I have probably played a few hundred weddings, with a variety of instruments performing a wide range of music. Yet the ceremony selections seem to fall into a few basic categories:
1. The traditional wedding pieces:
The Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
The Wedding March
2. Well-known classical pieces--you have heard these, whether you recognize the titles or not. You can find them under Wedding Demos and also on YouTube.
Canon in D Major (Pachelbel)
Ode to Joy (Beethoven)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach)
Trumpet Voluntary (Purcell/Clarke)
Ave Maria (Schubert)
Air on the G String (J.S. Bach)
3. Lesser-known classical pieces:
There are many beautiful pieces for solo guitar, guitar and flute or other instrumental combinations which are not familiar to the general public but which make beautiful selections for a wedding. Many of these are on my demos.
4. Music in a more popular vein:
Wedding music doesn’t have to be classical. I have played I Will by the Beatles, Steppin’ Out With My Baby (made popular by Tony Bennett), All Right Now by Free, and Petit Fleur (by 30’s jazz musician Sidney Bechet) at recent ceremonies.
Before you worry about specific titles, see if you tend to prefer one of these categories over the others. This will simplify your search. Don’t worry about the instrumentation. Many pieces can be adapted for a number of different instruments. If you like something, let me hear it and I’ll tell you if it’s possible or not.
When is music played in wedding ceremonies?
There are no strict rules. Some places where certain pieces might be specified are: the seating of the mothers; the entrance of the bridesmaids; the entrance of the bride; during a candle-lighting or ring-blessing during the ceremony; and the recessional. Sometimes one piece is played for both the bridesmaids and the bride. Shorter ceremonies tend not to have music in the middle.