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Strictly Country Northwoods Country Wedding title

Music for the perfect Northwoods country wedding.

 

By: The staff at Strictly Country

 

   It’s a warm July night and the stars are brightly shining overhead as they walk hand in hand down to the river.  The warmth of her hand as it rests so comfortably in his, sends shivers down his spine.  Fear grips his heart as his nerves tense with anticipation.  This is the night, he knows that this is the night.

   From the first moment that he saw her, he had fallen head over heels for her.  Her bright blue eyes that soften to a deep shade of night blue when she  kisses him.  That smile, oh that beautiful smile that fills his heart with happiness. Just thinking about her, his body and soul swells with warmth.  He never knew that he was missing something, not until he met her.

  The last couple of years have been like a dream for her.  She never knew that she could connect with someone as she has connected with him.  He’s funny, witty and his smile melts her heart and fills her soul with joy.  His eyes, so blue, an ice blue that does not reflect cold but comfort, passion and tenderness. She cherishes the time spent with him as he fulfills a void she never knew existed.

   He lets her lead them to a pier down on the river.  He thinks it’s the perfect place as he helps her spread out a blanket on the wood floor of the dock.

   It’s the 4th of July, America’s birthday, and he can not think of a better time.  All around them people come and people go, and the children laugh with excitement as parents light sparklers for them.  But they are oblivious to all of that as they sit on the pier, with their legs hanging down towards the water, talking.

   It’s 10 o’clock when the first firecracker is launched.  By the tenth, he has his arm draped over her should holding her tight, as she oos and awes over the spectacular display.

   It’s now or never.  He gathers up his nerves and reaches in his jeans pocket for a small box.  He kisses her on the corner of her forehead and she turns to look at him, and smiles.  He leans in and plants a passionate kiss upon her soft lips.

   Boom, bang, bust; the dazzling display of fireworks responds and enhances the pure raw emotions coursing through them.  He looks her directly in the eyes and says…

   “I love you.”

   She responds with a soft “I love you.”
   It took every ounce of energy to bring him to this point.  All of his muscles are tense and the stress of the situation is unbearable.  He takes a deep breath and says the three words he has been practicing since they met…

   “Will you marry me?”

   He opens the box to reveal a ring that he hopes she will like.  Its not one of those fancy rings with a diamond so big that the moon reflects off it.  But it’s not so small that one would need a magnifying glass to see it.  He thinks it’s perfect, just for her.

  For a split second, her pupils get large and then they reside back to their normal size.  Seconds seem like hours as he waits for her answer. 

   “Always…” she whispers.

   Always?  Panic fills his heart as he anxiously asks “Does that mean Yes?”

   She reaches up with her right hand and tenderly touches his left cheek.  She gently kisses his lips.  Fear has taken hold of him, while in his mind he replays her answer over and over—always.

   When they finally part, she looks deep into his eyes.  It feels like time has stopped.  At last she smiles and says the word he has always wanted to hear from her…

   “Yes.”

   The night sky is lit ablaze with the vast colors of the rainbow.  In the background they can hear the crowds cheering for the display of fireworks.  In his mind, all he wants to do is stand up and scream…

   “She said YES!”

   Whew!  Some people believe that the proposal part is the hardest act, when in reality it’s the planning of the wedding ceremony that is quite challenging. From the first moment that you tell your family and friends their reaction to your good news soon turns into ideas, suggestions and even demands on how your wedding ceremony should be.  Insert the mothers and then the simple task of getting married can turn into a disaster.

   - Best man, check.

   - Maid of honor, check.

   - Groom’s men, check.

   - Bride’s maids, check.

   - Venue, check.

   - Photographer, check.

   - Preacher, check.

   - Invitations, check.

   - Music… oh no!

   In the chaos of planning the perfect Northwoods country wedding, one can certainly forget the most essential part of the wedding—the music.  Please don’t break down and flip a lid, because we have you covered on that part.  We may not be wedding planners, but we do know our music.

