as is Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You and Judy Garland’s I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.
Or you might embrace activism with pieces that have become queer anthems by iconic performers. We Are Family by Sister Sledge, Dancing Queen by ABBA, George Michael’s great cry Freedom 90 or Lady Gaga’s uplifting Born This Way.
There is no need, though, to choose just one mode. The trick is to be clear about which moods you want to set for each part of the day. Here is how the event will unfold:
It is most common to choose instrumental music to play as guests arrive and find their seats. It’s perfectly fine, though, to have a playlist run on a loop, as long as the tunes you’ve selected are conducive to the tone you want for the ceremony itself.
Whether you’ll be processing with a gaggle of bridesmaids and/or a flock of ushers or just the two of you, this moment is one that will be forever etched in your memory. Will you have music that marks the solemnity of the occasion or notes that ring out the sheer joy you are feeling?
Whether your wedding is religious or not, these sorts of ceremonies generally have moments reserved for prayer or ritual, providing a rhythm and a flow to the proceedings. Even if you have decided not to include any particular rituals, musical interludes give everyone – perhaps the couple most of all! – an opportunity simply to sit back, absorb and enjoy.
The Recessional and The Postlude
The music that is played as the newly married couple exit the venue is typically joyful and jubilant. But sunny and playful is just as appropriate, depending on the tone you’ve set from the beginning. Remember to select music that will continue to play as people file out and queue up to congratulate you.
Whether a daytime or an evening event, your wedding will likely be followed by a fabulous feast and then by a few hours (at least!) of dancing.
Wine or cocktails before the meal, perhaps out in the garden or a separate room of your dining venue, allows time for everyone to arrive. The music, whether daytime or evening, should be appropriate for the setting and conducive to conversation.
This will remain the case for the meal. If you opt for a live ensemble or a DJ, be sure to be clear about this ahead of time: this time is for eating, drinking, and talking. The music should be in the background, adding to the atmosphere, not taking the spotlight.
The First Dance to the Last Dance
Once the cake has been cut and everyone has had a slice (or two) and had a glass of Prosecco (or two), then the music takes centre stage, and as the lights go down, the volume goes up.
Just in case you need some inspiration for your First Dance, here is a list of songs that appeared most frequently on Spotify playlists containing “gay wedding” or “LGBT wedding” for 2019:
- I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston
- Dancing Queen – ABBA
- It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
- Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson
- Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
- September – Earth, Wind & Fire
- Best Of My Love – The Emotions
- Born This Way – Lady Gaga
- I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross
- Man! I Feel Like A Woman! – Shania Twain
A good wedding band or talented DJ will know how to manage the rest of the evening, taking you and your guests on a ride to remember.
The message is simple: do your research, communicate with each other, be clear about what you want with those whom you hire to handle the music, and where there is uncertainty, ask them for options and suggestions. Your efforts will be well rewarded and will you to relax and have the time of your life!