Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ceremony Music by Spotify

We love music, so I wanted it to be a big part of our wedding ceremony.

We decided to use a Spotify offline playlist, played from an iPod, hooked up to some decent computer speakers. I wasn't sure how that was going to go over, so I spent many days beforehand Googling suggestions, many of which were that it would be much easier just to pay a DJ to come do the music. I disagreed. Not everyone has money to do that - we certainly didn't.

Bottom line, I'm writing this post about our very positive experience in case anyone is thinking of doing the same thing. I wish I could have found something to this effect - it would have eased my nerves a bit.

You'll Need 

  • A Spotify premium subscription. It costs $9.99 per month and you can use the same account on multiple mobile devices.
  • An iPod Touch. You could probably use a phone, but if someone calls you during the ceremony, even a telemarketer, it could ruin everything.
  • Speakers or access to a sound system. We used a small sub with two peripheral computer speakers - a setup easily connected to an iPod via auxiliary cord 
  • A playlist. We'll get to that. 
  • A responsible person to control the tunes. Someone you trust, who understands how to use an iPod.


  • If you're creating your own ceremony, figure out where you'll need music and have fun with it! If you're more restricted, ask your officiant where music might be appropriate. 
  • Download the Spotify app (for an iPod, from the iTunes Store).
  • At a computer, make a playlist using your Spotify premium account OR make one from any account and subscribe to it later using a mobile device that's logged into the premium account.
  • Set the playlist so that it's available offline on the mobile device of your choosing. If you're using a iPod Touch, you need Wi-Fi long enough to "download" the playlist. Spotify lets you download temporary files to your iPod which last 30 days, at which point you'll lose access and have to log back in and re-download.
  • Test your setup wherever you plan to have the ceremony, preferably with some of the same songs you'll be using to see how they sound and how loud they should be.
  • Designate a responsible person to control the music. Give them a script for the ceremony with cues for where they should play each song. 


  • Don't make people sit there and listen to entire five-minute-long songs. Choose music that can be faded in and out as the ceremony moves along. I stressed about this, worrying about cutting off lyrics, but the transitions will sound better than you might think.
  • Keep the playlist in order for easy use.
  • Give your person a script and a copy of the playlist in advance so they have time to study their cues and familiarize themselves with the music. I had my brother (who was also an usher) do it, and he and his girlfriend knocked it out of the park - but by giving him his cues the night of the rehearsal rather than earlier, we inadvertently caused him more stress than was necessary. If I could do it all over again, I would have been more prepared for his sake and mine. 
  • Practice with the music the night of the rehearsal.
  • Use the music to cue actions in the ceremony (look at my list to see what I mean).
  • Use an iPod rather than a phone to avoid interruptions. 
  • Download and check your playlist a few days before so you know it's good to go.
  • Make sure your device is charged before the ceremony. (In this case it doesn't hurt to have a second mobile device, even if it is a phone, as a backup.)
  • Make sure the music is not too loud, but that it can be heard from any seat.  
  • Relax. You'll have so much to pay attention to during the ceremony, you won't be as worried about the music as you might think.

Now for the fun part - Our Playlist!

These songs played on a loop starting half an hour before the ceremony start: 
Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am 
The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone With You
Dave Matthews Band – Where Are You Going
The Avett Brothers – Living Of Love
When this song began, it was a cue for the ushers to seat the parents of the bride and groom, and when they were seated, the officiant and the men took the stage (only the girls walked down the aisle).
Band of Horses – No One's Gonna Love You
From there it went straight into the processional song -
Bon Iver – Towers
And then into an instrumental for the bride and her father, just to help it stand out. NOTE: If you use something other than the bridal march like we did, it may not be obvious right away that the congregation should stand ;)
Vitamin String Quartet – Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (String Quartet Tribute to Arcade Fire)
We used the first verse of a song - a clip, not a reading - as our "reading." It required some set up by the officiant to not be awkward, but it turned out nice. ;)
The Decemberists – Red Right Ankle
We did a Unity Ceremony with sand to this song:
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
And last, but not least, after our first introduction as Mr. & Mrs. - we walked out to this:
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

I don't want to brag, but we got a lot of compliments about the music ;) We enjoyed it anyway, and that's all that really matters. Brides, it can be done!


  1. Terrific post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Many thanks!
    event locations

  2. Wow,so much detail. Thanks especially for the list of songs.

  3. Thank you for the information. I was thinking about using Spotify for my own wedding. It's nice to see you had a positive experience with it. You also had great songs.

  4. My wedding is in two weeks. I'm still working on my spotify playlists. I have one for the ceremony and am working on the reception. I was just planning on doing 3 different playlists: one for the cocktail hour, one for the dinner/early dancing, and then one for the later evening dancing (transitioning from the super family friendly, grandma friendly and more slow and mellow to the more upbeat dance music). I was just thinking we would do them on shuffle. From everything I'm reading now it sounds like everyone creates their playlist in the order they want the songs?? This is overwhelming for me to try to figure out what goes in what order etc...Can I just get away with shuffle with a good fade time? And can you easily set up the fade time on spotify because I haven't gotten to this yet. I'm getting nervous ;)

  5. Vicki, if you're worried about controlling the flow from family friendly music to upbeat dance music, I would steer clear of shuffle. Fade can be controlled on Spotify - if you're using a computer go to edit > preferences; if you're using a mobile device you can find it under settings, but remember, you need to have Spotify premium or you're going to get commercials.

    If you're really worried about it, I would find a family member or friend to monitor the music. I really need to stress that we ONLY used Spotify for the ceremony, and had a trusted person (my brother) controlling the flow of the songs. We hired a DJ for the reception. Not saying you can't use Spotify for the reception, but you really can't beat a DJ for announcing the wedding party, and keeping the reception moving along. If you use Spotify for your ceremony, you probably need someone to do announcements, like the bouquet toss and garter toss, dollar dance if you're going to do one, etc. Good luck! Don't stress too much. It'll be great. Besides, enjoy it while you can because it's only one night and then all you have is the memories. And a husband of course ;) It's the marriage part that really counts.

    1. I meant "If you use Spotify for your RECEPTION, you probably need someone to do announcements, like the bouquet toss and garter toss..."

  6. How did you do the reception music? Did you do a playlist for that as well?

  7. can you download the spotify music to a usb drive and use your laptop to play the music offline?
    or if we use an ipad, download all songs to that (make a playlist) while on wifi a few days or whatever before your event and this will allow you to play the music from the laptop/ipad/ipod offline without any wifi?

  8. Hi, I have been listening through my playlist and noticed that there can be quite big gaps between a song finishing and another starting. Did you find that this was obvious on the day?

    1. You can set your account for hapless playback. You can even have songs overlap and fade into one another.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. You can set your account for gapless playback. You can even have songs overlap and fade into one another.

    4. You can set your account for gapless playback. You can even have songs overlap and fade into one another.

  9. Thanks so much for this incredibly helpful post! My fiance and I are trying to decide if we want a dj, I have a friend who's husband is a dj, or if we would rather set up our own playlist. Do you maybe have any thoughts on the pros and cons of each one? That would be so helpful in the decision making process. Thanks again for such a great post and congratulations on your wedding!

  10. Hello is there a way to pre -fade songs or shorten them in our playlist so that they are ready to go on wedding night rather then someone having to manually fade song to shorten it? Many thanks x