The dictionary definition of a "prelude" is: "a preliminary to an action, event, condition, or work of broader scope and higher importance." That's a little technical. Here's a simplified version: As part of your wedding day, the "prelude" music will be 15 to 30 minutes of music immediately preceding the wedding ceremony. Much better!

Prelude Music Qualities

The prelude music should be playing as your guests arrive. It should be bright, not too slow yet not too lively, and rather soft, background music. There are several purposes for, and goals you are attempting to achieve with, this music...

•It welcomes your guests as they are being seated before the ceremony.
•Because it is soft it allows for light conversation and/or prayer. It also helps your guests to settle in and get comfortable - another reason why it should not be intrusive or harsh.
•It sets the mood for the ceremony to follow. As such, it needs to be cheerful yet subdued. Positive, but certainly not dance or entertainment oriented (save that music for the reception).

How Prelude Music Helps To Define The Mood

Let's look at that last bullet a bit more closely. We discuss general ceremony mood elsewhere on our site, but that mood starts with the prelude music. It is one of the first impressions your guests will get of the ceremony itself (along with the setting, flowers, and decorations), and so it is best if it features music that compliments the setting and gives them an indication of what they can expect.

If this music is doing its job, it will heighten the overall mood of the ceremony once it begins. It should also create a smooth transition into the next phase of the wedding - whatever that phase may be. (e.g. the setting of the altar, the seating of VIPs, the pre-processional music, or the Procession itself).

Types Of Prelude Music

Classical pieces in the form of piano, string, and flute music are all appropriate for the prelude as well as jazz, Broadway, and popular love songs. It is good if at least some of these songs are popular enough to be recognized by the general public, although this is certainly not a requirement. These pieces can be mixed within the prelude, or you can stick with one type.

Using Prelude Music To Transition To The Ceremony

Although it is not essential, if you choose to mix it up, you may want to have a couple of songs that are of the same genre of music you will be using later on during the ceremony. There are a couple of ways to think about this... Prelude music that is of an entirely different genre than the ceremony music marks a figurative/musical/psychological distinction for your guests between the prelude music and the start of the ceremony. Yet, playing music of the same genre during the last couple of songs of the prelude can smooth the transition into the start of the ceremony.

Different Methods Of Musically Transitioning To The Ceremony

Of course, one could argue that there are more ways than genre to mark a musical transition (e.g. volume, tempo, artist, voice pitch, etc.). So perhaps you could make the transition by playing musical pieces of the same genre at a slightly higher volume and tempo as, for instance, the VIPS are seated. Everyone's wedding is different - think about your preferences, and talk these things over with your DJ/Musician(s).

Leaving It Up To Your DJ/Musicians

By the way, you don't have to choose every song for your prelude music. You may want to indicate a few possible genres to your DJ/Musicians(s), and let them make the choices from there. If you choose this route, as mentioned elsewhere on our site, remember to explicitly state any genres, songs, and artists that you definitely do not want played.

Be Aware Of Your Setting's Restrictions

Finally, if you are getting married in a church, there may be some restrictions on the type of music you can use in the prelude, so be sure to discuss this with the church. Let your DJ/Musician(s) know what those restrictions are. We mention churches specifically because it is there that you are most likely to run into restrictions but, whatever the setting, be sure to ask about them just to be on the safe side.

Here are some great prelude selections in different genres:


Amazed - Lonestar
From This Moment - Shania Twain & Bryan White
Grow Old With Me - Mary Chapin Carpenter
I Can Love You Like That - John Michael Montgomery
I Cross My Heart - George Strait
I Do: Cherish You - Mark Wills
I Swear - John Michael Montgomery
It's Your Love - Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
My Best Friend - Tim McGraw
You Light Up My Life - LeAnne Rimes
Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray
Keeper Of The Stars - Tracy Byrd
To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks
You And I - Eddie Rabbit & Crystal Gayle


Chances Are - Johnny Mathis
For Sentimental Reasons - Nat King Cole
All The Way - Frank Sinatra
Because Of You - Tony Bennet
And I Love You So - Perry Como
Misty - Johnny Mathis
Sunrise Sunset (from "Fiddler On The Roof") - Sammy Davis Jr.
The Hawaiian Wedding Song - Andy Williams
Speak Softly Love - Andy Williams

