What Music Do We Need for Our Wedding Ceremony?

This is the first of five questions in my Ask the Atlanta Wedding Pianist series!

What music do we need to choose for processional, bridal entrance, and recessional in wedding ceremony



You know that you need music for your ceremony, and maybe you know you either love or hate Wagner’s Bridal March. But other than that, you may not sure what you need when, or how to even begin choosing music.

So let’s begin with …

Places For Music During the Wedding Ceremony

1) Prelude

2) Seating of mothers/grandmothers

3) Processional

4) Bridal Entrance

5) Unity Candle and/or Communion, if applicable

6) Recessional


Now let’s break each of these down:


1) Prelude: I always begin playing prelude music 30 minutes before the ceremony begins while the guests arrive. Sometimes the bride and groom requests specific songs during this time. Usually, though, I play “light classical music,” such as Bach Minuets and Clementi Sonatinas.


2) Seating of Mothers and Grandmothers: This is the song that signals to the guests that the wedding is about to begin.

Ninety percent of the time I play JS Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for this.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring — J.S. Bach


Other nice selections are:

Schubert’s Ave Maria

John Lennon’s Grow Old With Me

All I Ask of You from Phantom of the Opera


3/4) Processional/Bridal Entrance: Some people want the Bridal March; others can’t stand it. People who can’t stand but it, still want something traditional usually choose Pachelbel’s Canon in D (which also works well for the Seating of Mothers). For my own wedding, I walked down the aisle to Purcell’s Trumpet Tune.

Here are some other nice choices:

Canon in D — Pachelbel


To a Wild Rose — MacDowell


Sunrise, Sunset — from “Fiddler on the Roof”


A Thousand Years — Christina Perri


Typically — although not always — people choose one song for the bridesmaids, flower girls, and ring bearer, and then a different song for the bridal entrance. Other than the Bridal March, these songs all work well for either section.


5) Unity Candle and/or Communion, if applicable — Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot of this lately. When I do, sometimes people just want a short musical interlude of less than 30 seconds, while others want an entire song.

If people want a soloist, this is usually a good time for that.


6) Recessional  — If you want something traditional, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Mendelssohn’s Wedding March work well here.

For something more fun and modern, consider:

Pharrell’s “Happy”

Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”

The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”

or any song you like that is fun and upbeat!

To listen to more wedding song suggestions, be sure to click here.


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