   Nearly a decade ago, we were asked about what songs would make for the perfect wedding as the couple asking was unsure about the music portion of their ceremony.  Two weeks later, we had gone through our entire collection of music and compiled a list of the most suitable songs to help create the perfect wedding.  We continue to add to this list as more and more music becomes available.  You may have never heard many of the songs on this list, but we can assure you that each and everyone of them belongs. These songs can be used within the ceremony or during the celebration at the dance. Here is Strictly Country’s list of perfect songs to enhance your Northwoods country wedding…

   We begin with “23 Degrees And South” recorded by Billy Currington.  Performed in a gentle and subtle melody, this one speaks about staying together no matter what life brings.

   Love has always been one of the main subjects found amongst the lyrics of a country song.  Crystal Gayle gives a heartfelt performance in her song “A Long And Lasting Love.”  Throughout the song, she sings about the bond that grows between two people when they are in love.

   Randy Travis has recorded many love songs over the years, some of which people have used in their wedding ceremonies.  If you like his style, then you may want to seek “Always And Forever,” “Forever And Ever, Amen,” and “Forever Together.”

      We continue with a beautiful ballad recorded by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band called “Bless The Broken Road.”  The verse “This much I know is true, that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you” says it all.

   You may not know who our next artist is, nonetheless, this is a fast paced fun song perfect for a wedding dance.  Of course we are talking about Sonny James and his song “Born To Be With You.”
   Throughout her career, Martina McBride has entertained us with a wide variety of songs.  She hits this list with her song “Born To Give My Love To You.”  It’s the chorus that captures our attention with “As sure as stars light the midnight sky; as sure as children wonder why; as sure as newborn babies cry; I was born to give my love to you.”

   Mark Collie takes a similar approach as the previous song with his single “Born To Love You.”  However in this upbeat tempo song, the message is found within each of the verses as the chorus consists of a three-peat of the title.

   When Kenny Rogers released his song “Buy Me A Rose,” people were inspired by its strong message of true love.  One may not think of including it within their list of wedding songs, but we chose to add it to our list. Weddings serve as a reminder to the people who have been married a while to refresh, replenish and revive the love they had when they first were married.  Adding this song to your list not only makes for a wonderful dance song, it also acts as a reminder to long term couples.

   If it’s true love that you hold with your partner, then perhaps you may enjoy Chris Young’s “Center of My World.”  This song starts with a weak verse, but it builds as it progresses.  Nonetheless, it’s the chorus “Oh Girl, you’re the center of my world; that place in my universe; to me you’re every dream I dream; the air I breathe, my everything…” that says it all.

   In 2004, we introduced you to a new entertainer named Eddy Bush when he released his self-entitled debut album.  On this album he included a beautiful song called “Dancing With A Friend.”  We add this song to this list as it would make for the perfect song to begin and or end the wedding dance with.

   Our next song, “Devoted To You” has been recorded by a wide range of artists.  However, it was the 1958 version by The Everly Brothers that made it popular.  This song is not to be confused with Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You.”  The Everly Brothers song speaks about love while Olivia’s song speaks about heartache.  It’s “Devoted To You” that we add to our list with it’s message of adoration.  In addition, we did find a song that Olivia recorded called “Let Me Be There” to add to this list.

   The newest trend in wedding ceremonies is dancing down the aisle.  Whether you are in a church or outside, you will be a hit if you are dancing to Gordon Mote’s enjoyable song, “Do You Believe In Love.”  On the flip side, this is a great song to get everyone on the dance floor with!

   Hailing from Ireland, Pete Kennedy has brought a touch of that unique Irish sound in his song “Do You Take This Girl.”  As you dance like the fairies, you will be reminded of the moment you say ’I Do’ when you hear the lyrics to this one.

   John Berry is a very passionate singer.  Throughout his career he has performed some of the most beautiful and heart felt love ballads.  This list would not be complete unless we included some of John’s songs.  From his repertoire we pulled “Faithfully,” “Since The Day That I Met You,” “I Give My Heart,” “Will You Marry Me,” and his ever popular “Your Love Amazes Me.”  All of these are great songs to add to your list.

