60 Classical Wedding Songs for a Traditional Ceremony

60 Classical Wedding Songs for a Traditional Ceremony

If you've always dreamed of having a traditional white wedding straight out of a Jane Austen novel, then you're going to need some classical music that befits that theme.

Although it's wonderful that there are so many opportunities in this day and age to wed in as unique a fashion as we desire, not everyone wants to get hitched in converted barns with live bands putting their own modern twist on 'Here Comes the Bride'. Some couples just want the perfect church wedding - and we're all for that too.

Which Classical Music is right for my Wedding Ceremony?

'Classical music' is a broad term for an even broader range of compositions in a variety of styles written over hundreds of years, so picking your favourite few pieces from the thousands on offer can be a daunting task.

Fear not, however - we've narrowed down your search and selected our favourite classical pieces which we think would best suit each stage of your wedding ceremony.

Looking for live ceremony music to really get the hairs tingling? Check out our fantastic roster of classical wedding musicians featuring everything from string quartets and violinists to pianists and harpists.

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Prelude music

As your guests arrive at your wedding venue, choose a few of the following to establish your elegant tone. Plan for about 15 minutes of mid-paced yet majestic music to both give everyone time to find their seats and get them ready for the main event:

March of the Priests - Mozart

Taken from Mozart's famed opera 'The Magic Flute, this is a slow and stately piece that suggests an air of grandeur - preparing your guests for the bride's grand entrance!

March of the Priests - MozartMarch of the Priests - Mozart

Moonlight Sonata - Ludwig van Beethoven

A sparse yet atmospheric piano piece from the legendary Beethoven will ramp your guests' feelings of anticipation right up.

Moonlight Sonata - Ludwig van BeethovenMoonlight Sonata - Ludwig van Beethoven

Air on the G String - Johann Sebastian Bach

August Willhelmj's arrangement of Bach's original piece 'Air' is played in a lower key, enabling a solo violinist to play the entire melody on their instrument's lowest string, the titular “G”.

Air on the G String - Johann Sebastian BachAir on the G String - Johann Sebastian Bach

Alla Hornpipe - George Frideric Handel

Taken from Handel's 'Water Music', this piece sounds just as triumphant when played as organ music as it does by an orchestra.

Alla Hornpipe - George Frideric HandelAlla Hornpipe - George Frideric Handel

Toccata - Charles-Marie Widor

This flurry of organ keys will both accentuate your church wedding setting and keep your guests excited for what's to come.

Toccata - Charles-Marie WidorToccata - Charles-Marie Widor

Spring (the Four Seasons) - Antonio Vivaldi

This concerto remains perhaps the most popular of Vivaldi's musical interpretations of the different times of year - and, with the springtime theme of new life, is also the most appropriate for a celebration of new beginnings.

Spring (the Four Seasons) - Antonio VivaldiSpring (the Four Seasons) - Antonio Vivaldi

Méditation - Jules Massenet

Massenet composed this solo violin piece, which has since become a favourite among violinists, for his opera 'Thaïs'.

Méditation - Jules MassenetMéditation - Jules Massenet

The Swan - Camille Saint-Saens

From Saint-Saens' 'Carnival of the Animals' this piece evokes the beauty and mystery of the bird that inspired it.

The Swan - Camille Saint-SaensThe Swan - Camille Saint-Saens

Träumerei - Robert Schumann

The title of Schumann's composition (from his collection 'Kinderszenen', meaning 'Scenes from Childhood') is the German for 'Dreaming', and the piece itself was used as the theme for the 1947 film 'Song of Love'.

Träumerei - Robert SchumannTräumerei - Robert Schumann

Morning Mood - Edvard Grieg

This piece of incidental music, which Grieg composed for a scene in the play 'Peer Gynt' to reflect the morning sun breaking through the clouds, will be familiar to most - and enjoyed by all!

Morning Mood - Edvard GriegMorning Mood - Edvard Grieg

Classical Processional music

As the bridal party enters, all eyes will be drawn to the beautiful white dress. This is the part of your wedding ceremony that you want to last forever in everybody's memories, so choose a piece from this list that lives up to your spotlight moment:

Bridal Chorus - Richard Wagner

Although it may seem an obvious choice, Wagner's Bridal Chorus is a popular piece to walk down the aisle to for a reason.

Bridal Chorus - Richard WagnerBridal Chorus - Richard Wagner

Canon in D - Johann Pachelbel

Pachelbel's Canon in D is instantly recognisable, from the instant the solo cello strikes up.

