Here is a short guide to the different types of selections that are typically encountered at a wedding ceremony. We have included a short explanation of the usual placement and purpose of these different selections. You will find comments and tips for each of them that can help select the music content of your ceremony.
The prelude is the music that starts before your ceremony while your guests arrive and find their seats. It is often instrumental/acoustic versions of popular songs which helps to set the serene tone for the rest of your ceremony.
Preludes can start either when the doors open, or at a specified time before you walk down the isle. One benefit to the second option is that the start of the prelude music acts as a call for mingling guests to start to find their seats. If there is music playing from the time of your guests arriving, there may not be a sense of urgency to get seated. As a result we have to reign-in guests while you are waiting to go down the isle.
Expect to play no less than 20 or so minutes of prelude selections, sometimes a few more. We are always ready for unexpected delays which as a result extend the music beyond the expected time.
The processional selections are the selections that your wedding party, and then yourself, will walk down the isle to. Our system gives full control and therefore more than two processional songs can be played. No two weddings are the same, and we can help you program the music that best suits your wedding needs.
Here is a typical processional order. Please modify it to best suit your particular situation.
-Groom, best man and Officiant enter down the isle or by using a side door. They all stand facing the guests.
An usher escorts the grandmother(s)of the bride to their seats.
Another usher escorts the grandmother(s)of the groom to their seats.
Usher escorts the mother of the groom to her seat.
An usher escorts the mother of the bride to her seat.
The ushers walk down the aisle (or escort the bridesmaids) and stand next the groom and best man and then face the guests.
Bridesmaids walk down the aisle.
Maid of honor walks down the aisle.
Ring bearer walks down the aisle.
Flower girl walks down the aisle. (Many times the flower girl and ring bearer will walk together)
Father of the bride escorts the bride down aisle.
Typically, a separate processional is chosen for each – the wedding party, and the bride herself. Sometimes, there might be more processional selections if you are having others walk down the isle as well… to be seated for example. Maybe you even want a separate selection for “the guys” to walk down to.
The processional for the wedding party should mark an increase in interest from the prelude selections just played. However it should not outshine the bridal processional.
Most often, the processionals will not be played in their entirety, but only long enough for the parties to walk down the isle to. After which they’re faded out, with only a short pause before the bride starts to walk down the isle. Work with us to establish starting points when each selection should begin. You may not want to start walking at the beginning of the first note. We can also start at a time other than the very beginning of the song itself.
For help with song selection check out this page on Wedding Wire.
Musical segments during your ceremony where you would like a subtle musical backdrop. Common examples are communion, the exchange of rings, the lighting of a unity candle, sand ceremony, rose ceremony, hand-binding ceremony, etc. Popular vocal/instrumental music is often used as an interlude. Orchestral pieces with operatic vocals work well too. Let your tastes determine what is right for you, and work with us to find the right music.
It is common to have either a live instrumental, vocal solo, or other type of live performance in the ceremony. We invite you to think about this possibility before glancing over it. This would make a personalized addition to your ceremony, and therefore would be very memorable.
Music that plays right after the pronouncement where your officiant introduces you to your guests as man and wife. You walk back down the isle, followed by the bridal party. Possibly other special individuals such as mothers and grandmothers will follow.
Here is an example of a typical recessional order. It is a reversal of the processional order seen above and you can modify this as needed.
Bride and Groom exit.
Flower girl & Ring bearer exit.
Maid of Honor & Best Man exit.
Bridesmaids (each accompanied by an usher) exit.
Bride’s parents exit.
Groom’s parents exit.
Bride’s grandparents exit.
Groom’s grandparents exit.
Wedding guests exit.
The recessional is usually one of the grandest selections played at a ceremony. It is typically very upbeat, joyous, and triumphant in nature, as a result can also be creative and fun!
These are the selections that play after you and your bridal party have walked back down the isle to your recessional. Typically upbeat and joyous in nature, but slightly more subdued that your recessional itself, the postludes provide a pleasing backdrop to which your guests can start to enjoy the company of family and friends and exit the ceremony area on their way to the reception. Usually, only a couple postlude selections are needed, and sometimes, the recessional is simply played in it’s entirety and no additional postlude selections are played. Work with us to find the best scenario for you.
Some other things to consider.
The location of your wedding can be a major factor in determining the type of music that is right for your ceremony.
For example, a ceremony indoors in a larger, more ornate setting such as a sanctuary or hall might lend itself better to a more regal and formal presentation that is full of power and majesty to match the surroundings you are in. Pieces featuring organs and full-orchestras are best suited for achieving this kind of feel.
On the other-hand, ceremonies outdoors often go better with lighter, more upbeat, and joyous music. Typically ceremony selections for an outdoor ceremony are performed by smaller, more loosely orchestrated ensembles such as quartets or quintets who’s sound is more open and airy, making it a perfect match for an outdoors occasion. Also, pieces featuring guitar, harp, and flute, either as solo performances, or as accompaniment to a larger ensemble, can help to create an intimate and fun setting perfect for celebrating your union with your family and friends.
If having your ceremony at a church, synagogue, or other religious institution or location, there may be specific requirements as to what types, styles, and/or specific selections and composers may be played at a ceremony. As a result of these guidelines being present, the person you are working with will usually make them known to you. If you are having your music provided or performed by musicians from the church, or are having them play prerecorded selections for your ceremony, chances are you will be working with a musical director or someone else who will already be familiar with any kinds of special considerations or limitations regarding appropriate selections.