Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Ceremony Music Guide

The wedding ceremony music guide lists and describes moments during a wedding ceremony, offers expert suggestions, or at least gets you thinking about the type of sound, lighting and music you’d like for these moments. Would you like all the classic wedding songs? Or, are you going to shake it up with more modern music? Will you be having live musicians or singers? An experienced music director and/or sound operator can provide guidance as well as the equipment to make sure your ceremony music matches your spirit and vision, and adds to the overall elegance, fun or excitement of the event. 

Below is a look at the traditional order and number of songs played during a wedding ceremony. We’ve included popular choices and a few personal favorites from each category. Of course, if you’ve already chosen your own songs, or do not need additional information, you can click the links below to complete the ceremony music planning form or send a message:

Prelude Music

The Prelude plays while guests are arriving. It’s often played for 30-45 minutes, so a long prelude may require more than one song.

DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “Minuet” – Boccherini. Classiest. Song. Ever. So sophisticated, and so classic that it doesn’t get boring after hearing it for 20 minutes.
  • “A Thousand Years” – Vitamin String Quartet (Christina Perri). Super romantic! It reminds us all of the power of love and puts everyone in the perfect mood for a wedding.
  • “Cantabile in B-Flat Major” – Chopin. This is really subtle, so it’s great if you don’t want the music to draw attention.

Processional Music

The processional is played while the wedding party and important guests are seated. Many change to a new song for the “grand entrance” of the bride, usually Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (Here Comes the Bride).

DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “Canon” – Pachelbel. Often called “Canon in D,” it’s pretty much money in any key. Less noisy but also less dramatic than “Bridal Chorus.”
  • “Air on the G String” – Johann Sebastian Bach. It might be the most beautiful song ever written. Haunting and powerful, it’s a great alternative if you want classical, but don’t want “Here Comes the Bride.”
  • “Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen. An instrumental version of this song works great. The lyrics themselves are not super romantic, so avoid the Jeff Buckley version.

Interlude Music

An interlude is any song played during the ceremony itself. It is often played during candle-lighting or other special features during your ceremony.

The song choices are endless. While there are no “standards,” it is often a special song shared by the bride and groom. If you have any favorite romantic songs, this is probably the best place to put it. But, if you’re looking for ideas…

DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “All of Me” – John Legend. Super-romantic, and it also works great as an instrumental.
  • “Ave Maria” – Schubert. A great choice if you have or want a singer at your ceremony.
  • “When You Say Nothing At All” – Alison Krauss. So sweet, and the message suits many moments like candle-lighting, sand ceremony, etc.

Recessional Music

The recessional is played immediately after the officiant pronounces the couple husband and wife. The traditional song choice is “Marcha Nupcial” (or “Wedding March”) by Mendelssohn.

DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “All you need is Love” – The Beatles. The lyrics couldn’t be more perfect for the occasion (Love, Love, Love…Love, Love, Love…). Also, it uses English horns and other orchestral instruments so it has a classical and even “regal” feel.
  • “Crazy in Love” – Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Do we need to explain this?
  • “Ode To Joy” – Beethoven. Perfect for entrance or exit music. This one makes for a dramatic walk up the aisle and out the door.

PostludE Music

The postlude immediately follows the recessional. The music can be dramatic and create a “finale” type scenario. Or, you may want something more background-ish to allow everyone to talk and reflect on the glorious moment that just occurred. If you want to go big, there are so many well-known and dramatic songs that will do the trick!

There are really no standards, so there are way too many good choices to list here. But here are a few favorites.

DJ Part A’s picks:

  • “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Soft, subtle, but universally loved. Quiet enough that everyone can speak with each other, but has the right feel to keep a beautiful moment going.
  • “I’ve Got the World on a String” by Michael Bublé. The dramatic chorus is perfect for walking off into the sunset. It gets people clapping, making the excitement of the moment sure to last!
  • “It Takes Two” by Rob Bass and DJ EZ Rock. If you want something way upbeat and different, this is a great choice! Super fun, gets everyone clapping. It just somehow makes us all feel good.
  • “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D and the Boyz. I’m stealing this one from the movie “Hitch,” but it’s so totally perfect if you and your guests want to dance out!

Other Songs

You may have other songs you wish to play during the ceremony. These could be a special song for the couple, or an observance or memorial.

Event Lighting

Add elegance, drama and style to your ceremony with LED uplighting, wash lights or spotlights.

For many ceremonies, especially those in the evening or in darker rooms, lighting will have a dramatic effect. You can use uplights to display your wedding’s theme colors, and wash lights and spotlights to set the focus on the couple or wedding party.

Outdoor Ceremony Music

Recorded music is generally recommended over live musicians for outdoor events. It is hard to achieve the proper volume in outdoor conditions, where the difference between music being too loud and too quiet can be as simple as the wind picking up. Recorded music is much easier to control, and you can guarantee it’s heard at the proper level in just about any weather or location.

Live Musicians/Singers

If you’ll be having live musicians or singers during your ceremony, it’s usually best to use a sound system and sound operator. This is important not only to amplify the music, but also to evenly mix the sound if multiple performers are playing at the same time (like a guitarist and singer for example).
Most musicians will not have access to a sound system or microphones, so unless your event is at a venue like a bar or dance hall, it’s best to employ someone to provide and operate this equipment.


Ceremony Music Planning Form

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