Wedding Music Ideas: Ceremony (Classical)

wedding music cello

Here’s a quick guide to choosing Classical music for a wedding ceremony. Please see my previous blog for Classical/Pop.

When choosing music for a ceremony, you need to choose music for:

  • the bride’s entrance
  • 3 pieces for whilst you sign the register
  • exit of the bride and groom


The only limitations are that you are not allowed religious music in a civil ceremony, but registrars vary in how they interpret this. For example, some are happy with ‘Ave Maria’ played on string duo as there are no words, others do not allow any music from a religious work. Twice in 20 years I have come across registrars who will not allow ‘The Queen of Sheba’. Check with your registrars if you’re not sure.

You may already have favourite pieces, but if you don’t know much about classical music, please don’t let this put you off. A quick google search will allow you to listen to any of the pieces suggested below and you might be surprised by how many you recognise.

Bride’s Entrance

Here are some of my favourites:

Canon Pachelbel. This is as absolute Classic, it builds up beautifully so works really well if you have several bridesmaids coming in 1st. We will tailor it so that you are walking in to the main melody

Bridal Chorus Wagner. The traditional ‘here comes the bride’, although this is less common to hear these days so it’s actually a good choice if you’re looking for something a bit different. It has a lovely middle section which works well in a church or somewhere with a long aisle, or with a large bridal party. The main melody is fairly short, so we’d just play this in a smaller room.

My Beloved Father Puccini. I love this song. It works beautifully for walking in or for the signing, it’s from a Puccini opera and is very romantic.

Trumpet Voluntary (Prince of Denmark’s March) J Clarke. This has historically been used in weddings but isn’t so commonly heard these days, making it a perfect choice if you’re looking for something a bit different.

Largo from Bach Double Violin Concerto (Quartet only) This is the one to choose if you really want to float down the aisle. As it’s written for 2 violins, we only perform this as a String Quartet

Ave Maria Bach

Ave Maria Schubert

As you can see, there are two well-known pieces named ‘Ave Maria’, please make sure you let us know which one you want! Registrars vary with this one, so please check with yours to see whether they will allow it if you’re having a civil ceremony. If not, ask if you can have it just before the bride’s entrance. Otherwise, we can always play it during drinks!

Beethovens 5 Secrets This is a Pop/Classical hybrid- I arranged it for someone this year and it worked beautifully. The cello part reminds me of the prelude from Bach Cello suite no1 in G major.


Signing The Register

There is normally time for 3 pieces or songs at this point. Our repertoire varies between duo and quartet, so I’ve done separate lists.

Quartet & Duo

Canon Pachelbel. Having this for the signing means you can enjoy this piece in it’s entirety.

My Beloved Father Puccini. Again, works beautifully for walking in or for the signing.

Salut D’Amore Elgar . Translating as ‘Love’s greeting’, Elgar gave this as an engagement present to his wife.

Air in G J.S. Bach. Well-known and timeless.

Ave Maria J.S. Bach

Ave Maria Schubert

As you can see, there are two well-known pieces named ‘Ave Maria’, please make sure you let us know which one you want. Please see above re. restrictions for civil ceremonies.

Largo from Winter, the Four Seasons Vivaldi

Quartet only 

Largo from Bach Double Violin Concerto. This is a wonderful piece and a great chance to hear the amazing playing of our violinists, the two violin parts wind around each other in the most beautiful way. 

Nocturne Borodin, from  Quartet no. 2. This is so etherial, in a church or large room it sounds amazing.

Nimrod, Chanson Du Matin Elgar. All of these are lovely!

Adagio from Clarinet concerto Mozart. This piece translates really well on to strings, very emotive.

Duo only 

Airioso J.S. Bach. Less well known than Air in G, but equally serene.

The Swan Saints Saens. The violin gets the solo in this arrangement, it’s such a wonderful melody.


Bride & Groom’s Exit

At this point, all your guests will stand up and give a huge round of applause for ‘the new Mrs & Mrs……’, so I think something upbeat works really well here. Some ideas:

Queen of Sheba Handel. Although the full title of this piece is ‘Arrival from the Queen of Sheba’, it is more commonly used as an exit piece as it’s so jubilant. If you’re having a civil ceremony, check with the registrars they are happy to have it as it is from a religious work.

Hornpipe Handel. A great alternative to the Queen of Sheba, this is equally celebratory and joyous.

La Rejoussance Handel. Translating as ‘The celebration’, this is a really spirited and lively, perfect for your first few steps as a married couple!!!

Bridal March Mendelssohn. The traditional music for walking out, this starts with a fanfare and works wonderfully well.

Gran March from Aida Verdi. As the title suggests, this is very grand and the piece builds so the atmosphere would be maintained as your guests leave the room as well.


Pre- Ceremony

You can also choose music for 30 minutes before the ceremony as the groom waits and guests arrive. With Southdene String Duo & Quartet, we have 30-minute classical sets. You are welcome to make as many or few requests within this as you wish. Each piece is roughly 3 minutes, so you can choose up to 10 songs.

Optional Extras

Sometimes, mother of bride or bridesmaids wish to walk in to their own music, perhaps something that has meaning to a family member not present or a particular favourite piece or song.

Commission Your Own Arrangement

If we don’t have your favourite piece already, we’re always happy to arrange it especially for you. This costs £30 for Duo and £40 for Quartet.

Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss your ideas, or come and talk to us in person at one of our upcoming wedding fayres.














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