Music is an essential part of the wedding ceremony. Not only does music help to create the ambiance of the wedding, it sets in motion the main section of the classic ceremony: Processional(s), Signing of the Registry and Recessional. The couple's song choices are an expression of their personalities and the feelings they share for one another.
Over the past three decades I've had the pleasure of playing at hundreds of weddings and helping couples choose music best suited to their personal style and taste from whatever musical genre(s) they prefer. I also assist in arranging cues for the various parts of ceremony with the wedding planner or officiant presiding over the wedding to assure that everything proceeds as planned.
A standard wedding ceremony consists of three main parts: Processional, Registry Signing and Recessional. The couple should choose music that has appeal and meaning for them. However, it can be helpful to consider the distinct function and flavour of each part of the ceremony when making your musical selections.
Choosing Music for Your Wedding
During the Processional, the bride and bridal party walk to the area where the officiant will conduct the ceremony. (Typically, the groom, groomsmen and parents take their places without musical accompaniment but a song may be chosen for this event as well) The Processional piece is usually a slow to mid tempo song to which the bride feels comfortable walking with a leisurely, measured pace. Often, the bridal party will walk to one piece and the bride will have her own special processional selection. In this case, when the bridal party has reached the ceremony area, there is a short pause, the second processional begins and the bride begins her walk. Popular Processional pieces include Pachelbel’s Canon, Ave Maria, A Thousand Years, Flower Song, The Prayer, Perfect and Marry Me
The Registry Signing:
After the bride and groom exchange their vows, they sign the Marriage Registration form that legalizes their marriage. This is usually done at a small table a few steps away from the ceremony area and takes approximately two minutes to complete. The musical selection during this part of the ceremony may be anything that appeals to the bride and groom from slow and romantic to up tempo and rollicking. Popular Registry Signing pieces include: Moon River, Spanish Romance, All of Me (John Legend), Fields of Gold, At Last, What a Wonderful World and Thinking Out Loud.
The recessional is played immediately after the couple is introduced to the guests as husband and wife. Typically, this piece is bright and up-tempo with enough presence to allow it to be heard above the applause of the guests after the introduction. Note that some couples prefer quieter songs of a romantic nature for their recessionals and these can work equally as well. Popular Recessional pieces include: Here Comes the Sun, The Wedding March, Fly Me to the Moon, Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars), Jesu, Joy of Man Desiring, All You Need is Love, Everything (Michael Buble) and Viva La Vida
Additions to the Standard Ceremony:
It is not uncommon for the Bride and Groom to decide to include other components to their ceremony based on religious, cultural or simply personal preferences. I have played many wedding where this was the case and I am happy to discuss providing appropriate music for any additions to the standard ceremony.