How to Choose the Best Songs for The Wedding Ceremony

The right music is crucial for setting the tone in your wedding ceremony. There are lots of feels in a wedding ceremony, and the right songs complement the emotions of the moment.

The wrong songs? Well… the opposite. If you don’t believe me, just go watch those YouTube videos where someone swapped out John Williams’ score when Darth Vader enters. Or the other one that completely removed the music for the final Star Wars medal-awards scene. Music really does make all the difference.

It can be awkward when the song choice isn’t right.

Music really elevates the wedding ceremony. And there are two crucial questions when it comes to choosing the right songs for your wedding ceremony.

First, how many songs will your couple need?

And second, how do they know which songs to choose for those important moments?

Here’s how to help your wedding couple choose the best songs for their wedding ceremony.

The Processional Songs

In a wedding ceremony, everyone walks to the front in, well, ceremonial fashion. And this is done to music.

As to how many songs and which ones to choose, the options depend on how many people are walking down the aisle and what your couple want the vibe to be when they do.

The Wedding Party’s Entrance

The first question to ask is who (or what?*) walks down the aisle in the wedding ceremony?

Typically, your couple will choose from the following:

  • Honourary family members
  • Pets* (dogs, cats, horses, goldfish, etc.; sometimes with rings attached)
  • Ring bearers (typically kids)
  • Flower bearers (can be kids, grandparents, or, as per the 2022 trend, grown men with fanny packs)
  • Wedding attendants (the members of the marryers’ wedding parties)
  • One or both marryers with escorts

Traditionally, ring bearers, flower bearers, and wedding attendants all enter and walk down the aisle before the marryer (bride or groom) enters with their parent escorting.

If there are a lot of honourary family members, kids, pets, attendants, etc., it’s best to choose one song that plays while they all make their walk and take their seats or places to stand at the front.

What style of song to choose? Well… here’s where it gets interesting. Because as we said, the song will set the tone and the vibe.

So what tone/vibe does your couple want for their processional?

There are generally four vibes to choose from for a wedding ceremony processional: classic(al), pop/contemporary, country, and dance.

Some couples want to go the traditional route. Something classical or orchestral that complements a wedding march down the aisle for their party. Think Canon in D by Pachelbel.

Other couples like the idea of a more romantic and heartfelt contemporary or pop ballad. Think A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.

Or if the wedding has a barn vibe, couples may choose something more country like Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts.

And some couples want to just go hard and have their wedding party dance right up the aisle to something like Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling.

As with all elements in a wedding ceremony, it’s helpful to start with the traditional as the baseline, and see how much your couple would like to break with convention. Ballad? Country? Pop? There are no limits.

After we settle on a processional vibe, all that’s left is to choose the song and make sure it’s long enough for everyone coming down. Typically, a song that’s 4 minutes or longer will be plenty. Especially if it changes for the marryer coming down the aisle.

The Marryer(s)’s Entrance

In most wedding ceremonies, one marryer is already at the front when the processional begins (traditionally, a groom). The other marryer enters and walks down the aisle (traditionally, a bride).

As with the others in the previous part of the processional, this marryer’s walk is set to music.

If there are only a few people entering before the marryer, then the song that was playing when they walked will simply continue to play when the marryer enters and walks down the aisle. In fact, it’s strange and jarring when just two or three people or pairs walk down the aisle and the song changes suddenly. It would mean the song would barely be halfway into the first verse when it gets stopped.

So if there are just a few people and/or it’s a short walk from the back to the front, there’s no need for a second song. In fact, it often works really well! The song will be hitting a crescendo at the chorus or the second verse when the marryer makes their appearance at the back and starts walking to that song.

However, if there’s a huge wedding party or it’s a long aisle, then it’s best to choose a second song for the marryer’s walk. And for consistency, your couple will probably want to match the vibe of the song that the other attendants walked down to.

So if they walked in to Canon in D, then the marryer will probably choose something like Here Comes the Bride by Wagner for that classic(al) vibe.

If the wedding party walked in to A Thousand Years, then something like John Legend’s All Of Me works well for a more contemporary, romantic feeling.

The more country vibe of a song like Bless The Broken Road matches well with Shania Twain’s From This Moment.

And if your marryer wants to follow Can’t Stop the Feeling and dance their heart out to their fiancé at the front, then a song like Love On Top by Beyoncé is the kind of song they’ll want.

To sum up the processional: when it comes to the marryer’s song, we’re helping our couple decide whether it will be the same song as the wedding party or if a second one is best. Then it’s all about how they want it to feel when they walk down the aisle.


Most of the weddings you’ll see and officiate will have one marryer at the front and another coming to the front down the aisle. However, some couples – especially same-sex couples – opt to both walk down the aisle in a couple of different ways.

First, they might do it separately: one walks before the wedding party’s processional and the other walks after.

Or they might enter and walk at the same time to the same song, but instead of down the aisle they might come down the sides and meet at the front.

