Dwight Phetteplace: Award winning guitarist, singer, and NH JP

Wedding Music Blog***




In Part 1 of this post, I shared some ceremony music choices of some of the couples I've worked with recently.

Here are a few more couples' interesting wedding music line-ups along with my thoughts. A couple of these are somewhat unusual, but they worked perfectly for the respective couples.

***Amy and Chris:    This couple wanted more contemporary music, except that Amy had always wanted to come down the aisle to "Over The Rainbow", so...

                                Party:  1000 Years ----Christina Perri

                                Bride: Somewhere Over The Rainbow ---- Alden and Harburg

                                Recessional: Count On Me ----Bruno Mars (Vocal)

The blend of traditional and contemporary flowed beautifully, as I often assure couples that it will.  The contrast between styles actually makes both stand out...kind of like complimentary colors in a visual work.

Also having a vocal recessional kind of shifts the mood up a notch after the ceremony.

***Jenn and Tyler:  We came up with a unique approach for this wedding ceremony. After the party entered to a traditional song to set the mood and satisfy the mother of the bride, Jenn and Tyler had their special song, which they wanted things to center around.

                                Party:  Canon in D

                                Bride:  First verse and one chorus of  "I'll Be" ---Edwin McCain  (Vocal)

                                Recessional:  Continuation of "I'll Be"  (Vocal)

This was only the second time I had continued the same song for both the processional and recessional.  It went beautifully...really nice flow and symmetry.

Just a note that many guests would not have recognized an instrumental version of "I'll Be", so having me sing it allowed the couple to share the lyrics, which meant a lot to them.

In general, "special songs' are often better sung.

***Megan and Jimmy:  This was one of my favorites musical ceremonies of the last couple years.  It really reflected the informal style of this couple ...and I got to sing all the songs :)

                                Party (only 4 people) :  "The One"---Kodaline  (Vocal)

                                      Then I paused the lyrics, did a short instrumental break and resumed the lyrics for                                                   the Bride's entrance

                                Bride: Continuation "The One"  (Vocal)

                                Recessional:   "Free"    Zac Brown (Vocal)

This too was awesome.  I loved the way it flowed.

One thing about a vocal bridal processional is that it takes a while to reach a good stopping spot...in this case I finished the song. So this gave Megan and Jimmy a minute or so to stand at the front, connect with each other, and drink in the beauty of what was happening.  I often think that it's a shame to rush through a wedding ceremony after so much preparation and expense. :)

OK, so those were three unique and beautiful musical programs...we created each one to fit the couple.

Some of the songs above can be heard at

Hear Dwight Play Wedding Ceremony Songs      or

Hear Dwight Sing Some Wedding Songs

Thanks for reading.


Dwight Phetteplace                     dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com 


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"

WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"





Many couples who contact me are having a hard time deciding on music for their ceremony...their processional(s) and recessional. One of the best parts of my job is helping each pair come up with the combination of ceremony music that is perfect for them.

So in today's post, I'll share some of the ceremony music choices that I played for couples this past year. Expect one or two more posts on this same topic because I have seen so many different ceremony music choices.


Here goes:


***Sarah and Derek:   Processional --Pachelbel's  "Canon in D"  

                                            Recessional-- "Here Comes The Sun"  by George Harrison


Two of my favorites. The Canon is a great processional and a great way to start the ceremony for a whole lot of reasons: See my previous post "What makes the Canon a Great Processional"                http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com/wedding_music_blog1/what_makes_pachelbels_canon_in_d_a_great_wedding_ceremony_song__/               

What Makes The Canon a Great Wedding Ceremony Song

And "Here Comes The Sun" is recognized and loved by everyone , a great guitar piece and the perfect upbeat mood for a recessional.

You can hear samples of me playing  both songs at http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com/hear__instrumental_guitar/

Hear Dwight Play Ceremony Songs


***Jessica and Brandon:  Jessica initially was considering the same two songs as the couple above, but since this couple had a large wedding party, we used two processionals, one for the party and one for the bride: 

                                                                Party Processional-- "Canon in D"

                                                                 Bridal Processional--"Can't Help Falling in Love With You"  Elvis

                                                                 Recessional --"Here Comes The Sun"


Three absolutely beautiful guitar songs...Can't Help Falling is so romantic...elegant and graceful ceremony music line-up.


