Wedding Ceremony Song Ideas

When selecting wedding ceremony songs, consider hiring professional musicians for the wedding music songs or hire a choir if you want one.

If you are having a religious ceremony, the choice of music will mostly depend on the customs of the church where you are to be married.

If the church has a choir, this gives added dimension to the ceremony. The choir can encourage the congregation to join in the singing.

When selecting wedding ceremony songs, consider hiring professional musicians for the wedding music songs or hire a choir if you want one.

If you are having a religious ceremony, the choice of music will mostly depend on the customs of the church where you are to be married. If the church has a choir, this gives added dimension to the ceremony. The choir can encourage the congregation to join in the singing.

If you do decide on hiring the church choir or organist, find out when they will next perform at a wedding and go and listen to the wedding ceremony songs before you book their services

On making inquires to hire the choir find out the fees, it is the best man’s job on behalf of the groom to pay the choir usually before the wedding ceremony (usually in cash).

There are many other options in musical instruments and vocals for the wedding ceremony songs; you may prefer to have one of the following: piano, violin, string quartet, flute, harp, trumpet, small chamber orchestra, soloist, or duet for your ceremony.

Picture of piano with sheet music.

Before booking any “outside” musicians check with the minister or priest if it is permitted to do so.

If you are to be married at a register office, it is not usual to have wedding ceremony songs, although some registrars are prepared to make arrangements for the playing of recorded music (but do check with the registrar before your wedding).

If you are marrying in a church it is usual to have wedding ceremony songs for the following:

  • Music before the ceremony.
  • Music for the entrance of the bride.
  • Up to three hymns during the ceremony.
  • Music during the signing of the marriage register.
  • Music while the procession leaves the church.

Some wedding ceremony songs are so traditional that, even if you don’t like classical music, you will recognize it as soon as you hear it. The advantage of playing traditional wedding ceremony songs is that it will instantly get the wedding guests in the right mood.

There is an enormous range of music which can enhance and enrich the wedding ceremony. There are hymns, anthems, psalms, marches, processionals. If you are uncertain of the type of music to be played, the musician will be able to advise you and give you ideas.

Talk to them about your likes and dislikes and what you would like to hear on your wedding day. Make sure that you listen to the selected pieces of wedding ceremony songs before a final decision is made.

Here are some suggestions:

The Prelude Music

This is the first thirty to forty minutes before the bride arrives, and this is when the guests are arriving and taking their seats. Soft instrumental music and vocal solos are often preformed before the ceremony. This is followed by a vocal solo or choir piece which is performed after the mothers are seated. Remember to check with the minister or priest on the type of wedding music that is allowed to be played; and he may also be able to refer you to local musicians that have played in the church before. Suggested nuptial music to be played for the prelude are:

  • Sheep May Safely Gaze by Bach Air on a G String by Bach
  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach
  • In Thee is Joy by Beethoven
  • Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee by Beethoven
  • Biblical Songs by Dvorak
  • Nimrod, from Enigma Variations by Elgar
  • The Water Music by Handel
  • The King of Love My Shepard is by Hinsworth
  • Liebestraum by Liszt
  • The Lord’s Prayer by Malotte
  • Ave Maria by Schubert
  • Prelude, Air and Gavotte by Wesley
Tip: If you are going to hire a vocalist or ensemble for your wedding music, schedule them to play when everyone has arrived and settled down so that they will actually be heard.

The Processional Music

This is played while the wedding party and bride walks down the aisle. It can either be the first hymn or an organ solo or other instrument. This is usually an uplifting piece of wedding music that places the bride at center stage.

There is no law that says the bride has to walk down the aisle to the Bridal Chorus by Lohergrin, if you choose something else make sure it evokes some sort of fanfare. See our page on wedding entrance music for a list of popular processional music.

The Interlude

Is the wedding ceremony songs that are played during the ceremony, it could be vocal or instrumental solos or folk songs performed after the vows. It can maintain a joyous mood throughout the ceremony.

A combination of vocal and instrumental music can be a nice touch. If friends or relatives have talent on a professional level, and if they have preformed in public before, you may like to ask if they could play the prelude or do a solo after the vows, and as a thank you to them present them with a special gift at the reception.

Hymns For The Wedding Music

You might have a few favorite hymns of your own. Some hymns do seem more appropriate than others for wedding ceremony music.

  • Amazing Grace Come, Holy Ghost
  • Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
  • God of Grace and God of Glory It’s a Joy to be Simple (to the tune of Lord of the Dance)
  • I Vow to Thee My Country
  • Jerusalem
  • Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
  • Morning Has Broken
  • Now Thank We All Our Good
  • O, Perfect Love, All Human Thought Transcending
  • The King of Love My Shepherd Is
  • All Creatures of our God and King
  • All People that on Earth do Dwell
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • As I Kneel Before You
  • Blest Be the Tie that Binds
  • Colors of Day
  • Come Down, oh Love Divine
  • The King of Love my Shepherd is
  • The Lord is my Shepherd
  • Lord of all Hopefulness
  • Morning has Broken
  • Shine, Jesus, Shine
  • Walk with Me, oh my Lord

Solos Wedding Music

  • Be Thou But Near by Bach I Follow Thee Also with Joylightend Footsteps by Bach
  • Entreat Me Not to Leave Thee by Cassler
  • Set Me as a Seal Upon Thy Heart (A Wedding Suite) by Clokey
  • Be Thou Faithful Unto Death (Saint Paul) by Mendelssohn
  • If With All Your Hearts (Elijah) by Mendelssohn

Anthems

  • Bless This House by Adams Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach
  • Ave Maria by Bach/Gounod
  • The Holy City by Brahe
  • How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Brahms
  • I Will Not Leave Thee Comfortless by Byrd
  • Where’er You Walk by Handel
  • Zadok the Priest by Handel
  • O Lord, Maker of All Things by Henry VIII
  • Brother James’ Air (Psalm 23) by Jacob
  • Bell Anthem by Purcell

Music for signing the register

  • Ave Maria by Schubert Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire by Bach
  • Arioso by Bach
  • The Call by Vaughan Williams
  • Let the Bright Seraphim by Handel
  • Panis Angelicus by Franck

The Recessional Music

This is a triumphant piece played as the newlyweds walk up the aisle as husband and wife, followed by the wedding party. The recessional calls for a lively piece of music (nothing too slow or dull.)

  • Marche Heroique by Brewer Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke
  • Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel
  • Sonata in A Major (First Movement) by Mendelssohn
  • Trumpet Overture, from the Indian Queen by Purcell
  • Grand March, from Aida by Verdi
  • Carillon de Westminster Opus 54 by Vierne
  • Toccata in F, from Symphony No 5 by Widor
  • Marche Pontificale by Widor
  • Ode to Joy from Symphony No 3 by Beethoven
  • Coronation March by Walton
  • Trumpet Tune in C by Purcell
  • Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn

The Postlude Music

This is played for the guests as they leave the church and until all the guests have filed out and joined the receiving line.

Wedding Bells

Wedding bells are considered a sign of good luck. Many churches no longer have bells or bell ringers. If you are getting married in a church and the church does have bells, you may want to have the peal of bells to welcome you to the service and afterwards to announce and celebrate the marriage.

Check with the minister or priest if this can be done. If bell ringing is possible, remember to book the bell ringers and find out about their fees.

It is the best man’s job on behalf of the groom to pay the bell ringers on the wedding day before the ceremony (cash in an envelope is the best method). He should also signal the bell ringers when you are nearing the entrance of the church.