On a wedding day, the schedule usually looks like this to a guest: wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. The wedding ceremony music sets the mood for the entire day/evening. In general, the music played before the ceremony is slower, like a love song, and the music played after the ceremony, is upbeat and cheerful to set up the mood for celebration for the rest of the wedding. In this article, I’ll explain the terms that musicians use for each part of the wedding ceremony.
The first few guests usually arrive about 20 – 30 minutes before the ceremony. When guests first arrive, they would find the ceremony site and mingle talk among themselves. Prelude music is usually the only entertainment. The song choices and instrument choices set up the mood of the entire event. These days, DJs would use recordings of string quartet cover songs. However, if you could hire the live musicians to provide the ceremony music, it makes the experience so special. Having a good group of musicians at the wedding ceremony is just so classy and romantic.
Recommended length: 20-30 minutes
- Grandparents, Parents, Groomsmen, Groom
- Bridesmaids, Flower girls, Ring Bearer
The music accompanying the processional could be one song for everyone, or a song for each group. This is totally up to the couple’s choice. Once the bride arrives at the front, the music fades away and the ceremony starts. On some occasions when the couple decides to do a unity ceremony (such as sands pouring or candle lighting) or signage of the marriage licence, music can be played to accompany the non-speech moments. This part of music could last as long as 3 minutes or 10 minutes depending on the size of the wedding party. As far as I know, there are no set rules.
After the vows, rings and kisses, the officiant announces the couple for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. XXX. At this moment, the recessional music starts. That signals the end of the ceremony and the bride and groom, now a married couple, leave the ceremony site and lead the entire wedding party out the way with the recessional music.
Recommended length: 1 song
Once the wedding party leaves, the guests are usually invited to move to the cocktail hour, reception or luncheon in a different area. While the guests are leaving the ceremony location, the postlude music is played.
Recommended length: 1 – 2 songs
Check out the Gigue Music Song List for some suggestions on songs to request on your wedding ceremony here.