***Amy and Alex: When we first spoke, Amy wanted traditional ceremony songs, while Alex was in favor of contemporary music.   Usually I assume, of course, that the bride should get her way :)...but in this case, Amy really wanted Alex to be on board with the choices...so we put together a line-up of Beatles tunes. Great solution.  Everybody knows and loves the Beatles ( Well..almost everybody...once in a while I get a "no-Beatles" couple ). Usually, though, the Beatles are an effective way to bridge the gap between traditional and modern.

                                                                Party---"In My Life"

                                                                Bride ---"Here There and Everywhere"

                                                                Recessional---"All You Need is Love /A Little Help From My Friends"


This line-up of ceremony music turned out beautifully for this couple. It was an outdoor, New England country wedding, on the informal side; which, in fact, would apply to the Bride and Groom.  So this music was spot on.


Enough for now. These were three couples' choices. All of these musical lineups worked beautifully because they fit the style and feeling that the couples wanted.

Most of the songs above can be heard at http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com/hear__instrumental_guitar/

Hear Dwight Play Wedding Ceremony Songs

In my next post, I will continue with some other interesting choices from my wedding clients.

Thanks for reading.


Dwight Phetteplace                     dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com



TheKnot "Best of Weddings"

WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"





"That was really beautiful, but I couldn't really hear what was said..."

I often overhear this as guests are leaving at the end of an unamplified ceremony.  After many years of hearing this and since I am amplifying my acoustic guitar, I offer couples the option of setting up a ceremony microphone.  Roughly 75% of my clients chose to include this.

Based on my experience, these are some things to consider when deciding if you should include a microphone in your plans.

* Number of Guests: This is the obvious consideration. In a favorable indoor or very sheltered outdoor location, an experienced officiant could reach around 100 guests. Even then, your actual vows might not  be heard, and the same for any readers.  If you're outdoors or in a less than ideal indoor location, I find that 50  is usually the limit.

*Specific location: Some locations are naturally somewhat noisy...by the water is particularly loud ( waves, boats, gulls, etc)... and traffic noise, wind, other people, airplanes all have a way of arising at the exact worse moment. Open areas and mountain tops are windy, which, in addition to noise, tends disperse sound before it reaches guests.

*Age of Guests: Older guests often complain about hearing ( and often want to hear every word), so take that into account ( and try to seat them near the front ).

*Readers: In addition to being heard, many folks are more comfortable with a mic to stand behind.

So take these factors into account. Some venues will provide amplification if you ask, as will some DJ's. It's extra work to set up for the venue or the DJ, so you'll probably need to pay the DJ for the additional time. Since I am already setting up amplification for the acoustic guitar, it is a reasonable amount of extra equipment and set-up time for me to provide a mic... either a clip on wireless mic for the officiant ( Properly set-up this will usually pick up the couple as well) and/or a mic on a stand for readers. There are quite a few options in terms of wired/wireless and clip-on/stand/handheld, so you might check to see what your ceremony musician(s) could offer.

Read what options I provide at  http://www.dwightsongs.net/wedding_music_prices_2016/

Or ask my thoughts about your specific situation. dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com

Thanks for reading,


Dwight Phetteplace                     dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com



TheKnot "Best of Weddings"

WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

Full site: http://www.dwightsongs.net          

Mobile-friendly: http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com





If you want the special touch of live music for your ceremony, acoustic guitar is an option you should consider. After playing hundreds of weddings, I've learned how to choose the couples whose weddings I can truly enhance. I'm a bit biased, of course, but here are some reasons you might consider guitar as your ceremony instrument.



     *** If you really love the sound of acoustic guitar ...enough said.


     ***   If you are planning a more informal, maybe smaller, or less extravagant wedding...  Acoustic guitar creates a relaxed elegance. A single live performer with a guitar connects with folks in personal and direct way. And a single guitarist seems right in place within the scale of a smaller more intimate ceremony or a country themed wedding. It just fits :)


      ***  if your guest list includes a range of musical tastes... Pretty much everyone loves guitar. Even folks who wouldn't relate to a string quartet, respond to guitar. Guitar is the "people's instrument", and it is prominent in all our popular music, classic rock, singer songwriter, country...even classical.


