Wedding Ceremony Music Resources
Selecting, Planning and Placing Your Wedding Ceremony Music
Selecting Your Wedding Ceremony Music
With so many choices to make for a wedding ceremony, location, celebrant, flowers, not to mention guest list, sometimes the music selection is put off to near the last minute.
However, your wedding ceremony music sets the tone (so to speak) for the entire service.
In general a very effective overall musical progression for your entire experience wedding is:
- Classical music during the ceremony
- Light jazz for a cocktail hour and
- The types of dance music you prefer for the reception
When planning your ceremony music, keep in mind that it's not a concert.
The number of pieces, and the selections themselves, should enhance the ceremony, not dominate it.
Places in the Ceremony Where Music is Appropriate
Prelude music is played before the ceremony formally begins.
How many songs are played before the wedding ceremony begins?
This really is a matter of time rather than one of a specific number of selections.
Generally music should begin about 20 minutes before the service start time, as guests are being seated.
The music should continue until the entire wedding party are present and everyone is ready to begin the service.
Again, the number of selections depends on the length of the musical selections, but you can usually could on about 6-10 pieces to be performed.
The Wedding Processional
The Processional music is played as the bridal party comes down the aisle.
This often starts with the mothers of the bride, followed by flower girls, bride's maids, the maid (or matron) of honor and finally the bride, often accompanied by her father.
Sometimes the mothers of the bride enter accompanied by their own musical selection and then another selection is used for the rest of the bridal party.
This can work well.
However, occasionally a bride will express the desire to have 3 separate processional selections, one for the mothers, one for the bridal party and a separate selection for her.
This is usually not the best idea, as it tends to diminish the natural flow of the wedding procession.
It's best to have one song for the entire wedding procession, with perhaps a separate selection for the mothers at the beginning.
You should keep in mind that the procession will come to a natural climax as the bride enters.
Stopping the music and starting another selection for the bride generally only reduces this special moment rather than enhancing it.
The Processional music for the bridal party is usually something stately and is played until the bride walks to stand next to the groom.
Note that the title of the processional music selection along with the composer is usually listed in the wedding program.
Music During the Ceremony
Many couples choose to have a
played at some point during the service.
Appropriate places for music during the service are directly after a reading or during a candle lighting ceremony.
In a secular wedding ceremony, this may be a good time for a favorite light pop selection
(see Making Your Music Selections
In a Catholic ceremony that includes serving communion to the congregation, a classical or religious selection is appropriate at that time.
The Wedding Recessional
The Recessional music is played as the bride and groom come down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.
This piece is usually a bit more lively or sprightly than the Processional.
In a church wedding, the recessional music should be played until the wedding party has reached the front of the church.
There is only one recessional selection played for the entire wedding party.
Like the wedding processional, the title of the recessional music selection along with the composer is usually listed in the wedding program.
Ceremony Postlude Music, Receiving Line
Some couples have their receiving line directly after the service.
Light classical music for about 15-20 minutes is often played at this point.
Making Your Ceremony Music Selections
In addition to reflecting your own musical taste, your wedding ceremony musical selections will also be influenced by the location of your service.
This is particularly true if you are having your wedding ceremony in a church.
Generally, a church wedding is part of a worship service.
The Catholic church considers a wedding, a marriage ceremony, to be a sacrament; that is a sacred event.
Most Protestant denominations, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, etc. also consider this to be a sacred occasion and the musical selections should reflect that.
In fact most ministers and/or music directors will insist upon appropriate sacred music while in their church before, during and after the wedding ceremony, and rightly so.
So what's appropriate music for a wedding ceremony held in a Catholic or Protestant church?
Generally, any musical selections that are religious in nature, rather than
are appropriate and permitted. Songs (pieces that are sung) should either refer to God in some reverential way or they should make positive reference to faith in relation to marriage.
Note that sometimes Protestant and particularly Unitarian Universalist churches will allow instrumental secular music to be played during a prelude to a service.
Having a church wedding and still not sure if a particular selection is appropriate?
Simply ask the church music director or minister.
Provide a recording if the piece in question may not be familiar. Most of all, respect the decisions of the people at the church.
Part of their responsibility is to see to it that the church remains first and foremost a respectful place of worship.
Other Wedding Ceremony Locations
For wedding ceremonies that are secular, held outside of a church or chapel, nearly any musical selection will likely be allowed.
However, this is where your own taste and musical preference comes into play.
Sometimes people are tempted to use music from the latest musical trend for their wedding processional.
This may seem like a good attention getting idea at the time, but later, as that trend becomes dated you will likely look back on this decision with regret (think Disco music).
For a secular ceremony, generally it's best to use classical pieces for the Processional and Recessional and then perhaps mix in some favorite light popular or jazz pieces as part of the wedding prelude and/or during a candle lighting ceremony.
Still not sure?
Many people leave the music selection up to the musician or musicians performing the service.
David is happy to use his decades of experience as a professional musician playing
solo flute for wedding ceremonies
to either consult with you on your musical selections, or to decide for you what ceremony music would be most effective for a wedding in your location.
David Summer has performed as a solo flutist for wedding ceremonies and commitment ceremonies in a wide variety of locations including ceremonies in private homes, outdoor wedding ceremonies, ballroom weddings, hotels and garden setting marriage ceremonies.
Contact David today
for more information on having beautiful solo music for your wedding ceremony.