Wedding Ceremony Music and Special Dance Suggestions

The Ad Hoc Guide to Music for Your Ceremony... and Special Dance Suggestions

Here are some of the thoughts and ideas we would like to share on planning the music for your wedding ceremony. These have been compiled from our years of experience in making everything go smoothly:

  • Use real musicians, not a DJ, for the ceremony. The average length of time it takes for a bride to walk down the aisle is somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds but the recordings DJs use are 2-4 minutes long. That means that DJs have to fade out the music they are using when the bride reaches the altar, whereas ceremony musicians can time the music on the spot and end pieces more gracefully and musically. Plus, live music is more elegant than canned.
  • A note on wedding coordinators… Hiring a planner is worth it! Planning a wedding is very involved and having a wedding coordinator who knows what to do is worth it. We strongly recommend hiring a wedding coordinator first thing when starting to plan a wedding…at least for “day-of” assistance.
  • The traditional ceremony music choices are all instrumental classical music but you don’t have to stick to that if you don’t want to. Choose the music you like and run it by our music director, Matt (720.276.1442) to make sure it’s “do-able” with the instrumentation you’ve chosen. We will work with you to make your wedding music as traditional or non-traditional as you like!

Here’s how music for the ceremony typically works:

Before the Ceremony

Before the ceremony, the musicians will play music for 15 to 30 minutes during the seating of the guests.

Suggestion: You do not have to pick the music for this: the ceremony musicians will play pretty, appropriate music.

Optional: Formal seating

Sometimes there is a formal seating of the families right before the ceremony starts, but this is purely optional and sometimes more trouble than it’s worth; for example, how long do you want your 80-year old grandmother to have to stand in the back before you seat her? Sometimes this is combined with the entrance of the wedding party if the families and the wedding party are small. In any case, tradition calls for the parents of the bride and groom to be seated last. See the next section for suggestions and music.

Entrance of the Wedding Party
The ceremony proper begins with the entrance of the wedding party (bridesmaids procession) .

Suggestions: The music you pick for this portion of things should be pretty and an appropriate length for the size of your wedding party. Our musicians are good at adapting the length of a piece but we’ll review this with just in case. In the search for the perfect wedding song, some popular choices are:

  • “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (J.S. Bach). This is a lovely piece which sounds great with any ensemble from solo guitar to string quartet. listen
  • “Air on a G string” (J.S. Bach). Avoid this one if you only have a solo guitarist, harpist or pianist. Any other group or soloist should be great with this one. listen
  • “Canon in D” (Johann Pachelbel). This is the most popular selection for the wedding party entrance. listen
  • "The Flower Duet" (Lakme) listen
  • "Meditation" (Thais) listen
  • "Entré Act" (Intermezzo) from Carmen (Bizet) listen

Next is the processional: here comes the bride! The bride walks down the aisle to music.

Suggestions: This should be solemn as befits the occasion.

  • The most traditional choice is the “Bridal Chorus” (Richard Wagner) listen
  • “Trumpet Voluntary” (Jeremiah Clarke) listen
  • “Trumpet Tune” (Henry Purcell) listen
  • “Ode to Joy” (Traditional, used by Beethoven) listen

Fortunately, all of those selections work with any soloist or ensemble.

Music During the Ceremony

Sometimes there is music during the ceremony. For example, during a ring exchange, unity candle lighting, or moment of silent reflection.

Suggestions: Although most of the traditional wedding music is classical music, music for unity candle lightings and the like can be virtually type of music, the only traditional guide is that it should be pretty!. Music during the ceremony should be very brief, lasting from 30 seconds to a minute.

The ceremony ends with the Recessional, when the bride and groom walk out together, followed by the wedding party.

Suggestions: The mood of this piece should be joyous!

  • The most traditional choice is the “Wedding March” (Felix Mendelssohn), listen but there are some other appropriate, traditional choices as well:
  • “Spring” (Antonio Vivaldi): especially nice with a violinist or string ensemble listen
  • “La Rejouissance” (George Frideric Handel) listen
  • “Allegro Maestoso from Water Music” (George Frideric Handel) listen
  • “Ode to Joy” (Traditional, used by Beethoven) Yes, it also works as a recessional! listen

All of these recessional selections work with any soloist or ensemble.

With all that in mind, plan your ceremony. Think about how traditional or non-traditional you want it to be. If the music choices listed above work for you, great! If not, listen to music until you find what works for you, then run it by Matt (720.276.1442). We’ll help you chose the perfect music for your special day!

First Dance Songs

Our musicians or DJs can offer these classic and hundreds of other first dance ideas. We also welcome any special requests you may have:

At Last Etta James
You Are So Beautiful Joe Cocker
Can't Take my Eyes Off Of You Frankie Valli
It's Your Love Tim McGraw
It Had to Be You Frank Sinatra
Best Is Yet to Come Tony Bennett
Better Together Jack Johnson
Bless The Broken Road Rascal Flatts
Could I Have This Dance Anne Murray
Have I Told You Lately Van Morrison
Hawaiian Wedding Song Various Artists
I Cross My Heart George Strait
I Finally Found Someone Barbara Streisand
I Will Beatles
Waste Phish
 Marry Me  Train

Classic Father/Daughter Dance Songs:

Because You Loved Me Celine Dion
Blessed Elton John
Butterfly Kisses Bob Carlysle
Daddy’s Hands Holly Dunn
Daddy's Little Girl Michael Bolton
Fathers, Be Good To Your Daughters Jack Johnson
I Loved Her First Heartland
Isn't She Lovely Stevie Wonder
My Little Girl Tim McGraw
You're My Hero Bette Midler

Classic Mother/Son Dance Songs:

I Hope you Dance Lee Ann Womack
The Greatest Love of All Whitney Houston
The Prayer Celine Dion
What a Wonderful World Louis Armstrong

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