How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Ceremony Music

Choosing the perfect wedding ceremony music for the prelude, processional, and recessional can be an enjoyable and meaningful task. The music that accompanies each stage of the event is one of the most magical elements of a wedding ceremony. From the tender melodies of the prelude to the triumphant notes of the recessional, music plays a pivotal role in setting the tone and enhancing the emotion of your special day. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to help you make the right musical choices that reflect your style, personality, and the atmosphere you want to create.

perfect wedding ceremony music guide
Photo by David Holifield
How to choose wedding music?

1. Think about your personal tastes
2. Consider the venue
3. Match the mood
4. Embrace tradition or personalize
5. Work with musicians or a DJ
6. Pay attention to lyrics
7. Rehearse and time your music

Think About Your Personal Tastes for Your Wedding Ceremony Music

As a couple, take some time to reflect on your personal musical tastes and preferences before you begin selecting specific songs. Consider genres, instruments, and songs that hold special meaning to both of you. Whether it’s classical, jazz, pop, rock, or something else entirely, your wedding music should reflect who you are as individuals and as a couple.

Consider the Venue

Your music choices can be greatly influenced by the location of your ceremony. If you’re getting married in a traditional church, classical compositions or hymns may be a natural fit. A beach wedding, on the other hand, might call for acoustic guitar or light, breezy tunes. Consider the acoustics of the room and how the music will sound in that setting.

Set the Mood

Each segment of your wedding ceremony has a distinct mood. The Prelude sets the stage and welcomes guests, the Processional is about anticipation and the bride’s entrance, and the Recessional marks the joyful conclusion. Choose music that complements these moods:

A Guide to the Most Popular Wedding Ceremony Music Ideas:
Prelude: Soft, soothing, and welcoming music to set a relaxed tone.


Choosing the right music for a wedding ceremony’s prelude sets the tone and creates a welcoming atmosphere for your guests as they arrive and take their seats. The prelude typically consists of instrumental pieces that are soothing, elegant, and reflective. The following popular music options in a variety of styles and moods are coordinated in a playlist on Spotify:

Classical Selections:

Johann Pachelbel: Canon in D
Antonio Vivaldi: “Spring” from The Four Seasons
Ludwig van Beethoven: Ode to Joy
Claude Debussy: Clair de Lune
Erik Satie: Gymnopédie No. 1

Romantic Choices:

Yiruma: River Flows in You
Ennio Morricone: Gabriel’s Oboe (from “The Mission” soundtrack)
Ludovico Einaudi: Nuvole Bianche
Max Richter: On the Nature of Daylight

Contemporary Options:

Ed Sheeran: Perfect (instrumental version)
John Legend: All of Me (instrumental version)
Christina Perri: A Thousand Years (instrumental version)
Adele: Make You Feel My Love (instrumental version)

Traditional Favorites:

“Ave Maria” (various versions)
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach
“Air” from Suite No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach

Film and TV Soundtracks:

“Married Life” from the movie “Up”
“Concerning Hobbits” from “The Lord of the Rings”
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz”

Jazz and Light Classics:

George Gershwin: Summertime
Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World
Frank Sinatra: Fly Me to the Moon

Remember, the prelude music should match the overall theme and ambiance of your wedding. Whether you prefer classical elegance, contemporary romance, or a mix of different styles, make sure the music you choose resonates with you and your partner. It’s a beautiful way to set the stage for the ceremony to come.

Processional: Something emotionally resonant to build anticipation.


A processional is the part of a wedding ceremony where the wedding party, including the bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, and finally the bride, make their entrance and walk down the aisle to their designated places for the ceremony. It’s a significant and ceremonial moment that marks the beginning of the formal proceedings.
The music chosen for the processional should be dignified, evocative, and reflective of the couple’s style and the overall tone of the ceremony. These popular choices for processional music are compiled in a playlist on Spotify:

Classical Selections:

Johann Pachelbel: Canon in D
Antonio Vivaldi: “Spring” from The Four Seasons
Edward Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1

Romantic Picks:

Yiruma: River Flows in You
Ludovico Einaudi: Una Mattina
Max Richter: On the Nature of Daylight

Contemporary Options:

Christina Perri: A Thousand Years
John Legend: All of Me
Coldplay: A Sky Full of Stars (instrumental version)

