Wedding Ceremony Music
Choosing music for your wedding ceremony shouldn't be a harrowing experience. In this section, we'll break down the standard parts of a wedding ceremony that usually have music, standard choices for the various musical pieces, and the types of musicians you may need based on the "feel" or "setting" of your wedding.
Parts of a Wedding Ceremony
Prelude: Up to 30 minutes of music before the actual ceremony begins.
Processional: One or two separate pieces for the bridesmaids and bride to walk down the aisle.
Interlude: Hymns or other pieces to accompany various parts of the service.
Recessional: A lively, stately march as the bride and groom exit.
Postlude: A piece or two as guests leave the ceremony area.
Preludes are the quiet, mood-setting music leading up to the ceremony. Usually 20-30 minutes long, the preludes set the tone for the service. If you're having an informal or non-traditional service, you can opt for some lively pieces. Some churches have specific pieces they will allow and not allow, so make sure you check with them before making final selections. The last prelude is generally reserved for the seating of the mothers and/or grandmothers.
The processionals accompany the bridal party as they walk down the aisle. Depending on the length of the aisle and the tastes of the bride/groom, you can use one or two separate processionals. Both are generally stately and majestic, but if you're using two, try to save the "punch" for the bride's processional. Once you pick them, make sure you go over the specific part of each piece you'd like to walk down the aisle to, as processionals generally only last 30-60 seconds depending on the aisle and how fast the bride walks.
Interlude, Service Music
Interludes are important in both traditional and non-traditional services. Make sure you check with your church when picking service music, as many churches have certain pieces they will allow and not allow. The songs listed here come from both classical and popular music.
The recessional is the time to shine for the bride and groom. This is generally the liveliest piece of the wedding. Lots of movement and notes, with a fast, festive tempo. The music should mirror the festive mood that concludes the ceremony. This is generally a great place for the trumpet, especially a piccolo trumpet.
The postlude is a new but popular entry into the wedding ceremony. Think of it as a transition from the ceremony to the reception. The formality of the ceremony is juxtaposed with the festive, "let your hair down" atmosphere of the wedding reception. Many of the pieces are therefore light classical, jazz, or popular music to help make that transition as guests leave the ceremony area after the recessional.