Wedding Dance

What music is played at weddings?

Music is one of the things at your wedding, which forms the part of your persona and helps you to set the mood of your wedding party. Choosing music for your wedding can be one of the most enjoyable tasks of your wedding planning. It can also be a good option when you want to take a break from the busy and hectic preparations for your wedding.

Some couples have the impression that music is not necessary for the wedding or they don’t find the task very important and leave it completely to the DJ. However, this should not be the case, as music helps to add an essence of entertainment and fun to the enjoyable and auspicious occasion like your wedding.

Without music, your wedding can turn out to be quite a dull affair with a feeling of something missing from it. Moreover, it is always special to dedicate songs to your loved ones.

The music played at your wedding will set the tone for the entire event. While it may be overwhelming to think of every song that will be played on your big day, there are a few important ones to take into consideration. When planning, keep in mind choosing songs for these important moments on your special day!

Music In Your Wedding

Since music played at the wedding can be heard by everyone and is crucial for setting up the right mood of the wedding party, it should be selected with utmost caution. For selecting the right kind of music for your wedding, there are a few tips to remember.

Wedding Dance

Ceremony Music Basics

Traditionally, the most basic wedding ceremony music program involves a minimum of three types of songs: preludes, processionals and recessionals. 


Prelude music is light, ambient music that sets the mood while guests are being seated and waiting for the ceremony to begin. It usually starts when the doors open, or as early as 45 minutes before but no later than 20 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony.


Next is the processional, which accompanies the entry of the extended wedding party—family, attendants and bride. The same song can be used for each, but we love the idea of changing to another song when the bride enters to add drama and highlight the big entrance. 


After the ceremony, the recessional plays. As the name implies, this music accompanies you as you recess (that is, make your exit) and is traditionally bright, lively and celebratory—a reflection of your joy.

Interludes and Postludes

Many couples choose to add interludes or songs played during significant moments such as the unity candle lighting or the ketubah signing. You might also want to include a postlude, which is a selection played while guests exit the ceremony. Have someone play the violin, or even a set of bagpipes, as guests head toward the exit. Some to-be-weds even ask the musician to lead guests out of the ceremony space in a paradelike fashion.

Working With the Ceremony Venue

Rules and Restrictions 

Before you start interviewing ceremony musicians and contemplating song selections, do your homework. Some ceremony sites and officiants may have strict guidelines about which music can and can’t be played during a ceremony. Secular locations may also have guidelines you’ll need to be aware of, setting limits on the noise (volume and curfew) or space allotted for a band.

Setup Space

Consider the size of your ceremony venue when putting together your ensemble. For example, a huge brass quintet and a small chapel won’t be a match—the sound may overwhelm the space. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, you probably can’t use a traditional piano, but if electricity is available, an electric piano could work. Complement it by adding a string instrument such as a violin or cello.

If you’ve got your heart set on a harp, make sure there’s enough room (they’re huge) and scope out a practical way to get it inside your site (it would be difficult to have to drag a harp through a kitchen, for example). If you’ll be outside, a harp may not be the best choice—the sound won’t be as strong because it tends to drift upward.

Avoid Surprise Fees

Ceremony musicians may cost anywhere from $200 to $500 apiece. To cut back on costs, take a look at what may already be available in your space. (Does the hotel ballroom already have a grand piano? Use it!) You’ll save the additional charge of transport, which sometimes is tacked onto the overall cost per player, especially when larger instruments (like harps and pianos) have to be transported into space.

Finding the Right Pros

Research Potential Musicians

Where do you find musicians who’ll be a hit with your guests? Check with friends, peruse The Knot Marketplace for local ceremony musicians in your area and read client reviews. Ask for references—you want to be sure the people you hire have plenty of experience accompanying couples down the aisle. Most musicians will have a demo on their website that demonstrates what the different ensembles are capable of playing. If you’ve got time, ask to attend a function where they’ll be playing so you can hear them live before you hire them.

