Olivia Buckley International

Choosing your ceremony music

The sound of music

“The most important things don’t fit into words, that is why there is music.”

We are all universally connected by the language of music. A hugely important part of our life, music is a way of expressing our feelings and our emotions. It can transport us to a familiar and comforting place in time. It has a way of letting our thoughts run free to feel the significance and sentiment of a special moment. 

Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Ashford Castle
Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Ashford Castle


When you think about your wedding music, your first thought is probably the song you will walk down the aisle to, but it is important to look at the bigger picture as you are providing a musical backdrop to the most symbolic and special part of your day.

Your wedding music is the soundtrack of your wedding ceremony. It sets the tone for a romantic atmosphere and allows your guests to be part of the joy and celebrate your unity. Customs and traditions will be different in every culture, and in every religion, but all of them are usually accompanied by beautiful music. Whether you are having a religious, civil or humanist ceremony, music really is a magical way to truly savour and celebrate the occasion. It is also important to note that if you are a having a church wedding there may be limitations as to what music you choose.

Wedding music differs in many ways and your personal style and preferences will pay a huge part in finalising the harmony of your wedding. Your music will represent part of your persona and will help to set the mood of your celebration as a whole. Choosing music for your wedding can be so enjoyable and is a great option when you want to take a break from busy wedding preparations.


Different music and lyrics should be chosen according to the stage of the ceremony. By following this traditional ritual, your songs act as a way of announcing the next ceremony part. Making your grand entrance, lighting the unity candle, signing the register, the elation of walking down the aisle after your ceremony as a married couple, are all such special moments and one way to make them even more personal is with your choice of music. Music is just part of the rich mix that will make your wedding day special, and the right wedding processional music will help set the tone for a memorable event.

So what if a Celine Dion song reminds you of your partner? Or you are both into The Beatles and you want your shared favourite to play as you start your descent. Whatever it is, there is no better time to show everyone you love the beautiful connection you have for one another. There is nothing wrong with selecting modern or non-traditional songs for your processional. Choose something that has a special meaning for you both and gives your guests a sneak peek into what is yet to come.

To really personalise your ceremony, you could choose your own processional song and keep it a secret until you walk down the aisle. Let your musicians and singers know your chosen song and look forward to a truly magical moment of surprise on your partner’s face. Plus, if you are having an intimate wedding, your guests will instantly appreciate the significance of your personal choice.

Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Lough Eske, Forest Wedding
Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Lough Eske, Forest Wedding


Explore the different genres of music – you don’t have to choose selections of music because you think it is what you should choose, or what you heard at your friend’s wedding, choose music and lyrics that have real meaning to you both as a couple. Your chosen pieces of music can convey a beautiful message to your guests and help to tell the story of you as a couple throughout the day and night. Don’t be afraid to think outside the jukebox!

Obviously you want the main feeling to be love, but you can also surprise your guests with instrumental versions of a popular piece of music. Have fun mixing it up and experimenting with different and unexpected genres. You can find inspiration from soundtracks, classic movies, romantic melodies and music applications to compile a list that you would not have considered previously. Even if you are not typically a movie buff, most people recognise scores and themes from movies, especially from classic films and those that made an impact on them.

Apps like Shazam and SoundHound are excellent for identifying the names of the artists and songs that you love but don’t know the name of. You could also work on a theme to tie your processional music together. Music from similar genres and eras can come together perfectly to create a seamless flow and tempo. It is also a good idea to read the lyrics of songs – really read them. Lyrics can have such a lasting effect and are a powerful expression of the emotion you want your guests to be part of.

Traditionally, the most basic wedding ceremony music programme involves a minimum of three types of songs: preludes, processionals and recessionals.


It is important to remember that your guests will be at your ceremony venue well before you so it is advisable to have nice background singing or music playing as they take their seats. Pre-ceremony/prelude music is usually light and ambient and creates a nice welcoming atmosphere while your guests are waiting for the ceremony to begin. There will be chatting and general hustle and bustle as people greet each other and look for their seats, so don’t choose anything too strong or intrusive. Prelude music usually starts anywhere between 15-30 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony.


