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Wedding Ceremony Music Guide

Published: 2 May 14, 06:06pm  |  Author: DG Music

Hiring live music for your wedding ceremony will enhance the occasion and make it so much more memorable for you and your guests. Here is a guide to choosing the right musicians and top tips on where and when the music should take place.

The music you choose for your wedding ceremony is, after all, the soundscape you will always associate with the biggest day of your life so it’s important to get it right. Take time to consider your choices now and you’ll be able to look back with fond memories and no regrets with every anniversary that passes.

If you want to listen to music choices then go straight to our awesome list of Top 50 Wedding Ceremony Music Choices.

Wedding music - where do I start?

Most wedding ceremonies have four distinct stages and you’ll need to choose an appropriate soundtrack for each of them. These stages are the arrival of the guests, the arrival of the bride, the signing of the register and the departure of the happy couple. They are more formally known as pre-ceremony, processional, signing of the register and recessional.

Harpists are a popular choice

Each stage is important and each has its own musical requirements, so take a look through this guide to help steer you in the right direction.

Arrival of the guests (pre-ceremony)

Your wedding guests will begin to arrive up to 45 minutes before the start of the service, so it’s important to choose enough music to fill this gap. This is where hiring live musicians can help – not only can they help you decide how many pieces of music you will need, they will carry on playing until the bride arrives, no matter how fashionably late she might be.

If you do opt for recorded music, make sure your venue has a suitable sound system so everyone can hear it properly and have someone on stand-by to re-start the tracks if your playlist does run short.

At this stage of the day tensions may be running high, especially for the groom who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride, so try to choose something calm and relaxing.

Arrival of the bride (processional)

Entrance of the bride

The arrival of the bride is one of the highlights of any wedding day. Standing at the top of the aisle, finally getting to show off ‘the dress’ and preparing to say ‘I do’ is a moment every bride will want to remember forever so it’s important to take the time to choose a piece of music which reflects that.

While there is nothing wrong with sticking to the traditional pieces like Here Comes The Bride (or Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, to give it it’s proper name), you shouldn’t feel limited to such pieces. Most wedding venues will allow whatever music you want, so think outside the box and try to come up with something which truly represents you as a bride and a couple.

On a more practical note, don’t forget to consider the size of the venue and the speed at which you will walk down the aisle. In most venues it isn’t actually that far so try to match the length of your chosen music to the time it will take you to reach the groom. You should also consider the pace of the music and avoid anything that will force you to walk too fast or too slow.

Again it can be invaluable to have live musicians for this stage as they can time the music perfectly.

Signing of the Register

Signing of the register

Signing the register can take longer than you might expect as many photographers will want to get a number of different shots. It’s important not to leave your guests sitting in silence as the register signing often takes place out of their sight and they will get fidgety waiting for you to reappear.

It’s a chance for your guests to sit back and reflect on the union they have just witnessed so something soft and laid back is probably most appropriate.

Departure of the happy couple (recessional)

An upbeat and celebratory tune is the perfect accompaniment to that special moment when you leave the ceremony as man and wife. As you take your first steps into the world as Mr and Mrs you want something lively and uplifting to let your guests know the party is about to start.

This is the point in the ceremony where you really can let your hair down as far as music choice is concerned (but do run it by with whoever is leading the service, especially if you are having a church wedding, as some venues might have restrictions).

Exit of the bride and groom

Classical vs Contemporary

Throughout all stages of the ceremony it is important to consider the type of music you choose – which often comes down to classical or contemporary – and whether it suits your personality and the venue you have chosen.

Classical music works well for both church and civil settings, particularly if you’re looking to give an air of sophistication and class, focusing on the importance of the occasion whilst giving a real feel-ing of elegance and distinction.

If you’re having a civil ceremony, though, you’ll need to bear in mind that religious pieces won’t be allowed, which disqualifies popular choices like Pie Jesu and the Hallelujah Chorus for a start.

For that reason, a growing number of people — particularly young couples — opt to discount classical music altogether and go for something a little more contemporary.

If you do go for a contemporary vibe, your options are endless and you are more or less free to choose whatever means the most to you.

Many couple opt for Acoustic Pop music

Choice of musicians

* String quartet - a classic choice for church and civil ceremonies. A string quartet will essentially play classical music but some will include pop pieces in their repertoire. This is a particularly good choice if you would like to include hymns or songs from films and musicals.

* Harpist - a stunning focal point for any ceremony. Harpists tend to perform classical music but some include pop music in their repertoire. It’s important to consider how much space a harpist will need and whether your venue has suitable access (for example, winding staircases are out)

* Pianist - one of the most versatile options for your ceremony. A pianist can perform classical or pop music and many will be willing to create a special arrangement of your favourite piece of music. Most bookings will include the provision of a digital piano but if your venue has a grand piano, make use of it. Just don’t forget to make sure it is tuned before the big day as your musician won’t be able to do this when they arrive at the ceremony.

* Guitarist - a versatile performer with a varied repertoire. Guitarists provide a romantic sound or can offer something different with a gypsy or flamenco feel.

* Organist - an obvious choice for a church service. Many churches have their own organist but you might like to consider booking a professional musician who can offer a wider repertoire. For example, a church organist might not be able to offer requests like the popular Widor Toccata. A professional can also help you choose music for the whole service, but make sure you check the specifications of the church organ before making a booking.

* Choir - an extravagant but brilliant choice whether you opt for a traditional choir or a gospel group a la Four Weddings and a Funeral. A choir adds a real wow factor to your service but expect to pay upwards of four figures for a professional group. Many churches have their own choir so it’s worth asking it they are available if your budget is tight.

* Solo singer - a versatile choice. Classical sopranos and tenors can perform arias with the organist or pop and jazz singers can perform something more contemporary like Ave Maria or Over The Rainbow.

* Jazz musicians - there are lots of options here. Professionals can perform Dixieland jazz or something cool like the sounds of Miles Davis.

Jazz musicians

* Acoustic pop - a popular choice with young couples who want something fresh and modern. Acoustic pop acts usually perform as a soloist or duo with  wide repertoire of pop music. This is an excellent choice for an outdoor, civil or church ceremony. Remember the musician will need access to electricity for some light amplification.

* Something different - your choice of musicians is endless but some popular alternative styles include bagpipes for celtic weddings, trumpet voluntaries, folk music, wood or brass ensembles and international styles like Indian, Jewish and Eastern European music.

Music Choices

Ultimately the decision is yours to make, it's your day and you want to make it personal to you. If you as a couple have a favourite song that is sentimental to you then dont hesitate to incorporate it on your special day.

Struggling for ideas and inspiration? Then refer to our Top 50 Wedding Ceremony Music Choices with tips and videos of all 50 suggestions!

DG’s Top Tips

* Dare to be different and choose music that means something to you as a couple.

* Give your musicians as much guidance as possible on what musical style you would like but be willing to take their advice.

* Make sure the music you choose is appropriate for the venue - is the style suitable? Is it the right length? Is there space for the musicians to perform?

* Remember that religious music is not allowed in civil ceremonies.

* Choose carefully. You will (hopefully) only do this once so don’t rush your decisions!

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About DG Music

DG Music is a professional Music Agency providing bands and musicians for private events and public performances.

The business has been operating since 2004 and is proud of the professional and friendly service it provides.

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