   The group Alabama was another to entertain us with a wide variety of heart felt love ballads.  While “Feels So Right” uses sexual innuendos, it’s some of their other songs that you need to seek.  These songs include “Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go,” “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You,” “Love Remains,” “How Do You Fall In Love,” and “You’re The World.”  You may want to seek their song “Will You Marry Me,” as it truly speaks about love and the wedding ceremony.

   Another good song to add to your list of dance songs comes from Kenny Chesney with his song “Fall In Love.”  But it’s his song “You Had Me From Hello,” that is perfect for any wedding ceremony.  Another great song that Kenny adds to this list is “Me And You,” with it’s poetic lyrics that captures the pure understanding of a relationship.

   We came upon a song that really does not belong on this list, but we will mention it anyway.  “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)” is a song that has been recorded by at least twenty-five different artists since its 1940 debut.  From the country genre it was recorded by Doris Day, Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley.  This one is sure to trip anyone up on the dance floor with it’s fast paced beat.

   John Michael Montgomery kind of disappeared in recent years.  From his 2008 album, Time Flies, we pulled a wonderful proposal song with “Forever.”

   Reba McEntire is another artist who has entertained us with a variety of songs throughout the years.  However, when we take a closer look at her repertoire, we could only find “Forever Love” to bring to this list.  We can certainly see this one performed during the ceremony, especially when the bride or the groom is in the Military as it speaks about the power of love when two people are miles apart.  When we took another look at her collection we found “With You I Am.”  It’s the chorus that captures our interest— “With you I am free to be myself; with you I can trust somebody else; with you I show the deepest part of who I am; with you I learned the meaning of giving it all and being in love…”  This chorus shows the authentic and genuine side of a relationship.

   If it’s a light hearted mentality you want to bring to your wedding then seek Neal McCoy’s “Forever Works For Me.”  Performed in more of a pop, boy band melody, the message in the song talks about being together day after day, year after year and forever.

   Perhaps the best song to set the scene for any wedding comes from Shania Twain and Bryan White with “From This Moment On.”  One could make their wedding ceremony a memorable one by using this song at the beginning of the ceremony as the procession of the parents, grandparents, groom’s men and bride’s maids walk down the aisle. The song would become the crescendo to the arrival of the Bride.  Thus creating a long lasting memorable moment, not only for the couple, but more so for the guests.

   That song was the only song within Shania’s inventory that we could find.  Bryan White, on the other hand, gave us two more songs with “God Gave Me You” and “Heaven Sent.”

   One of the most underrated entertainers in country music is Richie McDonald.  Richie is one of the few of today’s entertainers who has the skill and capability to truly capture a moment or an emotion within his songs.  As a solo artist he brings to this list two songs with “I’ll Be Waiting” and “Growing Old Together.”  “I’ll Be Waiting” is not your typical wedding song, but to Military couple it is one to seek.  One of our favorites to play around the office is “Growing Old Together,” as this song is one more for older couples.  More so it would make for a great song to play during the dance as you dedicate it to all the previously married couples, including parents and grandparents.  When Richie was with Lonestar, they released “I’ll Die Trying.”  This heartfelt ballad speaks about being each other’s rock to lean on.

   If we were to choose the most underrated entertainer in country music, it would have to be Kelly Lang.  Lang is an incredible songwriter who maintains an elegant voice as well.  Lang gives us a beautiful heartfelt ballad with her song “I’m Not Going Anywhere.”  Ms. Lang is the wife of T.G. Sheppard and together they have created some amazing songs.  Even so, from T.G.’s catalog we added his song “You’re My First Lady” to this list.

   If you are a hard core, today’s country music fan then you want to seek Jake Owen’s “Hard Not To Love You.”  Although, we highly suggest not using it during the ceremony due to it’s hard country melody.

   So many talented people fall into the abyss of lost entertainers.  One that comes to mind is Memarie.  With a little more experience she could have emerged to become one of country’s top female artists.  We are so grateful that she put to tape two versions of her song “Heaven.”  The first contains vocals while the second is pure instrumental, in case you have your own vocalist who wants to sing this wonderful ballad.

