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Wedding Ceremony Music

Updated on May 2, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna wears many hats: writer, mother, crafter... Over the years, she has found what works and what doesn't for herself and her family.

Violins are beautiful, and evoke such romance.
Violins are beautiful, and evoke such romance.

What is a wedding without music?? Music is a key component to any wedding. Whether it be a big, formal affair, or a simple, small gathering. A wedding would not be complete without music.

So, where do you start? There is so much to think about when choosing music for a wedding. The music for the ceremony, alone, can be difficult. Unless you listen to classical music regularly, you may not know what you are looking for. Some churches will not allow you to play the tradition wedding march, so you have to find some other music. There is music for the prelude, processional, bridal entrance, interlude, and the recessional. If you are confused already, don't worry. I will cover it all, and give you suggestions and starting points for music for just about every point in your wedding ceremony and reception. It can be a lot to sort through, and it doesn't hurt to have some direction.

Air on the G String by Bach

Romeo and Juliet Love Theme by Tchaikovsky

Canon in D by Pachebel

The Wedding Ceremony

Most churches have an organist or pianist who can be hired to play at your wedding. Some churches even require you to use their musician. Others allow you to bring in recorded music. What you choose depends on these things. You may be able to have a singer perform, as well. This is all up to you, and the restrictions of the venue where you will be holding your ceremony.

Music for a wedding ceremony is broken up into different parts. There is the prelude, processional, bridal entrance, interlude and recessional. I will cover each of these, and give you some suggestions for music you may want to use.

Prelude: The prelude is a piece of music played before the ceremony. It is played as the guests arrive and are seated. The music is generally soft and light. If there is special music you want played, that you feel may not be appropriate for the ceremony itself, this is the time to play it. There may be music that is special to you and your future spouse, that you want included in the ceremony. The prelude may be a way to get those special songs in there, and still keep a traditional feel to your wedding. Here are some traditional choices that are great for the prelude:

Air on the G String by Bach

Air by Handel

Canon in D by Pachabel

Arioso by Bach

Bourree by Handel

Highland Cathedral by The Royal Irish Regiment (great Irish bagpipes!)

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach

There are many other great choices, so talk with the organist at your church, or a friend who knows a lot about classical music for other options.

Processional: The processional is played as parents are ushered in and the bridal party heads down the aisle. This piece should also be light, but can be a bit more dramatic. You will notice that several pieces of music show up on more than one list. Be careful not to choose the same piece of music for more than one part of your ceremony. Some great choices for the processional are:

Air by Handel

Air on the G String by Bach

Coronation March by Sir William Walton

Horn Pipe from Water Music by Handel

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach

Oboe Concerto by Handel

Romeo and Juliet Love Theme by Tchaikovsky

Bridal Entrance: This one is pretty self explanatory. This is the music that is played as the bride walks down the aisle, usually on the arm of her father. This is a truly special moment in a wedding ceremony. Choose something that really speaks to you. Some choices for the bridal entrance music are:

Air by Handel

Bridal Chorus by Wagner (some churches will not allow this to be played, be sure to ask!)

Canon in D by Pachabel (beautiful wedding music! a classic choice!)

Butterfly Waltz by Brian Crain (This song is truly beautiful, and is perfect for a bridal entrance)

Fanfare-Rondeau by Mouret

Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel

Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega (gorgeous classical guitar song)

Prelude in C by Bach

Interlude: Music that is played at a key moment during the ceremony, such as the candle lighting. This music should be played softly. You may choose to use a piece of music that is special to the both of you, instead of a traditional piece. This is also a popular time to include a vocalist into the ceremony. Some popular classical pieces for an interlude include:

Arioso by Bach

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel

Lasia Ch'Io Pianga by Handel

Marriage of Figaro by Mozart

Morning by Bach

Prelude in C by Bach

Romanza by Beethoven

Recessional: The recessional is played as first, the bride and groom, followed by the wedding party, make their way back down the aisle and exit the church. They are followed by the guests, starting with the parents and immediate family. This music should be celebratory and cheerful. After all, it is a time to celebrate the newly married couple! Some great pieces for a recessional include:

Allegro Maestro by Handel

Autumn by Vivaldi

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Allgero by Bach

La Traviata by Verdi

Let the Bright Seraphim by Handel

Trumpet Tune by Purcell

Hopefully, this collection of classical music will help you in selecting the perfect music for your most special day. As I said before, talk with your organist, or pianist about different choices. They have a great wealth of knowledge in regards to wedding music. I am sure they can offer you a great variety of choices. Use this list as a jumping off point. If you find some pieces you like, take those to your organist. He or she may be able to play them, or may be able to offer similar alternatives that you would greatly enjoy.

Hornpipe from Water Music by Handel

Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Allegro by Bach

Arioso by Bach

© 2009 Anna Marie Bowman


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    • profile image

      peter simons 5 years ago

      Hi there - Jewish Wedding music is definitely uplifting and memorable - read more about it here

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

      Jewish Wedding Music-- I imagine not. I am not familiar with Jewish wedding music, other than the cliché hava nagila (sorry!!) I am curious to learn more, though.

      Sofi-- I agree! Even a small, low-key wedding can be dazzling with a little classical music.

    • profile image

      Sofi 7 years ago

      Classical music just seems to add something extra special to a wedding! Thanks for your list

    • profile image

      Jewish Wedding Music 8 years ago

      Great music choices! As you can imagine Jewish wedding music is a bit different and the cliché of hava nagila is not what it's really about.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 9 years ago from Florida

      Mama-- I think that would be fun!!! I love Adam Sandler, and The Wedding Singer!!! I agree, some mistakes are not meant to be repeated!

    • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

      Shannon 9 years ago from New York

      "White Wedding" by Billy Idol!!!!! (Adam Sandler style) is going to be my wedding theme song the NEXT time I get married! (NOTICE: I WILL NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE!)


      Great hub Anna!


    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 9 years ago from Florida

      Elena-- I love classical music, especially for a wedding!! I know a lot of people are going with more pop songs, and for some, that may be what they want. I wanted to give people some traditional suggestions, that they may not be familiar with. I have seen people do their reception entrance to some crazy music, one of my best friends included. It was a lot of fun!!!

      Rodney-- Thank you!! I plan on covering reception music in my next hub for this week's hubmob. I had planned on doing it all in one, but it got to be too long. I agree, things are changing, not always for the better!

      kerryg-- Thanks for stopping by!!

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 9 years ago from South Africa

      You were quick off the mark. really interesting selection of music. Now a days the brides often want pop music and the first waltz is often "Dance with my father" or Engelbert Hunperdinck's Last waltz. So times are a changing a little bit. Good hub. Well done

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 9 years ago from Madrid

      Hey Anna! Good number of classics you've got there -- some are totally lovely like Pachebel's Canon or Bach's Air on G. I always wondered how if would feel to play some rock and roll for the entrance of the bride :-) Say, "let's take this show on the road", or "I'm all shook up" or some such. Can you picture that? :-)