Irish Music for Celtic Themed Wedding Ceremonies: Religious and Secular Songs From Ireland for Marriages

Before selecting Irish music for their wedding, couples must make decisions about what type of ceremony they will be having. Knowing the religiousness, location, duration, and included events for the marriage service are important for making selections for what type of Celtic songs will be played during the wedding ceremony.

Times for Music in Irish or Celtic Wedding Ceremonies

Depending on the type of wedding, couples may need to choose:

  • Music for a Processional or Recessional
  • Hymns to be sung by guests as part of a religious service
  • Instrumentals to be used during events in the ceremony, such as the lighting of a unity candle or communion
  • Songs for vocal soloists

Irish Music for a Wedding Processional or Recessional

  • Processionals and Recessionals are usually instrumental in order to keep focus on the entering or departing wedding party rather than a singer.
  • Music for entering and exiting the ceremony typically does not need to be religious in nature, even if the service is held inside a place of worship.
  • Music written by classical Irish composers played on an organ, piano, or recorded CD can be used for wedding processionals and recessionals. Such songs include “Marble Halls” by Michael William Balfe, “Number 2 from 5 Bagatelles” by Howard Ferguson, “Romance in E Flat Major” by John Field, and many of the songs by Sean O’Riada.
  • Alternately, couples may elect to have their wedding processional and recessional accompanied by Irish bagpipes. The Uilleann Irish bagpipes set a festive tone and can be played live by a piper or played from a recorded CD.

Irish Hymns for Wedding Ceremonies

  • Some wedding church services have guests sing hymns. For this type of service, selecting a Celtic song adds a special touch to an Irish themed wedding.
  • Alternately, an Irish hymn can be sung by a soloist for ceremonies in religious places of worship that do not permit secular songs to be utilized during the service.
  • Some classic Irish and Celtic hymns include “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil Frances Alexander, “Be Thou My Vision” by Saint Dallan Forgaill, “The Lord is My Shepherd” by Charles Villiers Stanford, and “Benediction” by Keith Getty.
  • If couples choose to utilize pre-recorded as opposed to music, they might elect to purchase a CD of traditional hymns that are familiar for guests but not written by Irish composers such as “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” and “On Eagle’s Wings.” Many audio CDs are available with famous hymns played in a Celtic style by folk musicians.

Irish Folk Songs for Wedding Soloists and Ceremony Instrumentals

  • Traditional Irish and Celtic folk songs make wonderful choices for music at an Irish themed wedding.
  • Irish folk songs are appropriate choices for soloists at secular weddings as they contain no religious references.
  • Some places of worship may allow Irish folk songs to be sung during the ceremony as well, and if not, they typically will permit the instrumental music of the song to be played during the wedding.
  • Popular Irish folk songs suited for weddings include, “The Dimming of the Day,” “My Lagan Love” by Seosamh MacCathmhaoi, “The Rose of Tralee,” “Snowy Breasted Pearl,” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

Things to Consider When Selecting Music for an Irish Theme Wedding

Ultimately, couples should choose ceremony music that reflects their tastes. Even if an Irish song is not solely about love, it may be incorporated into the service if it is a favorite of the couple. Music for an Irish or Celtic theme wedding can be performed in Gaelic or English and is often paired with Irish readings to reflect the wedding theme.

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