4 BEST PRACTICES FOR LEADING WORSHIP FOR A WEDDING
How do we go about planning to lead worship for a wedding?
At some point, most worship leaders are asked to lead worship for a wedding. One of the great privileges of leading worship is to lead on the occasion of this very special day.
Practically, the couple may want to sit down and work through all the songs with you, or they may prefer to just hand you songs. What can we do to make this a great experience for everyone involved, and to serve the wedding’s purpose – which includes it being a special, unique type of worship gathering?
1. Know a wedding’s uniqueness.
2. Choose appropriate instruments.
3. Know your role; know your place.
4. Choose the right songs.
1. PRACTICE 1 – WHAT MAKES A WEDDING UNIQUE?
Know a wedding’s uniqueness.
It’s important to remember, as you plan, why a wedding is different from every other worship event. It’s the celebration day of two people who love each other and who are entering into the covenant bond of marriage.
Marriage is a sacrament; it is more than a symbol – it is a sacred action with lasting effects – an action that bonds two people in covenant before God for a lifetime.
When we consider the unique worship setting that is a wedding, we may think about themes for our music choices, such as the themes of joy, love, and beauty. These themes set the tone for the style of music, as well as the lyrical content of the songs.
There is ‘pomp and circumstance’ in weddings, special outfits, and a wide range of guests. Usually there is a program, or a set plan of events, that will put your songs into particular time slots.
There will also be a lot of activity going on before the service, and even more activity after the service. All these details to your pre-service planning, and matter to a well-planned wedding set.
2. PRACTICE 2 – CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE INSTRUMENTS
Choose the appropriate instruments.
First, sit down and talk to the couple. Ask what instruments they would like in their wedding. In some cases, they may want acoustic instruments.
In other cases, the couple may want a full band, or a unique instrument that will make their wedding stand out in peoples’ minds.
Once you have determined the instruments you’re being asked to use, start thinking about the sound equipment you will need.
Will you use the church sound equipment? Often a couple will rent a venue, and you may find yourself working with an old 1915 sound board – or at a location that has been technically decked out.
You should know what you will need according to the instruments that will be used. Ask good questions to avoid last minute surprises.
Ask detailed questions like, “When can we get into the venue to rehearse?” to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible.
3. PRACTICE 3 – KNOW YOUR ROLE, KNOW YOUR PLACE
Know your role, know your place.
For this special day, the couple is in charge of worship. If they say they want one song here, or one song there, don’t do more than they request unless they’ve indicated they would like you to be flexible and spontaneous.
They are the ones most aware of the kind of memory they want to create on their special day, and you get to be a part of making that memory.
In other words, get clear direction from them as you plan. As a worship leader, you are actually bringing some decoration, or ‘ornament,’ to a service that is designed to bring a man and a woman together as one through their wedding vows.
As we lead people to a place of worship in the midst of the wedding, the songs and hymns they have chosen (or asked you to choose) can make or break the experience.
When in doubt, just lead the songs beautifully. Adding spontaneity, in this context, can work against you. Beautiful songs are worth singing to; do the songs as planned.
4. PRACTICE 4 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT SONGS
Choose the right songs.
If they would like you to pick or contribute songs, go through your master list of worship songs and consider the themes of a wedding: celebration, the beauty of creation, songs about God’s love for us, and our love for God.
Begin to think, “Where do the themes of a typical worship song and the particular experience that is a wedding, start to cross?”
Many couples want hymns because they are poetic, melodic, and ‘transcendent,’ or because they reach the older folks in the congregation.
The couple may want songs that will stir special memories for them when they view their wedding video years later.
Choose songs that are favorites of both the bride and groom, and that create the kind of environment they are hoping for on their special day.
Use these ideas for a successful wedding set.
- Choose appropriate instruments that will serve the couple, and the worship experience.
- Know your role, and shape your set and leading to serve the end goals of the couple.
- Choose songs that are favorites of the couple, and songs that reach the demographic of the congregation.
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