Advice on Picking Your Wedding Music

There’s that scary saying “you don’t know what you don’t know!”  With weddings and planning big events, there is a lot to know and a lot to learn.  To be honest, ceremony music often finds itself on the list of last minute additions.  So to help you think about what the wedding ceremony standard musical moments are, we’ve compiled a little list.

PRELUDE aka Music As Your Guests Arrive:

Typically 15-30 minutes of background music.  This sets the vibe of the room.

If you have a more formal ceremony in a church or similar venue, traditional classical music can be a great choice.  String Trios and Quartets know a lot of great repertoire so unless you’ve got the time and desire to spend time with Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Dvorak, you are safe telling your musicians to play something formal, classical and beautiful.

If you’d like to set a more casual tone, prelude music is a great way to give your guests a cue that this is a laid back event.  Some of our most popular choices include Beatles, Jack Johnson, etc.

A third option that is particularly great for outdoor weddings or a rustic, organic vibe is acoustic music.  This can include Celtic, Americana, movie themes, basically beautiful music that doesn’t have the formality of classical yet retains its beauty.

SEATING OF FAMILY

The seating of family is usually the transition point from the prelude to the ceremony.  Often cued by the entrance of the officiant and sometimes the groom, this musical moment can be short (1 minute) if only the couple’s parents or longer (up to 3) if seating other family members such as grandparents.  Most people opt for something a little more traditional here but every family is different and we have plenty of Led Zeppelin in our repertoire if needed.

BRIDAL PARTY

The bridal party entrance consists of bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower girl /ring bearer (if using.)  The music for the entrance of the bridal party is often a really fun moment to bring some of your personality into the music.  Few of us will soon forget that bridal party entrance to Chris Brown’s Forever.  In case you missed it, 2009 was the year that changed the idea of walking down the aisle from something very straight forward to the “sky’s the limit.”  With over 90 million views, this video is pretty amazing!

If you’re not quite ready to become the next youtube sensation, there are many wonderful classical choices that have stood the test of time– pieces like Canon in D also known as Pachelbel’s Canon, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Vivaldi’s Spring and more.  For a nonclassical vibe, some great choices include Viva La Vida or Clocks by Coldplay, Starlafur by Sigor Ros,  La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf, All You Need is Love or In My Life by the Beatles, My Girl by the Jackson Five and At Last by Etta James.

Here’s a clip of Effesenden’s acoustic trio doing our own rendition of Guns N Roses Sweet Child of Mine:

Another popular choice for bridal party entrance music is a movie theme. One piece that has been gaining traction the last few years is the Game of Thrones theme.  Here’s a clip of Effesenden performing it a few years ago at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland.

Other popular movie themes include The Kiss from Last of the Mohicans, SHE from Notting Hill, the theme from Top Gun and more.

BRIDE or COUPLE PROCESSION
We get asked all the time if playing “Here Comes the Bride” is required.  The answer is “nope!”  This classic wedding piece by Richard Wagner is actually played far less frequently for a bride’s procession than you might think.  In all honesty, the most popular bride’s procession in our experience is still Canon in D.  Choose a song that is really meaningful to YOU.  If you’re worried that guests won’t know when to stand, make sure your officiant knows to provide a cue “please rise” or have the guests seated in the very front row given a cue to stand– everyone will follow suit!

RECESSIONAL
Right after you are pronounced as a married couple, this is the piece of music that plays as you, your bridal party and your family exit the ceremony venue.  We typically recommend 2 songs to play so that most guests are serenaded out as well.  The most traditional choice is the Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, but many other songs are frequently played ranging from classical music to pop to jazz.

Above all, when choosing your ceremony music, let it reflect your style and the vibe you want to create.  Don’t do a piece of music just because it’s usually done but if you love the tradition, go for it!  We love helping our clients discover their perfect wedding ceremony music!