Choosing the Music for Your Jewish Wedding
Whether your dream to is to walk down the aisle to Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé’s “Perfect” duet or a classical composition is more your style, the music you select – whether live or pre-recorded – for your wedding day can set the tone (pun intended!) and help make it wholly your own.
1. Guests Arrival
Wedding prelude music can set the mood and slowly build to the processional and the start of the formal ceremony. “Yedid Nefesh” (“Lover of My Soul”) and “Ozi V’Zimrat Yah” (God’s Song is My Liberation), both commonly sung on Shabbat, have slow, inviting melodies that many consider perfect for the prelude and allow guests to ease into the events to come.
2. The Processional
For the walk down the aisle to the chuppah, some couples choose music that evokes the beauty and importance of this sacred day. One of the most commonly used pieces of processional music is “Dodi Li,” a song that exudes romantic and rich imagery, and literally translates to My Beloved is Mine. Another favorite is “Erev Shel Shoshanim” (Evening of Roses), which has become so synonymous with love and marriage that many consider it to be a Jewish version of “Here Comes the Bride.”
3. The Ceremony
Many couples choose to add a musical selection to the wedding ceremony. If you don’t use “Erev Shel Shoshanim” during the processional, consider using it during the ceremony instead. Another popular choice is the Israeli folk song, “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” or “Jerusalem of Gold.” Of course, you may want to select music that, even it it’s not decidedly “Jewish,” resonates with you and your partner, reminds you of each other, or is otherwise personally meaningful to you. If you have a friend or relative who is a musician, consider asking your officiating rabbi or cantor about inviting them to share a piece of music, which not only personalizes your ceremony, but also allows a loved one to honor you with their music.
4. The Recessional
You’ve stomped on the glass and sealed it with a kiss, and your guests have joyously cheered, clapped, and shouted “mazel tov!” The music at this moment should be upbeat and energetic. The clear-favorite Jewish recessional song is “Siman Tov u’Mazal Tov” (“Good Luck and Congratulations”). Other options are “Od Yishama” (“It Will Be Heard”), which refers not only to the newlyweds, but also to the Jewish people as a whole, symbolizing the collective unity that comes with this sacred bond. Another lively and fun song is “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem,” or “We Brought You Peace,” which signifies the sense of shalom (wholeness) that comes from the union of two souls.
No matter what music you choose for your wedding, be sure to select pieces that best reflect you and your partner and the love you share. Listen to these other musical selections for additional ideas for music for your wedding.
Chris Harrison is the writer and editor for Audacious Hospitality at the Union for Reform Judaism and a fellow in the 2018 JewV’Nation Fellowship’s Jews of Color Leadership Cohort. A graduate of Miami University in Oxford, OH, he holds a degree in creative writing and film studies. He grew up at Payne A.M.E. Chapel in Hamilton, OH, and converted to Judaism at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, MI, to reconnect to his ancestral roots. He is the co-author of an essay, “If Not Now When, If Not Together, then Never,” that appears in Holding Fast: Jews Respond to American Gun Violence. Chris has a passion for writing, Jewish studies, cinema, and staying active while at the gym and exploring New York City.