Your wedding music

The music that you choose for your wedding will depend on your personal taste and the style of wedding you are planning.

Nowadays there is every type of music available for your reception, with live bands, orchestras or DJs, from every country and in every style. Show your guests your personality through your choice of music!

The bride and groom may decide to include music from their cultural heritage to add an unusual touch to the big day. For example, if you have Hispanic roots, why not choose a mariachi, salsa or merengue band? Or you could hire a bagpiper in full regalia if you have Scottish or Irish ancestry.

Music at a modern American wedding

A modern North American wedding ceremony, most often held in a church, uses music to announce and accompany a specific order of events. All these events are accompanied by their own individual pieces, selected beforehand in conjunction with the musician or musicians. Recorded music can also be used for this.
wedding music
Typically beginning with 20–30 minutes of prelude music, this usually includes reflective pieces such as Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". String quartets and harps have become more popular in modern times, sometimes replacing the customary organ.

After the prelude, there is generally special music for the seating of the mothers and grandmothers, with a popular selection being the Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel. Then the bridesmaids and pageboys proceed down the aisle, followed by the bride, often escorted by her father. They arrive at the church altar where the groom, groomsmen and priest are assembled.

Walking down the aisle

The bride's entrance and walk down the aisle is accompanied by a processional tune. For over 100 years the most popular processional has been Wagner's Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (1850), often called "Here Comes the Bride". This is usually played by an organist. Since Prince Charles married Lady Diana in 1981, Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March" has become immensely popular for use as processional music. The "Air" from George Frideric Handel's Water Music is also suitable as processional music. During the service there may be a few hymns chosen by the bride and groom, especially in liturgical settings. Optional solos and a short piece for the lighting of the Unity Candle may also occur. Interlude music will be played while the bride and groom sign the register.

Marching back down the aisle

After the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom march down the aisle to a lively recessional tune, the most popular tune being the Wedding March from Felix Mendelssohn's music for the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826). Other popular choices are Charles-Marie Widor's Toccata from Symphony for Organ No. 5 (1880), the "Trumpet Tune" by Henry Purcell and the "Trumpet Voluntary" by John Stanley. Other options for recessional music are the "Alla Hornpipe", or segments of the "Ode to Joy", the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The ceremony concludes with an instrumental piece, known as postlude music, as the guests depart. In the US, the most common musical instruments used for ceremony music is either a piano/organ or a string quartet, but a harpist, woodwind quintet, or classical guitar is sometimes used.

Music at the reception

After a photography session, the reception starts. After the meal, there is often dancing with a live band, or a DJ plays music often chosen by the couple. Special songs are chosen for the couple’s first dance and for the traditional father-daughter and mother-groom dance, as well as the cake cutting, bouquet toss and garter removal.

One of the most popular requested songs at a US wedding reception, The Chicken Dance, is accompanied by a fad dance involving wing-flapping movements, and all guests are expected to join in!

Jewish weddings

At Jewish weddings, the entrance of the bride is accompanied by a tune called baruch haba. Siman Tov ("Good Tidings") is an all-purpose Jewish celebration song. No Jewish wedding is complete without the Hora, or chair dance, most likely derived from the tradition of carrying royalty on chairs. A few strong and brave guests hoist the bride and groom high above the crowd on chairs accompanied by the Jewish classic "Hava Nagila". Friends and family dance around the couple in a circle.

Hawaiian weddings

"Hawaiian Wedding Song" is a 1926 love song written by Charles King for his operetta, Prince of Hawaii. It was originally entitled "Ke Kali Nei Au" - Hawaiian for "Waiting Here for You". The original Hawaiian words were translated into English In 1958, with the song being called the "Hawaiian Wedding Song".

Versions of the song have been recorded by Andy Williams and Julie Rogers, and the song was sung by Elvis Presley in the 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. He also sung it to his own bride, Priscilla Presley, at their wedding.

Scottish-style weddings

Many Americans are proud of their Scottish heritage, so why not hire a bagpiper in full regalia to lead the bride up the aisle to meet the groom, or a pipe band to welcome guests to the wedding reception?

At traditional Scottish wedding receptions there is often a dance called a ceilidh, with traditional Scottish music and dances such as "Strip the Willow", "Dashing White Sergeant", and "The Gay Gordons". "Mairi’s Wedding" is popular at weddings with a Scottish theme. It has been recorded by Kenneth McKellar, The Clancy Brothers, The Chieftains with Van Morrison, The King's Singers and others, reaching number one in Canada for The Rankin Family.

Irish-style weddings

If you are of Irish-American descent, why not hire a ceilidh band to get your guests reeling and jigging during the wedding reception? Some examples of traditional Irish music for wedding reception dances are The Gay Gordons, Siege of Ennis, Two Hand Reel, The Highland Fling, Stack of Barley and The Haymakers Jig.


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