Wedding Wednesday | The Music of a Wedding Ceremony

Here on Wedding Wednesday, I’ve been reviewing venues and services for weddings, but now I want to delve into the part of the wedding that I usually guide – the music!

First, every bride needs to be familiar with the terms for the different parts of the wedding ceremony!  During the first phone consult with a musician, he/she may ask if you have chosen music for the processional and recessional, if you have a style preference for the preludes, and a host of other questions using terms that are only vaguely familiar to a first-time wedding planner!

Walking the aisle (800x534)

Your musician(s) will start with preludes 20-40 minutes prior to the ceremony while your guests are being seated. This ambient sound sets the tone for the wedding.  Generally, you do not need to choose each individual song played, but rather give the musician a genre – like Celtic, classical or romantic movie themes.

The processional is often broken down into three parts.  First is the seating of the mothers. The mothers and grandmothers are formally escorted down the aisle after the last of your guests have been seated. The music usually remains gentle, but should have a “walking tempo”.

Next comes the processional for the bridesmaids. Something more march-like is often used; however, generally it should maintain a formal character – we don’t want the bridesmaids running down the aisle! The officiant and groom usually come from the side and stand at the front  just before the bridesmaids come down, but they can also process down the aisle if desired. (I’m reminded of one wedding where the groom came down in a suit of armor to our arrangement of Forth Eorlings from the Lord of the Rings!)

After the bridesmaids and flower girls have reached the bottom of the aisle, it is time for the entrance of the bride! The musician(s) can play a fanfare, letting everyone know it is time to rise, and then launch into the music you have chosen!  If you prefer a quieter entrance, you can always come into the same piece as your bridesmaids, but why not make an striking entrance on your special day!

It is time for an introspective mid-ceremony piece while you light the unity candle, sign the marriage registry or have any other unity symbol. A soft Celtic air can create the perfect atmosphere for a sacred moment, but this can also be a time to play your favorite romantic movie theme.

The recessional is fast, lively and fun! It comes right after you have been announced as husband and wife.  Everyone cheers and the music starts while you recess down the aisle, followed by the rest of the wedding party.

A few minutes of postludes are often played as your guests are released from their seats. The ceremony is over and the reception begins!

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(Photos by Samuel Ramsey)

Coming soon…what is the most popular wedding processional music of all times?

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