Choosing Music For Your Wedding Ceremony

So…you have the ring, you’ve set the wedding date, and you’ve found the dress.

You’re planning your wedding down to the last detail, from the color of the flowers to the style of the napkin rings. But did you know there is one detail you have likely overlooked? Choosing music for your wedding ceremony is an important part of setting the tone and atmosphere for your event.

The music.

Whether played by a string quartet, a brass band, or an organ, live music adds instant elegance to any wedding ceremony.  It can be tailored to meet your needs, whether you are getting married in a church or a garden. While recorded music can be difficult to customize, live musicians will work with you to create a unique program built on your favorite songs.

Perhaps the only problem with live music is that there are so many options. A Google search for “wedding ceremony music” brings up over forty-one million results. Even for brides who have time to research, the task can be challenging. So where to begin?

  • Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube are great places to start. All three contain wedding music playlists and songs in a variety of styles, from traditional choices like Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Wedding March to more alternative selections such as “In My Life” and “The Power of Love.”
  • Google can also be helpful as long as queries are not too general. For example, instead of searching for “wedding music,” enter in something more specific, such as “alternative wedding ceremony songs.”
  • You can also preview music on musicians’ websites. For example, string ensembles specializing in wedding music often include audio clips on their websites, such as the one found here:

As you listen, there are a few details to keep in mind:

Length. The length of a song should affect where it is placed in the wedding ceremony. For instance, while a song like “From This Moment On” would be too short for seven bridesmaids to walk down the aisle, it would be perfect as part of the prelude while wedding guests are being seated. Length is especially important when choosing music for the bridal processional. You will want to consider how long the walk will take, and choose a piece that will fit well into that length of time.

Style. Another factor to consider is style. What music expresses you? If your style is classy and feminine, an elegant favorite like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy would be a great choice. Songs like “Life in Technicolor” by Coldplay or “Book of Days” by Enya would fit a more spontaneous, casual style. Songs such as “All I Ask Of You” or “Till There Was You” would be perfect for the bride who loves musicals!

Location. You will want to consider the location and size of the venue when selecting ceremony musicians. If your ceremony will be on a beach, a guitarist and vocalist would be more appropriate than a small orchestra. For a formal evening wedding in a chapel, a pianist or string ensemble would add class and ambiance. The size of the venue will also affect how many musicians you should hire. For instance, while one violin would not be loud enough for a large sanctuary, a string quartet (two violins, a viola, and cello) would provide just the right sound.

Your wedding day should express your personal creative style, and the music is no exception! Take advantage of online playlists and albums, and remember to consider your location and the length and style of each song as you build your wedding program. With a little planning, your wedding music will be unique, creative, and beautiful …just like you.

Miriam and Rachel Smith are members of the string group HeartStrings, which has provided music for weddings since 2008. Visit them online at