Canon in D - Johann PachelbelCanon in D - Johann Pachelbel

Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - Johann Sebastian Bach

This rapturous choral piece is a popular choice at Easter and Christmas ceremonies, as well as weddings.

Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring - Johann Sebastian BachJesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring - Johann Sebastian Bach

The Prince of Denmark's March - Jeremiah Clarke

This popular piece, also known as 'the Trumpet Voluntary', was played during the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

The Prince of Denmark’s March - Jeremiah ClarkeThe Prince of Denmark’s March - Jeremiah Clarke

Ode to Joy - Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven's instrumental hymn is the perfect processional piece for a church wedding.

Ode to Joy - Ludwig van BeethovenOde to Joy - Ludwig van Beethoven

Ave Verum Corpus - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

A stunning piece of choral music inspired by the Eucharist chant of the same name (meaning 'Hail, True Body', this also sounds phenomenal when performed on the strings.

Ave Verum Corpus - Wolfgang Amadeus MozartAve Verum Corpus - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Flower Duet - Léo Delibes

A lovely vocal duet for a soprano and mezzo-soprano, this classic processional song was originally composed for Delibes' opera 'Lakmé' and is still used today in film and television.

Flower Duet - Léo DelibesFlower Duet - Léo Delibes

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - George Frideric Handel

This favourite section of Handel's oratorio 'Solomon' was played at the 2012 Olympics when James Bond met Queen Elizabeth II. As the name would suggest, Handel's 'Arrival' is more than a piece of music: it's an announcement.

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - George Frideric HandelThe Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - George Frideric Handel

Edward Elgar - Salut d'Amour

One of Elgar's best-known compositions, we think this 'Love's Greeting' sounds best as intended - on piano and violin.

Edward Elgar - Salut d'AmourEdward Elgar - Salut d'Amour

Ave Maria - Franz Schubert

Originally conceived as a vocal piece, Schubert's gorgeous melody is a staple of wedding ceremonies - and also sounds sublime on the violin.

Ave Maria - Franz SchubertAve Maria - Franz Schubert

Signing the Register

An interlude of sorts, this part of your wedding ceremony deserves a classical score as much as any other. When you and your beloved sign the wedding register and become an official married couple, keep your guests entertained with ten or so minutes of music to keep the spell unbroken:

Cello Suite No.1 In G Major - Johan Sebastian Bach

A warm, resonant cello suite, such as this famous piece for an unaccompanied solo cello from the great mind of Bach, will keep your guests comfortable while they wait.

Cello Suite No.1 In G Major - Johan Sebastian BachCello Suite No.1 In G Major - Johan Sebastian Bach

To A Wild Rose - Edward McDowell

From McDowell's 'Woodland Sketches' suite, this charming melody later served as the inspiration for the Elvis Presley song 'Am I Ready',

To A Wild Rose - Edward McDowellTo A Wild Rose - Edward McDowell

Gabriel's Oboe - Ennio Morricone

The unforgettable theme from the Mission will help convey the sheer emotion of this moment to your guests.

Gabriel’s Oboe - Ennio MorriconeGabriel’s Oboe - Ennio Morricone

Largo from Symphony No.9 - Antonín Leopold Dvořák

A melody as moving as it is memorable, the Largo from Dvořák's Symphony No.9 'From the New World' was later reworked into the song 'Goin' Home', which was in turn given the Big Band treatment by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.

Largo from Symphony No.9 - Antonín Leopold DvorákLargo from Symphony No.9 - Antonín Leopold Dvorák

Panis Angelicus - César Franck

Meaning 'Bread of Angels' in Latin, Franck set this most popular verse of the longer hymn 'Sacris Solemniis' to music - and it sounds wonderful both as orchestral and as organ music.

Panis Angelicus - César FranckPanis Angelicus - César Franck

Für Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven

Possibly the most well known piece ever composed for the piano, you guests will be pleased to hear something they recognise.

Für Elise - Ludwig van BeethovenFür Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven

O Mio Babbino Caro - Giacomo Puccini

This enchanting aria from Puccini's opera 'Gianni Schicchi ' sounds divine whether the soprano is accompanied by a piano or a harp, and has featured in a range of media from 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' to 'Downton Abbey'.

O Mio Bambino Caro - Giacomo PucciniO Mio Bambino Caro - Giacomo Puccini

Clair de Lune - Claude Debussy

Romantic and wistful, this is the third - and most well-known - movement from Debussy's 'Suite bergamasque'.

Clair de Lune - Claude DebussyClair de Lune - Claude Debussy

Aria da capo - Glenn Gould

Gould's fantastic recording of Bach's 'Goldberg Variations' gained the pianist worldwide fame overnight.

