17 Beautiful Ideas for Catholic Wedding Songs

catholic wedding songs
Photo by Kane and Social

A Catholic Nuptial Mass has very specific rules and regulations. From the words said at the ceremony and the photographer boundaries to the readings, a Catholic wedding is very structured.

Father Paul Turner said in The Catholic Wedding Answer Book that “When you marry in the Catholic Church, your marriage takes on a spiritual dimension that enjoys the support of a community of believers. This limits some of your choices, such as place, but it gives you the church’s assurance that the God we worship together will be an intimate part of your union.”

While there is no official list of Catholic wedding songs, most churches do have the requirement that songs are “prayerful.”

CatholicWeddingHelp.com says “The purpose of any Catholic liturgy, including a wedding liturgy, is to give glory to God and to sanctify (make holy) the worshipers. Your wedding music should reflect that purpose; in other words, it should help the assembly to pray and to give thanks to God for your love.”  Essentially, your choices are limited, but by following the rules, you can make sure your big day is completely in line with the Church.

How to Choose Your Catholic Wedding Songs

Most churches offer suggestions for Catholic wedding songs. But essentially, as long as the songs are religious in nature, they won’t be too tough on which ones are played. However, you may be surprised to learn that certain “typical” wedding songs (such as Richard Wagner’s “The Bridal Chorus”) most likely won’t be allowed, and nor will more modern hits like Adele’s Make You Feel My Love or Bruno Mars’ Marry You. Because of that, you’ll want to ask your church venue and priest if they have any guidance on music before setting your heart on a particular song. Different churches will have different requirements for Catholic wedding songs, from specific regulations to more flexible suggestions. You can also use them as a resource, since they also may be able to help you find musicians and sheet music, if your church does not have a music directory.

WGM Says: Talk to your church about how your chosen music can be played, be it pre-recorded or live musicians. If you are allowed live musicians, think about the kind you would like. For instance do you want a guitar, piano, and singer? Or maybe just one of those?

Order for a Catholic Wedding Mass

We review the order in more detail in our guide to writing your wedding ceremony script. However, there are very specific times that call for music during a Catholic wedding ceremony. Overall, you’ll need to have songs prepared for:

  • Prelude music (to be played while guests arrive)
  • The wedding processional
  • Bridal entrance song (if you want a separate song from your wedding party)
  • Gathering song (optional)
  • The Psalm (set for the day by the Church; you will be provided with it and you typically don’t have the option to change it)
  • The Presentation of the Gifts
  • Communion
  • Reflection song (optional)
  • The recessional

WGM Says: Bummed you can’t play any song you want for your processional in a Catholic church? Keep in mind you’ll have lots of opportunities to play songs you love at your reception, such as your first dance song!

The Best Catholic Wedding Songs

However, there are a lot of really beautiful Catholic wedding songs that can still wow your guests and represent you as a couple. Here are a few options:

  • Come Thou Fount is a popular processional for Catholic Nuptial Masses. If you aren’t digging the choir sound, there are some more modern versions that are really beautiful. It also sounds beautiful sung by a simple soloist.
  • In Christ Alone is a more out-of-the-box option for a processional, especially if you have a killer violinist.
  • If you love the sound of classical/traditional music, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is typically acceptable as it has religious lyrics.
  • Some Catholic Nuptial Masses will have a devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. These will typically feature the song Ave Maria. There are a million versions of this song, from the more classic to jazzy to contemporary.
  • Communion is a sacred time for Catholics. During the Presentation, Make Me a Channel of Your Peace is a popular option.
  • Here I Am Lord is another popular Catholic hymn often used during the Presentation.
  • During Communion itself, Amazing Grace works nicely.
  • A hugely popular Catholic hymn is On Eagle’s Wings. It’s often used during Communion. Everyone’s mass-attending grandma will know this one, so it’s a nice way to stay traditional.
  • Sometimes after Communion couples will have a reflection song. Lord, I Need You works great, and this particular version is awesome. If you have a duo available, this acoustic duet is also really pretty.
  • A really popular song for the recessional is Be Thou My Vision. There’s a great upbeat version if you’re looking for a joyful, celebratory feel. There is also a slower one if you want the vibe to be more on the solemn/soft side.
  • If you want to incorporate a choir, O God Beyond All Praising sounds amazing with multiple voices and can be a huge statement song for the recessional.

