Easy Guide – How to Choose Music and Musicians for a Wedding Ceremony

How do you find the perfect music and musicians for your ceremony?

How can you make your ceremony interesting and unique, but still “wedding-appropriate”? A little known secret is that you can mix and match instrumentation to add a fresh, contemporary feel to traditional wedding music and themes.

Here’s an easy, two step guide to perfect ceremony music:
Step One: Choose from melodies or themes that are most suitable for a ceremony
Step Two:  Choose instruments or combinations of instruments that are unique.

First  –  choice of music.

What music is “wedding suitable”? In fact, just about anything!  Some of the most elegant ceremonies have incorporated the most contemporary  and unique elements – Radiohead, Chemical Romance, Redksin’s theme, Another One Bites the Dust. Other couples stick to tradition: Canon in D, Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (“Here Comes the Bride”), and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Or a combination of both old and new.

As a general rule, melodic themes are best for instrumental: themes that can be played by an instrument.  Pop songs that are lyric or rhythm dependent don’t sound as good when played instrumentally instead of sung.  But this doesn’t mean there aren’t some great. interesting contemporary instrumental choices. Of course, there is also a place in your ceremony for vocal selections. The vocal selection is the place where even the most traditional weddings will sometimes feature non-classical songs.

Here’s a collection of some of popular classical choices.  Another tip: nearly all processionals  (except Wagner’s Bridal Chorus) can also work as recessionals.  The difference between a processional and a recessional?  Recessionals are played a little faster.

Canon in D
Johann Pachelbel
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
Johann Sebastian Bach
Sheep May Safely Graze
Johann Sebastian Bach
Gavotte - Holberge Suite
Edvard Grieg
Spring - The Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi
Morning - Peer Gynt Suite
Edvard Grieg
Hornpipe from Water Music
George Frederic Handel
Ave Maria
Franz Schubert
Panis Angelicus
Cesar Auguste Franck
Air on a D String
Johann Sebastian Bach
Claire de Lune
Claude Debussy
Ode to Joy
Ludvig Van Beethoven
Jean Joseph Mouret
Dance from Orpheus
Christoph von Glluck
Trumpet Voluntary
Jeremiah Clarke Bach
Trumpet Overture
Henry Purcell
Bridal Chorus
Richard Wagner
 Wedding March
Felix Mendelssohn

Second step  – choose the ensemble and musicians.

Here are the more common combinations. Below we will provide some information on how to put together a unique combination of instruments – just for your event.

String Quartet Brass Quintet Woodwind Quintet Flute and Guitar
Classical Trio (violin, flute, cello) Woodwind Trio solo violin Classical guitar


Some clients prefer a specific or more unique instrumentation. A trio consisting of one lead or soprano instrument, one chordal instrument, and one bass instrument can work in just about any combination.

Here are some of the choices for the lead or soprano instrument:

Oboe Violin Sax Flute Trumpet
A chordal instrument plays more than one note at a time.  Here are some examples:
harp vibes guitar piano
A classical duo can work with just a lead and chordal instrument but a solid bass line will produce stronger tempos and work better for processionals:
string bass tuba bassoon