Amazing ideas for your wedding ceremony music

Set the scene beautifully with genius music choices for your big day

wedding ceremony music - Combermere Abbey
Combermere Abbey, Cheshire

A guide to wedding ceremony music

There are a number of key moments in your ceremony that need a soundtrack: your guests arriving (the prelude), your big entrance (the processional), the signing of the register and the ‘yes we did it, moment’ (the recessional), as you and your new husband walk back down the aisle, faces beaming, to a sea of smiles and applause.

If it’s a civil ceremony, your wedding ceremony music won’t be allowed to be hymns, or any other religious music, and you’ll have to be sure that there are no religious overtones to any classical music you choose. This includes carols at Christmas and, occasionally, even popular gems such as The Beach Boy’s God Only Knows, Aretha Franklin’s I Say a Little Prayer or Robbie Williams’Angels, although most registrars concede that these are an ‘incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context’ and will allow them.

Beautiful backgrounds

Music to play when guests are taking their seats tends to be gentle and melodic, as people will inevitably be chatting or whispering. Remember that guests might arrive up to half an hour before the ceremony, so it might pay to have plenty of music lined up. And remember it doesn’t have to be the actual original recordings; musicians (friends or professional) can often learn your favourite piece and play an instrumental version.

Ballads by Van Morrison are always a good bet (Philosopher’s Stone, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You). Film scores also offer some lovely melodies – think Portuguese Love Theme or Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually, Mia & Sebastian’s Theme (Late for The Date) from LaLa Land, the music from the Flying over Africa scene in Out Of Africa or the main theme from The Mission.

When it comes to signing the register, this is often the cue for a musical performance – flute, piano, guitar – a soloist singer or even a gospel choir. Try to avoid anything too subtle and quiet or people will just talk over it.

Making an entrance – the processional

Time how long the walk is from the bridesmaids and bride’s first appearance to reaching the end of the aisle (and make sure the music you have matches it – or rehearse adjusting how fast you walk!).

The Manor House ensemble
Emsemble at The Manor House, Wiltshire

Traditional classics

Nothing says wedding ceremony music like these iconic tunes. Some of these more classical pieces could also be adapted as your welcoming music:

  • Prince of Denmark’s March (Trumpet Voluntary) Jeremiah Clarke
  • Trumpet Tune Charpentier
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba Handel
  • Wedding March from Lohengrin Wagner
  • Sleepers Wake Bach
  • Grand March from Aida Verdi
  • The Flower Duet (Lakmé) Delibes
  • Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music
  • Canon In D Pachelbel
  • Clair de Lune Debussy
  • Air on the G String Bach
  • I Giorni Ludovico Einaudi

Modern classics

Some of these would also work for the prelude, the signing of the register, or the triumphant recessional. Just get on to YouTube and play around till you find your perfect tune:

  • A Thousand Years Christina Perri
  • You Are The Reason Calum Scott
  • Thinking Out Loud Ed Sheeran
  • All of Me John Legend
  • Moon River the Danny Williams version
  • One Day Like This Elbow
  • True Love Ways Buddy Holly
  • Overjoyed Stevie Wonder
  • Truly Madly Deeply Savage Garden
  • Come Away With Me Norah Jones
  • How Deep Is Your Love The Bird and The Bee
  • You and Me Lifehouse
  • The Best Is Yet To Come Tony Bennett
  • Make Someone Happy Jimmy Durante
  • Just Like Heaven Katie Melua
  • I Wanna Grow Old With You from The Wedding Singer
  • Shallow from A Star is Born
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered Stevie Wonder
  • First Day Of My Life Bright Eyes
  • Make You Feel My Love Adele
  • If I Fell The Beatles
  • This Will Be (Our Everlasting Love) Natalie Cole

Further reading: How to write your own wedding vows