3 Things to Consider Before You Pick Your Processional SongThere are a few things to get squared away – preferably before you start making your list of processional song possibilities, let alone narrowing them down.
- Check with the venue for any requirements – especially (but not exclusively) if you’ll have a church wedding. Depending on the nature of the setting and what’s nearby, there might be restrictions on the type, volume, or format of music you can have. (In fact, one of the exceptions to “someone in your family probably had ‘Here Comes the Bride’” happens when your clan is Catholic – the “Bridal March” is considered secular music and most Catholic churches won’t allow it.)
- Make sure that you and your intended are on the same page about the mood you want for your wedding music. Discuss not just traditional versus modern, but funny versus romantic and instrumental versus vocal, too – and find the places you’re each willing to compromise if you don’t agree. If there’s any chance at all of pushback from family members, be prepared to support each other’s song decisions.
- 3. Once you are in list-making mode, ask relatives if they have processional song ideas. Mom or Dad might have forgotten to mention a family tradition on one side or the other that strikes just the right note with you – and there’s nothing that helps family and friends feel involved like whipping out a notebook and writing down their suggestions to discuss with your one and only. (Even if your “discussion” consists of crossing out the choices you don’t like with a bold black marker.)
Traditional Wedding SongsThese are mostly instrumental choices … though some of them do have lyrics; vocal stylings might be a great thing to ask as a wedding present from a friend with opera chops! However you decide to have them played, these classic processional songs are sure to please the most tradition-minded couple and family. (They’re also a good choice if you want the guests to stand for the bride’s entrance. For some reason, the more traditional the song, the more likely guests are to stand up without your prior hint to an audience plant.)
- “Canon in D,” by Pachelbel – and get the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Canon” version for a holiday wedding
- “Wedding March” from The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart
- “Air,” by Handel – even if the title sounds unfamiliar, trust me, you’ve heard it and it’s lovely
- “Spring,” by Vivaldi
- “Romeo and Juliet Love Theme,” by Tchaikovsky
If you want a traditional processional, but still would prefer to inject some life into the wedding ceremony, look to other wedding music. Try making a playlist of lesser-known favorites to set the mood while the guests are finding their seats, or compromise on an old-time bridal march plus a bolder recessional song choice. For that matter, if you’re stuck with the traditional “Wagner coming in, Mendelssohn going out” duo of ceremony music, but don’t want to be, those make great ways to add your own spin while honoring a more traditional family.
Maybe the right processional song for you has a touch of solemnity, formality, and romance, but still feels fresh because you’re sampling from a wider song list. There’s so much territory in between novelty and timelessness! These instrumentals and lyrical songs range from the intimate to the epic. What makes them so wedding-perfect is that the songs still feel rooted in the history of the wedding ceremony – even if some of them are quite new.
- “At Last,” by Etta James
- “Dante’s Prayer,” by Loreena McKennit – it does double duty with both a long, quietly soaring instrumental intro and subtly romantic vocals based on the literary love of Dante Alighieri and Beatrice.
- “Concerning Hobbits,” the nostalgic instrumental from Lord of the Rings
- “All of Me,” by John Legend
- “Falling Slowly,” from the movie Once – it’s destined to be a classic. (If you’ve heard Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s version too often, Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox did a stunning cover on American Idol.)
- “La Vie en Rose,” by Louis Armstrong (speaking for myself here – swoon!)
- “Dawn,” by Andrew Lapp (it’s that piano piece from Pride and Prejudice)
- “All I Want Is You,” by U2
Who Needs Tradition Anyway?
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with traditional processional songs – but that’s just not you. Maybe “you” is a funny processional song, or something that puts your unconventional wedding in context by alluding to a shared interest. Take your ceremony music to the next level with – well, practically anything you like! But we’re partial to these offbeat songs.
- “Sk8er Boi,” by Avril Lavigne. Sure to get a laugh. Can I make it any more obvious?
- “All You Need Is Love,” by the Beatles
- “She Keeps Me Warm,” by Mary Lambert, for ladies marrying their favorite ladies.
- “Tailor Made,” by Colbie Caillat
- “Sword and Shield,” by Sister Hazel