How to choose wedding music for the bride’s entrance and exit

Wedding music is so personal that I always am reluctant to choose for people, but here are some guidelines to help those that do not have something clearly in mind.  Of course, the all-time most famous songs are Bridal March (aka Here Comes The Bride) and Wedding March (aka Newlywed Game Theme Song).  But that does not mean that they are the right songs for your wedding.

Interesting side note: these songs are often mislabeled on their recordings with the Bridal March listed as the Wedding March.

My advice for the Bridal Entrance is to first narrow it down to a musical style: classical, modern, instrumental, popular, etc.

Classical music has many arrangements and instrumentations.  For example, the following songs could be recorded by a full orchestra, piano, string quartet, organ, harp & flute, etc.  Same song but completely different feeling.

  • Canon In D (Most popular wedding song ever)
  • Trumpet Voluntary (Not necessarily a trumpet)
  • Air On A G String (Funny name, beautiful song)

I tend to recommend an arrangement that would be appropriate for the room.  For example, in real life, a pipe-organ would not be available at an outdoor garden wedding.  So I would recommend a string quartet arrangement over a pipe-organ in that instance.  But since we are playing recorded music, it really could be anything the couple wants.

Sometimes these songs are part of a longer “processional” that may include the entire wedding party and culminate with the entrance of the bride.  A good DJ could also help determine the timing of the music and possibly edit the beginning or ending or overall length of the song.  Instrumental songs (songs without lyrics) tend to do better if a “loop” is needed to lengthen the time a song plays.

Modern interpretations or stylizations of classical songs are also popular alternative.  Think a jazzy arrangement of a classical song.  Other “classical stylizations” include modern-day music played by a string section or piano.  The Piano Guys and Vitamin String Quartet have HUNDREDS of songs on iTunes that are used at weddings.  They are instrumental versions of everything from Bruno Mars to Eric Clapton.  It is a great way to get a “wedding feeling” while still conveying a subtle message in the music.

Bridal entrances are usually a very personal song.  Since many modern brides relate well to movies or TV shows, finding music from a show that is relatable to the bride can often help.  In recent years, the song A Thousand Years by Christina Perri has been used at countless weddings.  Most did not involve a vampire.  :^)

Recessional music is a whole other feeling…

On the one hand, the bridal entrance is usually a breath-taking, tear-jerking event with music that helps to enhance that moment.  On the other hand, the recessional is usually a celebration, a sigh of relief, or a party-starter!

Once the wedding has concluded, the couple has kissed, and the officiant announces the new couple for the first time, the music starts…  9 times out of 10, the couple will stand for a few seconds while guests applaud with the music going.  Shortly thereafter, the couple exits down the aisle followed by their wedding party and sometimes front-row guests (like parents).

This song is sometimes THE EXACT OPPOSITE of the previous wedding music.  Where once we had classical, now we have a party song.  Where once we had instrumental, now we have lyrics.

However, like the bridal entrance, it is very common for me to edit this song to the appropriate climactic starting point for maximum impact when the music first hits.  Some songs don’t need that, but others have a long intro or first verse that doesn’t get to the “good part” until after the bride & groom have walked down the aisle.  This song is almost always a direct reflection of the Bride & Groom’s personality and could really be anything – a movie theme, a videogame song, classic rock party anthem, etc.  Here are a few that are often a good choice that require little or no editing:

  • I Do by Colbie Caillat
  • You Are The Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
  • This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole

One thing is for sure, all weddings are different.   And out of the hundreds and hundreds of weddings that I have played over the years, no two have been the exact same selection of songs.  Choose a DJ that will help you narrow things down and find the exact right songs that make your event feel the way you want it to feel and you will be on your way to a great start!