86 Wedding Prelude Songs to Set the Stage for Your Ceremony

Kick things off with a strategic selection of pre-ceremony tunes.
Taylor Carson - The Knot Contributor.
Taylor Carson
Taylor Carson - The Knot Contributor.
Taylor Carson
The Knot Contributor
  • Taylor writes wedding venue roundups for The Knot.
  • Taylor was formerly the Assistant Managing Editor at Philadelphia magazine, and she continues to freelance for Philadelphia’s lifestyle and wedding verticals.
  • She received her degree in journalism, with a minor in English, from Temple University.
Updated Jun 26, 2023

When it comes to your wedding music, the sounds of your ceremony prelude might fall behind on your priority list as you prepare for other big day moments, like your walk down the aisle, first dance, parent-child dance and reception. But your prelude serves as the musical first impression of your event, so you don't want to skimp on this important playlist. Below, explore the fundamentals of a wedding prelude—and over 70 songs to choose from for your own.

In this article:

What Are Wedding Prelude Songs?

To put it simply, wedding prelude songs are the songs that play as guests arrive at your wedding ceremony. These songs set the scene of your ceremony and have the power to evoke all sorts of wedding-appropriate emotions in your guests, including sentimentality, romance, happiness and nostalgia.

Your prelude can be played by an instrumentalist, an ensemble, a DJ or from your own playlist. Additionally, the songs you select should be a reflection of your wedding style—whether you choose to go the classic, modern or religious route.

How Many Songs Do You Need for the Wedding Prelude?

The answer to this question depends on when doors open and how long you plan to play music prior to your ceremony. However, a safe number for this pre-ceremony period, usually lasting around 30 minutes, is between five and 10 songs.

Tips for Choosing Prelude Songs

As you begin to brainstorm your prelude music, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consider your musical format—which songs would work better for a live musician, such as a pianist, harpist, violinist or string quartet, versus a playlist?
  • Think about the vibe of your wedding and whether you and your partner prefer music that is more traditional, modern or tied to your religious backgrounds.
  • Reflect on weddings you've attended. Were there any standout songs that played before the ceremony began?
  • Name your favorite songs from movies and TV shows. Hits like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and, more recently, Bridgerton became known for how well their soundtracks suited real-life weddings.

Reference our song roundups below for inspiration no matter your wedding style.

Classic Prelude Songs

For brides and grooms opting for a timeless affair, classic (and classical) prelude songs may fit seamlessly into your style. Listen to these options to help narrow down your prelude playlist.

  • "Adagio for Strings," by Samuel Barber
  • "Air On A G String," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Ave Maria," by Johann Sebastian Bach and Charles Gounod
  • "Beethoven - Ode to Joy Instrumental Piano Music," by Royal Wedding Orchestra
  • "Cello Suite No.1 in G Major, BWV 1007: Prelude," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Clair de Lune," by Claude Debussy
  • "Concerto grosso in B minor, op. 6 no. 12, HWV 330," by George Frideric Handel
  • "Concerto In E Major "La primavera," Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269: I. Allegro," by Antonio Vivaldi
  • "Étude No. 2," by Philip Glass
  • "Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 75: I. Allegro moderato," by Antonín Dvořák
  • "Fur Elise," by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • "Largo From Xerxes," by George Frideric Handel
  • "Minuet in G Major," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Mozart - Ave Verum Wedding Hymns," by Royal Wedding Orchestra
  • "O Perfect Love," by Joseph Barnby
  • "Rhosymedre," by Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • "Serenade," by Franz Schubert
  • "Sheep May Safely Graze," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Water Music Suite, HWV 348-350: Alla Hornpipe," by George Frideric Handel

Modern Prelude Songs

If you'd prefer to greet guests with more current music as they arrive at your ceremony, find inspiration in the songs below. Many of the songs listed are beautiful instrumental versions of popular modern-day love songs, but if you don't mind lyrics playing during your prelude, you can opt for the originals instead.