Aria da capo - Glenn GouldAria da capo - Glenn Gould

A Thousand Years - Vitamin String Quartet

You don't have to be a 'Twilight' fan to appreciate the beauty of this instrumental rendition of this popular modern tune from Christina Perri.

A Thousand Years - Vitamin String QuartetA Thousand Years - Vitamin String Quartet

Precessional music

Congratulations and celebrations are in order once you've officially tied the knot - here's an upbeat selection to put a spring in the step of each guests as they leave for your reception:

Wedding March - Felix Mendelssohn

This piece of incidental music from Mendelssohn's score for Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is widely used for wedding ceremony scenes in cinema.

Wedding March - Felix MendelssohnWedding March - Felix Mendelssohn

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

One of the most famous classical compositions of all time, your wedding party will find the allegro tempo of this 'Little Serenade' of Mozart's to be irresistibly lively.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Wolfgang Amadeus MozartEine Kleine Nachtmusik - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Bourrée in E minor - Johann Sebastian Bach

A popular piece originally composed for the lute, Bach's Bourrée has found itself into the repertoire of many a classical guitarist, having inspired everyone from Paul McCartney to Tenacious D.

Bourrée in E minor - Johann Sebastian BachBourrée in E minor - Johann Sebastian Bach

Crown Imperial: A Coronation March - Sir William Walton

A driving march with a real stride to it like this one will help your guests to their feet.

Crown Imperial: A Coronation March - Sir William WaltonCrown Imperial: A Coronation March - Sir William Walton

Symphony No. 3 - Camille Saints-Saens

Also known as the 'Organ Symphony', a section of this piece was later reworked by Scott Fitzgerlad into the pop song 'If I Had Words' which was famously used as the main theme for the film 'Babe'.

Symphony No.3 - Camille Saints-SaensSymphony No.3 - Camille Saints-Saens

Jupiter - Gustav Holst

The 'Bringer of Jollity' from Holst's famous suite 'the Planets' sounds like the start of a grand adventure - a suitable soundtrack to leave your wedding venue to.

Jupiter - Gustav HolstJupiter - Gustav Holst

Music for the Royal Fireworks - George Frideric Handel

This rousing piece was performed - complete with actual fireworks - at the Buckingham Palace gardens for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee.

Music for the Royal Fireworks - George Frideric HandelMusic for the Royal Fireworks - George Frideric Handel

Largo al factotum - Gioachino Rossini

Rossini's merry aria from 'The Barber of Seville' will soon have your guests skipping along to your wedding reception venue. The fact that the title demands the listener to “make way” won't hurt either!.

Largo al factotum - Gioachino RossiniLargo al factotum - Gioachino Rossini

Winter (the Four Seasons) - Antonio Vivaldi

Our second entry from Vivaldi's classic concertos. Things have cooled off a little since the excitement of 'Spring' - by contrast, 'Winter' is calm and dignified, and brings with it a sense of things coming to a natural end before a new beginning.

Winter (the Four Seasons) - Antonio VivaldiWinter (the Four Seasons) - Antonio Vivaldi

Concerning Hobbits - Vitamin String Quartet

Playing this upbeat Howard Shore's unforgettable score from the hugely successful 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy on your wedding day is bound to please music and film fans alike.

Concerning Hobbits - Vitamin String QuartetConcerning Hobbits - Vitamin String Quartet

First Dance music

Your first dance as a newly married couple has to be to a song that's important to you both. We recommend finding a musical balance between romance for yourselves and fun for your guests - though they'll all be getting their turn on the dance floor soon enough:

Swan Theme - Tchaikovsky

The most famous theme from 'Swan Lake', one of the most famous ballets of all time, is surely worthy of consideration for an elegant first dance as newlyweds.

Swan Theme - TchaikovskySwan Theme - Tchaikovsky

Dance of the Blessed Spirits - Christoph Willibald Gluck

From Gluck's opera about Orpheus and Eurydice, this piece accompanies a scene set in Elysium, the paradise of Ancient Greece - and we're sure you'll feel like you're in heaven when you dance to it.

Dance of the Blessed Spirits - Christoph Willibald GluckDance of the Blessed Spirits - Christoph Willibald Gluck

Habanera - Georges Bizet

This playful aria from Bizet's beloved 'Carmen' will be just as delightful an introduction for you when you hit the dance floor as it was for this opera's title character.

Habanera - Georges BizetHabanera - Georges Bizet

The Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II

This famous waltz runs the gamut from grand and sweeping to fun and upbeat - another great segue between the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception.