Point Person

Most ensembles have a leader who works with clients to put together appropriate musical accompaniment from a single instrument (such as an organ or violin) to a 10-piece orchestra. The more instruments, the fuller the sound—but remember, the larger the combo, the higher the price tag.

Instrument Combos

Also, while you may like the sound of a certain instrument, including it might not be as easy as just adding it to your ensemble. For example, you might want to add a trumpet, but then to balance it out you’ll need three or four-string pieces such as a cello, violin, viola and harp, or else the horn will awkwardly stand out. Just ask the musicians what would work best.

Here are some good basic combos to consider:

  • String duo (two violins or a violin and cello)
  • String trio (two violins and a cello)
  • Flute trio (flute, violin and a cello)
  • String quartet (two violins, a viola and cello)

You might consider adding an organ or piano to any of the trios or the quartet, including a harp with any of the above or jazzing things up with two trumpets.


If you decide to hire vocalists, it’s a good idea to have the singing begin after everyone is seated for your ceremony. When a person steps up to a microphone to sing, guests may feel obliged to be quiet and pay attention, which creates awkwardness. It’s also wise to make sure the vocalist is comfortable with your selections because when a singer is nervous, it shows right away in their voice. Ask which songs the soloist knows well, and work together to build a song list that satisfies you both. If there’s a song you want to include that they’re not familiar with, have a violin, piano or flute play an instrumental version of it.

Sound Strategy

Guest to Musician Ratio

Keep the number of guests to ceremony musicians ratio in mind. A quartet is appropriate for a group of 200, typically. To cut back and save, you might consider hiring a duo or trio and a sound person. Or, even better, ask your band or DJ to come with a couple of mics or an amplifier. Also, be mindful of what will sound good amplified. Of the instruments typically requested for weddings, guitars and string instruments (like violins and cellos) resonate best.


The setting is a big factor too. If your venue is indoors, you’ll be able to get away with more thanks to the room acoustics. Then again, if you’re outside and you have 200 people, you won’t even hear a duo. Plan if it’s an outdoor setting, so you’re prepared with microphones or enough musicians to combat the outside noise. Adding a flute always helps when outside as well, so if you can only afford a duo, try a classical guitarist with a cube amp accompanied by a flautist.

Wedding Ceremony Songs for Walking in and Walking out

A processional song is a piece of music that you and your wedding party will walk down the aisle to – you can have one song for everyone, or choose a separate song for your grand entrance. At the end of the ceremony, you and your new husband leave the venue to your recessional music, which tends to be more upbeat than the processional.

There are traditional choices for both wedding entrance songs and wedding exit songs, and we’ve given you a couple of options to consider. Listen and enjoy as we present our pick of some of the best wedding music ideas.

Processional Wedding Ceremony Songs

Bridal Chorus, Wagner

Often known as Here Comes The Bride, this piece of classical music is the traditional choice for the procession of the bride and is often played on an organ. We’ve chosen a slightly more modern arrangement by Vicente Avella on classical piano – that way you can keep the element of tradition without the drama!

Canon in D, Pachelbel

Another very popular choice with brides. This gorgeous piece of music sounds beautiful played by a traditional quartet, but we also love this version by Per-Olov Kindgren on classical guitar.

A Thousand Years, The Piano Guys (originally Christina Perri)

Often couples can’t decide between a classic instrumental or a more modern lovesong with vocals for their processional music. Why not get the best of both worlds with an instrumental cover of one of your favourite songs? We seriously love this piano and cello cover of Christina Perri – check out The Piano Guys for more classical covers.

Glasgow Love Theme, from Love Actually

Walking down the aisle to a song from your favourite film soundtrack is another way to incorporate instrumental music with a personal touch into your ceremony. There are loads of options to choose from – Love is a great place to start, and will have you welling up before you know it.

