cello being played at Camp Lucy wedding

How To Select Songs for Your Ceremony

Sep 12, 2018

What to Consider When You Select Songs for Your Ceremony

Curious as to how to select songs for your ceremony? Your ceremony music is a great opportunity to give guests a personalized and unique experience. Music stirs their emotions and lays the foundation for what’s to come!

From reverent to inspirational, these songs help share the story of your wedding day. To help provide additional guidance, I turned to my friend and colleague Anthony Chen, a professional musician and owner of Terra Vista Strings.How to select songs for your ceremony

The prelude songs are the first set of music guests hear and play while guests arrive and find their seats at the ceremony. Anthony suggests “8-10 songs [that] will get played during a 20-30-minute timeframe” for the prelude.”

“There are several ways you can choose music for the guest arrival and postlude.  The first is to allow the musicians to choose music based on [your] ceremony requests or just give us some guidelines, such as keep it traditional or contemporary.  The second is to choose a few (2-3 songs) that [you] like to help us get direction . . . The final way to do it would be to choose all of the music for the prelude” says Anthony.

The next set of songs to select is your processional music. The processional typically begins with a song for families, commonly grandparents and mothers, with the groomsmen entering afterwards. Then, to a new song, your bridesmaid enter individually with the ring bearer and flower girl last. The final song in the procession is for the bride’s entrance!

Processional songs can range from ultra-classical to modern and contemporary, and Anthony recommends that you “have an idea of what you want for your overall ceremony, such as ‘I want a classic, formal wedding’ or ‘I would like to have non-traditional music that is chic, ambient and easy for guests to have a conversation to’ and we [at Terra Vista Strings] can help put a list together that fits. . .”

For special services within the ceremony (like a unity candle), plan for 1-2 additional songs, either with or without vocals.


The final song to consider is the recessional. This song is played for you & your new spouse and your wedding party to exit to. It’s typically more upbeat and faster paced than other songs. You can also choose another 1-2 postlude songs to play as guests exit the venue.

There is certainly a lot to think about when you select songs for your ceremony. “My advice is to work together with your ceremony music professional to put a playlist together that suits your sense of style,” says Anthony.  “It can be very overwhelming to look at a list of over 1,000 songs and decide what makes most sense.”



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