I made this post to help my brides figure out how many songs they need to have for their ceremony. This guide details all the portions of MOST ceremonies where there could be music. If your ceremony doesn’t conform to this guide, that’s not a problem, we can accommodate almost anything. But this guide covers most of the variations we have seen in our years playing weddings.
*Keep in mind that 15-30 minutes before every ceremony, there is usually background music played while guests are entering. This is usually part of the wedding ceremony booking. Musicians typically play standard classical music that feels appropriate for the mood.
*If a portion of your ceremony lasts longer than the “song” selected for it, musicians typically repeat the song.
1. Seating of the parents — some ceremonies the bride selects music for seating of parents. I don’t suggest it, as it’s really hard to coordinate this part with the rest of the ceremony. Some weddings the parents walk in with the regular processional (see next item).
suggestions: Air (Bach), Arioso (Bach), Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach), pretty much anything quiet
2. You will need a song for the basic processional. This is NOT the bride. This is almost ALWAYS the bridesmaids. Sometimes the groomsmen and groom walk to this processional. They don’t have to.
suggestions: Canon in D (Pachelbel), Air (Bach), Spring (Vivaldi)
3. Groom and groomsmen — some weddings the groom is already at the altar. The same goes for the groomsmen. They also sometimes walk to song #2. OR they can have their own separate entrance. This is really up to you. There is no right way. I think it looks nice. Whatever you decide, I NEED TO KNOW SO WE HAVE THE RIGHT NUMBER OF SONGS LINED UP!! It’s also possible to have two songs for one long processional (only necessary for extremely large wedding parties).
suggestions: same as #2
4. Is the flower girl walking with the bridesmaids or is she walking with the bride? As far as the music is concerned, it only matters to me because I need to know whether to start playing the bride’s song immediately when I see the flower girl. SOME brides can pick a separate song for the flower girl — I think it’s unnecessary unless you think she is going to spend a lot of time throwing flowers (she shouldn’t!)
5. Bride song — You need to walk down the aisle to one song. If you’re Jewish and doing seven circles, then you MIGHT want to have a second song for the circling.
suggestions: Here Comes The Bride (Wagner), Canon in D (Pachelbel), anything classical that the bride likes. For Jewish brides, Alte Rebbe’s Niggun is a good choice for the seven circles.
6. Ceremony begins — typically there shouldn’t be music while officiant is talking. Maybe light background music IF officiant is miced. Not recommended.
7. Readings, vows, rings — same as #6.
8. Prayer (if applicable) — some weddings do a prayer, you MIGHT want music for this.
9. Sand ceremony, unity candle, hand binding — I typically play something quiet for duration of this portion by default. If you don’t want music during this, just tell me, otherwise I will just feel it out.
suggestions: Meditation from Thais (I play this by default unless requested otherwise)
10. Communion — if you are doing communion, you PROBABLY want music for this, depending on length?
suggestions: something religious such as Ave Maria (Schubert)
11. Recessional — couple walking down the aisle when ceremony is over
suggestions: Wedding March (Mendelssohn), Rondeau (Mouret), La Rejoussaince (Handel), Hornpipe from Water Music (Handel), any uptempo classical piece works well.
12. Postlude — exit music, just background music, I don’t do a postlude if I’m also playing cocktails because I need to get the cocktails started and set up quickly! If you really want a postlude, I can do one, but most brides would rather have the cocktail set started sooner.
This might seem complicated, but it’s actually very easy. Most ceremonies we play the bride only needs to select four songs: processional, bride, unity candle/sand ceremony, and recessional. If your wedding day comes, and it turns out that you forgot to pick music for any part of your ceremony, DON’T WORRY!! We will just choose a song for you to fill in the gap, based on our expertise and experience — we would always pick something tasteful and beautiful for your special day!