How to Decide on Music for Your Ceremony

There is no shortage of options for your special day.

While we can’t tell you what you should include in your big day, we can help you get started on picking your selections.

Photo: Curtis Dahl Photography

Outside of a few must-plays and songs to avoid, you will probably leave the bulk of the music choices to your band or DJ. Just as the first dance and father-daughter dance are exceptions, the ceremony will be too. For one, many people hire different musicians for the pre-reception portion of the big day than for the dancing part of the evening. Most importantly, song choices for the processional and recessional tend to be very personal. Unless you have always imagined the melody you would walk down the aisle to, it can be tough to decide on the right tune. While we can’t tell you what you should include in your big day, we can help you get started on picking your selections.

how to choose music for your wedding ceremony

Photo by Brandon Kidd Photography; Floral Design by Flowers by Cina

Here are some suggestions to consider when deciding on the music for your ceremony:

- Consider the venue. If you are getting married in a house of worship, they may have specific rules about what music can be included. Be prepared to use traditional classic music in this instance. 

- Decide your preferred tone. Even a unique choice can sound nearly traditional when performed with string instruments. If you want something to stand out and be more celebratory, then a modern song in its original arrangement might be a better option.

- Make sure it is appropriate. Not only does this mean you don’t want any profanity or sexual content in your ceremony music – we assume that’s a given – but also that the subject of the tune fits the occasion. Many hits that are seen as romantic are actually about breakups, so be sure to read the lyrics. Even if you play an instrumental version, if it is a popular song, it will still bring the words to mind for your guests.  

- Think of it like a playlist. Even though each song in the ceremony is for a different moment, they will still be played back-to-back (with the exception of the recessional) and you may prefer them to flow together nicely. Choosing tracks from the same artist or theme songs to movies you both love are a couple of options for cohesion. 

Get ideas for your aisle and arbor for your ceremony, and discover what moments make guests cry at weddings.