A Bride's Guide to Choosing (Classical) Music: Part 3

This is the third part in a series about selecting music for your wedding. Maybe you know you want something that sounds classical, but don't know where to start. You've come to the right place! 

 In Part 1  I walked you through some tips and basic decisions before choosing music (I recommend you head there first).

In Part 2  I talked about traditional music for wedding ceremonies. This was mostly a list of Baroque music and the really common classics.

Now in Part 3, I'll focus in slightly more modern music (disclaimer: most of it is still really old) that will give your wedding that classical music  sound without using the same music your parents chose. I'll cover these in two basic categories this time: Processional and Recessional.


The processional covers everyone walking in to your wedding, from the grandparents down to the bride. You can have several pieces (one for each party), one piece, or anything in between. I am not personally a big, "march for the bridal entrance" fan, so I don't have a huge list of marches for you, but here are a few suggestions:

Bridal Marches

Jupiter Hymn (Holst) https://youtu.be/ZP6dLS_u1tI This is just a small section of a larger work for orchestra. This arrangement is really long, but the hymn part goes until about 1:20.  I hope to post a link to my own (much shorter and appropriate) transcription soon. This hymn is a favorite in my family. 

Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky)  https://youtu.be/QaH0A_E_bRw I have to admit, I am a huge fan of the Russian composers. I've used this piece for Bridal entrances in the past and I think it is perfect. 

Nocturne from Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn) https://youtu.be/Ztee08vK4Yg This is not a true march, but much more march-like than lyrical. 

If you want more Bridal marches, you might want to go back and look at the part 2 list again. They are not as common in the later eras, especially if you don't want them to sound like Sousa.

If you imagine something more flowing, and graceful, then these lyrical pieces would probably work better. Most of these would also work well for bridesmaids and other entrances. Remember that you can use any part of these, in any length. I will include examples where you may want to only use a brief portion. 

 Lyrical Bridal Processionals  

Pathetique Sonata, Movement 2 (Beethoven)  https://youtu.be/vGq3-Fi_zQY  

Etude No 3 in E major (Chopin) https://youtu.be/EmQBFLJAIcY

Wedding Theme (Douglas Briley) https://youtu.be/AVqexKoLCII

The Young Prince and Princess from Scheherazade, Movement 3 (Rimsky-Korskav) https://youtu.be/PDS7uiOZmGY

Ballade No. 4 (Chopin) https://youtu.be/7tmQSWuYwrI  This was my bridal march for my own wedding, but I only used the first 30 seconds! The pianist repeated that once, and it was plenty to get down the aisle. 

Meditation from Thais (Massenet) https://youtu.be/6KgGGoxUnfk

Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque (Debussy) https://youtu.be/vG-vmVrHOGE

Flower Duet from Lakme (Delibes)  https://youtu.be/4dvFA5G6vac

The Swan from the Carnival of the Animals (Saint- Saens) https://youtu.be/lwYDf8V2AfY

Of Foreign Lands and Peoples, Kinderszenen no 1, Scenes from Childhood (Schumann) https://youtu.be/7lihXS3GLw0

Song without Words, No. 1  (Mendelssohn) https://youtu.be/RIU70B6K7Ls

 I have some honorable mentions to add to the Processional list. These are pieces that I personally would not use for a bridal entrance. However, they are pretty and lyrical, and would be excellent selections for grandparents entrance, or grooms entrance, etc. (Or you can ignore my opinion, and If nothing from the last list struck your fancy for a bridal processional, you can also choose one of these).

Non-Bridal Processionals

The Shepherd Boy (Wilson) https://youtu.be/PfuBw9BnoDI (Note: This is a player piano, but I had a hard time finding a recording at the tempo that I prefer) 

Sicilienne (Faure)  https://youtu.be/Zop26oeIeGc

Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, Mvt. 1 (Mozart) https://youtu.be/dP9KWQ8hAYk

Traumerei, Kinderszenen No. 7 from Scenes from Childhood (Schumann)  https://youtu.be/6z82w0l6kwE

Simple Gifts from Appalachian Spring (Copeland) https://youtu.be/2GcvsyB1olQ This is a really pretty arrangement of the Simple Gifts melody found in Copeland's piece for orchestra. 

Deux Arabesque, No. 1 (Debussy) https://youtu.be/a0fap6JZaow

Intrada (Graupner) https://youtu.be/NTzigsvVQDA

Waltz in A minor (Chopin) https://youtu.be/_9Qojo_jflc


Now on to recessionals. Don't worry, this list is shorter. When you are leaving you probably want something buoyant and happy. Like I've said before, this is a good place to add something  modern that means a lot to just the two of you. But if you want to stick with the classical, here are some suggestions. 


Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky) https://youtu.be/e4x_mXNJ-3w This is my absolute favorite recessional. It is fun to play, it is fun to hear. If you don't want to play the whole thing (or your pianist can't because it gets quite difficult) you can just jump around. I usually start at 1:36 and then at 2:04 I jump back to the beginning so that the choral part doesn't come as soon. 

Heather Rose (Lange) https://youtu.be/mVdUSFSr5JM (Ignore the floating fairy. I had a hard time finding a good recording of this). This is my second favorite recessional, and I will often play it as a postlude if I don't play it for the recessional. 

Jubilation (Recessional) (R.J. Mitchell) https://youtu.be/ZDMaDHPeuqM

Waltz from Swan Lake (Tschaikovski)  https://youtu.be/7vGCIzZhxMA

I'm not going to restate my disclaimer from part 2, but these are not the only pieces out there, and this does not delve into most of the really modern music or film scores. I do want to leave you with two pieces that are much more modern and I think could fit well for weddings. Consider these two bonus songs for this list:

Mrs. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice soundtrack (Dario Marianelli) https://youtu.be/SVI6ARREMJA This would be a very pretty processional, or a good addition to the prelude. 

Me and My Cello, Happy Together Cello Cover, (Piano Guys). https://youtu.be/DKC-lRhvdNY This is an awesome recessional!