Trying to decide on hymns and songs for the wedding singers at your ceremony? Alive Network are here to help! In this blog, we've compiled the ultimate guide to wedding hymns, which includes the rules, lots of advice and even our own 'Top 10 Wedding Hymns' list.
Also check out our wedding entertainment ideas & wedding ceremony musicians pages.
A church wedding is a wonderful way to start your life together, with friends and family packing the pews to watch the ceremony, maybe shedding a tear or two - and have a great time singing some terrific wedding hymns too!
Choosing from the best traditional and modern hymns, we've put together the ultimate guide to popular wedding hymns, including advice on choosing hymns if you don't go to church very often. And yes, we couldn't resist creating our own Top 10 Wedding Hymns playlist either!
If you'd like to hire in professional wedding entertaiment to lead the songs, then check out our amazing gospel choirs and classical singers, as well as our wedding ceremony music ideas page and our indepth article about choosing live music for your wedding ceremony.
Hymns At Weddings: The Rules
First of all, know the rules on hymns at weddings. Weddings in church are religious ceremonies, and you can have as many hymns, worship songs and Bible readings as time allows. You can also have non-religious songs if you wish, but you'll need to have approved them with your minister beforehand.
Civil weddings and civil partnerships, however, must not include any religious content, so hymns are not allowed. Other songs or music you would like will also need to be approved in advanced with your registrar.
Choosing Church Wedding Hymns
Choosing hymns for your wedding is much easier if you already know some! If you go to church or sing in a choir, you'll know the fabulous range of popular wedding hymns, from traditional classics to contemporary hymns. Chances are, your Mum and Dad probably know some from school days, and certainly grandparents would have sung a hymn every day at school assembly.
1. Ask your families what hymns they know
There's a very practical reason for this: if they know a hymn, they can sing it! Chances are, you'll both be too nervous to sing much during your own wedding ceremony, so hymns are as much for the guests as for you. Here are a few modern wedding hymns that are popular for C of E (Church of England) weddings:
- Praise my Soul the King of Heaven
- The Lord's My Shepherd (Crimond tune)
- Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
- Lord of All Hopefulness
- Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
- The King Of Love My Shepherd Is
2. Choose popular hymns sung at your church
Again, a practical reason; the organist will know how to play them, the choir (if you're using them) will know them, and so will the vicar, minister or priest. They are usually the hymns people like to sing too! These do vary greatly from church to church, and may include more modern hymns such as:
- Morning Has Broken / Come To A Wedding
- Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
- How Great Thou art
- Be Still, For The Presence Of The Lord
3. Choose hymns that suit your style of wedding
If your wedding ceremony is traditional in format, choose wedding hymns that suit the mood. That doesn't mean four-square hymns for four-square churches, but there is something remarkably satisfying about traditional hymn tunes played on a church organ and everyone joining in, usually in their own key! However, there is nothing that says you can't mix and match between hymn styles - as long as it's easy for people to sing.
- Jerusalem (patriotic, big sing)
- I Vow To Thee My Country / We Pledge to One Another (modern words)
- He Who Would Valiant Be (great words)
- At The Name Of Jesus (fun bouncy tune)
- Happy Day (gospel classic)
- Lord of the Dance (sadly, not all vicars will allow this)
- Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer (Cwm Rhondda tune – very Welsh!)
- Amazing Grace
- Give Me Joy in My Heart (joyful tune)
- As I Kneel Before You (gentle lilting tune)
The Alive Network Top 10 Wedding Hymns
With so many wonderful hymns to choose from, our top ten favourite wedding hymns list is drawn from what's hot at weddings in 2017, what our talented choirs and singers perform, and what we had at our own weddings!
- Amazing Grace
- Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
- All Things Bright and Beautiful*
- Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
- We Pledge to One Another
- Praise My Soul the King Of Heaven
- I Danced In The Morning (Lord of the Dance)
- Give Me Joy In My Heart
- Morning Has Broken
- Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord
* The jury is out over "All Things Bright and Beautiful". A lot of brides choose it because they know it, but it has waaaay too many verses and can be tedious to sing. If you choose it, please cut out the green woods or the purple-headed mountains!
Do I Need a Choir?
It all rather depends on how much your friends and families are happy with singing out loud in public. Many of us simply don't get the chance these days, and it can be quite intimidating. Your church may have a choir available to sing, or you can book a choir through Alive Network. Just remember that if you book a gospel choir, they will sing gospel, and probably won't do 'straight' hymns - always check first!
Alternatively, consider a professional classical singer / opera singer to lead the hymns and maybe sing a solo at the signing of the register or Communion, a lovely touch. Hymns and worship songs that make great solos include:
- On Eagle's wings
- God Be In My Head
- Be Not Afraid
- I The Lord Of Sea And Sky (Here I Am Lord)
- I Watch The Sunrise
Which Hymn Tune?
Just to confuse you even further, some hymns have alternative tunes, which is why in our playlist you'll find two versions of "Love divine" (Stainer and Blaenwern). Make sure you pick one tune and tell your organist well in advance, or they might play the wrong one!
The Ultimate Wedding Hymn List
We've compiled a MASSIVE playlist of top wedding hymns samples, available in a Spotify playlist in the sidebar on the right of this page or as a PDF download here. Where the hymn title is a link, you can click and listen to the music online.
Need help with planning music or entertainment at your wedding? Call the Alive Network team on 0845 108 5500 and we'll do our best to help, although when it comes to humming hymns down the phone, some of us can't hold a tune in a bucket!