Marry Me, Train

If you want a modern song but aren’t sure what sort of thing to go for, then we think this a great choice. The melody and lyrics are both beautiful, and the tempo isn’t too fast for a professional.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Israel Kamakawiwo’ Ole

For something a little bit different, you can’t beat this gorgeous ukelele cover – it’s sure to get everyone smiling!

Recessional Wedding Ceremony Songs

Wedding March, Mendelssohn

This is the traditional choice for the wedding recessional. This grand organ piece is all about the high drama, so is best suited to larger or religious venues.

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Handel

This classical piece may be intended to signify an arrival, but it works perfectly for a recessional – it’s high tempo and undoubtedly joyful. Perfect for more traditional couples.

Don’t Stop Believing, Vitamin String Quartet (originally Journey)

Another classical cover of a modern tune – we love this version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing as played by a string quartet, as it strikes the perfect balance between traditional and contemporary. You can download it on Amazon Prime Music here.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Stevie Wonder

One of the most popular modern choices – and with good reason! After all, you and your new husband have just signed the wedding register, so the lyrics “signed, sealed, delivered – I’m yours!” are particularly meaningful.

First Day Of My Life, Bright Eyes

This adorable acoustic song is a great choice for couples looking for a quirky alternative, and we think it’s a lovely way to start the first day of your married life.

Now That We Found Love, Heavy D & The Boyz

For those looking for something truly different, we’ve loved this song for a wedding ever since we saw Will Smith and Eva Mendes get down to it in the last scene of Hitch. Do you think you and your new husband can beat their moves?

Depending on the venue you may be limited on live performances or online-based playlists, so you can always opt for this fail-safe CD with some classic wedding songs both old and new.

Best Wedding Songs by Event

Your wedding day will include many events, from exchanging your vows to cutting the cake and enjoying your first dance. The wedding songs you choose to accompany each event is important, as it will set the mood for the moment. The list below includes the best wedding songs for each of these events, so you are sure to make the most of your day.

  • Getting Ready Wedding Songs
  • Wedding Processional Songs
  • Songs to Walk Down the Aisle To
  • Wedding Ceremony Songs
  • Wedding Recessional Songs
  • Wedding Party Entrance Songs
  • Wedding Entrance Songs
  • Wedding Cake Cutting Songs
  • First Dance Wedding Songs
  • Father/Daughter Wedding Songs
  • Mother/Son Wedding Songs

Check out our post on How do I find a good wedding DJ?

Explore My Wedding Songs Playlists

  • Firstly it is essential to remember that music should not cater to only a single age group. This is because at every wedding there are people who belong to different age groups starting from children, teenagers, youth, to the elders. Thus, if music is of the choice of only one age group, then the others will tend to get bored and sometimes even frustrated.
  • The second most important thing to remember while choosing your wedding playlist is that it should not contain any songs that may sound awkward or annoying when played aloud in an audience. There are many songs in your I-pod that you may personally like, but they may not be very decent to be played when your mother and grandmother are accompanying you.
  • Another thing that should be considered while selecting the songs for your wedding is that they should not all be dance numbers as a wedding should not have a complete dance party feel to it.
  • The next point to remember is selecting the right DJ or band. Make sure whatever you hire for the music requirements of your wedding, be it a band or a DJ, and you explain your music specifications as well as any restrictions very clear to them. A DJ can be hired when your wedding is more of a fun affair, and a band could be a good option when you want to give an old school feels to your wedding.
  • Also, make sure that the playlist does not have too much variety in tempo and feel of the music as a constant switch of music from rock songs, to waltz, old school, or romantic can many times become frustrating for the audience.

Choosing your wedding music can be one of the most fun parts of the planning process, but it can also be time-consuming and overwhelming. There are many factors to consider, such as what tone you want to set, what songs you want to play during special events, and what music your guests will enjoy. You may also have songs that are special to you, your partner, and your family that you want to include during the ceremony and reception.

Apart from the above tips, never forget to add your personal touch to your wedding playlist as music is the best way to add the essence of your personality to the wedding and convey your feelings for your partner and loved ones through music.

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