Or they may both make their processional walk down the aisle after the wedding party – one after the other. This might mean adding that second song for them or even a third if it’s a very long walk. But as with the other options, it’s a matter of talking them through how they want everyone to feel as it’s happening – and not cutting off any songs too quickly.

The Signing Song

In Canada we have a whole tradition of signing the marriage license right during the ceremony. In the United States it’s not common, but it’s something I recommend and teach in my courses and coaching.


Because signing the marriage license during the wedding ceremony has a lot going for it! For example, everyone gets to see it happen; it doesn’t happen is some backroom somewhere. Plus, the couple and photographer and witnesses and officiant don’t need to spent extra time before or after the ceremony signing papers.

But neither of those things are even my favourite thing about it.

I like it mostly because it’s fun!

And where you place the signing in the ceremony and the song you choose to play during the signing make all the difference.

Now, the way it’s done traditionally, the signing of the license is not particularly fun. Traditionally, signing the marriage license is lumped together with the vows and ring exchange and any other wedding ceremony elements – but it’s far less emotionally engaging. The couple sits at a table, the music is slow, and all the guests watch other humans sign paper. It’s about as fun as watching ink dry.

So I get why there’s hesitation.

But if you change one thing, this part is a whole lotta fun.

After you pronounce the couple married and say “you may kiss!”, that’s the time to go sign the papers! Kiss then sign, not sign then kiss. Put the signing after the pronouncement and kiss – not before! – and all the guests have clapped and cheered and your couple are smiling and laughing. Their ceremony is almost done but not quite, and now cue a fun and upbeat song the couple loves and go sign the papers to that electricity in the air. For a signing that we put after the kiss and cheer, we’re going to want a song that complements that vibe.

One of my favourite memories of a signing goes like this: after the wedding couple kissed and guests cheered, I told everyone that “we’re gonna go sign the papers” and the couples choice for the signing song, Bob Marley’s One Love, started up. Halfway through the signing I looked I up and all the guests were singing away and waving their hands in the air at their seats. It was so amazing! It was the perfect vibe for coming back to the centre and presenting the couple and sending them back up the aisle to raucous cheers.

A lot of couples choose something like Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered for the signing song. But really, the signing song can be any upbeat song your couple loves – and that makes people want to start dancing in their chairs.

The Recessional Song

After the signing, we come back to the centre, the officiant makes some brief closing remarks, and it’s time to cue the very last song of the ceremony for the recessional.

What kind of song do we want here? This is an easy one: we want any fast song that comes in with a bang.

Why? Because when we officiants say, “Friends and family, stand with us now! It’s my honour and pleasure to present to you for the very first time: Tim and Sam as husband and husband!”, everyone is gonna whoop and shout and clap.

We want the processional song to come in and amplify the joy and celebration even further so our couple can bounce up the aisle to the adulation of all their guests.

So recommend to your couple a song like Paper Rings by Taylor Swift or You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates or September by Earth, Wind & Fire.

The most important thing to consider about the song is how it starts.

There are plenty of songs that have a rocking chorus but that start out very mellow and build up to the faster beat. For a wedding recessional, we don’t have time to build. We need that song coming in hard and fast!

So if your couple do want a song where the chorus is a blast but the first verse is too slow, tell them that their professional DJ can cue the song to start at the upbeat point. Then when the guests cheer, the song gets the party started immediately.

Bonus: Don’t Forget the Prelude Music!

This is some free advice that’s technically outside the parameters of the actual ceremony: make sure the music matches the atmosphere as the wedding guests arrive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived at a ceremony and the music doesn’t match the atmosphere. For example, it’s a rustic barn or a backyard wedding, and all the guests in the ceremony space are taking their seats to classical baroque music. The DJ has chosen Mozart because it’s just what they always play at every wedding ceremony they DJ. But it doesn’t work and no one is thinking about it.

Except me. Because I obsess over the atmosphere that music creates.

The prelude music (songs that play before the wedding ceremony) is a common oversight. The couple never even thought about choosing the music that will play before the wedding ceremony as their guests arrive! The couple won’t even be there, for one. And also, the DJ will handle it, right? They’ll play… something.

But it might not be the right music for the feel of this wedding, unfortunately.

A few weeks before the wedding, your couple are going to have a meeting with their DJ and tell them what they’ve chosen to play for the processional, the marryer’s entrance, the signing, and the recessional. Every song is handpicked by the couple.

Make sure you tell them not to forget to tell their DJ what they’d like playing during the prelude – the half hour before the ceremony as their guests arrive and take their seats. They can either handpick every song and compile a playlist, or just give their DJ a genre.

Mozart is perfect for a wedding ceremony in an observatory with marble floors. But for a wedding in a field where the wedding party are in suspenders? Not so much.

We want all the music to match the vibe of the wedding day our couple have so carefully prepared.