Looking for something less traditional? Check out our favorite unique wedding songs here!

Catholic Wedding Songs FAQ

What songs can you have at a Catholic wedding?

This will vary by church, but the overall rule is that all songs played must be “religious,” or secular in nature. While the interpretation of that will depend on your church, you will need to run all potential songs choices by your church/priest. For instance most Catholic church’s will allow songs from composer’s such as Schubert, Handel, and Purcell to be played, even though they are not overtly secular. On the other hand, some church’s will not allow Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What song does a bride walk down the aisle to in a Catholic wedding?

One of the most popular processional songs for a Catholic wedding is Canon in D from Pachelbel

Do bridesmaids walk down the aisle to a different song?

While the bride will typically choose her own song to make her big entrance, this is completely up to you. If you prefer, you can choose one song for the entire wedding party and bride to walk down the aisle to.

All products featured on Woman Getting Married are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn affiliate revenue on this article and commission when you buy something. Learn more.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. says: Tommy Guidry

    I’m an organist/music director in an R.C church. I like your article and would like to send it to couples who ask for wedding songs from the Vampire wedding on “Twilight” and such. (Really, not kidding.) However, you use the word “secular” instead of of “scared” under the heading, “What songs can you have at a Catholic wedding?” Any chance that you could make this correction? I try to educate couples who ask for inappropriate music about the difference between sacred and secular music. This would confuse them more than the already are confused! Thanks.

  2. says: John Iosefa

    Most of our songs in Catholic hymnals are borrowed from our Christian brothers of other Denominations. As far as choosing music, it may scream funeral for one person but if the song is meaningful for you and your spouse, then by all means have it at your wedding. Many times as a Music Director I will be requested a song the couple had for their wedding for a spouse’s Funeral, which is how On Eagle’s Wings and Prayer of St. Francis became customary funeral songs in the first place. The lyrics for both these songs clearly talk about God’s guidance through life, which is what couples want and pray for on their day of their wedding. I personally love Amazing Grace even though I’ve heard and played so many different arrangements out there. When you get the future looking verse “When we’ve been there 10 thousand years…” you can’t help but think, that’s what I want for my marriage, to make it through this lifetime with this person. All 3 of these songs discuss life and, yes, the end of life with some references of “lead me home”. They are beautiful for Weddings and how amazingly beautiful for your children to look at your wedding plans many years in the future and use that as a guide for your celebration of life.

    Don’t listen to short sighted people. Imagine your own wedding with the music you want. The only real rules is that the music is church appropriate and follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. e.g. Don’t expect Marvin Gaye’s “Lets get it On” to fly in a Church for Communion. Any other “this is more suited for a quiencenera” noise is the preference of that musician/liturgist. Then I would look at why you are working with that musician/liturgist. Many churches will allow you to bring in your own musician after a first right of refusal.

  3. says: Anonymous

    I have looked at tons of sites and am completely baffled by the fact that no one seems to have my favorite song we sang for my choir teacher’s nuptial mass, “When Love is Found”, and it is most definitely a Catholic Mass song as we sang it right out of the blue Gather book back in 2001.

    https://youtu.be/2FdNAGoaD2Y

    I just don’t remember which part of the Mass we sang it for. I think we wrote our own harmony for this one, and I wrote it straight into the choir version, and when they got new blue Gather books, I snuck my old one that I had always used home with me, and I think it’s still in storage.

  4. says: Anonymous

    “On Eagle’s Wings” is more suited to a funeral Mass, than a nuptial Mass… Praise & Worship songs like “Lord, I Need You” don’t work well for a traditional, catholic liturgy. “Amazing Grace” is a Protestant hymn, and better suited for a funeral…and “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” is surely Catholic, it works better for a funeral…