There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the music to be played at wedding ceremonies. It can be traditional religious or classical music. But it can also be less conventional.
For instance one couple chose the famous theme from “Jaws” for the Bride’s Entrance Music. Sounds outrageous? Not really considering the bride and groom were both marine biologists who met while studying sharks. That’s what made that unconventional choice “perfect” for that particular wedding ceremony – it should be meaningful for the bride and the groom.
Many couples, however, are clueless on how to go about selecting their wedding songs with literally thousands of choices available. If this is the case the following tips may help make the decision-making a lot easier.
The nuptial music should celebrate the personalities of the bride and the groom as well as their feelings for each other and compliment the atmosphere they wish to achieve. The same criteria that were used to select the wedding gown, color scheme, flowers, and food should apply to the wedding music.
The wedding ceremony music is roughly made up of five parts, each segment serving a different purpose. The prelude music is the music played as the wedding guests arrive at the venue and are being seated. It serves to set a mood as well as help guests relax.
The processional music is played for the arrival of the bride and bridal party. It should be different enough from the prelude music so that it alerts the guests that the ceremony is about to start. The processional is traditionally solemn.
The bride’s entrance music is practically standard in almost all weddings but this is not a requirement. If the wedding party decides to use different entrance music for the bride it should flow seamlessly from the processional music.
Next is the main body of the ceremony, which varies depending on one’s religious affiliation. For a Catholic ceremony, there is music for Offertory, Lord’s Prayer, and Communion. In some churches, some parts of the mass are also sung, like the Alleluia, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
For other Christian ceremonies, there are incidental or background music during the exchange of vows, before or after Scripture reading, during the Candle-Veil-Cord ceremony, the lighting of Unity Candle, and a host of other events or segments.
Finally, the recessional music is played when the bride and groom walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. It is usually similar in style to the processional music but more joyful and upbeat as it celebrates the new union. It should connote the feeling of a happy ending.
If the wedding ceremony will take place in a church, experts recommend staying within the guidelines set by the church. Many religious denominations consider the wedding ceremony to be a form of worship service and may frown upon using secular music for the ceremony itself. But generally churches allow the playing of secular music while the guests are being seated.
Weddings held outside church but performed by a clergy person have fewer restrictions but the wedding party should stay within the bounds of good taste out of respect for the clergy person.
On the other hand, music with any religious connections is acceptable in civil wedding ceremonies, although some purists may consider it as improper or in bad taste. Outdoor weddings are also perfect for non-traditional wedding songs that are fun, sassy and chic. Anything goes here, just make sure the music does not cross over into crass and cheesy territory. The music should flow so avoid going from a hip-hop song to a romantic ballad.
Another important aspect of the wedding music selection is choosing songs with lyrics that are especially meaningful for the bride and the groom. As mentioned previously, the song lyrics will determine its acceptability for use in ceremonies held in a church setting or those performed by clergy persons.
If planning the nuptial music is simply too daunting or time-consuming for the wedding party, they should consider hiring highly qualified professionals with established credentials. This could possibly be the easiest way to choose wedding music since they already know what songs are typically played during the ceremony and the reception.