Wedding Ceremony Music – Entrance, Exit and Everything in Between

We all know that a wedding reception is only as good as the musical act hired to entertain your guests
– but getting the music right for your ceremony is of equal importance. This are, after all, going to
include some of the key moments of your wedding: the prelude, where your guests first arrive, and
get their first taste of what kind of wedding it is you’re having (and whereabouts it’s taking place!); the
procession, where your bride, her close family and attendants formally enter the room; the recession,
where the bridal party (the bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen) formally exit after the couple is
pronounced husband and wife; and, the postlude, where the remainder of your wedding guests are
played out of the room and encouraged along to the next stage of your wedding.

We’re going to break down these key moments, and suggest the types of music and musicians that will
make each of them particularly special.


As your guests arrive at the venue where your ceremony is being held, you’re going to want to achieve
two main things with your music: let your guests know where to go, and set the tone for your big day.
You’re going to want to aim somewhere between upbeat and lighthearted, and momentous and
life-changing – it’s a happy occasion, but an extremely important one nonetheless.

You might like to consider a wedding harpist or a wedding pianist for the prelude – it’s background

music, after all, so don’t pull out all the stops yet in terms of volume. Instrumental versions of popular
songs would go down well at this point (such as ‘One Day Like This’ by Elbow or ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’
by Guns N’ Roses), as do classical pieces (such as the ‘Spring’ segment of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ or
Edvard Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’)


For many, the procession will be the most significant part of the whole ceremony (after the actual tying
of the knot). The effect the wedding procession will have on your guests will be a mixture of awe, joy
and excitement, so choose a musical piece that will help elicit these reactions. Bear in mind, too, that
this piece will be forever tied to your guests’ memories of seeing the bride in all her finery for the first time,
so it’s got to befit that initial impression. A string quartet is the ideal choice for the procession,
performing a wedding classic suich as Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ or Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus’. For a
modern twist, you could hire an instrumental jazz band to perform the same pieces.


Don’t forget that the piece of music you choose as your recessional piece is the first piece of music to
break the silence after you’ve officially become a married couple. For this reason, it’s got to be joyous,
triumphant and emotive – you don’t want a dry eye in the house! Popular songs are the name of the
game at this point, preferably ones with strong themes of love and achievement, with easily
recognisable melodies like ‘All You Need is Love’ by the Beatles, ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams or
‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As with the processional music,
this needs to be a bold statement, so definitely use an ensemble of some sort:
jazz, classical, acoustic or even rock!


This is the last thing your guests will hear before they head over to your reception venue – so make
sure it helps them get in a celebratory mood! Remember that the ones left in the room will be your
closest friends and family, so naturally they’re going to want to discuss with wild excitement how happy
they are for you (not least because they’ve been holding their breath for the duration up to this point!).
Playing more up-tempo music will communicate to your remaining guests that it’s alright to relax after
the more serious portion of your ceremony, but also to get ready to get moving.

You’re going to want to keep the elation up for your postlude music, but the tone can be a little less

serious, as it’s mainly for playing your guests out. You could even drop back down to a solo musician,
such a pianist or acoustic guitarist – but make sure you opt for popular pieces, such as Sonny &
Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’, Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s rendition of ‘Something Stupid’ or even the
traditional ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.  

And now for some last minute tips for handling your wedding ceremony music on the big day:

If you choose a wedding band or wedding musicians, give them plenty of notice of what you want them to play, and at what point. Wedding musicians who advertise themselves as providing ceremonial music will understand how vital it is for everything to go smoothly, and will do everything in their power to get your chosen pieces note-perfect – just make sure you have somebody on hand to let them know when to strike up.

To save shelling out for more than one live music act on your wedding day (which will already be an extremely expensive do), discuss your options with your wedding reception band. If your wedding reception band featured, for example, a pianist or an acoustic guitarist, you can ask them to also provide you with your ceremony music. While this may cost a little extra than the amount for which they advertise themselves, it’s a safe bet that a separate act would cost a great deal more.

If you’ve elected to use pre-recorded music, then, granted, you don’t need to worry about musicians having time to learn your chosen pieces. However, it’s still just as essential that whoever’s been given the task of pressing ‘play’ knows their cues, as each piece serves a very different purpose. You don’t want your guests to hear ‘Here Comes the Bride’ when they know she’s already left the building. If you’re using a CD player, burn a specially prepared CD with the tracks already in the right; if you’re using a playlist, queue everything in the order it needs to be – and don’t accidentally press shuffle!

One advantage live musicians will have over pre-recorded music is consistency – they’ll be using the same instruments and have their own style which they’ll apply to each piece. While having an infinite such as the internet may seem like the way to go, you will be in danger of finding multiple versions of songs. Check carefully, before you add them to your playlist, that they’re the versions you want, and that they fit together – it might be a little jarring to follow a piano-only version of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey with the rocked-up version of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ (the aptly named ‘Canon Rock’).

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