Pre-processional music is a much more reflective moment as it announces the beginning of the ceremony and accompanies the entry of the extended wedding party. By now everyone will have taken their seats and will be quietly waiting for the entrance of the bridal party. Your partner and his ushers will be waiting at the altar whilst you and your bridesmaids are preparing for your grand entrance. The same song can be used for both the bridal party and the bride, but we love the idea of changing to another song to add drama and to announce your arrival!


The processional is the big moment where you, the bride, will make your grand entrance! This is the moment when your bridesmaids, flower girls, and whoever is giving you away, will make their way down the aisle. Your processional music should be quite different from the prelude music so it is obvious to your guests that the wedding is about to begin. This is why more and more couples are choosing special songs, instead of traditional ones, to begin their big day. Your musical choice here depends very much on your venue, the formality of your day and your personal taste as a couple.

The processional is a key element of the wedding ceremony so it is important to understand the correct order for your bridal party . This will vary depending on your religion, personal preferences, and the formality of the wedding. The correct order of the wedding processional may often have groomsmen escorting the bridesmaids, but it is most common for the bridesmaids to walk unescorted.

The groomsmen will enter the ceremony venue by walking down the aisle and taking their places near the groom. The best man should be closest to the groom. The bride and groom’s mothers are usually escorted to their seats at this stage. The ring bearers and flower girls are next down the aisle. They may walk together, or if they will walk separately, the ring bearer will be first, followed by the flower girl. The bridesmaids will then begin their walk down the aisle, beginning with the bridesmaid who will be furthest away from the bride. The chief bridesmaid/maid of honour should be the last bridesmaid down the aisle.

Processional music always marks a beat or tempo for the wedding party to match their walking pace to. It is a good idea to space out the bridesmaids walk out by approximately five seconds to ensure solemnity and timing. Without the beat of music, the temptation can be for the bridal party to move out of time, or too fast or slow. It is important to spend some time thinking about how you want to structure the processional before your big day arrives. A traditional ceremony follows the order of a wedding processional and the recessional order is simply the reversal of the processional. Figure out who will walk down the aisle and what order they will be in, letting everyone know before the ceremony. A short practice at the wedding rehearsal will ensure the processional will go off without a hitch.

Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Ashford Castle
Olivia Buckley International, Luxury Wedding Planner, Destination Weddings, Wedding Ceremony, Irish Wedding Blessings, Wedding Vows


When choosing the music for the processional, remember to discuss it with the priest or celebrant at the ceremony venue to be sure it is acceptable. Some churches, for example, may not allow contemporary music or may have other restrictions on music choices. For example, the signing of the register usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, so factor this into your song choices. This is the stage where you will sign the legal marriage documents, and as the mass part is over, generally there is more flexibility regarding song choice.


The recessional marks the end of the ceremony so your music should be bright, joyful and upbeat. You and your new husband/wife will be so be proud and joyful so you want your guests to leave the ceremony with smiles on their faces too. Why not kick it up a notch? It is a celebration after all!

Olivia Buckley International, Destination Weddings, Luxury Wedding Planner, Irish Wedding, Ashford Castle


It is also important to consider the size of your ceremony venue when putting together your ensemble. If your venue is inside, you will have more options because of the nature of the room acoustics. If you have an orchestra in a tiny chapel, for example, it may not be suitable. If your ceremony will be in an outdoor space, look at the logistics of power points and space configurations. Some instruments also might not work as well outdoors. The harp, for example, is quite strong as the sound tends to drift upwards so it might get lost in an outdoor space. Plan ahead for an outdoor setting so you are prepared with microphones and enough musicians to combat the outside noise.

Most ensembles will have a leader who will work with you to put together an appropriate musical accompaniment from a single instrument to a 15-piece orchestra. More instruments equals more sound, so this is worth considering if you are getting married in a cathedral or a large outdoor space.

The soundtrack to your wedding starts as everyone is taking their seats for the ceremony and continues until you and your partner have your last dance of the night. When choosing your wedding music, it is important to keep in mind that the first few strings of a lyric or line of a song can take you back in time. Music has the power to transcend time and transport you back to a special memory.

Your ceremony is one of the most magical and sacred elements of your wedding celebration so it is important to ensure it is beautifully enhanced with the most unforgettable moments and precious memories that you will cherish forever.