   Another artist that fell into that abyss was Glenn Cummings.  Although he still performs locally in his home town in Florida, he gave up his national career.  From his national debut album Big, we pulled “Loving You Is Easy.”  You can find this song and album in our online shop on our website.

   When we first heard Daniel Lee Martin in 2003, we were stunned by his sheer talent especially when we heard “If I Was An Angel.”  This one speaks volumes about the things we would give up in the name of love.  Nonetheless, it is his “Until You” that is perfect for the ceremony as it amplifies how we become whole with the love of our significant other as it rides a gentle country melody.

   There are several songs on our list that come from unknown artists.  We suggest that you seek these songs, because you never know which will hit you as it speaks the words that you may have difficulty saying.  These songs include “People Fall In Love” by Mason Douglas, “Meant To Be” by Tucker, “Just Me And You” by Brian Burke Band, “I Will” by Jimmy Wayne, “Thanks To You” by Charlie Allen, “Look What You’ve Done” by Cody McCarver, and from the bluegrass side “Perfect Love” by Ronnie Bowman.  We found a song that David Kersh recorded to add to this list with his “Until Now.”

   Another song we found in Bluegrass that hits this list comes from Rhonda Vincent when she teams up with Russell Moore in “I Give All My Love To You.” 

   Through the years we have heard many songs written by one or the other that makes up Thrasher Shiver.  Perhaps the best song that they wrote is a beautiful ballad called “You And I Belong.” This one is sure to enhance any ceremony with its message of love that rides a gentle melody worthy of a church ceremony.  The entire song is quite elegant and definitely fits into any wedding.

   We find it interesting that with a voice like LeAnn Rimes, that she does not record more songs that would hit this list.  Nevertheless, her song “How Do I Live” basically says it all.  When searching for this song, you may come across two versions as she also recorded an extended mix version that was too long to play on country radio.  Of course, both versions make for the perfect ‘first dance’ song.

   Another song that is partially similar to the previous is “I’m Amazed.”  Recorded by Lila McCann and Jim Brickman.

   There have been some great two-step songs found in country music through the years.  Patty Loveless gives us a nice one for any wedding dance with “If My Heart Had Windows.”

   Our next song was written and originally recorded by the late Keith Whitley, however the best recording of “When You Say Nothing At All” comes from Alison Krauss.

   In his short life, Kevin Sharp touched many people with his public fight with cancer.  But it is his music that we celebrate by adding his songs “You Are The Reason Why” and “Your Love Reaches Me” to this list.

   Sammy Kershaw is a versatile artist.  Among his catalog you will find songs on just about every subject.  From this catalog we pulled “When You Love Someone,” and the two versions he did of “Love of My Life.”  The first was a solo version, but in the second he gains the help from Terri Clark.

  Speaking of Terri Clark, we found a song from her to add to this list with “Now That I Found You.”

   Very few songs become iconic songs heard in nearly every wedding that takes place.  Perhaps the first iconic wedding song came in 1982 when Crystal Gayle teamed up with Eddie Rabbitt to record “You And I.”  Nonetheless, Tracy Byrd’s song “Keeper of The Stars” also became an iconic wedding song shortly after its 1995 release. 

   Another iconic wedding song is “Wind Beneath My Wings.”  Written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley, this song is sometimes known as “Hero.”  It was originally recorded by Roger Whittaker in 1982, but it was made famous by Bette Midler for the soundtrack to the film Beaches.  This mid-tempo ballad has been recorded by many artists including Lee Greenwood and Gary Morris.

  Speaking of Lee Greenwood, we found a couple of songs from his catalog to add.  Lee sings about love in “I’ve Loved You Forever” and a fan favorite with “I Don’t Mind The Thorns (If You’re The Rose).”

   In 1984, Lee Greenwood teamed up with Barbara Mandrell in a duet called “To Me.”  This song is a song that is often passed by when it comes to wedding songs.  Nonetheless it does have everything necessary to hit this list. Although the song is best when performed as a duet, Mandrell did release a solo version of this song in the mid 1990’s.  Barbara Mandrell’s forte for music leaned more on the heartache side of love.  However, we did find two more songs among her catalog including “Have I Told You Lately” and “I Love You Because.”
   Perhaps the best love song that Ms. Mandrell recorded is one found on her Christmas album called “It Must Have Been The Mistletoe.”  It’s hard to imagine planning a wedding during the busy Christmas season, however, one can dream what endeavors that can be brought to such a ceremony.  Among our collection of Christmas songs we found George Strait’s “I Know What I Want For Christmas” to add to this list.

