Arranging the musical compositions for your wedding day is an important step in planning your wedding program, and is an integral part of the day. But the real question is: What musical selections should you play and when should you play them? Which song do you play for the bride’s entrance, and which do you play for the wedding party’s recessional ? Do you know the difference between the processional music and wedding party’s entrance music? Or do you know when to cue up for the bride’s entrance?
Ahh, never thought of these things huh? Well no worries, cause we have, that’s what we’re here for! And we’ve got it all laid out for you, from the ceremony prelude all the way to the reception’s last dance.
So, let’s get started shall we? Here we’ve compiled a list of the most important wedding songs and where they fit into your wedding day and why. The selections are pretty traditional, but you can mix it up any which way you like because, hey, it’s your day!
The prelude is the music played prior to the beginning of the actual ceremony. It’s the background music, or “elevator music” if you will, that’s piped into your ceremony venue as guests file in and are seated. Prelude music typically consists of the same genre of music that is similar in style and taste of your ceremony music, and is usually an assortment of tunes played until the processional begins.
Favorite prelude songs include but are not limited to:
- Air on a G String
- Wachet Auf
- Falling in Love
Processional music is played as the wedding party enters and important guests are seated. This is the music your ring bearer, flower girl, bridesmaids (and sometimes groomsmen) all enter to.
Favorites include but not limited to:
- Canon D – Pachelbel
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
- Trumpet Voluntary
This is, of course, the most important song played during the entire wedding day. The beginning of the Bridal Chorus (commonly known as “Here Comes the Bride”) signals all the guests to direct their attention to the fact that the bride is about to enter. Usually accompanied by her father, the music continues to play as the bride walks down the aisle.
The interlude is music played usually during certain portions of religious wedding ceremonies, or during special speeches in the program. It can either be the background music while these activities are being conducted, or can be played as an intro to them.
Some favorites are:
- Ave Maria
- I Will Be Here
- The Wedding Song
The recessional music is played as the couple and the wedding party walk back down the aisle and depart the ceremony. Often confused with the Bridal Chorus, the actual song is Mendelssohn: Wedding March Midsummer’s Night Dream. It is the grand finale that exalts the couple have now been officially pronounced married!
The postlude music is played once the wedding party has departed, and the guests begin to file out of the ceremony. Again, like the prelude, it’s background music that will be an assortment of melodies. Ode to Joy by Beethoven is most popular for the postlude.
Wedding Party Entrance
This is the music played when the wedding party is individually introduced and makes their grand entrance into the reception. The couple is then introduced last, as they make their way through the “gauntlet” created by the wedding party. This entrance is usually a segue into the First Dances. Choosing your entrance music is totally up to you, but it traditionally is very upbeat, festive, and fun!
Couple’s First Dance
This is the music played during the couple’s first dance; directly following the wedding party’s entrance is typically when the couple enjoys their first dance. Of course, choosing your first song is a completely personal decision, driven by your own preferences. Your first dance song should be reflective of who you are as a couple and how you feel about each other. And pay close attention to the lyrics of the song you choose— there may be a song you like, but the lyrics don’t quite match the sentiment you’re trying to convey.
Favorite first dance songs:
- Here and Now – Luther Vandross
- From this Moment – Shania Twain
- Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
- At Last – Etta James
This is the music played while the bride and her father share a special dance. Choosing the song for your Father/Daughter dance is, like the first dance, a completely personal choice, but the same rules of reviewing the lyrics and conveying the appropriate message still apply.
Favorite Father/Daughter dance songs:
- Dance with My Father – Luther Vandross
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Daughters – John Mayer
This is the music played while the groom and his mother share a special dance. All rules discussed above for first dances apply here as well.
Favorite Mother/Son dance songs:
- Mama – Boys II Men
- What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- That’s What Mamas Do – Jason Matthews
Cake Cutting Song
Cake-cutting songs are plentiful, and like the wedding party entrance song, it should be fun and upbeat as you cut, serve (and smash!) cake to each other.
Some titles to consider:
- How Sweet it is (To Be Loved By You) – James Taylor
- Sugar, Sugar – Archies
- Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
The last dance song is played as the couple share their last dance before leaving the ceremony. The choice is up to you. However, if you leave your ceremony before your guests do, instruct your DJ to play Last Dance by Donna Summers so they too will know that party is officially over!