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I can still feel the panic. Standing in the atrium of St. Teresa’s Church in Summit with two minutes to go before “show time,” and the musical director asked my future sister-in-law for the arrangements that she had picked out for her wedding. FSIL looked at us all as if the director had four heads and said, “I didn’t pick out anything!”
So “Here Comes the Bride” it was…for the parents, the groomsmen, the bridesmaids and finally the bride. I was mortified.
Not that there’s anything wrong with “Here Comes the Bride,” but I had painstakingly chosen the perfect hymns for my Catholic Mass just a year earlier, culminating in a surprise trumpet solo of Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” for my walk down the aisle with my dad. The trumpet started…the doors opened…and out I came. Maybe I was a little too type A, but there was no chance I was going to be surprised on my wedding day with someone else making my choices, musical or otherwise.
Your choices for your processional are quite varied. Go the traditional route and pick a classic church hymn such as Pachelbel’s “Canon in D“ or Bach’s “Jesus, Joy of Man Desiring.” Or mix it up a bit and play just the instrumental of a contemporary song. “Pick songs that really connect with you and that come from your heart,” says Scott Hornak of Craig Scott Entertainment in Rochelle Park. “Don’t worry if the song is too fast or slow—you can always create a nice arrangement.”
When played by strings, almost any song sounds romantic. Search for your favorite song on YouTube played by a violin or string quartet, and see if you like how it sounds. We bet you’ll be surprised by how great and romantic it can be.“String ensembles and quartets are always beautiful, especially when you have them perform pop and modern hits along with classical,” Hornak adds. “I really love the texture of a cello with violins and guitar—you have the silkiness of the violins blended with the pizzicato of the guitar. It’s just such a great blend.”
Hornak’s pop favorites for a bride’s processional are “A Thousand Years,” by Christina Perri and “God Only Knows,” by The Beach Boys. “I think they are both just so great and not overplayed for the ceremony,” he says. “I also loved when we were requested to play ‘Love Me Tender,’ by Elvis. We had a great arrangement with two violins, a guitar and a female vocalist. It was absolutely beautiful.”
The key to creating this special environment for your ceremony—truly the most important moment of your wedding day—is to have live musicians present. “The great advantage of having live musicians perform for your ceremony is that they can slow the songs down or change the feel slightly to make it appropriate for a bridal processional,” Hornak says. “This is your time to really put your fingerprint on your wedding.”
Here is a list of traditional and modern pop songs that we love for your bridal processional—appropriate for both religious and non-religious ceremonies:
“All of Me”—John Legend
“Beethoven’s 5 Secrets”—One Republic
“Can’t Help Falling in Love”—Elvis
“Iris”—Goo Goo Dolls
“Kiss Me”—Ed Sheeran
“Love Story”—Taylor Swift
“Say You Won’t Let Go”—James Arthur
“A Sky Full of Stars”—Coldplay
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“A Thousand Years”—Christina Perri
“Canon in D”—Pachelbel
“Jesus, Joy of Man Desiring”—Bach
“Ode to Joy”—Beethoven
For help customizing your own wedding processional, click here.