Choosing songs for your wedding is a (hopefully!) fun and exciting process. But if you don't know where or how to start, it might be a little stressful. Here are some definitions and general guidelines to get you started.
Prelude music: The music that I play before your ceremony while guests arrive. Typically lasts 30 minutes (10-12 songs). You're welcome to choose all of the songs, choose just a few, give me some genre/artist guidelines, or leave it up to me entirely.
General processional: This is the song your bridal party - bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, grandparents, flower girl, ring bearer, and anyone else who walks out ahead of you - will walk down the aisle to. I think it works best to pick something slow that flows well into the bridal march. If you have a very large bridal party, you might want to have two songs, one for your parents and grandparents and another for the bridesmaids.
Small wedding alternative: If you have a very small bridal party, you might not want a separate processional song at all, but rather one song for both bridal party and bride.
Bridal march: This is the song for the bride's walk down the aisle. I think it works best if it’s on the slower side, but the most important thing is that you love it! Many people go for the traditional "Canon in D" or "Here Comes the Bride," but just as many if not more of the couples I work with pick something contemporary with vocals or an instrumental Irish tune.
Recessional: This is the song that starts either after your officiant announces you or as you have your first kiss as a married pair, that then continues to play while you and your bridal party all exit. It's best if it's something upbeat, fast-paced, happy and joyful. Something that says, “Yay, now we’re married, let’s party!” If you’re going all standard classical for the ceremony, this is sometimes a good time to slip in a contemporary song for fun.
Small wedding alternative: If you're having a very small wedding with just parents and a few close friends, following your ceremony with your first dance might work even better than having a standard recessional.
Postlude music: The music that I play after the recessional song while your guests exit. Typically 1-3 additional songs, but can last longer if you're sticking around to have photos taken.
Optional Mid-Ceremony Music Additions
Mid-ceremony musical interludes: Ring blessings, hand-fasting ceremonies, unity candle lightings, sand pouring ceremonies, or other rituals in the middle of the ceremony are all great times to add in music since they're often otherwise silent. Something fairly quiet and not too distracting is preferable, but it can also be a good way to feature another song you really love. The music can be queued up to whatever is going on, or can be played in its entirety if you'd like.
Transitions: Short instrumental pieces can smooth things over while speakers are walking up and coming back down from the altar.
Music during the entire ceremony: Another option you can consider is having me play light instrumental music, volume turned down on my amplifier, throughout the entire ceremony.
Choosing Your Songs
If you have a song or songs in mind already, great! But if you're not sure, here's what I suggest:
Think about the overall vibe you want. Do you want all instrumental, songs with vocals, or a mix? Do you want to keep it traditional with the classical standards? Traditional with a twist? Fresh and contemporary? Rustic and folky? Do you want to honor your families’ heritage, or would you like the music to say something about you as a couple? Do you want to honor your parents by walking down the aisle to the same song they did?
Tell me your favorite artists. They might have a great wedding-appropriate song you hadn’t thought of. Or perhaps you have a couple of favorite songs, but you don’t think the lyrics are ceremony-appropriate; I could do an instrumental version, or adapt the lyrics.