The Blue Danube - Johann StraussThe Blue Danube - Johann Strauss

A Whole New World - Alan Menkin & Tim Rice

The intricate harmonies from the iconic duet from Disney's 'Aladdin' rank it highly among classic wedding songs - and they sound incredible when performed by a live pianist or string quartet.

A Whole New World - Alan Menkin & Tim RiceA Whole New World - Alan Menkin & Tim Rice

Boléro - Maurice Ravel

Although the full version might be a little too long at almost 16 minutes, you may wish to take some inspiration from Torvill and Dean's famous ice-dancing win at the 1984 Winter Olympics - a much more manageable 6 (which was also their perfect score!).

Boléro - Maurice RavelBoléro - Maurice Ravel

Glasgow Love Theme - Craig Armstrong

This beautiful piano piece was put to memorable use during Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley's scene in the film 'Love Actually'.

Glasgow Love Theme - Craig ArmstrongGlasgow Love Theme - Craig Armstrong

Bohemian Rhapsody - Vitamin String Quartet

This classical twist on Queen's unforgettable masterpiece is a great way to bridge the gap between classical music and modern pop and rock.

Bohemian Rhapsody - Vitamin String QuartetBohemian Rhapsody - Vitamin String Quartet

Halo - Brooklyn Duo

We're sure that this soulful rendition of Beyoncé's hit 'Halo', performed on two cellos and a piano, would make Queen B proud.

Halo - Brooklyn DuoHalo - Brooklyn Duo

Butterfly Waltz - Brian Crain

As delicate and beautiful as its namesake, this is a lovely choice for a first dance number, whether on solo piano or as a duet with a violin.

Butterfly Waltz - Brian CrainButterfly Waltz - Brian Crain

Reception Music

This is the stage of your wedding ceremony where everyone will want to let their hair down, have a dance, and above all celebrate you - the happy couple! Be sure to save your most upbeat picks for this part of your special day - while keeping things classy, of course:

Summertime - George Gershwin

When performed on the piano, this jazzy number from Gershwin's opera 'Porgy and Bess' makes for perfect cocktail music.

Summertime - George GershwinSummertime - George Gershwin

What Makes You Beautiful - the Piano Guys

The Piano Guys became an internet sensation with their endlessly inventive approaches to covering modern popular music in a classical style - and their rendition of One Direction's 'What Makes You Beautiful' is no exception.

What Makes You Beautiful - the Piano GuysWhat Makes You Beautiful - the Piano Guys

Dance of the Knights - Sergei Prokofiev

Introduced to a new generation via being used as the theme tune for the TV show 'The Apprentice', this famous piece from Prokofiev's ballet 'Romeo and Juliet' may have seemed a little too menacing earlier on in the ceremony is both recognisable and rhythmical enough to get your guests moving.

Dance of the Knights - Sergei ProkofievDance of the Knights - Sergei Prokofiev

The Entertainer - Scott Joplin

Joplin wrote this well-known ragtime classic for the piano - but having a string quartet perform it instead will be a pleasant surprise for your friends and family.

The Entertainer - Scott JoplinThe Entertainer - Scott Joplin

All You Need Is Love - Vitamin String Quartet

A classic Beatles love song reimagined for the violin, viola and cello - a winning combination!

All You Need Is Love - Vitamin String QuartetAll You Need Is Love - Vitamin String Quartet

Galop Infernal - Jacques Offenbach

Thanks to its popularity with the Parisian cabarets of the 19th century, this tune is now associated with the 'can-can' dance.

Galop Infernal - Jacques OffenbachGalop Infernal - Jacques Offenbach

William Tell Overture - Gioachino Rossini

Thanks to its use as the theme for 'the Lone Ranger', the overture to Rossini's opera 'William Tell' always bring horseback riding to mind.

William Tell Overture - Gioachino RossiniWilliam Tell Overture - Gioachino Rossini

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Cinematic Pop

A guaranteed floor-filler at the best of times, this re-imagining of the Eurythmics' hit song accentuates the strings for added drama.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Cinematic PopSweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Cinematic Pop

I'm Called Little Buttercup - Gilbert & Sullivan

This merry little tune is a favourite from the G&S comic opera 'H.M.S Pinafore' and will soon have your guests swaying along as if they're at sea.

I’m Called Little Buttercup - Gilbert & SullivanI’m Called Little Buttercup - Gilbert & Sullivan

Danse Macabre - Camille Saints-Saens

Your guests may recognise this wickedly entertaining waltz as the theme tune from the TV show 'Jonathan Creek'.

Danse Macabre - Camille Saints-SaensDanse Macabre - Camille Saints-Saens