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How to Choose the Music for Your Wedding Ceremony

Updated: Aug 2


Bride and groom, bride looking over her shoulder and smiling at the camera, and the groom looking at the bride; bride carrying small bunch of purple flowers

Among all the things to consider when planning your wedding day, the music for your ceremony may not seem particularly important, but just imagine it without music...


The awkward silence as guests gather and take their seats, with some not knowing whether it’s ok to chat or not, and others speaking particularly loudly to fill the void; and none of those emotional connections between memories and music when you look back on your special day.

Tanya Jones, Perfect Promises, Wedding Celebrant, holding wedding ceremony folder and smiling at the camera

As an experienced wedding Celebrant (and previously a Registrar of Marriage), I’ve been lucky enough to share in lots of couples’ wedding plans and have seen first-hand how music plays an enormous part in any wedding ceremony, almost without our even noticing!


(And, in fact, I usually listen to my couples’ choice of music (especially for the Processional) when writing their ceremony, as it really helps me to tune in to the style and tone of their day.)

So, when is music usually used during the ceremony?

Apart from any music / songs you may decide to include as part of the ceremony music is usually played during:

Prelude

Processional

Signing of the Register / Commemorative Certificate

Recessional


where, as well as being wonderful to listen to, it also fulfils particular functions:


Prelude

When guests are arriving and taking their seats for the ceremony: something in the background is always a lovely touch and helps set the scene and mood of the ceremony.

Wedding guests at an outdoor wedding ceremony standing and waiting to applaud the happy couple

Classical music is often the choice here, but it really can be anything you like - maybe even a combination of the two, such as when a couple were using a harpist but asked her to play contemporary songs, including the theme to the A Team!


Processional

Although your officiant will announce the arrival of key participants, it is the music which really gives your guests their cue that something is about to happen!

Bride in a white dress and veil, and carrying a bouquet of white flowers, walking down the aisle with her father, who is looking at her proudly

Usually, it is just the bride / groom and their wedding party which makes an entrance to music, and often an emotional song which is meaningful to both of you will be chosen but, as always, choose something which feels right, and not something which you think you ‘should’ use.


And, be creative: if there’s a song you really love, but think it’s too up tempo for you (you don’t want to be charging down the aisle, after all!), look around for a slower, acoustic version - you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. Of course, if you are using musicians on the day, then they will almost certainly be able to adapt any piece of music to something just right for you.

Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Wedding Celebrant and groom both smiling at bride who is making her way down the aisle alone, so we can just see the beautiful lace cut-out pattern on the back of her white wedding dress

And, remember, each of you could make a separate entrance to a different choice of music if you want to; and you could include both sets of parents by inviting them to make an entrance of their own, too.


During the signing of the register / commemorative certificate

It’s usually a good idea to have a few songs playing in the background during the signing and the photos which follow, and these will usually be chosen to help maintain the happy, celebratory atmosphere; three tracks will usually be plenty.

Happy bride and groom sitting at table decorated with flowers, and smiling at the camera after signing their marriage certificate

Recessional

When you and your new husband / wife lead your guests out to continue the celebrations of your wedding: the choice of music adds to the excitement and anticipates the further celebrations to come - have fun with this one!


As always, it's about choosing music that is right for you, and not just something you think you ought to have.



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