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By Maria Yeonhee Ji
Music has the amazing ability to evoke memories; song has the power to transport you back to a significant period of your life. Which is why the soundtrack for your wedding day can have so much meaning. However, many couples come to realise that finding the right music for the procession can be particularly difficult. Unlike the first dance song which can be all about the significance for you as a couple, the processional song requires the combination of something meaningful that also suits the style and ambience of the ceremony (traditional, modern, vintage, etc…). To help you get started on the search for that perfect song, we’ve curated a list of our 21 all-time favourites. From classical pieces we’ve associated with weddings since forever, to contemporary ballads that seem to have been written with the aisle walk in mind, you’ll be sure to find something you love almost as much as your partner.
Image by Hollow & Co. (Thumbnail image by Michelle du Toit)
August Wilhelmj’s arrangement of Bach’s orchestral suite movement is a stellar option for those looking for music that is timeless; something that you can listen to again and again in the future and only find more details to love.
You might recognise the tune as ‘Here Comes the Bride’; this familiar classical piece is ideal for more formal and traditional ceremonies.
It’s one of the most well-known pieces of music that is frequently used during wedding ceremonies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider Pachelbel’s Canon in D for your own wedding. A charming and elegant baroque tune that is nonetheless very simple to play, making it particularly suitable if you want to personalise the processional song by getting family members to play the music live.
To give you some idea of its romantic underpinnings, this musical work was gifted by Elgar to Caroline Alice Roberts as an engagement present. It’s a charming salon piece that will capture and convey the romance of the day.
If you want to pull out all the stops for your procession, this violin concerto calls to mind the fresh beauty of new beginnings. Perfect for more formal and lavish spring weddings.
This beautiful piano arrangement from Joe Wright’s 2005 film Pride and Prejudice is played by Georgiana Darcy as Lizzie’s preconceptions about William give way to feelings of admiration, respect (and of course love). The loveliest arrangement to play while making your entrance.
There’s nothing more romantic (yet timeless) than Debussy’s third movement of his Suite bergamasque. This impressionist depiction of moonlight is some of the most enchanting music produced in the impressionist movement; the opening notes of this piece will add a magical quality to your moments down the aisle.
From the musical suite Carnival of Animals by romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns, The Swan consists of a lush cello solo playing over rippling piano. In classical mythology, swans are sacred to the goddess of love, making this a particularly fitting song for walking down the aisle.
From the musical The Phantom Of The Opera, this song fuses the magnificent splendour of opera and the universality of pop to bring one of the most romantic songs that have ever been performed on stage.
This brilliant version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is set at an ideal tempo for a walk down the aisle. Kamakawiwo’s vocals add some beautiful layers of depth to the wistful dreams described in the lyrics.
If you want a sweet, relaxed tune with a bit of humour for an outdoor ceremony then you should definitely consider You and I by Ingrid Michaelson. Featuring a ukulele, it’s a great choice for a summer or destination wedding.
Something for the urban chic wedding - Love On Top by Beyonce is an uplifting song that is bound to bring a lot of energy into your ceremony. The song is packed full of life and love. It is not always traditional to take the upbeat route with a processional song, a lot of people opt for ballads. However, we don't see the harm in making your grand entrance to the wedding with a bit of a bounce in your step backed up by the mind-blowing vocals of Queen B.
Etta James’ version of this classic written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warden couldn’t be more perfect for a contemporary ceremony with a vintage flair.
Originally performed by the Elvis Presley, this is one of those songs that everyone knows and everyone associates with love. It’s timeless popularity has resulted in a great many covers that branch into various genres so you will have no trouble finding a version of the song the suits your’s and your partner’s music taste.
The original was written by Bob Dylan, but Adele really makes this piece her own with her slower, more soulful version. Amanda Petrusich of the New Yorker once wrote of Adele that “soul is inherent in her voice, some kind of heady, insatiable wanting”, and it’s this soul that has made this song a modern standard for our generation and for those to come.
This song is unpretentious and heartfelt, but steers clear from overly sentimental. The R&B influence, the pared back guitar arrangement, the husky vocals… it’s a down-to-earth celebration of love that takes joy in the little moments of shared life.
For the couples who want to go for something slightly unconventional choice. The simple, sensual feel to this piece is romantic but not saccharine.
This masterpiece by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher has touched the hearts of listeners for decades and is a perfect processional song for the religious and nonreligious alike. It’s seamless melding of lyrics and music, and is there any line better to summarise your feelings on your wedding day than “God only knows what I’d be without you”?
The lyrics speak of commitment and boundless love; let these lyrics speak for you and there won’t be a dry eye as you glide down the aisle.
Inspired by his girlfriend (and now fiancée), Perfect is a sweet, wholesome song in a rhythm that reflects that feeling of being swept away.
La Vie En Rose is a gentle, swaying song about how love makes you see life through rose-tinted glasses or happy hues. Though Édith Piaf’s timbre isn’t for everybody, there are many stunning covers such as Daniela Andrade’s acoustic guitar cover.
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