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Ceremony Music 411

When couples start planning their wedding day music, their focus turns to the wedding dance. But what about the ceremony?

There are two kinds of music for religious wedding ceremonies: liturgical and secular. Liturgical features sacred words from the Bible, while secular does not. Be sure to check with your church or ceremony site to find out what policies they have in place when it comes to the music. Also ask if there is a music coordinator or organist to help you make selections, which should be covered in the organist’s fee. If you have hired soloists, pianists or harpists, they may also have great suggestions.

Ceremony music can be broken down into three categories: prelude, processional/recessional, and music during the ceremony. Typically 20-40 minutes prior to the ceremony the prelude music starts to set the mood. If you have not hired live music ask your DJ to put together an electronic mix of those songs you want played. Then pipe the music over the PA system.

The processional music signifies the entrance of the wedding party and the bride. Some traditional selections are Air, Sinfonia, Canon In D, Trumpet Voluntary, Here Comes the Bride, Ode to Joy, Rondeau, Toccata, and Wedding March. Brides really wanting to make an impact on arrival should choose a separate song just for her march down the aisle. After the ceremony, the recessional music is the music for everyone’s departure. When comparing the processional is generally more regal and majestic and the recessional is quicker more upbeat music. 

Music during the ceremony is often provided by soloists, but electronic selections can also be played. The average cost for live music and soloists is $25-$175/hour.

One final tip, be sure to provide sheet music several months in advance for all those performing for your ceremony and have them start practicing sooner rather than later.

- Resource

This article was also featured in the 2009 VOW Wedding Planner. To view a PDF of this article, go to the MUSIC section of VOW.