  • "A Sky Full of Stars," by Vitamin String Quartet
  • "A Thousand Years," by Christina Perri
  • "A Thousand Years - Acoustic Instrumental," by Guus Dielissen
  • "Beautiful Crazy - Acoustic," by Luke Combs
  • "Better Together," by Jack Johnson
  • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight - Piano & Cello," by Benny Martin and The Wong Janice
  • "Can't Help Falling in Love," by Haley Reinhart
  • "Collide (Acoustic Version)," by Howie Day
  • "Dancing On My Own," by Vitamin String Quartet
  • "Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Wedding Version," by Iron & Wine
  • "From the Ground Up," by Dan + Shay
  • "Girls Like You," by Vitamin String Quartet
  • "Higher Love - Instrumental," by An International Affair
  • "I'll Be - Acoustic Version," by Edwin McCain
  • "I'm Yours," by Vitamin String Quartet
  • "Just the Way You Are," by The Piano Guys
  • "Like I'm Gonna Lose You," by Vitamin String Quartet
  • "Love Me Like You Do," by Brooklyn Duo
  • "Love Story," by Bridesmaids Quartet
  • "Lover," by Paul Hankinson Covers
  • "Lover," by Taylor Swift
  • "Make You Feel My Love," by Adele
  • "Make You Feel My Love - Acoustic Instrumental," by Casper Esmann
  • "Never Stop (Wedding Version)," by SafetySuit
  • "Perfect," by Ed Sheeran
  • "Perfect - Solo Piano Wedding Version," by Paul Hankinson Covers
  • "Photograph - Wedding Version," by Paul Hankinson Covers
  • "Say You Won't Let Go - Instrumental," by Ariella Zeitlin
  • "Seasons of Love," by Andy Tallent
  • "Somewhere Only We Know," by Allen & Bright
  • "Tenerife Sea," by Ed Sheeran
  • "Tenerife Sea (Instrumental Version)," by The O'Neill Brothers Group
  • "Thinking Out Loud," by Brooklyn Duo
  • "Thinking Out Loud," by Ed Sheeran
  • "True Colors," by Brooklyn Duo
  • "Turning Page," by Sleeping At Last
  • "Turning Page - Instrumental," by Sleeping At Last
  • "Until I Found You," by Stephen Sanchez
  • "Until I Found You - Acoustic Instrumental," by Mike Dawes and Guus Dielissen
  • "What a Wonderful World," by Brooklyn Duo
  • "Wildest Dreams," by Duomo
  • "Wrecking Ball," by Midnite String Quartet
  • "You And Me," by Lifehouse
  • "You Are the Reason," by Calum Scott
  • "You Are the Reason (Acoustic Instrumental)," by Edward Ong
  • "You're Still The One," by Music Lab Collective
  • "Yours - Wedding Edition," by Russell Dickerson

Religious Prelude Songs

If you are having a religious ceremony, the music played during your prelude will likely be heavily influenced by the religion and how weddings in that particular religion are conducted. Continue reading to get ideas for songs appropriate for the prelude to these ceremonies.

Christian Prelude Songs

For Christian couples, there is no shortage of wedding songs out there that could work for your prelude, whether you're getting married in a church or elsewhere. Here is just a handful.

  • "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)," by Worship Music Piano
  • "Amazing Grace," by Bridesmaids Quartet
  • "Ave Verum Corpus," by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • "Awake, My Heart, With Gladness," by Concordia Publishing House
  • "Bless The Broken Road," by Rascal Flatts
  • "God Gave Me You," by Blake Shelton
  • "How Great Thou Art," by Carrie Underwood"
  • "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," by Hillsong UNITED and TAYA
  • "Psalm 42," by Tori Kelly
  • "When God Made You," by Newsong
  • "Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me - Peaceful Piano," by draw close and David Lindner

Jewish Prelude Songs

On the sacred day that is your wedding, you can honor your faith by incorporating any of these popular Jewish wedding songs into your prelude.

  • "Dodi Li," by David and the High Spirit
  • "Erev Shel Shoshanim," by David and the High Spirit
  • "Katonti," by Yonatan Razel
  • "Ozi V'Zimrat Yah," by Hillel Tigay
  • "Sunrise, Sunset," by Sheldon Harnick
  • "Yedid Nefresh," by David and the High Spirit
  • "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav," by Leah Chaye
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