     ***   If you might want to include a variety of musical styles, or aren't sure yet... Guitar is versatile. You can have a flowing elegant Pachelbel's Canon for the party's processional, then switch to a romantic popular love song for the bride's entrance, then an upbeat fun Zac Brown or Bruno Mars cover for the recessional. Working with a guitarist you'll have every style and mood at your disposal, so you can create the perfect music for the feeling you envision. ( and this also helps with the varied guest list mentioned above)


        ***If You have a personal, special song ( or any song) that would be best sung to highlight those awesome lyrics...In that case, try to find an instrumental guitarist who is also a singer. Guitar is one of the few instruments that can play beautiful instrumentals, and also be used to accompany singing.


        ***If Your wedding is in a unique setting. Guitar is portable ( try taking a piano up a chair lift) and a guitarist can sit on a stone wall or bench or even stand...and just fit beautifully into the scene. Often small chapels, or even formal gardens, have very limited space once the wedding party is in place, but there's always room for a guitarist.


                 ( One caveat...except for the very smallest of groups, acoustic guitar needs to be amplified to be heard, especially outside where there will be ambient noise and minimal reflection...a professional guitarist will have the equipment to handle the situation, especially if you will be someplace without electrical power, so check that. If a guitarist tells you he can be heard without amplification, be very skeptical. )


       *** If you really love the sound of acoustic guitar ...Again, enough said :)


So, those are some practical reasons you might think about acoustic guitar for your wedding.  I play all types of weddings, from church to mountaintop, backyard to ocean, and, above all else, I can tell you that most folks just simply love guitar ( with or without singing).

 But, still, there are situations where acoustic guitar is not the best fit for a particular couple.

So, if you're wondering, feel free to contact me with your questions or to set up a phone call, so we can determine whether it would be a good fit for you. I definitely don't want to work on weddings where I feel like a square peg being pounded into a round hole, so I'll give you an honest opinion.


Thanks for reading,


Dwight Phetteplace                     dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com



TheKnot "Best of Weddings"

WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"




What Makes Live Cocktail Hour Music a great bargain

One of my favorite parts of playing weddings is when I also play for cocktail hour. That happens with about 50% of the ceremonies I play.

Here are some reasons why it's a great idea to have live music during your cocktail hour.

*Your guests will love having live music. I know this because I get the most positive feedback from guests during cocktail hour. People naturally respond to an actual person playing live music, and as a performer I'm more accessible than during the ceremony playing processionals and recessionals.  My clients often tell me that they get raves about the cocktail hour music from their guests.

*The cocktail hour is kind of a "lost hour" for many wedding guests. Even though many couples now have "first Look" and other photos taken pre-ceremony, most photographers still want to get shots immediately post-ceremony. The couple, the wedding party, and even the family are off somewhere having photos taken.  So suddenly, the ceremony ends and nothing...crickets chirping...well...there's the bar ...which is paramount to some :). But the energy drops off.

*Having a live musician keeps the momentum going and makes the "lost hour" special for the guests. It creates an energy that is lacking with recorded background. And a live musician can look at the crowd, watch reactions, adjust, and connect with folks in a way that recorded music cannot.

*In my case, after playing ceremony music which is usually instrumental, I typically sing during cocktail hour...Beatles, Eagles, James Taylor, Zack Brown, Ingrid Michaelson, .... maybe some country, maybe some Elvis ...depends on the folks I see in front of me and how they respond. This starts to dial up the energy and make the transition of mood, sort of a half step  partway from ceremony to reception.

*With that in mind you might want to look for a musician who can shift gears a bit after the ceremony to something more upbeat and relaxed. I recommend a musician who can sing during cocktails.

* Most ceremony musicians will not charge much more to add in the cocktail hour...no additional travel, minimal planning , so other than a second set-up  it's fairly easy for the musician...and fun. 

