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The Soundtrack of Your Lives – Wedding Ceremony Music

From the moment your guests arrive at the ceremony, they will be serenaded by the sweet sounds of music – – as they enter the church, as you are accompanied down the aisle, and when you arrive at the reception.

Whether you’re planning an informal garden ceremony or a traditional church wedding, large or small, you can characterize the mood of the event through your musical selections. Most wedding ceremonies, civil or religious, call for music in at least three places: before the wedding (the prelude), during the bridal party entrance (the processional), and as you make your exit (the recessional). You may also include post-ceremony music (the postlude) and/or additional songs — interludes — during the ceremony.

Prelude music is light, ambient music that sets the mood while guests are being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin. It usually begins when the doors open, or as early as 45 minutes prior to but no later than 20 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony. Traditionally, Baroque classical music is played during the pre-ceremony while guests are being seated. There are a number of standards to choose from, including Bach’s ” Air On The G String” , though you should feel free to consider alternative ideas to design a unique ceremony. Couples focused less on tradition may choose contemporary tunes that mean something to you and your fiancé — perhaps the first song you danced to, or the song that was playing on the radio when he proposed.

Next is the processional, which accompanies the entry of the extended wedding party — family, bridal party, and bride. The same song can be used for each, or you can change to another song when the bride enters to add drama and highlight her entrance. There’s no right or wrong way to choose your processional march. Whether you want something traditional, such as Wagner’s ” Bridal Chorus” (” Here Comes the Bride” ) or Pachelbel’s Canon, or something out of the ordinary, experienced musicians have extensive play lists that can help you make the perfect choice.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the recessional plays. As the name implies, this music accompanies you as you recess (that is, make your exit) and is traditionally bright and lively. The recessional tends to be more informal than the processional, thereby affording you even more freedom in regard to your musical choice. You’ve been officially declared husband and wife, so here’s your chance to be unique and really have some fun. Have someone play a violin, or even a set of bagpipes, as guests head toward the exit. You could even ask the musician to lead guests out of the ceremony in a parade like fashion.

When choosing pieces for the processional and recessional, keep the length of the aisle in mind. Longer pieces will need to be adapted for a short walk down the aisle, or as a combination of songs for a long aisle.

Many couples choose to add interludes or songs played during significant moments such as the unity candle lighting or the ketubah signing. When choosing ceremony music, take cues from your site’s architecture and decor.

When saying your vows in a place of worship, you’ll probably want (or be asked to choose) the traditional accompaniment of an organ, harp or string quartet. On the other hand, if your wedding will take place at an alternative site, you may have a variety of options to choose from.

Lastly, think about matching the musicians and musical selections to your wedding theme or style. For example, a bagpiper for a Scottish or Irish wedding, a New Orleans-style jazz band for Cajun-flavored festivities, or a harpsichord for a Baroque-inspired day. Since music plays a key factor, be sure to seek out the type of talent that will suit your wedding style!


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