15 Classic Instrumental Pieces for a Wedding Ceremony

Popular Selections From Wagner, Vivaldi, Mozart, and Mendelssohn

Father walking bride down church aisle
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One of the most evocative elements at a wedding is the music. The compositions that accompany a bride or groom, the attendants, or honorary guests while walking down the aisle or during the wedding ceremony can make lasting memories.

Different Parts of the Wedding Ceremony

You can choose musical pieces for any part of your wedding ceremony: the prelude, during the ceremony, the processional, or recessional.

For a prelude, pick music for your guests to enjoy as they arrive at the church or ceremony location. This music sets the mood. You might want to decide on interlude music, too, for example, during the ceremony while you light a unity candle or if you are having a religious ceremony, during Communion.

The big dramatic musical moments include the processional music for walking down the aisle and the recessional music after you are pronounced newly wedded—usually a triumphant march to tug at your guests' heartstrings. 

Instrumental Wedding Ceremony Music

These songs are popular selections for weddings all over the world. Keep in mind that just because a song may have been used many times, it still can strike a chord of deep feeling for the listener. Or, if you choose to change it up a little bit, you can find slightly different arrangements or novel instrumentation. For example, you can take the most common bridal march, "Here Comes the Bride," and use a less traditional approach with a guitar serving as the main instrumentation.

"Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin" ("Here Comes the Bride")

"Here Comes the Bride," by Richard Wagner is perhaps the most popular processional used all over the world.

"Canon in D"

Composed by baroque composer Johann Pachelbel, "Canon in D" is another very popular processional song as the attendants come down the aisle.

"Guitar Concerto in D Major" (2nd Movement)

Antonio Vivaldi originally composed this song for a lute during the baroque musical period. The fluttering quality of the music makes it a good choice as a processional for the wedding party or for a prelude. 

"Trumpet Tune and Air"

English composer Henry Purcell, perhaps one of the best known English composers of the baroque period, wrote "Trumpet Tune and Air," which is favored as an elegant recessional song. 

"Wedding March"

Usually, the top traditional choice for the wedding recessional is the "Wedding March" by Felix Mendelssohn. If you are in a church with a pipe organist, you might want to take advantage of the high drama coming from those pipes with this song.

"Promenade"

"Promenade," a song from the suite "Pictures At An Art Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky, is a perfectly fitting song as a recessional song or as a prelude of things to come.

"Cantata No. 156: Arioso"

Johann Sebastian Bach offers a strong contender for a processional song with "Arioso," a popular choice for large church weddings.

"Sheep May Safely Graze" (Cantata No.208)

This cantata from  Bach makes for a gentle, but lively processional for the attendants, guests, family, or happy couple.

"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: Andante"

One of the most popular works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is literally translated from German to mean "a little serenade." The chamber ensemble has many parts that are appropriate as a recessional and prelude.

"Piano Concerto No.21, KV 467 - Andante"

Another popular song by Mozart can be a contender on the big day for any part of the ceremony, it is beautiful as a processional and is certainly suitable for prelude music, setting the mood for a grand affair.

"Spring"

Vivaldi's song composed for violin, "Spring," is a popular favorite for a processional, but is also delightful as a recessional song. From his grouping of four pieces, the "Four Seasons," "Spring" is lively, jovial, and emotive.

"Clair de Lune"

"Claire de Lune" by Claude Debussy is a common song used in wedding receptions for cocktail hour, as a prelude to the ceremony, or a processional song. Translated, it means "moonlight," and it is a piano interpretation of a Paul Verlaine poem of the same name.

"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"

The sweeping melodies of "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Sergei Rachmaninoff offer high dramatic effect for any prelude or processional.

"Morning Mood"

"Morning Mood," is a very popular piece of music, usually played to depict the sun rising, the birds chirping, and the dawning of a new day. The joyful, hopeful mood makes for a lovely processional song. The song composed by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1875 is from "Peer Gynt, Op. 23," which is the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's 1867 play of the same name. 

"Laudate Dominum"

This song, originally written by Mozart as a choral piece, can be performed instrumentally and serve as mood-setting prelude music or processional music.