(You can see what I charge at :  http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com/prices_2016/  Most ceremony musicians are probably similar )

Or check my song lists:  http://www.dwightsweddingguitar.com/wedding_music_lists/


Really for a small extra investment live cocktail hour music will make your wedding much more memorable. ( especially compared to many other wedding "details" that go largely unnoticed by at least 50% of your guests...  i.e. the guys... Let's face it no one with a Y chromosome will appreciate the table settings  :)  but everyone notices live music. )


Thanks for reading,


Dwight Phetteplace                     www.dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com


SEVEN TIME WINNER:   TheKnot "Best of Weddings"     WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

Full site: www.dwightsongs.net           

Mobile-friendly site : www.dwightsweddingguitar.com




I play roughly 30 to 40 weddings each year, and year after year the most popular processional choice is Pachelbel's Canon in D .  That's fine with me because it's an awesome processional to work with.

So what makes it such a great processional ? 

Well ...

* Most importantly, The Canon is simply a beautiful and elegant piece of music . It is hard not to be swept along by it as the backdrop for such a meaningful event.

*The moment The Canon  begins to play every participant, and every guest ( especially moms, aunts,  grandmothers, sisters, etc.) are swept into the wedding mood by association.  It just embodies the beauty and romance of your whole wedding scene.

*Important for the couples who work with me, It has a simple and informal elegance on acoustic guitar...great for a more relaxed wedding.  But it is really beautiful on any instrument(s) from a full string quartet, to a violin, or harp...even bagpipes. I haven't heard it yet on Harmonica or Kazoo, but...I bet it might just work...

* Practically speaking, The Canon consists of a number of variations, each fairly short, so it is easy for the musician to stretch or shrink it for any duration, from a large wedding party down to just the bride...and still end it smoothly and on time. ( This is especially useful when your 2 year old ring bearer or flower girl decides to take an unscripted detour  )

*For those couples who want to use a personal special song, or just want to be non-traditional, I often suggest using the Canon for the entrance of the wedding party, or , maybe, at least Mothers and Grandmothers . This sets the perfect mood at the start, and satisfies the traditional guests, so that the bride can then enter to her special, perhaps non-traditional song.

So...The Canon is a great processional... and I have no doubt it'll be the song I play most again this coming year.


You can check out my acoustic guitar version of The Canon here. https://youtu.be/AtbYCV_KOMY

You can also, hear me and see some song lists and hear samples of many possible processionals on my website:

Full site: www.dwightsongs.net          

 Mobile-friendly site: www.dwightsweddingguitar.com


Thanks for reading,


Dwight Phetteplace                     dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com 


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"

WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"



Planning Your Ceremony Music

 Questions to ask yourself when planning ceremony music:

Do you have a special song to include, or are you just looking for a unique and fun approach to your ceremony music ?

Today's post will talk about including vocals in your music.

Question 4: Vocal vs. Instrumental ?


Because I am a singer as well as an instrumental guitarist, couples have the option of including vocals in their wedding ceremony music.  Probably 75% of the ceremony music I play is instrumental guitar, which is always a versatile and elegant choice. But some of the most beautiful and unique wedding ceremonies I play incorporate singing as part of their music.

Here are some things to consider when thinking about including vocals:

* Special songs: If you are planning to include current popular songs, or maybe your special song, remember that many of your guests will not recognize instrumental versions. ( Not all popular songs make great instrumentals anyway). Singing can let your guests hear why ( and remind you why) this song is special to you...lots of times it's the lyrics that make a song special.


*Overall Mood:  If you envision a folksy, relaxed, or informal tone for your ceremony, vocals can add a fun and different accent...not quite as formal... and just about everyone loves a singer with a guitar.

Then again, if you are looking for a more stately, formal mood...maybe consistent with your particular setting ...then instrumental music might be more elegant. 

And, of course, if your ceremony musician is playing bagpipes, or cello, or violin, then singing is probably not an option for you anyway :)


*Singing the Recessional: Using instrumentals, either traditional or contemporary , for the processionals, then switching to a sung recessional is a favorite approach of mine. Singing the recessional shifts the mood in the direction of fun and celebration...kind of signals that the formal part is over.  This is how I would set up my own wedding music.


