I’ve performed dozens of weddings over the past 40 years, even back in high school. My first wedding that I performed was my cousin Gwen’s, sometime in the early ‘80’s. It was fairly simple, just 3 songs, the Bridal Chorus, Lohengrin’s Wedding March, and The Carpenter’s “Close To You”. I can’t remember if we had a soloist singing that song, but I sure remember playing it. The minister was at first, appalled, that we performed a “rock and roll” piece of music and I got an earful. However, Gwen made nice with the minister and the rest went off without a hitch.
A little later, I performed at another wedding, this time on a full PIPE organ, for my older brother Chris’s roommate. The song was “Longer Than”, a single by Dan Fogelberg. I pretty much remember that from the whole trip and experience of playing an actual PIPE organ. I emphasize “PIPE” because it was a real, mechanical pipe organ that performed its sounds by blowing air through actual tuned pipes. You really didn’t have “volume” controls, the more pipes you opened up the louder it got.
When I started my wedding music business in the 1990’s, it was in Tennessee and several different types of music infiltrated the “wedding” music arena. One of the more memorable ones was Luther Vandross’s “Even Now”, an excellent tune, and the closest thing you could have to Barry White for romance.
I stepped away from doing weddings for awhile and now that I’m back, I’m seeing several new (or new to me) tunes infiltrate the wedding theme song for brides. I’m focusing now on some tunes that are both original and/or unusual compared to years ago.
“The Book Of Love” - It originated with the band “The Magnetic Fields”, but was brought to international dominance by Peter Gabriel and the movie “Shall We Dance”. It is on it’s way to making itself a wedding standard, but it’s not a tune that came from a top ten hitmaker or Grammy winner. It came from almost nowhere. I have it as an instrumental version.
“Over The Rainbow” - Yes, it’s from “The Wizard of Oz”.
However, this ukulele version came from Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole, a Hawaiian musician that passed away at 38. But the song was made famous from several Hollywood movies and a Pixar animation feature, “Lava”. Honestly, this came to my attention as a wedding piece after visiting Aruba (definitely NOT Hawaiian) and witnessing quite a few beach weddings with this tune performed as the “main” tune (either as a processional, or in the middle of the ceremony).
“She’s Leaving Home” - Strange as it sounds, yes, it’s the Beatles tune from the Sgt Pepper’s album. Although the story was really about a girl that left her parent’s home unannounced and later was found, pregnant from her secret boyfriend. But from anecdotal evidence, a few brides are using it to “announce” the rite of passage from being a daughter in a household to becoming an independent woman.
The Theme from “Titanic”. WHAT?
Yes, it’s a very romantic movie about a couple just introduced to each other by being on the same damn boat and that the boat ride turns out to be a total disaster… But then again, you can’t get away from the Celine Dion recording and the key signature change in the latter half of the tune.
“If I Had a Million Dollars” - from The Barenaked Ladies. Although these Canadians are more recognized from the theme to “The Big Bang Theory”, this is actually one of their biggest hits and a standard for their live shows. In weddings, the lyrics usually stay towards the original version recorded in 1992.
....There's probably a zillion other tunes that have been considered for wedding theme music or processionals, or recessionals, or whatever. It makes the couple happy, and that's all that matters, right?