Classical Ceremony Music Ideas

The “class” in Classical music has at least in part to do with the timeless nature of the style.  The same music that might have serenaded Napoleon or Louis the XIV entering a lush grand ballroom lends equal elegance to a 21st century bride walking down the aisle of a romantic garden setting.  That said, if there is one thing I would recommend to a bride in how to choose her ceremony music it’s that the music has got to be meaningful to her personally! 

There are certain songs that have become traditional selections-such as Canon in D or the Wedding March but brides should not be limited to these… there are so many colors and moods within the Classical genre.  There is so much classical music in fact that it can be overwhelming to know where to look.   The following is a list of processional and recessional ideas broken down by different moods. 

There are hundreds if not thousands of video clips on Youtube with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and performers playing these pieces.  Just copy the title into a Youtube search for an easy way to get familiar with a particular melody. 

What are you walking down the aisle to?  I would love to hear how you are using music to reflect your unique style as a couple!

1. Claire de Lune (Debussy)
2. Entr’acte to Act III from Carmen (Bizet)
3. Girl with the Flaxen Hair (Debussy)
4. Meditation from Thais (Massanet)
5. Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2  (Borodin)
6. O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)
7. Pavane Pour une infante defunte (Ravel)
8. Reverie (Debussy)
9. Sheherazade (Theme from Part 3) Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
10. Sleeping Beauty’s Pavane (Ravel)
11. The Swan from Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saens)
12. Theme from New World Symphony 2nd Movement (Dvorak)
13. Theme from Polovetzian Dance from Prince Igor (Borodin)
14. Symphony No 5 2nd Movement theme (Tchaikovsky)
15. Theme from Lakme (Flower Duet) (Delibes)
16. Theme from Romeo & Juliet Ballet (Tchaikovsky)

(in order of popularity)
1. Canon in D “Pachelbel’s Canon” (Pachelbel)
2. Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin “Here Comes the Bride” (Wagner)
3. Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke)
4. Spring from the Four Seasons—Allegro 1 (Vivaldi)
5. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach)
6. Trumpet Tune (Purcell)
7. Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach)
8. Wachet Auf (Bach)

1. Air from Water Music (Handel)
2. Air on the G String (Bach)
3. Airioso (Bach)
4. Appalachian Spring “Simple Gifts” Theme (Copland)
5. Andante Cantabile from String Quartet No. 1 Op 11 (Tchaikovsky)
6. Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart)
7. Bist Du Bei Mir (Bach)
8. Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin “Here Comes the Bride” (Wagner)
9. Canon in D (Pachelbel)
10. Evening Prayer from Hansel and Gretel (Umperdinck)
11. Finlandia Theme (Sibelius)
12. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach)
13. Jupiter Choral Theme from The Planets (Holst)
14. Lascia Chio PIanga from Rinaldo (Handel)
15. Pictures at an Exhibition Promenade (Musorgsky)
16. Trumpet Tune (Purcell)
17. Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke)

1. 1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky)
2. Brandenburg Concerto No 3 Mvmt 1 (Bach)
3. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Vivaldi)
4. Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)
5. Hornpipe from Water Music (Handel)
6. Hopak (Mussorgsky)
7. Kiss Waltz (Strauss)
8. March from the Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky)
9. Minuet (Boccherini)
10. Ode to Joy (Beethoven)
11. Peter and the Wolf Opening Theme (Prokofiev)
12. Spring from the Four Seasons—Allegro movement 1 (Vivaldi)
13. Spring from the Four Seasons—Allegro movement 3 (Vivaldi)
14. Sonata for Violin and Piano 4th Movement Theme (Franck)
15. Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn)

Strings for Your Recording Project!

#1.  Just step away from that synthesizer… I’m saying this because I care!  Everything you stand for as a socially conscious, artistically sensitive singer songwriter is about to be compromised if you use fake strings.  They WILL be able to tell.

#2.  Using a musician with studio experience will save you money in the long run.  Time IS money and you are paying for it by the hour with your engineer and possibly your studio rental.  It’s a lot harder to “fix” problems with a live instrument than with midi and because of the way string players bow, you just need someone who can give you a good clean take—fast, pristine, in tune and artistic.

This is What We Like to See! Effesenden records

#3.   Go local!  You’re lovingly tending every step of this process.  Do you really want to have your string parts traveling through cyberspace from some dude in Nashville?  No you don’t!  You want to be there to tell that fiddler the story of your song and help her convey the message and if you need to make changes, you want someone who can accommodate you.


In my mind, string sessions are either about a solo line, creating a string section sound or some combination of the two.  For solos, typically I come up with my own after you give me a general idea of what you’re looking for.  Having a scratch mp3 ahead of time that I can play around with at home will save time but I’m also happy to improvise.

For string section sounds, depending on your needs and your budget, I can either be multi-tracked to create the sound of an ensemble or better yet, I can assemble an additional violin, viola and cello to record together for the most rich, authentic sound option.


In other words, is it really, really expensive?  I can work with you to find the best way to get the sound you want with the budget you have.

Recording for Alesana Summer 2009



I’ve worked on recording projects ranging from Sony ATV studios in Nashville to home studio setups.  Regardless of the level of bling in the studio, it is definitely important to have an engineer who knows how to record strings.  Tone is key and violins can really get pretty nasty if not handled properly.  Don’t be disheartened though—most engineers are going to love to use their chops and set that microphone up just right!

I can play both fiddle and violin (they are the same instrument, it’s just how you play them.)  A frequent scenario is to have me lay down string pads for certain sections of a song and then do a solo fiddle section at some other point.

I can also arrange strings parts so if you are looking for more of a string section sound, you definitely don’t need to worry about finding someone else to hire to write parts.  If you have an idea, but you’re not the nerdy musical notating kind of artist, you can even sing me your concept and I’ll write it out into string player language.

Some of the folks I’ve recorded for over the years:

Adam Sweeney
Amy Seeley
Bethany Cibolski
Bryan Clark
Drew Grow
Five O’Clock People
George Fox University Chapel Band
Jeff Johnson
Jillyn Chang
Katie Harman
Kelly Jones
Laura Gibson
Laura Van Horn
Lori Willcuts
Mike Honholz
Nate Macy
Parkslope Church-Brooklyn
Reece Marshburne
Seth Martin
Sherri Youngward
Tasha Miller

I’ve been doing session work for almost 15 years.  I’m happy to send you additional samples and references too.  Contact me through my website at!