You've probably got a crazy number of wedding planning decisions and details to deal with. It can get overwhelming.  Well, here's some good news.    Many of my couples are relieved when I tell them they don't need to come up with a list of music for the prelude or pre-ceremony.

The prelude is the background music that will play as guests arrive and are getting seated until the actual ceremony processional music begins. This music helps to set the mood, provide a pleasant background, and draw folks to the ceremony site. In some outdoor settings, like formal gardens, it can actually help folks to find the specific ceremony location. Typically when the officiant goes to the front, usually with the groom, I wrap up the prelude and wait for the cue to start the processionals. That pause in the music alerts everyone that your ceremony is about to begin and creates a little dramatic silence. ( there's bad drama and good drama...this qualifies as good drama )

The good news I promised you is that it's best to let your musician put together the prelude music based on who and what they see in front of them. Presumably you've hired someone with lots of wedding experience, so they'll set the perfect mood as it unfolds.

In talking with you, your musician will have gotten an idea of you and general type of music you envision. But, as for a list of your favorite won't be there to hear them. In fact, who will be there will often be aunts, uncles, grandmothers and such, whose musical tastes could be completely different from yours. Part of the fun of playing preludes for me is watching the guests and their reactions, and adjusting my set, while keeping in mind the mood and style the couple wants.

And time...time is the other reason a pre-planned set isn't a good idea. I have found it to be unpredictable as to how many guests will come and how long depends on weather, the setting, and the individuals. There will usually be one or two couples who arrive absolutely last minute causing a delay during the pre-ceremony pause, and, on the other hand, I once worked a wedding Down East in Maine where an elderly couple came and sat while I was hooking up my equipment, fully an hour and a half before the actual ceremony. You never know who will sit and when, so you don't know how long the prelude will be.

 Finally, you can't really pre-plan a list of music unless you know the wedding will start right on time... and...well...ahhh...they mostly don't.

So, I try to get an idea of the type of music my clients want ( and I always ask if there's a song I shouldn't play ; like a painful reminder to someone who's recently lost someone). Then I tell them to let me create my mix as the prelude unfolds... works great every time !

As you plan your ceremony music, you might get some ideas by visiting my website to see some lists of songs I often play.

and feel free to e-mail me  if you have questions about this topic or your wedding music ideas.


Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"




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