*Timing:   If you are using a vocal processional, realize that most songs will last much longer than it takes for the bride ( or even a fairly large party) to walk down the aisle. It is easier to time and shorten an instrumental.

But  I always think it is nice when the song continues for a while after the bride and groom are standing together at the front...a chance to take a breath, reconnect, and listen together to those lyrics that mean so much to you.


*A Song Within the Ceremony:  Another great option for you to consider is to have that special song performed mid-ceremony, like a reading, where folks can really listen to it. My experience is that this is always a really cool touch, but just not done that often.


...so those are some my thoughts on including vocal music in your ceremony.  It's a nice option to have, and I actually think a bit underused...

But that's just me :)


You can visit my website and look at some of the songs that I have been playing regularly.                           www.dwightsongs.net


Happy planning.


Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

WEBSITE:  www.dwightsongs.net

EMAIL: dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com





Planning Your Ceremony Music

  Questions to ask yourself when planning ceremony music:

Question 3: Traditional or contemporary ?

Choosing ceremony music can be tricky. First you think about what music you like...but then you think about what your parents, or Nana, or Aunt Ethel likes.  As in so much of wedding planning, it becomes  a balancing act between your ideal vision and expectations of others.

Many couples try to decide between "Contemporary" vs. "Traditional" music.

Here are some of my  thoughts on Traditional vs. Contemporary music:

*Some of my clients want all traditional classical music to set a certain tone.  Others want "anything but Canon in D", no classical... and that's cool also . If you know you want to go one way or the other, then go for it .

*To me, after 100's of weddings, there are really no bad music choices. Almost any song...or any combination... will work and work beautifully.  Of course, I play guitar which is extremely versatile. Almost everyone loves the sound of guitar, and it has the ability to make Bach come alive, then do the same with a Beatles tune, or a Pearl Jam tune and have them flow smoothly together.

*So if you can't decide, or you want to satisfy a variety of tastes, consider mixing traditional and contemporary ... Some of the coolest ceremonies I've worked on, have used a traditional processional to bring the party in followed by a contemporary processional for the bride....Pachelbel or Beethoven will satisfy Aunt Ethel, and The canon in D will put every female guest immediately in wedding mood. Then the bride can enter to whatever resonates for her and the groom. Everybody wins. And I can tell you from experience that it will all flow perfectly .

*There is some music that seems to fit both contemporary and traditional weddings... music that everybody knows and loves.  That's why if you look at the song lists on my website, you'll see a number of Beatles tunes, or some "classics" like Can't Help Falling or Moon River. They kind of bridge the gap for everyone. Beatles tunes always go over well with everyone from grandmothers to little kids.

* Remember, as a rule, people like music they recognize, and with an instrumental that usually means that they are familiar enough with a song to have the words running mentally in the background. So if you want to use a special song that might not be familiar to many of your guests, consider having it sung...especially since the lyrics are probably important to you.

 (I'll talk more about incorporating "special songs" in my next post  on Vocal vs. Instrumental music )

*Just an observation on choosing music in general... I'll sometimes work with clients who start by telling me what they don't want ..." we don't like classical music", or "we don't like country music". Starting from a negative premise ( in life as well as music)is not usually the best way to go...Try not to create categories of music that you don't like.  Like most musicians, I don't see the labels of music types as being very meaningful...music is music...the different styles/genre's are really more alike than different ( look at Lady GaGa's recent duet album with Tony Bennet ). So don't worry about categories... go with songs you like, not a style you like,

... after all  chances are that your guest list is a pretty mixed bag :), so don't be afraid to mix it up in your music...

As you plan your ceremony music, you might get some ideas by visiting my website to see some lists of songs I often play.


and feel free to e-mail me  if you have questions about this topic or your wedding music ideas.

EMAIL: dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com


Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

WEBSITE:  www.dwightsongs.net


Next time:   Vocal or Instrumental and incorporating special your song ?



Planning Your Ceremony Music

Part 3 : 4 Questions to ask yourself when planning ceremony music:

As I started writing this, I realized that I had a lot to say about choosing ceremony songs, so I'm going to split the " four questions" into two installments...Two questions today and two more in my next posting.


