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Choosing the Right Music for your Ceremony

Published Friday, April 11, 2014

Vancouver Wedding Invitation

Photo by [Stu-di-o] by Jeanie

Choosing the music for your wedding can be a daunting task. Do you go traditional? Contemporary? What about a mix of both? What if the Bride and Groom are on completely different pages? How do you create an ambiance that suits a couple’s personality perfectly?

Many couples ignore the music selection until the last minute, change their minds a million different times, or throw it to the agency or musicians to decide for them. These are among the many ways of dealing with the simple question: "What music do I want for my ceremony?"

One of the main issues is that many couples don’t understand what they’re picking the music for. So here’s a quick break down:

Generally you will need to pick three songs for your ceremony (unless you are having a full Catholic mass ceremony – there are a few more song choices to consider). Leave the rest up to the professionals – if you pick the right musicians, they’ll likely have performed at hundreds of weddings before, so they know the perfect material to play for a wedding.

Your three song selections will be:

  1. Processional – when the wedding party and bride walk down the aisle – this should be a slower tempo to allow the bride and bridal party to walk slowly down the aisle.
  2. Signing of the registry – this is usually the longest portion of the ceremony as the bride, groom, two witnesses and the officiant all need to sign the marriage license. Choose your favourite piece as this will be played for the longest length of time. This selection can be any tempo.
  3. Recessional – when the bride and groom walk down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife. This should be up-tempo and celebratory.

Now that you know what selections you’re looking for, how do you decide what music is right for you? Here are some suggestions to help you along the way:

  1. Figure out your “personality” as a couple. Are you lively or more laidback? Traditional or Out of the Box? Figure out what genre of music suits you best!
  2. Close your eyes and picture your ceremony. What do you see? Can you imagine the song you will walk down the aisle to? Does it make sense with the mood/décor/theme of your wedding?
  3. Once you have chosen what type of ensemble you would like (eg. String quartet, harp & cello, guitar & violin, piano, etc.); take an evening to sit down with your fiancé and listen to samples of the songs. Any great ensemble or music agency will have samples on their website for you to hear – this will help immensely in picking the right songs for you.
  4. While listening to the samples, keep track of the ones that excite you, move you, and of course the ones you both like! This will help you discover if you’re leaning more towards traditional wedding repertoire (think Bridal Chorus - Here Comes the Bride or Ave Maria), or more popular repertoire (this can range from The Beatles and Bruno Mars to ZZ Top and even Metallica!).
  5. Talk with the music agency or ensemble well in advance of your wedding about your song choices. If you have special requests that are not on their song list, they may have to purchase the sheet music, or even create a special arrangement for you if you have any special requests where the sheet music does not already exist.

Whatever songs you choose, make sure that they are meaningful to the both of you, whether that means that they have special meaning in your relationship (maybe you walk down the aisle to “your song”) or that you just get a happy feeling hearing the song. You will remember these songs forever, so choose songs that you both love!

Vancouver Wedding Invitation

Photo by Karolina Turek

We like to think that music is one of the most important parts of your wedding – can you imagine walking down the aisle to silence or not having a first dance? It is your main source of entertainment for the day, and since music often brings back memories, it’s one of the things that your guests will remember the most; and one of the many parts of your wedding that you will remember fondly – every time you hear those special songs.

About the Writer

Morgan Trerise, Director of Entertainment for Musical Occasions

Musical Occasions has over 24 years of experience and provides music for over 300 weddings a year. They provide music for ceremony, cocktail reception, dinner and dance – they have everything from classical and jazz to dance bands, world music and DJs. Learn more about their services at