Choosing the music for your wedding ceremony is one of the more fun parts of the planning process. The ceremony is the main event, after all, and selecting the right music will give the event the ambiance that you want when you say your vows.
There is more to consider, though, than the main processional song. Ceremony music starts when the guests begin to arrive and doesn’t end until they’ve moved on to the next wedding event.
So keep these factors in mind when selecting the music for your wedding ceremony.
The Basics of Wedding Ceremony Music
First thing’s first: what’s your wedding style? This will inform your music choices. A traditional cathedral wedding will require classic music. But a ceremony full of pop culture references and a hot pink wedding dress may call for more eclectic choices.
If you’re somewhere in the middle of these two styles — which most weddings are — you have a lot of choices. Many couples want instrumental versions of their favorite songs. For example, The Piano Guys do a beautiful cover of A Thousand Years. And Vitamin String Quartet does lots of great covers. Here’s one of our favorites.
Live vs. Recorded Wedding Music
Live music is great, but there are some things to remember. First, there’s the cost. You’ll pay a premium for live musicians — in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Next, you’ll need to keep your space in mind. If your ceremony is outside, for example, you’re looking at a keyboard, not a rich grand piano.
Sound disperses outside, so a solo harp or violin will get lost among the chatter of the guests. You’ll need more musicians outdoors than in, which will also increase the cost of your ceremony music.
And remember that the musicians have to learn the music you’ve selected. Make sure they have ample time for this, so they can perform at their best on your wedding day.
Types of Wedding Ceremony Music
There are four main types of ceremony music. Here, we explain what each is and provide some options that you could use for each. But these are just suggestions. There are no right or wrong answers here, folks. Your wedding music is completely personal and can be whatever makes your hearts happy.
Prelude music is ambient music played while your guests are arriving, mingling, and finding their seats before the ceremony begins. It helps to set the tone for the event, so it should fit in with the overall vibe of the rest of your ceremony.
Some popular choices that may have the right feel:
- Over the Rainbow by Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’ole
- In My Life by The Beatles
- Just about anything by the Guitar Tribute Players
This is the music that will accompany the wedding party as they walk down the aisle. This could include flower girls, ring bearers, attendants, parents of the couple, and finally the bride(s) — if there is one.
When making your choice, keep in mind the number of attendants and the distance they have to walk. If it’s a long aisle and a big wedding party, you’ll need a piece of music that’s long enough to match. If it’s only a few people and a short walk, make sure that your favorite part of the song is cued up so it will match up with the procession.
Processional music is often slow, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make an upbeat selection if you prefer to start the ceremony on a joyful note.
Here are some common (and uncommon) favorites:
- Canon in D by Pachelbel — this is a classic, but there are dozens of versions with different instrumentation. How about this electric guitar version from the early days of YouTube?
- How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding
- From the Ground Up by Dan + Shay
- Forrest Gump Theme by Alan Silvestri
- Your Song covered by United Guitar Players
- I Choose You by Sara Bareilles
Not all weddings call for interlude music. Some couples choose to have a musical moment as a feature of the ceremony. This is especially nice if a friend or family member can perform the song live.
Photo by Valerie Michelle Photography
Interlude music can also be used as a backdrop for ceremony events, like lighting a unity candle or doing a sand ceremony.
Here are a few tunes we love:
- Marry Me by Train
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours by Stevie Wonder
- Speechless by Dan + Shay
- All of Me by John Legend
- Better Together by Jack Johnson
- Can’t Help Falling in Love covered by Haley Reinhart
After the ceremony is over, the happy couple turn to leave the site. They’re usually accompanied by something upbeat to send them off on a high note.
Photo by Dani Leigh Photography
The recessional song marks the transition from the more serious tone of the ceremony to the celebratory feel of the reception. So it’s nice to pick an upbeat tune like one of these:
- This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole
- You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates
- You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
- I’m a Believer by Smash Mouth
- All You Need is Love by The Beatles
- Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Need help selecting your wedding ceremony music? Our expert DJs can help narrow down your choices to create the ambiance you want for your big day!
Header image by Photography By Brea
Monday, June 22, 2020