Question 1: What mood and atmosphere do you want ?

*You probably have a vision of your wedding ceremony,  so before you choose your music,  think about how you would describe the atmosphere you're after.  Part of the purpose of the music is to enhance the mood. As I talk with my clients, I find it easiest to float some key words  and pay attention to their reactions.  Words like "Elegant", "Relaxed" ,"formal " or  "informal", "Fun", "Different" will tell me a lot.  So , float those words to yourself or your fiancé' and see how you react.

*Surprisingly, I have learned that the best wedding music line-ups often have some contrast in mood...like relaxed paired with elegant.  It's similar to playing a gig, I like to follow an upbeat, lighter song with a serious song because the contrast makes each stand out more. I find the same sort of contrast very effective in weddings. ( See Question 2 below). Maybe a lighter Processional for the party, followed by something elegant for the bride...each enhances the other.  A great example of this from a recent wedding was "Here Comes The Sun" for the party, followed by  "The Canon in D" for the bride. It flowed really nicely...  and  a month before that, I played these same two songs in the opposite order...both were very effective.

*And remember that the mood that a particular song elicits for you, may not be the same that it elicits for your guests, say Aunt Ethel ...just something to consider.


Question 2: How many processionals ?

*So do you want two separate processionals, one for the wedding party and one for the bride ?  If the party is really small , maybe one or two bridesmaids, a single song will work fine...usually with a pause before the bride enters.

*With a larger party,( especially with flower girls or ring bearers, who are wonderfully unpredictable), two processionals is usually a better choice.  After the same song plays for an extended time, it can start to become like crickets chirping and be lost...you don't want that happening as the bride is entering, especially if it's a special song .

*Also two songs allow you to have a contrast in mood as I mentioned in question #1 above, or as I'll discuss in my next post, you can have both a traditional and a contemporary song to satisfy different tastes. 

* Timing-wise, it will probably take less time than you imagine to come down the aisle. Consider allowing the music to continue a bit after you arrive at the front to allow the song you've chosen to breathe a bit and end gracefully...also a nice few quiet moments for the bride and groom to reconnect , take a breath, and get centered.

*Probably 80% of the couples I work with have two processionals, but either way comes out beautifully...so you really just need to decide what will work for you.


Next time :  Question three: "Traditional vs. Contemporary ( and special songs)

                     Question four:  " Vocal vs. Instrumental"


 Feel free to e-mail me  if you have questions about this topic or your wedding music ideas.



Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

WEBSITE:  www.dwightsongs.net

EMAIL: dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com





You've probably got a crazy number of wedding planning decisions and details to deal with. It can get overwhelming.  Well, here's some good news.    Many of my couples are relieved when I tell them they don't need to come up with a list of music for the prelude or pre-ceremony.

The prelude is the background music that will play as guests arrive and are getting seated until the actual ceremony processional music begins. This music helps to set the mood, provide a pleasant background, and draw folks to the ceremony site. In some outdoor settings, like formal gardens, it can actually help folks to find the specific ceremony location. Typically when the officiant goes to the front, usually with the groom, I wrap up the prelude and wait for the cue to start the processionals. That pause in the music alerts everyone that your ceremony is about to begin and creates a little dramatic silence. ( there's bad drama and good drama...this qualifies as good drama )

The good news I promised you is that it's best to let your musician put together the prelude music based on who and what they see in front of them. Presumably you've hired someone with lots of wedding experience, so they'll set the perfect mood as it unfolds.

In talking with you, your musician will have gotten an idea of you and general type of music you envision. But, as for a list of your favorite songs...well...you won't be there to hear them. In fact, who will be there will often be aunts, uncles, grandmothers and such, whose musical tastes could be completely different from yours. Part of the fun of playing preludes for me is watching the guests and their reactions, and adjusting my set, while keeping in mind the mood and style the couple wants.

And time...time is the other reason a pre-planned set isn't a good idea. I have found it to be unpredictable as to how many guests will come and how long beforehand...it depends on weather, the setting, and the individuals. There will usually be one or two couples who arrive absolutely last minute causing a delay during the pre-ceremony pause, and, on the other hand, I once worked a wedding Down East in Maine where an elderly couple came and sat while I was hooking up my equipment, fully an hour and a half before the actual ceremony. You never know who will sit and when, so you don't know how long the prelude will be.