   Of course the holiday that speaks the most about love is Valentine’s Day.  Although every song on this list could help enhance this holiday, it was Martina McBride who truly captured its essence in her song “Valentine.”  As we searched through her songs we also found “There You Are” to add to our list.

   Some of the best music ever created was written and recorded in the 50’s, ‘60’s, ‘70’s and the early 1980s.  These songs include Don Williams’ “I Believe In You,” “My Only Love” by the Statler Brothers, Anne Murray’s “Now And Forever (You And Me),” Juice Newton’s “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)” and a great song by Bill Anderson called “When You Love Me.”  However it is Ronnie Milsap’s song “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life” that touches many.

   Although George Jones is known more for his drinking and cheating songs, we did find a couple that we had to add.  In 1977, George teamed up with Tammy Wynette to record “Near You.”  However, its his song “Walk Through This World With Me” that is sure to enhance your wedding ceremony.

  Keeping with the legends, we sought out songs by Conway Twitty.  Among his songs we found “It’s True Love” a duet he did with Loretta Lynn.  Twitty was one of many country artists who recorded the song “Unchained Melody.” Others include Joe Stampley, Elvis Presley, Ronnie McDowell and LeAnn Rimes.  Upon it’s 1955 release, this song has become a popular wedding song.

   Earlier in this article we mentioned a song that Kenny Rogers recorded.  You didn’t think that was the only one he had that would fit this list did you?  Among his catalog we also found “It’s A Beautiful Life,” “Let It Be Me” and “Love The World.”  Some even consider “Islands In The Stream,” a duet with Dolly Parton as a wedding song. 

   Speaking of Ms. Parton, well she is always singing about love.  Some of her songs that are perfect for a Northwoods country wedding include “Let Love Grow,” “Longer Than Always,” “Something Special,” “Together You And I,” and “True Blue.”  However her most requested song for weddings is “I Will Always Love You.”

   Vince Gill is another artist to look to for wedding style songs.  Amongst his works we found “When I Look Into Your Heart.”  However, recently he recorded two new songs worthy to hit this list, “Like My Daddy Did” and the beautiful ballad “You’re My Favorite Movie.”

   Alan Jackson also comes to this list with a new song called “Wings.”  Among his works we also found “Livin’ On Love” and “That’s What I’d Be Like Without You.”

   When we are looking for particular songs, like those on this list, we tend to gravitate towards our favorite entertainers or those we know.  One entertainer that often gets passed by is Wynonna Judd.  As the second part of The Judds, she recorded a wonderful song called “Love Can Build A Bridge.”  She also includes a solo version of the song too.  But it’s her song “When I Fall In Love” that will set the scene with it’s true, pure emotions.  Another one you might seek from her is “You Are.”
   There are several songs from our list that are missing in this article.  We invite you to seek these songs on our ever growing list located HERE. If you feel that we have missed a song, please let us know so we can add it to our list.  On that page you will also see songs perfect for the parent—child dance.

   We want to close out this article by mentioning two incredible songs.  The first is a new song recently recorded by Little Texas called “Take This Walk With Me.”  The second is perhaps one of the best songs for any wedding.  Of course we are talking about “From Here To The Moon And Back” by Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.

   Words of advice when you choose your music, seek the music and not the artist. There are too many times that songs are overlooked due to the unfamiliarity of the artist.  Look for the best song that speaks directly to you, rather than your favorite entertainer.  Second, seek the songs that speak to both of you, together.  This is your wedding, a union between two people. One more piece of advice—share this list with anyone planning or partaking in a wedding.

   As we raise our glasses and toast to all the lovers, we wish you many years of happiness.  But most of all we wish you both strength and love, when life happens.

© Strictly Country Magazine
Printed in the March / April 2017 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.

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