What is prelude, processional, recessional, postlude etc?

Prelude Think of it as “welcoming music.”  By no means bland, this is harmonious music with a calm, often pastoral air to it, designed to set a tone of relaxed composure, alleviate the stresses of traveling, and – added bonus! – it lets the guests know by ear where the ceremony will be located.  We usually start between 15 and 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

Processional refers to the formal entrances of family and bridal party (and groomal party?).  The word also is used to refer to the pieces of music we’ll play during these entrances.  These special entrances include:

  1. Family: Parents, grandparents, and any other family or honored guests
  2. Attendants: Bridesmaids and groomsmen and any flower girls and/or ring bearers
  3. The Bride

We often play a piece for family, then change the music and play another piece for attendants, then a third for the bride’s entrance.  Many couples opt for a single piece for family and attendants, if the processional distance is short and/or there are fewer than three or four people in each group.

Recessional refers to the formal exit of the bridal party including bride and groom and the bridesmaids and groomsmen; it also refers to the piece of music we play for this exit.

Postlude is the music we play after the recessional, as the guests exit the ceremony area.

Posted in: Ceremony Music