 Finally, you can't really pre-plan a list of music unless you know the wedding will start right on time... and...well...ahhh...they mostly don't.

So, I try to get an idea of the type of music my clients want ( and I always ask if there's a song I shouldn't play ; like a painful reminder to someone who's recently lost someone). Then I tell them to let me create my mix as the prelude unfolds... works great every time !

As you plan your ceremony music, you might get some ideas by visiting my website to see some lists of songs I often play.


and feel free to e-mail me  if you have questions about this topic or your wedding music ideas.



Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

WEBSITE:  www.dwightsongs.net

EMAIL: dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com





Planning your wedding ceremony music:

Since you goggled your way to this blog, you're probably somewhere in the process of planning your wedding music.  Music definitely can add a really special touch to your ceremony.  A few of my clients contact me already knowing exactly what they want their ceremony music to be.  Some haven't given it a thought.  If you're like most , you're somewhere in between.

 In any case, an important part of the service I provide as a wedding guitarist and singer is working with couples to plan their music so it flows smoothly and enhances the tone and feeling that they envision.

After working through the planning process with hundreds of couples, I can share some of my thoughts on choosing your ceremony music.


 PART 1: How many songs do we need ?

Let's start by listing the basic components that could be included in your ceremony music. You probably won't be including all of these, but some combination should work for you.

***Prelude Music : This is the background music that is played as guests arrive and are seated.  This is typically instrumental .

***Processional(s): These are the entrance songs that most folks are thinking of when they think wedding music, and this will probably involve the most planning. For now, let's think about how many songs you may want.

You could have up  to three separate processional songs:

         1.   One for the seating of parents/grandparents or any other honored guests;  This is often simply the final song of the prelude, or, often, these folks will enter to the same music as the party.

         2.    A processional for the Bridal party; for your bridesmaids ( sometimes with groomsmen) and often with ring bearers and/or flower girls.

          3.  A bridal processional . This is your musical moment. This is usually a separate song, but if you are having a small bridal party you might want them to enter to the same music as the bride...possibly with a pause before the bridal entrance...after all, we want it to be clearly "all about you" at that moment.

You will probably combine these possibilities  into one or ( most often) two processionals .

 There's a lot to consider in planning processional music, including some factors you may not have thought of.  So we'll consider all that in a separate upcoming post on processionals...so check back for that.

  *** Background music  during specific ceremonies: Consider whether you might want background for ceremonies such as unity candles, sand ceremonies, or communion


 *** A full musical piece within the ceremony:  If you have a special song, this can be a good way to include it.  Usually a full song, something of special significance to you or your family , almost like a reading.


 *** Recessional:  This is the song to which the bride and groom and the wedding party exit. Some folks like to keep it stately and elegant, while some like to go upbeat and fun to start shifting the mood.


  ***Post-ceremony: This is the bookend to the prelude music. There is usually time for a song or two as the guests exit the venue or if a receiving line forms. It's hard to predict what your guests will do here; some will probably sprint for the cocktail hour bar, but often, especially with an outdoor ceremony, many guests will linger around the area for awhile .


...So your ceremony music will likely be some combination of these elements.  As you talk with each other, your musician, and your officiant you'll  get a feeling for what you want to include.

In my next posts, We'll look at what factors to consider in choosing music for each specific part .

Some things we'll address:  Timing, cueing, and positioning

                                                  traditional vs. contemporary,

                                                  instrumental  vs. vocal,

...especially as all these relate to processionals.

In the meantime you can visit my website and look at some of the songs that I have been playing regularly.                        www.dwightsongs.net

You also might want to check out The Knot's article on "Wedding Music Basics":


Happy planning.


Dwight Phetteplace; Dwight's Wedding Guitar


TheKnot "Best of Weddings"    and      WeddingWire "Brides' Choice"

WEBSITE:  www.dwightsongs.net

EMAIL: dwightsweddingguitar@gmail.com

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