Wedding Entrance Songs
To Introduce or Not to Introduce?
When it comes to introducing the Bridal Party with music, just before a couple’s all-important First Dance (versus no introductions and going straight to the First Dance at the beginning of the Reception), my informal polling finds that folks are pretty much split evenly on this issue.
Making a Grand Entrance
By and large, the split is usually over what some might refer to as the “cheese factor”. I’ve had couples say to me “we want to create maximum excitement and buildup before we come out and dance our First Dance as ‘man & wife’; what’s the best way to do that with music for introducing the Bridal Party?”. Likewise, I’ve had other couples tell me that “there’s no way we want to introduce our Bridal Party with music, especially with a “cheesy song like ‘Celebration’ by Kool & the Gang”, and on one level, I understand their concern: too much cheese can clog a party’s arteries and, perhaps sometimes, even leave a bad taste.
Making a Grand Entrance as Husband and Wife
But isn’t that, to some extent, due to the song(s) used and their connotations at the time of the wedding? There was a time when “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang was a song newly married couples used to make their entrance. It has “a good beat, and you can dance to it.” Yet now, for many, time and overexposure made the song seem “corny” and yes, even a bit “cheesy” to a significant segment of the wedding audience.
Choosing the Right Song for the Introduction
Speaking personally as a musician and as a bandleader, I like playing the Bridal Party into the room with music. When done right, it’s dramatic, it raises the audience’s spirits and anticipation, and sometimes it just feels good.
Top Wedding Entrance Songs include the following:
- “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
- “Can’t Stop The Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
- “SexyBack“– Justin Timberlake ft. Timbaland
- “I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas
- “Crazy In Love” – Beyonce
- “Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran
- “Marry You” – Bruno Mars
- “Here for the Party” – Gretchen Wilson
- “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” – Arctic Monkeys
- “Good as Hell” – Lizzo
- “Thunderstruck” – AC/DC
- “Party in the U.S.A.” – Miley Cyrus
- “On The Floor” – Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull
- “Levitating” – Dua Lipa
So, here’s how a song can work effectively to play on the Bridal Party:
1. I don’t recommend using different song snippets for individual bridesmaids, best men, and parents. This is about the couple and their wedding, not the guests and individual family members. The most effective play-on song is one that builds real momentum towards the big moment when the couple emerges for the first time as husband and wife. You can’t do that with 10-seconds blips from a wide variety of tunes that have no musical connection to one another. Even if you’re using a DJ instead of a live band (a subject I’ll explore in depth in a future posting), stick with one great song.
2. Select a song that has a) a great instrumental “vamp” that can be repeated at a low volume as the band leader intros the individual people, and then can easily and quickly kick into, b) a short but powerful chorus “hook” that can come up and down in volume quickly as the introduced individuals emerge to walk into the room and take their places around the dance floor. The chosen song can be an instrumental or have a vocal chorus hook. However, it is best to have no vocals on the vamp section, since that can distract from the band announcer’s introductions.
3. Look for a song that “feels right” for your reception. At a recent wedding we did at a posh NYC hotel ballroom, the couple asked us to play the recorded version of the instrumental introduction to the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”, which is kind of like a heavy-metal Irish reel (this was an Irish/Italian wedding). I edited the CD version so that the song’s instrumental section looped continuously, long enough for all the Bridal Party introductions. This did indeed get the crowd stomping, and when we cut that music, introduced the couple, and began the sensitive David Gray ballad “This Year’s Love” – the contrast between the two musical pieces was stark and very effective. For this couple, the Boston band’s brawling bruiser of a song as an overture and prelude to their quietly emotional choice of First Dance worked beautifully.
4. Go for music that would make you feel the excitement build at an event. For instance, if you like the Blues Brothers, I recommend checking out their version of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” because the “vamp” pulses with excitement, and when the horns kick for the chorus for the individual intros, the crowd just naturally cheers along with this kind of brass fanfare. For early classic rock fans, “You Can’t Sit Down”, by the Dovells has a great solo party-rock drum beat, and with each name announced, the band’s singers can kick in with the infectious chorus “You can’t sit down, you can’t down”. In a more modern vein, the Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” has a wonderful verse groove that builds excitement toward for vocal chorus “I gotta feelin’, that tonight’s gonna be a good night”.
My feeling is that it’s worth spending time creatively planning each musical detail of your wedding and reception, starting with the grand entrances. . . . because nothing sets the tone for a wonderful party better than great music.