Classic Wedding Songs

Choosing traditional music for your walk down the aisle is becoming less of a traditional choice. Many brides today are swapping familiar wedding songs for radio-friendly favorites or their own personal preferences. Individuality matters, but have you thought about how it might conflict with your venue, personal style, or guest's tastes? Recognize when to use your favorite tunes and when to stick with the classics.

Music sets the vibe of your wedding from the start. You have the power to alter your guests’ mood with the musical genre. Imagine you're getting married in a formal or glamorous setting -- a ballroom, church, art museum or symphony hall – you may want to play up the opulence of the surroundings by selecting classic pieces.

If your two families have conflicting musical tastes, familiar love songs and wedding marches make a happy compromise. You can unite the two families later, with your DJ's help, by blending genres during the reception. The same goes for brides with large guest lists. Traditional choices charm everyone by appealing to their sentimental side.

Consider your venue. Traditional music generally works anywhere, but especially in places of worship, in very large, ornately decorated spaces, and anywhere you'd like to create a soothing scene for your wedding ceremony.

The following musical selections are for brides who need to satisfy finicky friends and family or for those who envision an elaborate evening ceremony.


The prelude is the half-hour of music played while people are gathering for the ceremony. Choose classical music to create a reverent mood:

  • "Prelude in C" (J.S. Bach)
  • "Ave Maria" (F. Schubert)
  • "Clair de Lune" (C. Debussy)
  • "Gymnopedie" (A.E.L. Satie)
  • "La primavera" and "L'inverno" from the Four Seasons (A.Vivaldi).
Seating of Family

The ceremony begins with the seating of special guests and grandparents, followed by the seating of the mothers. The finest selections for this moment are:

  • "Arioso" (J.S. Bach)
  • "Allegro Maestoso" from Water Music (G.F. Handel)
  • "Meditation from Tais" (J. Massenet)

As this music begins, the pastor and the groom usually proceed to the front and bridesmaids begin their procession down the aisle. Some traditional choices for the processional are:

  • "Trumpet Voluntary" (J. Clark)
  • "Trumpet Tune" (H. Purcell)
  • "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (J.S. Bach)
  • "March" from Occasional Oratorio (G.F. Handel)
Bride’s Entrance

It’s time for the grand entrance! Familiar songs that stir your guests to stand and await your appearance are:

  • "Canon in D" (J. Pachelbel)
  • "The Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin (R. Wagner)
  • "Allegro Maestoso" from Water Music (G.F. Handel)
  • "Rondeau" (J.J. Mouret)
Special/Interim Music

Your musician or DJ will ask you to choose songs for the special moments in your wedding ceremony (e.g., the lighting of the unity candle or a sacred solo after the prayer). Two exceptional pieces for this time are "The Lord's Prayer" by A. Malotte, or "The Prayer", as sung by Celine Dion and Andre Bocelli. "O Perfect Love" by J. Barnby is another good choice. Stick to two musical arrangements or your ceremony may run long.


At this point, you’re beaming with total joy after marrying your partner! Consider these exuberant pieces for a grand exit:

  • "The Wedding March" from A Midsummer Night's Dream (F. Mendelssohn)
  • "Ode to Joy" (L. Beethoven)
  • "Hornpipe" (G.F. Handel)

Choosing traditional or classical music doesn't require you to limit your search to one genre or musical style. Choose music that best reflects the tone and feel of your day. If don't consider yourself a traditional bride, think about hiring classical musicians that play instrumentals of popular songs or having your DJ transition classical selections to more modern weddings songs at the reception.

Marilyn Wienand, a classically trained harpist and composer located in Cary, N.C., recommends the musical selections in this article. To learn more about her love for weddings and her harp music for wedding ceremonies, visit her Web site at

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