As guests arrive to your ceremony and take their seats, the wedding prelude songs will be among the first details to set the mood and tone of your big day. Think of the prelude songs as mainly background music. They aren't quite as monumental as the wedding party processional song or your grand entrance song, but they should still reflect your personal style as a couple. When in doubt, instrumental tracks and soft acoustic songs are usually failsafe options — you don't want anything that will overpower your guests' conversations, and you can save the fun party tunes for your recessional and reception. Need a few suggestions? Take a listen to some of our favorites.
Kickstart your ceremony with these 18 wedding prelude songs.
"Main Title from The Notebook" by Aaron Zigman
Hopeless romantics, you won’t be able to resist including this track from The Notebook in your wedding ceremony music. Anyone who loves Allie and Noah’s story as much as we do will appreciate this soothing piano arrangement.
"The One" by Kodaline
You may not have heard of this indie Irish band yet, but “The One” is definitely worth a listen if you’re looking for romantic wedding prelude songs. It was specifically written as a wedding song for one of the band member's friends, and these lyrics totally prove it: “‘Cause you make my heart feel like it’s summer/When the rain is pouring down/You make my whole world feel so right when it’s wrong/That’s why I know you are the one.”
"God Only Knows” by John Legend & Cynthia Erivo ft. yMusic
We hope that Beach Boys fans appreciate this soulful cover of the band’s classic hit “God Only Knows.” This version by John Legend and Cynthia Erivo is slower and more stripped-down than the original, but it’s just as special.
"Your Hands Are Cold" by Dario Marianelli
If you’ve ever seen the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice, you’ll immediately recognize the famously romantic scene that accompanies this instrumental track. It gives us chills, and not just because we love Mr. Darcy. The entire movie is full of tracks that work as wedding ceremony songs, including a shorter version of this arrangement (“Liz on Top of the World”), “Georgiana,” and “Dawn.” How beautiful would this be performed by live musicians?
"Fearless" by Taylor Swift
Who says the old Taylor is dead? We’re still fans of her country roots, including “Fearless” from her second album. In our opinion, this pop-country tune is one of the best wedding prelude songs for a rustic summertime wedding.
"Magic" by Coldplay
This song features Coldplay’s signature melodic sound, combined with sweet and simple lyrics: “And I don't, and I don't, and I don't, and I don't/No I don't, it's true/I don't, no, I don't, no, I don't, no, I don't/Want anybody else but you.”
"Tenerife Sea" by Ed Sheeran
One of Ed Sheeran’s more underrated songs is “Tenerife Sea.” It has all of the classic Ed elements that his fans love: acoustic guitar, poetic lyrics, and a catchy beat. The tune feels especially romantic when he sings these lyrics: “And should this be the last thing I see/I want you to know it's enough for me/'Cause all that you are is all that I'll ever need/I'm so in love, so in love.” Swoon!
"Maestro" by Hans Zimmer
The Holiday is a must-watch movie around Christmastime, but the soundtrack is something you can enjoy all year long. “Maestro”, a cheerful instrumental arrangement, is the movie’s main theme song. It’s one of our favorite wedding prelude songs to play as your guests are arriving for the ceremony. Composer Hans Zimmer is famous for his other major film scores, including Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, The Lion King, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and The Da Vinci Code.
"Love" by Lana Del Rey
Lana does it again with her signature hauntingly beautiful style. “Love” is a slow-paced but completely soulful song about, well, being in love. It’s a must-listen in terms of wedding prelude songs for modern couples, and we think it would also make an excellent choice for a first dance song.
“Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett
Country music fans know that “Die a Happy Man” is one of the biggest hits of this past year. Thomas Rhett wrote this song about his wife, and is there honestly anything more romantic than that? This laid-back song would be perfect for a beach or country wedding venue.
"All of My Days" by Alexi Murdoch
“All of My Days” is a mellow, chilled out tune to add to your list of wedding prelude songs. It will set the mood for a relaxed, low-key ceremony — we love these romantic lyrics about being together for the rest of your life: “Now I see clearly/It’s you I’m looking for/All of my days/Soon I’ll smile/I know I’ll feel this loneliness no more/All of my days.”
"La Vie En Rose" by Louis Armstrong
If you love jazz music, you’re probably already a fan of this Louis Armstrong classic. This timeless song would be ideal for a historical or vintage wedding venue, such as a ballroom, theater, estate, or museum — especially if you're getting hitched in New Orleans.
"XO" by Beyoncé
Queen Bey needs no explanation. This is one of her more romantic songs, but it still has the catchy pop/R&B vibe of hers that we love so much. The song starts out slow and then builds up beautifully, which is why it’s also a popular wedding processional song in addition to being one of our favorite wedding prelude songs.
"Still Fallin'" by Hunter Hayes
Another modern country wedding ceremony song is “Still Fallin’” by Hunter Hayes. You really can’t get more sentimental than these lyrics: “I still reach for your hand because I need it/Your kiss is still the spark that lights a fire/You’re still laughing with me/And we’re still making memories/I’m still a fool for you, and there’s a million reasons why.” Um, are we the only ones crying right now?
"Moon River" by 2Cellos
This instrumental rendition of “Moon River” (famously sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) is perfect for a traditional wedding ceremony. We love the timeless sound of the violins and envision this arrangement being played by a string quartet at a gorgeous house of worship, ballroom or garden wedding.
"Ever Ever After" by Carrie Underwood
If you’re having the ultimate fairytale wedding, look no further than this song from the Enchanted movie soundtrack for your ceremony playlist. “Ever Ever After” is a little bit country (thanks to Carrie Underwood’s killer vocals) but the romantic message of this Disney tune is something that everyone can relate to.
"The Theme from 'The Search for Everything'" by John Mayer
The instrumental theme from Mayer’s latest album, “The Search for Everything,” doesn’t include any words, just 1 minute and 53 seconds of musical perfection. It’s rumored that he wrote this song while camping in Joshua Tree National Park, and we can definitely envision it being played at an outdoor bohemian-style wedding.
"Real Love" by The Beatles
Our wedding prelude songs list wouldn’t be complete without including rock music royalty. “Real Love” was originally written by John Lennon, but it wasn’t recorded until 1995, more than a decade after his death. It’s one of the last singles ever released by The Beatles, and we love it for its playful and upbeat vibe.