New Age

Give Me Forever: I Do - John Tesh
If You Believe - Jim Brickman
Processional - Will Ackerman
The Gift - Jim Brickman


A Groovy Kind Of Love - Phil Collins
A Whole New World - Regina Belle & Peabo Bryson
Beautiful In My Eyes - Joshua Kadison
Can You Feel The Love Tonight - Elton John
Everything I Do - Bryan Adams
Heaven - Bryan Adams
I Could Not Ask For More - Edwin McCain
I Do (Cherish You) - 98 Degrees
I Finally Found Someone - Barbra Streisand & Bryan Adams
I Knew I Loved You - Savage Garden
Love Of A Lifetime - Firehouse
Now And Forever - Richard Marx
Power Of Love - Celine Dion
In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
Sea Of Love - Honeydrippers
Heaven (slow) - DJ Sammy
Suddenly - Billy Ocean
The One - Elton John
Through The Eyes Of Love - Melissa Manchester
When I Fall In Love - Celine Dion & Clive Griffen


Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley
Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You - Frankie Valli
Close To You - Carpenters
Colour My World - Chicago
Evergreen - Barbra Streisand
Have I Told You Lately - Van Morrison
How Sweet It Is - James Taylor
I Love You - Climax Blues Band
In My Life - Beatles
Let It Be Me - Everly Brothers
The Wedding Song - Paul Stookey
You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone
If - Bread
Stand By Me - Ben E. King


All My Life - K-Ci & JoJo
Always - Atlantic Starr
Always And Forever - Heatwave
Cherish - Kool & The Gang
Endless Love - Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
Endless Love - Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey
Everytime I Close My Eyes - Babyface
For You I Will - Monica
Here And Now - Luther Vandross
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me - Mel Carter
How Sweet It Is - Marvin Gaye
I Believe In You And Me - Four Tops
I Believe In You And Me - Whitney Houston
I Can Love You Like That - All-4-One
I Only Have Eyes For You - Flamingos
I Swear - All-4-One
Only You - Platters
Truly - Lionel Richie


Forever In Love - Kenny G.


A Dream - Grieg, Edvard
Adagio (from Sonata in E-Flat) -Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
Adagio For Strings - Barber, Samuel
Adagio In G Minor For Strings - Albinoni, Tomaso
Air (from "Water Music") -Handel, George Frideric
Air On The G String - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Allegro (from "Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G") -Bach, Johann Sebastian
Arabesque 1 - Debussy, Claude
Ave Verum Corpus - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
Blue Danube Waltz - Strauss, Richard
Coro (from "Water Music") -Handel, George Frideric
Dream Of Love - Listz, Franz
Fantasia In D - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
Fantasia On "Greensleeves" -Williams, Vaughan
Fur Elise - Beethoven, Ludwig Von
Gymnopedie No. 1 - Satie, Erik
In Dulci Jubilo - Praetorius, Michael
Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Largo From Concerto On Guitar - Vivaldi, Antonio
Largo From Xerxes - Handel, George Frideric
Love's Old Sweet Song - Molloy, James
Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven, Ludwig Von
Nocturne In E flat, Op. 9 No. 2 - Chopin, Fryderyk
Pastoral Symphony - Handel, George Frideric
Prelude No. 1 In C Major - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Prelude No. 4 - Chopin, Fryderyk
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun - Debussy, Claude
Raindrop Prelude - Chopin, Fryderyk
Sarabande (from Violin Sonata in B Major) -Bach, Johann Sebastian
See What His Love Can Do - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Sheep May Safely Graze - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Siciliana (from Suite No. 3) -Respighi, Ottorinov
Symphony No. 101 "Clock" -Haydn, Franz Josef
Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral" -Beethoven, Ludwig Von
Wachet Auf - Bach, Johann Sebastian
Waltz (from "Sleeping Beauty" Act 1) -Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich

Beautiful prelude music has been playing for 20 minutes. Now, your moms are ready to be seated! Here's some wonderful music for the seating of the VIP's.

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