How to choose the right wedding songs for your special day in Italy

Music is one of the most important parts of the wedding. Together with the lights and the wedding decor, it helps to create the right atmosphere throughout the day. Before the ceremony starts, until the very last song to close the event, music is really crucial! 

This is why I think you will find this blog post about all the things you need to know about the music for your wedding in Italy very helpful. Let’s start exploring!


You need to think of the right music for every moment of your wedding day

The most important rule is: there must be music throughout the day. From the first guest who arrives at the ceremony early, to the last guest who leaves the dancefloor there must be a musical accompaniment to make your big day unique, festive, and elegant. It can be a live band, a DJ, recorded music, or a mix of all three.

Of course, there are some highlights of the day you must put extra attention into: 

– The Processional and Recessional during the ceremony

– The first dance 

– The cake cutting 

These are the most memorable parts of the wedding, this is why it is a good idea to put extra thought into their organization – with your favorite songs or music that represents Italy if you want the destination to be a consistent part of your wedding.


Songs for your Catholic Wedding ceremony

General rules for the music in Church

Since the Catholic ceremony always takes place in a church, you will have to go with classical music and the one that is considered consecrated, both in repertoire as in instruments choice.

Classical and religious music is very solemn and contemplative, the most known songs are: “Ave Maria”, “Wedding March” by Wagner, Mendelssohn’s march, and Hallelujah. You can also choose some famous opera openings and areas, like Aida’s overture or The Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.

If you get married in a church, you won’t be able to choose modern pop songs most of the time. Some priests don’t care much, others put very strict rules on the playlist. If you want to play your favorite Nineties pop song in church, ask the priest first.

Some of them will allow the instrumental version of the contemporary songs but without lyrics and remember, you’ll need to find a VERY flexible priest and even so, he will allow it only for the processional or recessional and he will need to know what the song says, otherwise he won’t accept it.


Song ideas for your Catholic ceremony

Every ceremony is different but normally the different moments that you will need to choose a song for during the Catholic mass are:

Groom’s entrance if he decides to walk down the aisle you’ll need to pick a song, or if he chooses to wait for the bride at the altar, you don’t need any. 

Bride’s entrance: This is what we know as the “Processional”, the bridesmaids walk before the bride and here you can have a song only for them and a separate song only for the bride, or if the bridal party is small, the bridesmaids and the bride can enter with one song.

Offertory: The classics ones are Aria from Bach, Traumerei from Schumann, Largo from Handel, Corale dalla Cantata from Bach, Aria from Handel, Adagio in Sol Minore from Albinoni-Giazotto, Agadio from B. Marcello, Arioso della Cantata n.156 from Bach and Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna just to name a few. 

Holy Communion: Some examples for this moment can be: Ave Maria from Schubert, Ave Maria from Gounod, Ave Verum from Mozart, Panis Angelicus from C. Franck, Thais Meditation from Massenet, Largo dell’inverno from A.Vivaldi, Domine Deus dal Gloria from Vivaldi and Intermezzo da Cavalleria Rusticana from Mascagni. 

Signs: Here in Italy, you have to sign their book to register your Catholic wedding, here the priests are more flexible and you can ask if you can play a not consecrated, normally they are ok with Minuetto from Boccherini, Romeo and Giulietta from N. Rota, Hallelujah from Lonard Cohen, Intermezzo Cavalleria from Mascagni, Gabriel’s Oboe from Morricone or La Califfa from Morricone.  

Recessional: Here the classics are Marcia Nuziale from Mendelssohn, La Rejouissance from Water Music from Handel, Hornpipe from Handel, Hallelujah from Handel, Primavera from Vilavdi (I mov.), Hallelujah from Cohen, Inno alla Gioia from Beethoven, Trumpet Voluntary from Clarke and Trumpet Tune from Purcell. 

If you want to learn more about the Catholic wedding ceremony in Italy, I wrote a blog post about it here.


Protestant, Civil or Symbolic ceremony

For these kinds of wedding ceremonies, you don’t have to necessarily choose classical music because they are less strict than the Catholic one, since they don’t take place in a church.

You can go with Jazz, Folk, Swing, World Music. Instrumental versions of the pop songs are allowed too.


Choose the music that sounds like you for your wedding reception: a band or a DJ

If you prefer a live band

There are dozens of live bands in every Italian region, so no matter what kind of music you like, from pop to country, you will find a band that is right for you. The live music creates that unique atmosphere recorded music rarely gets, it is fun, it can be personalized and guests usually love it.

You will still need some recorded music though because bands usually don’t play for 4 hours straight and need some time for a break.

Also, during aperitivo or dinner, guests usually want to speak to each other and to the bride and groom, this is why lounge, soft music will work out better. You may want the band to play during this time too but keep in mind it has to be something instrumental in the background to give space to communication and speeches.


If you prefer a DJ

The band usually plays for 3-4 hours with breaks, so in the inter I highly suggest having a DJ to cover the band’s breaks so the party doesn’t stop, and also to perform after the band is gone. If you don’t want to hire a band, the DJ takes care since you start the wedding reception playing the background music, then continues with the first dance song, the cake cutting song, and the party until the hour you agreed upon.

Something you need to know about the DJs is that the European ones and Italian are no exceptions, won’t do animation. They will play the songs, seize the atmosphere of the dance floor but don’t expect them to entertain your guests by telling jokes or inviting them to dance.

Some couples want the guests to contribute to the playlist by passing to the DJ the messages with the songs they want to play. As nice as it may sound, it can be risky; Marilyn Manson at your classical wedding reception-risky! If you don’t want your grandma to be too shocked, decide the list of the no-goes with the DJ beforehand. If you don’t want YMCA or the chicken dance to be in your wedding video, it can be easily arranged. 

A good Dj feels the audience and knows when to accelerate, so more people will hit the dance floor and when to stop. They will alternate slow and fast songs and will do their best to make your guests enjoy themselves. 


A list of Italian songs for your wedding

Here are some famous Italian songs you can introduce into your wedding reception playlist:

1. O, sole mio

2. Volare

3. Funiculi-Funicula

4. Tu vuò fa’ l’Americano

5. Tarantella Napoletana

6. I Sing Ammore

7. La Donna è Mobile 

Bonus: This one is NOT Italian but people immediately relate it to Italy:

That’s Amore


You can also look for the famous songs of the region of Italy where you are getting married and choose some of them for your wedding playlist. For Tuscany one of the famous ones for a slow dance is Con te partirò by Andrea Boccelli. 

The most important thing about your wedding playlist is that it must be about you. We all know how music helps us evoke some good memories. When your favorite song or the one that was an important part of your love story will play at your wedding, it will be reassuring and will help you enforce your bond with the person you chose as your life partner. 


What is the song you envision at your wedding? Let me know in the comments.


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