The three main musical components of a ceremony include the prelude (may include a solo or two), the processional (introduces wedding party and bride), and recessional/postlude (which begin the celebration).
You should always discuss your ideas with and obtain approval from the officiant or music director at your ceremony site. Some faiths require certain types or even particular pieces of music, and/or forbid other selections, particularly secular pieces.
Ceremony music will vary based upon your faith. Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic Church. As such, it limits the choice of music, but offers options for musical interludes (selected prayers, sign of peace, unity candle ceremony, and Holy Communion). Protestant ceremonies vary by congregation. Musical selections can encompass the lighting of the unity candle, Lords Prayer, or hymns sung as blessings. Reformed and Conservative Jewish ceremonies generally offer the greatest range of selection, often permitting a mixture of traditional and popular music. Orthodox Jewish ceremony music, however, reflects the solemnity of the ceremony, and is generally selected from a group of traditional pieces. For a sample of favorite ceremony selections, see the list at the end of this article
Prelude music should begin 20 to 30 minutes before the ceremony. Music played at this time can encompass classical selections, religious music, and/or romantic favorites. Many places of worship place few, if any, restrictions on pre-ceremony music. If you do not have specific requests for the prelude, the music director and/or musicians selected will create a program for you.
The processional signals the arrival of the wedding party. Selections can range from traditional to modern. If you have a large bridal party, you may want to consider having one musical selection for the entrance of the attendants and another selection for the entrance of the brid
The Recessional and Postlude
The recessional marks the true beginning of the celebration. Music selected should reflect the joy of the day. Postlude music should be lively and upbeat, and should be played as your guests are exiting.
The organ, harp, and piano comprise the three instruments that can carry a church service. Some couples opt to enhance their musical selections with other musicians. Trumpets, flutes, violins, guitar, and bagpipes all embellish with distinct sound. A string quartet, comprised of two violins, a viola, and a cello, adds an elegant touch. For a majestic quartet, consider brass: two trumpets, a trombone, and a French horn. Popular trios are the woodwind: comprised of a flute, oboe, and bassoon, or the flute: comprised of a flute, violin and cello. An extremely elegant duo pairs a harp and a flute.
When considering ceremony musicians, be sure to inquire about church or synagogue policies. Many churches require you to use their staff musicians and/or soloists. Others will permit you to hire and bring in your own musicians, but require that you pay their staff musicians whether you use them or not. Be certain to inquire about fees, and what they include. If there is a special selection that you want a musician to play, offer to send them copies of the sheet music with proper arrangementswell in advance of the wedding date. If special selections must be learned, or extra rehearsals are required with outside musicians/soloists, additional fees may apply.
If you hold your ceremony and reception at the same location, you can have the same musicians for both functions. If not, you may want to have some of the musicians from the ceremony travel to the reception, either for dinner music, or the entire reception. If you rely on a DJ for both ceremony and reception, make sure he/she has proper music for the ceremony.
As with any wedding professional, obtain a contract covering details under contract inf
Be sure to check out the Ceremony Music Worksheet under: For Brides: My Bridal Suite
Cermony Musical Selections
Below are some musical suggestions for the prelude, processional and recessional. You may use any of these or choose your own - just be sure to check with your officiant for any restrictions.
Aire on a G String - Bach
Ave Maria - Schubert
Canon in D - Pachelbel
Second Movement, from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Mozart
Nocturne, from A Midsummer Nights Dream - Mendelssohn
Panis Angelicus - Franck
Spring, from The Four Seasons - Vivaldi
The Greatest Of These Is Love - Bitgood
The Wedding Song - Stookey
Air, from WaterMusic, Suite in D/G Major - Handel
Allemande, G-Major Suite - Pachelbel
Apotheosis, from Sleeping Beauty - Tchaikovsky
Dodi Li for Jewish grooms
Erev Shel Shoshanim for Jewish brides
Fanfare, from The Triumphant - Couperin
Fanfare, from a Te Deum - Charpentier
Four Wedding Marches - Bloch
Intrada - Sibelius
Jesu, Joy of Mans Desiring - Bach
Prince of Denmarks March - Clarke
Psalm XIX - Marcello
Rigaudon - Campra
Rondeau (Theme from Masterpiece Theatre) - Mouret
Rondeau, from Sinfonies de Fanfare - Jongen
St. Anthony Chorale - Haydn
Saraband, Suite No. 11 - Handel
Sinfonia, from Wedding Cantata - Bach
Trumpet Voluntaire - Purcell
Trumpet Voluntary in D Major - Clarke
Wedding March, from Lohengrin (Here Comes the Bride) - Wagner
Wedding March, from The Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
Ydid Nefesh for Jewish grooms
Benedictus - Simon and Garfunkel
Carillon-Sortie - Mulet
Fugue in C Minor - Buxtehude
Hornpipe, from The WaterMusic - Handel
Hymn - Vangelis
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee - Beethoven
br>La Rejouissance, from Fireworks - Handel
Now Thank We All Our God - Karg-Elert
Ode to Joy, from the Ninth Symphony - Beethoven
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 - Elgar
Radetzky March - Johann Strauss
Third/Fourth Movements, from Eine Klein Nachtmusik - Mozart
Toccata, from Symphony No. 5, Opus 42 - Widor