Traditional Choices:

Richard Wagner: Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) from “Lohengrin”
Felix Mendelssohn: Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Film and TV Soundtracks:

John Williams: Theme from “Jurassic Park”
Hans Zimmer: “Tennessee” from “Pearl Harbor”
Ennio Morricone: Love Theme from “Cinema Paradiso”

Timeless Classics:

The Beatles: All You Need Is Love
Elvis Presley: Can’t Help Falling in Love
Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World

When choosing processional music, consider the tempo, mood, and emotional resonance of each piece. Discuss your preferences with your partner and maybe even listen to different options together to find the one that perfectly captures the atmosphere you want for that special walk down the aisle.

Recessional: Uplifting and celebratory music to exit as married couple.


A recessional is the part of a wedding ceremony that takes place immediately after the couple has been pronounced married and officially introduced as a married couple for the first time. It’s the joyous and celebratory moment when the newlyweds, followed by the wedding party, leave the ceremony site. The recessional marks the end of the formal ceremony and the beginning of the celebratory phase of the wedding.
The music chosen for the recessional should be upbeat, joyful and triumphant, reflecting the happiness and excitement of the moment. These recessional music options are collected in a
playlist in different styles on Spotify:

Traditional Selections:

Felix Mendelssohn: Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
George Frideric Handel: “Hornpipe” from Water Music

Classical Favorites:

Ludwig van Beethoven: “Ode to Joy” from Symphony No. 9
Antonio Vivaldi: “Spring” from The Four Seasons

Upbeat and Contemporary Choices:

Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed, Delivered
The Beatles: All You Need Is Love
Pharrell Williams: Happy

Lively Instrumentals:

Earth, Wind & Fire: September
ABBA: Dancing Queen
Queen: You’re My Best Friend

Joyful Film Soundtracks:

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from “Trolls”
“Celebration” from “Shrek”

Folk and Acoustic Options:

Mumford & Sons: I Will Wait
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: Home
Jason Mraz: I’m Yours

Latin or World Music:

Traditional Mexican Mariachi music
Caribbean steel drum bands playing festive tunes

The recessional music is meant to convey the excitement and happiness of the moment as you and your partner exit the ceremony space together as a newly married couple. It’s a wonderful opportunity to infuse your personalities and musical tastes into the celebration. Whether you prefer a traditional march or a contemporary pop hit, the key is to choose music that makes you and your guests smile and dance with joy.

Selection of Wedding Music, Prelude, Processional, and Recessional
Photo by Sigmund
Embrace Tradition or Personalize

Decide whether you want to embrace traditional wedding music or personalize your choices. Traditional options such as “Canon in D” for the processional or “Wedding March” for the recessional are timeless and popular. On the other hand, you can choose songs that have special meaning to you as a couple or that tell your unique love story.

Work With Musicians or a DJ

If you have the budget, working with live musicians such as string quartets, harpists, or pianists can add a touch of elegance and charm to your ceremony. These professionals can help you choose the right pieces and even offer suggestions based on their expertise. If you’re using a DJ, make sure the DJ has experience with wedding ceremonies and a diverse music library.

Be Mindful Lyrics

Pay attention to the lyrics of the songs you choose, especially for the processional and recessional. Make sure that the lyrics are appropriate for you as a couple and that they are meaningful to you. Some songs may have beautiful melodies, but they may convey messages that are not in line with your values or with the tone you’d like to set for your wedding.

Rehearse and Time Your Music

Before the big day, schedule a rehearsal with your musicians or DJ to make sure the timing of the music is perfect. The processional should match the pace of your walk down the aisle, and the recessional should match your exit as a newlywed couple.

Wedding Stationery by KBM D3signs

In a Nutshell

Choosing the perfect wedding ceremony music for the prelude, processional, and recessional is an enjoyable part of wedding event planning. It allows you to infuse your personality and love story into your special day. By reflecting on your tastes, considering the venue, matching the mood, embracing tradition or personalization, working with musicians or a DJ, paying attention to lyrics, and rehearsing carefully, you can create a musical backdrop that enhances the magic and emotion of your wedding ceremony. Remember, the right music will help you and your invited guests create lasting memories of this beautiful moment in your lives.