It’s possibly the grandest moment of a person’s life – walking down the aisle; but without the right music it could become one of the most underwhelming. You’ll only get one chance in your lifetime to pick the music (we all hope, anyway) so it’s important that it matches the theme that you want for your wedding and lives up to the spectacle of the occasion.
Of course, the pace of the tune you choose is vital. You don’t want to be walking for hours, but at the same time you can’t be sprinting down the aisle; so choose the speed of the song wisely – if you have your heart set on a particular piece but it’s too quick then maybe ask your musicians if this can be played at a slower tempo or search for a slower instrumental version. Similarly, you don’t want to be arriving at the altar before the climax or after the music has stopped – choosing when to start and when the musicians should stop or fade your chosen piece is vital for avoiding any awkward situations on your special day.
One route that many go, and is the more traditional choice, is classical music. This would probably be the choice for most having a traditional ceremony, and having the organ can make these compositions all the more spectacular; so here is a selection of some of the more popular choices:
The Bridal Chorus – Richard Wagner
More commonly known as ‘Here Comes the Bride’, this is possibly the most well-known song to walk down the aisle to. Composed in 1850 for Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, it has been the theme of countless weddings since its creation – and for good reason. The piece is everything you could want for your amble down the church rows: it’s grandiose, dramatic and instantly associates with scenes of big weddings and romantic settings. Everyone will recognise the melody and it certainly won’t seem out of place as the theme to this moment – but perhaps that is to its own detriment. Obvious and stereotypical aren’t words that most want associated with their wedding, to be different and unique should be celebrated – maybe The Bridal Chorus has been a touch overplayed over the last 170 years, but it remains a classic nevertheless.
Pachelbel’s Canon (Canon in D Major) – Johann Pachelbel
This is a truly beautiful piece, and one that you have surely heard but perhaps wouldn’t know the name. Most commonly played with piano and strings, it creates a scene of tranquillity and romance that accompanies a walk down the aisle perfectly. It has certainly been a popular choice for weddings since its return to fame during the 70s and it’s virtually impossible to have gone without hearing it in mainstream media since. This should definitely not take away from the beauty of this piece, however, it would be an excellent theme for anyone being led to the altar.
Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
Possibly a little sombre for some, this is again an extremely popular and widely heard classical piece that is a good fit for a walk down the aisle. It was originally composed as the setting for Walter Scott’s epic poem The Lady of the Lake, and its dreamlike melody provides a slow and romantic theme that fits perfectly for the processional in a traditionally-set wedding.
Four Seasons (Winter) – Antonio Vivaldi
Compared to the previous suggestions, this classical tune is a far more upbeat and pacey choice. However, as with the others it portrays a tranquil and serene scene that is best suited to a more traditional wedding. It is important with all of these classical pieces that the right section is chosen – whereas the start of this popular work of Vivaldi’s could be more suited to the exit of the ceremony, other parts are much slower and would be more suitable for the processional.
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen – Edvard Grieg
A much more playful and fun piece when compared to the other classical choices, this is a lesser known work of Grieg that portrays a more celebratory and less serious scene. It was composed for the 25th anniversary of his own wedding day; and so although it was not scored for the purpose or portrayal of a wedding, it was created to be a remembrance of the celebration of his own marriage. Hence, a walk down the aisle to this piece would certainly set the scene of any traditional wedding.
Although any one of the above suggestions would be a great choice, many are now moving towards more modern music – particularly when away from the setting of a more traditional wedding. With that in mind here are some more contemporary songs that would be fitting to be led down the aisle to:
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
When considering more modern songs, there’s few more well-suited than Stand by Me; it’s instantly recognisable and the pace and romance are perfect for walking down the aisle to. Released in 1961, and then again in 1986 on its 25th anniversary to accompany the film of the same name, Ben E. King’s hit has become a timeless classic; and young and old will be moved during what would surely be a beautiful processional.
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong’s iconic gravelly voice is a cornerstone of jazz music and ‘What a Wonderful World’ is his most famous song in an incredibly illustrious career. The smooth and dreamy tones send you to a place of serenity and beauty – and what better time to do so than walking down the aisle. Weddings are romance in its grandest form, and you could say that about this song as well – another great choice for anyone’s procession.
Songbird – Fleetwood Mac
This one comes from giants of the music industry: Fleetwood Mac with their 1977 song ‘Songbird’. It’s a truly beautiful song written and performed by the legendary Christine McVie, and despite the fantastic vocal performance I think an instrumental would also be fitting for the processional. The song is sweet, simple and romantic and would be a perfect choice for anyone being led down the aisle.
Your Song – Elton John
A true classic from Elton John, ‘Your Song’ is incredibly well-known and for many is one of the most beautiful songs of all time. The song shows the innocence and perhaps the naivety of love but overall, it is a sweet and romantic song that is held dearly by many and would be a great choice for the walk down the aisle.
Perfect – Ed Sheeran
Undoubtedly the biggest star of the 2010s (in the UK, at least), Ed Sheeran seems to be able to create countless beautifully romantic songs – but ‘Perfect’ is perhaps his best work in this department. The slow pace and melodic acoustic guitar make it a great fit for a walk down the aisle, and everyone attending will instantly recognise his voice. Choose this one for a guaranteed ‘perfect’ wedding.
When walking down the aisle, you want it to be the most romantic and special moment of your life – how you choose to make it so depends on the music, and that choice is entirely up to you. Musicians love to play live and even if they’re not familiar with a particular song/piece of music, most would be more than happy to learn it – why not add something extra special and have a solo singer, classical guitarist or duo perform during your ceremony. The music might mean something to you, or not, it could be a famous and grand classical piece or a slow and romantic modern song – the point is, it’s your wedding and you know best how to make it special for you. So, take these suggestions as a helping hand on what to play when you walk down the aisle, but ultimately the choice is yours.