Top 5 Best Wedding Ceremony Songs: Processional

I’ve been perusing the forums on many wedding themed websites and blogs recently in a bid to keep up to date with what brides are looking for with regards to music for the wedding ceremony.  I get booked to play guitar at the wedding ceremony on lots of occasions so it’s important to keep my repertoire current.  However instead of finding a deluge of answers, I uncovered many more questions regarding music for the wedding ceremony.  One of the questions which seems to keep popping up is “Which songs should I choose for the processional/entrance?”. There are obviously some classic choices, as will be covered in this blog post, however there are also some less conventional choices which may appeal to the more modern bride.  The music for the wedding ceremony plays such an key role, as it provides the soundtrack to one of the most important days of your life.  With that in mind, it’s certainly worth doing a bit of research before making any decisions.

There are essentially three points where music plays a significant role; the processional/entrance, signing of the register and the recessional.  I’m going to look at just the processional in this post, and I’ll deal with your options for the signing of the register and recessional in another.

Tips On Choosing Music for the Wedding Ceremony

Before I name my top 5 most popular wedding ceremony songs, I want to share a few tips which will help you to decide on the songs for your wedding ceremony.

Tip #1 – Match the theme/mood of your wedding ceremony.  It’s all well and good choosing your favourite song, but does it match the elegant setting of your wedding ceremony?  Or if you’re having a less formal ceremony, is a classical piece of music really the best choice?  Try to picture your ideal ceremony in your head as you listen to the song.  Does it fit?

Tip #2 – If you’re hiring a musician, you should listen to them play the song.  Most wedding musicians will offer to write unique arrangements of well known songs, however their version might not be what you had in mind.  At the risk of stating the obvious: It will sound different to the original.  Ask them to play their version to you if at all possible.  At the very least, make sure they have plenty of experience in arranging.

Tip #3 – Hire a musician or band.   I realise that this looks like a shameless plug for my services as a wedding guitarist, but it’s really not.  Live music provides an incredible atmosphere compared to pre recorded songs played on a CD player or iPod.  Even if you don’t want a wedding guitarist such as myself, you should try and source a musician of your preference.  Perhaps a harpist or flautist?  Just make sure the music is played live.

So, here we go then; My Top 5 Songs for the Wedding Ceremony Processional…

5. Cavatina

Cavatina is a popular piece for the classical guitar.  It’s most famous for it’s use in the film ‘The Deer Hunter’.  You might not know it by name, but you will most likely know it as soon as you hear the first few bars.  Despite being a movie ‘theme’, this piece sounds quite classical in nature and is therefore suitable for most wedding ceremonies.  This piece of of music is ideal for elegant wedding ceremonies with a slight twist on the traditional.

4. Prelude in D, J.S. Bach

This is a lovely piece of music which I often suggest to brides who are not sure what to choose.  It ticks all of the boxes for me; it’s elegant, beautiful, and is just perfect for the processional.  Prelude in D is actually a piece of music originally written for the cello, but has become a staple of the classical guitar repertoire thanks to popular recordings by John Williams and Julian Bream.

3. Bridal Chorus (aka ‘Here Comes The Bride’)

Everybody knows this one.  If you want to have a truly traditional wedding ceremony, this piece of music is the one for you.  It works well on most instruments, so no matter which musician/group you choose, this piece of music should still sound great for the processional.  It sounds rich and stately when performed by string quartet, bold and brash on the organ and beautifully delicate on the guitar.  It’s all down to you to decide what mood you’d prefer.  Watch the full version here.

2. Bespoke Arrangement

This has become one of the most popular ceremony music choices by far in recent years.  Bespoke arrangements of the couple’s favourite song is a sure fire way to make the wedding ceremony incredibly personal.  I’ve played everything from Newton Faulkner and Joe Cocker to ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’.  Perhaps my favourite song choice of all was ‘Carol Brown’ by Flight of the Conchords, purely for it’s originality!

1. Canon in D (aka Pachebel’s Canon)

An all time favourite which won’t be going away any time soon.  This is a modern classic which has almost established itself as the default choice for the wedding ceremony processional song.  It’s simple rhythm and basic harmony lend it well to the processional.  It’s elegant, stately and easy to walk down the aisle to (so I’m told!).

Honourable Mention

There are a few which don’t quite make the cut.  ‘Wonderful Tonight’ is a fantastic wedding ceremony song in my opinion.

 

Another piece of music which I’ve played on many occasions is ‘Air on the G String’, or as one bride put it: “That song from the cigar advert”.

 

So there we have it; 5 of the most popular wedding ceremony songs chosen for the processional.  I’ll be writing another post in the upcoming days regarding the most popular songs for signing of the register.  In the meantime, I hope this has given you some good ideas to help you choose your music for the processional.

What have you chosen for your ceremony?  Are you going traditional or modern?  Comment below and let me know.