Advice // What You Need to Know About Wedding Ceremony Music

Image: Justin Marantz {via Style Me Pretty}

Music has the ability to transport us away from our immediate surroundings to a different time and place. It is almost as though the songs which mean a great deal to us are imbued with magical powers! Just as the smell of your favourite childhood dish cooking or a loved one’s perfume can kindle strong emotions; special songs can lift the heart and heighten the senses. I suppose that is why music plays such an important part in the average wedding day setup.

There are many ways in which your favourite music can be incorporated into your wedding day; you could walk down the aisle to the song that was playing when you met, you could have your favourite artist playing softly in the background during your wedding breakfast, and your band or DJ could be charged with a bespoke playlist including songs which stir up special memories. The options are many, so it is important to sit down with your fiancé to discuss your ideas.

Image: Tec Petaja {via Style Me Pretty}

As I cannot advise you on what type of music is right for you as a couple, the advice below is more of a practical look at wedding music which deals with the ceremony only. I have chosen to highlight the ceremony as this is the section of the day I get asked about most with regards to music choices and restrictions.

The music which will be played during your wedding ceremony will differ depending on whether you have chosen to have a religious or a non-religious ceremony. Certain restrictions exist for both options, so be sure to discuss your ceremony music ideas with your minister or registrar.

Image Howell Photography {via Bridal Musings}

Religious ceremonies:

If you have opted for a wedding ceremony which will take place in a church, you will need to speak with the minister who will be conducting your marriage to find out specific details regarding the type and amount of music which will be required for your ceremony. Different churches have different traditions and rules, so your minister should be the first port of call before you set your heart on something which may not be appropriate. Generally you will need to decide on the following…

  • Prelude music, to be played while guests enter the church
  • A processional song, which will be played as the bridal party enters the church
  • Three hymns to be sung during the service
  • Incidental music, to be played while you are signing the register
  • Recessional music, to be played while you and your groom leave the church as husband and wife

Popular choices for music during a church wedding include solo artists, organists and church choirs. I really do think that a traditional church choir is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, and I urge you to utilise your church’s own choir during your ceremony, particularly if they have an angelic sounding children’s choir! A church choir will lead your guests during your chosen hymns, and they can sing alone while you sign the register. Most churches also have an organist who can provide a very traditional atmosphere for your ceremony. Organists are a goldmine of information with regards to choosing which hymns to include, so be sure to meet with your church’s own organist early on in the decision making process! You should also check the level of proficiency of the organist so that you can make an informed decision about the pieces you want them to play.

Regarding hymns it is important that you try to choose songs which are well known and easy to sing so that your guests are able to keep up. You should also discuss your favourite hymns with your fiancé to see if there are any pieces which you both adore. These pieces must be included in your ceremony as the sound of your friends and family giving voice to your favourite hymns can be a very inspiring and emotional experience.

Image: Colin Cowie Weddings

Non-religious ceremonies:

As I mentioned above it is very important that you discuss any ideas you have regarding ceremony music with your registrar or celebrant. You need to make sure that you have the correct amount of songs chosen and that all of them are appropriate for a non-religious ceremony. You may also like to have a conversation with your venue’s wedding planners or events team to be completely sure that you know what is required as some venues has restrictions on the genres of music they will play. Most non-religious ceremonies require the following…

  • Prelude music to be played while guests enter the ceremony room
  • A processional piece, which will be played as the bridal party enters the ceremony room
  • Three incidental pieces to be played while you are signing the register
  • And finally a recessional piece which will be played while you and your groom leave the ceremony room as husband and wife

Popular options for non-religious ceremony music include hiring a pianist, a solo artist or a string quartet to play live during the ceremony, or if you’re on a tight budget you could simply use a good quality CD player or iPod speaker dock to play your own music. If you do decide to use a gadget of some descriptions to play your music, just make sure that all of our equipment is in good working order. If you have your heart set on live music then I always suggest requesting that venue staff have a CD player or iPod dock as a backup in case the musician fails to arrive.

I know I’ve mentioned this above, but I want to make the point again. If you are to have a civil ceremony then you must be careful not to choose pieces which have any religious connotations. Double check with your registrar if you’re unsure as registrars are bound by law to interrupt your ceremony if you play a piece of music which isn’t appropriate.

--Lottie ♥