The Complete Guide to Your Wedding Ceremony Music

BLOG Wedding Ceremony Music

The music you decide on for your wedding ceremony will help you set the tone and mood for the entire wedding day. But the music you choose is more than just the song for the bridal march. 

We’re talking all about what parts of your wedding ceremony should be accompanied by music and how to work with a string quartet to make your big day even more unforgettable! 

What are the parts of the wedding ceremony that need music?

Whether you choose between a string quartet, a solo musician, or even a DJ, these are the parts of your ceremony that are accompanied by music. And the music you choose sets up the mood for your ceremony! 

Wedding prelude

The wedding prelude is the block of time between guests arriving and the ceremony starting. The prelude is a great time to add music to set the mood of your entire wedding day. You can choose music based on your wedding day vibe – whether it’s traditional or modern. It usually lasts for about 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Guests enjoy a string quartet as they watch a wedding ceremony.
Photo Courtesy of Mollie Nardecchia

Wedding processional

The wedding processional is the part of the ceremony when the parents, grandparents, and wedding party walk down the aisle. This usually doesn’t last very long, only about the length of a single song.

Bridal march

And, of course, we have the bridal march! Which is, exactly as you probably guessed, when the bride walks down the aisle.

An aerial view of a wedding ceremony with a string quartet providing the wedding ceremony music.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Chan

Wedding recessional

The wedding recessional is the wedding party’s exit from the ceremony, starting with the couple. The music that goes along with the recessional is often upbeat and fast paced since we’re celebrating the excitement of you and your partner as an officially married couple!

A bride and groom walk down the aisle celebrating after getting married.
Photo Courtesy of Daniel Aguilar

How to work with a string quartet on your wedding ceremony music:

There are plenty of ways you can add music to your wedding ceremony. Now, maybe we’re a touch biased, but there’s something to be said for using a string quartet to do it.

A string quartet adds an air of elegance, timelessness, and softness to your wedding ceremony, even when they play songs you hear on the radio. If you’re aiming for that kind of vibe for your wedding, we definitely want to go on record as telling you to consider hiring a string quartet. (Psst – do you need help with that? Click here to get a quote from us!)

A wedding string quartet provides wedding ceremony music.
Photo Courtesy of Acadia, Holly Stokes and Lauren Nicole Photography

And if you already know you’re going to have a string quartet for your ceremony, here are some tips to help your day run smoothly.

Ask your quartet / musicians to start at a particular point

Usually, your processional, bridal march, and recessional will be relatively quick. Quicker than you think! So, if you have a song you want played, make sure you tell your string quartet or musicians to start at a specific point in the song.

If you want the chorus played so the song can be recognized by the audience, let them know. Otherwise, your string quartet might start from the beginning, and you’ll be down the aisle before they get to the chorus.

Don’t worry about timing your walks

Don’t stress too much about timing your walks to the music. As long as you communicate well with your string quartet or musicians, they’ll know exactly what part to start playing your song at. That way, you don’t have to worry about timing your walk perfectly (or painfully slowly) to make sure you hit the moment of the song you want your audience to hear.

A bride walks down the aisle with her mother and father as a wedding string quartet plays.
Photo Courtesy of Acadia, Holly Stokes and Lauren Nicole Photography

For example, as long as you tell your string quartet you want the “fast part” of Canon in D played as the bride gets ready to walk,  they’ll start from that point as soon as she gets to the top of the aisle.  

Limit the number of songs you choose

We see this all. the. time. And it’s such an easy trap to fall into! Couples get so excited to choose the perfect songs for their wedding ceremony that they end up with way, way too many. And pretty soon, they have a song for their cousin to walk down to, and then another for their brother, and another for their parents. 

Okay, so why does this not work? Well, on the one hand, the average song length is 3-5 minutes. But the average time for someone to walk down the aisle is about 30 seconds. So, each person will only have one tiny snippet for a song as they walk down the aisle. 

Instead of that, choose maybe one song for everyone to walk down the aisle prior to the bride. And if the processional takes longer than the length of the one song, your string quartet can always loop it and nobody will ever know the difference! 

And if the wedding party gets to the end of the aisle before the song is over, the string quartet will just wrap it up, and that’ll go unnoticed by your guests, too. 

Don’t forget your officiant

Even if you have a small wedding, we still recommend giving your officiant a microphone so all of your guests can hear him or her. Especially if it’s an outdoor ceremony! 

And, of course, your officiant needs to say the 4 words to get the wedding ceremony started right — “you may be seated.” Seriously, we’ve seen ceremonies where the officiant never seated the guests, and they continued to stand awkwardly for the whole thing. It always takes the brave, bold person in the back to yell “sit down!” 

Avoid all of that by giving your officiant a microphone and reminding them to say those magic words. 

How to add wedding ceremony music to a virtual wedding

If you’re planning on having a virtual wedding, you can still add music to your ceremony to bring some tradition to it. 

Set up a couple of iPads or iPhones with a tripod before the wedding ceremony starts. That way you can have multiple camera angles for your guests watching the ceremony from home. They’ll get an even better experience than the in-person guests! 

One of your camera angles can focus on your string quartet so they can enjoy your wedding ceremony music from home, too. 

The wedding ceremony music is so much more than just the traditional bridal march. You’ll need to decide on songs for several parts throughout the ceremony! And if you’re looking to add a traditional, classic, and elegant mood to your wedding day, we definitely recommend hiring a string quartet. 
Want to get started with that? Click here!