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Planning & Inspiration

Or: how to program your music without knowing anything about classical music. Or any kind of music, really.

We’ve noticed that, try as they might, most of the articles on big wedding-y websites aren’t all that useful in narrowing down your music selections.  So, here we’d like to give you our own Portland-flavored version of a Guide To Ceremony Music.

First, some basic terminology, then we’ll move on to song selection.

If you already know all the terminology, you can skip this bit and go straight to the part about how to pick your songs.

  • 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 15 to 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.

  • Processional

Sometimes this word specifically means “the music that is played as the bridal party [read: bridesmaids and groomsmen] enter” and sometimes it means “the music that is played as anyone [parents, bridal party, and/or bride] enters.”

  • Processional vs. “Entrance Music” vs. “Formal Seating” or huhwhat?

Whatever you call it, it’s all referring to specific songs played as specific people walk in, up the aisle.  Generally, these are songs you’ll want to choose.  As long as we understand each other it’s all good.

  • Interlude

Whatever gets played, if anything, at any point, while the bride & groom are actually standing up there.  In Catholic ceremonies there tend to be lots of opportunities for this (communion, various blessings, etc), while a non-religious ceremony might have no interlude at all.  Ask your officiant about this.

  • Recessional

Once the glass is broken, the broomstick jumped over, the deal sealed, the knot is tied, etc., this is the music that plays as you depart back down the aisle.

  • Postlude

Total silence right after the recessional is weird, and since it takes guests a few minutes to get up from their chairs and file out of the ceremony area, it’s nice to have some upbeat background music here.  This is called postlude.