This is post one of two – this is HOW to get music into your ceremony.

You’ve probably talked to your DJ or band about the music you want for the important parts of the reception (your first dance, your entrance, cutting the cake…), but have you thought about putting the music together for your ceremony yet?

There are a few key parts of the ceremony to include music in.  And, as always, you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to the music for your ceremony.  If you have songs that are special or have meaning to your relationship, but aren’t really great dance songs – this is a great place to include them.

The Prelude:

That’s the music that will play as your guests are seated, reading through the programs, chatting with each other, and waiting for the ceremony to begin.

When I did theatre in college, we called it the “Pre-Show” music – the music that played as the audience came and sat down before the show started.  We used it to get people “in the mood” for the show, to expand on the theme and idea of what people were going to see.  You can use your prelude music in the same way.

If you’re having a musician or performer before hand, you can have them sing or play music as people enter.  Or, if you’re using a DJ or having recorded music, it’s a great place to include some classic love songs or other special music you love.

Example: When Lindsey & Ben got married, they asked their friends (and one of the groomsmen!) to perform a medley of show tunes to greet their guests.  As Lindsey & Ben had met while working on a show together, it was especially appropriate.

The Singers at Lindsey & Bens Wedding

The Singers (groomsman Bob on keyboard) at Lindsey & Ben's Wedding

The Processional:

The processional can be broken into three parts – of course, you may choose to use the same music for all of them, or have different songs or pieces for all three.

  • The Seating of Honored Guests (Parents, Grandparents, etc)
  • The Procession of the Bridal Party (Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, etc)
  • The Procession of the Bride & Groom (usually just the Bride, but some Grooms like to process in too!)

Processionals don’t take very long.  You’re not going to be able to play a full three to four minute song for any of these.  Often times, the Seating of the Honored Guests can be included at the END of the Prelude music, with a new piece being chosen for the Bridal Party’s entrance.

If you plan to use specific songs for these entrances, you should talk to your DJ or whoever is doing the music for your ceremony, and see if they can either edit the pieces to be shorter, or be prepared to fade in and out (most DJs will work with you to do this without a second thought).

Music in the Ceremony:

Are you having a sand ceremony?  A wine ceremony? Unity candle? Anytime there will be an action that takes more than about 15 seconds to complete, adding music in is a great option.  Again, it’s going to be a very abbreviated interlude, but is a sweet way to give your wedding a soundtrack.  If you do plan to have music as the background of a ritual, make sure your music person has a copy of the script or a cue sheet so they know when to play the music!

During Val & Pauls Sand Ceremony, the played Eternal Flame by the Bangles

During Val & Paul's Sand Ceremony, they played "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles

Performances during the ceremony are another great touch.  I did a wedding that included a hymn where everyone stood and sang – it was a nice interactive touch.  Or ask a talented family member or friend to perform a song here – a great way to involve someone in your ceremony – and incorporate like a more traditional reading.

The Recessional:

You kiss! You break the glass! You jump over the broom! You’re husband and wife! With a flourish, the music starts up, and you process out, together, off to have a fabulous time at your reception.  Recessional music is a place to have a lot of fun – it’s kind of like the beginning of the part.  Get creative here! Think big!

Layla & Lewis on their way out!

Layla & Lewis on their way out!

Example: Layla & Lewis were pronounced, kissed, and the air filled with love and James Brown!  I remember before the ceremony, when I was going over the ceremony with the DJ, he was filling me in on the music used.  he said, “And then they’ll kiss, and I’ll play James Brown – which is AWESOME.”  We wedding vendors get really excited when our couples let us do crazy things!

The Postlude:

This is the music that plays as your guests mill about a little and get up and head to the reception or cocktail hour.  In theatre terms, this is the “Post Show,” the music that plays after the bows and applause.  It can be more upbeat and casual than the Prelude or music used in the ceremony, as it’s the bridge to your reception.  If you were hesitant to include a very fun or over the top song in your Prelude, this is a great place for it.

Example: Marisa & Patrick played the Back to the Future theme as their guests exited!  You may think their dog Einstein is named after a certain scientist… when, in fact, he is named after a certain dog in Back to the Future.

A companion post with song suggestions will be following later this week, so stay tuned!