Choosing Wedding Ceremony Music
Decide what type of wedding ceremony suits you best as a couple.
- For more traditional ceremony music you could choose time-honored classics such as “Here Comes the Bride” or Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” These are instrumental classical pieces that have been played at wedding ceremonies since before your great-grandparents were married.
- It is becoming increasingly popular to select more contemporary songs for the wedding ceremony. Soft tempo songs such as Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” or “The Luckiest” by the Ben Folds Five can set the mood you are looking for and may be more your style.
- Consider the setting of your nuptials.
- You may want to tailor your choices towards more religious selections if you are getting married in a church or other religious environment.
- It is important to consider the way sound will travel in your venue. Vocal songs may be harder to understand in an outdoor setting, while some musical instruments may echo in large, indoor settings.
- Evaluate how many songs you will need to cover the entire ceremony.
- You will need, at minimum, music as guests arrive, a song for the seating of the mothers, the processional, the entrance of the bride, lighting of the unity candle and music for any other special moments you choose to include in your ceremony such as a rose ceremony for mothers or the recognition of lost loved ones.
- Decide if you want any musical solos.
- Perhaps you have a very talented friend or relative that is a vocalist or plays an instrument. Asking him or her to do a solo is a great way to incorporate more loved ones into your wedding ceremony.
- Choose a main instrument for your wedding ceremony music.
- Perhaps the church has an organ or maybe you want to hire a string quartet for your garden wedding. You may still have a vocalist and a flute solo, but you’ll need to choose who will be performing the majority of your wedding music.
- Make the time to practice the timing prior to the wedding rehearsal.
- Often the wedding rehearsal isn’t done until the night before the big day. If you wait until then to make sure the timing is right, there won’t be enough time to iron out the kinks without some added stress. Save yourself the upset and do a music run-through before the wedding to allow for any changes you may need to make.
- Decide whether or not you would like professionals to make your decisions for you. If you decide everything, and you are not a musician, the likelihood that you may be making a musically uninformed decision may interfere with the fluency of your event. If you are sure of your decision (song choice, music genre/type), be sure to check up with your musicians before hand, as they have a lot of experience in this area.
- Ask for music samples from specific vendors. If they don’t offer samples (CDs or videos of their playing, either online, or by mail), then don’t use them!
Personalising your music selections is one of the ways you can make your ceremony your own. While some officiants require you to stick to traditions, others are happy to work with you in personalising the ceremony.
Music is one of the most important components of your ceremony because it sets the mood for your special day. If playing a record of “Here Comes the Bride” isn’t your style, choosing something more contemporary or personal is perfectly appropriate.
Choosing your selections
In general, a wedding ceremony has five main pieces to choose selections for:
Prelude: Played for 15 minutes before to a half our before the ceremony, this music welcomes the guests and is the background by which they’re seated.
Procession: This music sets the pace for attendants walking down the aisle. Really ambitious couples plan their music so that it changes for each portion of the procession. One piece for the ushers, another for the bridesmaids, then a pause before a flourish for the entrance of the bride.
Ceremony: Couples might designate music to be played or a choir or soloist to sing at some points in the ceremony, like before a reading or during the lighting of a unity candle.
Recession: This music at the end of the ceremony should be powerful and joyous. It’s usually louder and quicker than the processional.
Postlude: A continuation of upbeat and celebratory music that keeps the guests feeling they’re a part of the wedding until they have all filed out of the ceremony space.
If you’re having a nonreligious ceremony, your music options are open. You can add personal touches through your music selections to create a memorable wedding. If you’re having a religious ceremony in a house of worship, be sure to clear your music selections with your officiant; some houses of worship don’t allow secular music and have limited options for what you can play.
Give it some thought
A few other things to keep in mind while choosing music:
Try to keep the music within the framework of the style and formality of the wedding. Although a church wedding doesn’t dictate that all music must be religious, you want to be respectful of the location and the event taking place. Don’t forget to mention the titles of the songs and music on your program.
Check with the officiant or the person in charge of your ceremony location to find out whether you need to work with a particular music coordinator or use a particular musician or singer.
Keep your religious and cultural backgrounds in mind when selecting your music. Your officiant can guide you on acceptable selections.