HOW TO: add some movie magic to your wedding day soundtrack

Increasingly, we’re sourcing our wedding music from the cinema – here’s how to make it a box-office smash

cinema sign

Who would have thought The Greatest Showman would become the mammoth hit it has? And not even the film itself, but the music? 

Today, well over a year since the film was released, the songs are still everywhere. We’ve got Hugh Jackman heading out on tour to deliver The Greatest Show to the masses and Pink and co belting out covers of A Million Dreams and Rewrite the Stars. Never Enough is now a first-dance favourite and This Is Me is apparently Oprah Winfrey’s jam. The whole thing is inescapable.

If you’re a film buff, theme songs will already be on your radar as possibles for your big day, but everyone can get on board. This is your starring role, after all, and Hollywood has just the soundtrack for it.

How to land on the right track? “The song may come from a date, a shared love of a movie or from a special time in your life,” offers David Cannell, who, along with Paul Hume, is one half of singing sensation Ebb & Flow. “Normally, it’s the theme song, such as A Thousand Years from the Twilight saga, Rule the World from Stardust, All of Me from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing from Armageddon or Your Song from Moulin Rouge, to name but a few.”

Cut the Cake love singing songs from musical theatre

For Glasgow quartet Strings Aloud, it’s all about committing to one genre. “I think if you want to have a specific theme, Disney has a substantial repertoire,” suggests violinist Mairi Hunter, who arranges all new music for the quartet.

“I also like the thought of sticking to one composer, such as Craig Armstrong. He has scored so many films, including Love Actually and the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo + Juliet. The Balcony Scene is a popular request from the latter. But it’s also fun to mix and match film music to accompany specific points in the day. Your friends will enjoy guessing the piece being played.”

Certain songs definitely suit certain moments, as David agrees: “My Love, My Life from Mamma Mia 2 is a poignant song about an unbreakable bond between two people embarking on a journey – that’s pretty apt for walking down the aisle. A good song for a first dance would be Always Remember Us This Way from the recent remake of A Star Is Born. Bohemian Rhapsody’s songs could be brilliant throughout the whole day: Love of My Life could be planned for the signing of the register, while Crazy Little Thing Called Love would get the dancefloor jumping.”

Once you’ve made a decision, your obvious next step is to find an act who would suit your chosen film’s style of music – or at least be familiar with it. “We enjoy turning our hand to songs from musicals,” reveals Kim Shepherd, singer with Cut the Cake. “Despite there only being five of us (and most film scores being fully orchestrated with much bigger ensembles), we will always try our absolute best to recreate your favourite movie soundtrack and make it sound as full as possible.”

Ebb & Flow posed as waiters, before surprising guests by bursting into song

Mairi has further instrumental ideas for the score. “When the bride makes her grand entrance, we could play Secret Wedding from Braveheart (we’re often asked for this because of its Scottish feel) or The Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually,” she suggests. “The signing of the register is an appropriate time to have film music. I generally recommend two pieces here.”

You might find the band or quartet already has your track, or tracks, in their current set list. “So many songs have been used in films, but for the sake of your guests, I’d say try to keep to the well-known, iconic ones,” considers Kim. “Right now, we have Footloose, Time of My Life, Time Warp, Love Me Like You Do and Can’t Stop the Feeling in our set.”

And even if your chosen band doesn’t have a film-influenced repertoire, they might be up for learning songs, provided you give them enough notice. “We would need at least two months,” admits Kim. “But it’s worth it! Lately, we were asked to learn A Million Dreams as the bride was a huge fan of The Greatest Showman. We didn’t realise that her friends were too until we started the song: they all formed a big circle around the dancefloor and sang it at the top of their voices – along with Oscar-worthy acting skills!”

“We’re best suited to mostly orchestral soundtracks where strings are already present,” says Mairi at Strings Aloud. “But You’re So Cool from True Romance has a marimba vibe that could easily be adapted by a quartet.”

With such a strong theme on the go, hamming it up is essential, we reckon. If Dirty Dancing is your one true love, why on earth are you not learning The Lift for your first dance? And if you’re throwing a Disney bash, surely the table centrepieces should borrow pretty props from Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin?

Indeed, this is the area the experts recommend you focus on. “The tables for the meal could be named after movies and the guests could follow the black-tie dress code of the Oscars and wear tuxedos and evening gowns,” offers Mairi.

Ebb & Flow are prepared to go one step further. “We once performed at a small, intimate wedding as singing waiters,” recalls David. “The couple had movie table names and we sang a small snippet of the title song from each as we moved around the room.

“In other instances, we’ve called upon the help of our extremely talented friends (they are both members of the Ayr Amateur Opera Company), whenever we need a chorus of singers, a blonde bombshell to play Sandra Dee or a choreographer to help us with some moves to suit movie routines. It brings them to life!”