How much does wedding ceremony music cost?
While the cost of wedding ceremony music can vary widely depending on the type of musicians you choose, their level of expertise and a number of other factors, the average wedding musicians’ cost in the U.S. comes in at $500. Note that this cost is only an average and can increase or decrease depending on where you are in the country—the average wedding ceremony music cost in Atlanta, Georgia is $500 while the average cost in Portland, Oregon is $335. Wedding music prices for ceremonies have actually increased over the past few years, as couples are now focusing more on music and creating a unique and memorable experience for their guests.
What are the different wedding ceremony music options?
The right wedding ceremony music can truly set the tone for the most important part of your big day. Whether you want your ceremony to be traditional and formal or modern and quirky, the music and musicians you choose will personalize your wedding even more—and it’s essential to hire professionals to ensure the day runs smoothly.
There are many different types and groupings you could choose—it all depends on your wedding venue, style, and budget. In general, there are a few options:
- A live soloist: Hiring a single musician can be a cost-effective way to have live wedding ceremony music. This could be a harpist, guitarist, organist, keyboardist, violinist, or something more unique like a bagpiper!
- A live duo: Pairing two instrumentalists, or a vocalist and an instrumentalist, will provide a fuller sound than a soloist. A few ideas include a vocalist and a guitarist, a string duo, two harps, a flute and a harp, a piano and a guitar, and more.
- A live group: While a string quartet (two violins, a viola, and a cello) is the most traditional of wedding ceremony music groups, there are other ensemble options to choose from to get that full, rich sound. We particularly like adding a flute to a string ensemble, or even a brass ensemble. If you’re looking for unique ceremony music, we’ve even seen gospel choirs, steel drum bands, or a jazz ensemble.
- Recorded music played by a DJ or AV specialist: While live music is definitely the more traditional way to go for your ceremony music, you can also have your DJ play prerecorded tracks or a pre-made playlist during your ceremony.
Be sure to consider your venue’s size and any space restrictions when selecting your ceremony musicians. If you’re getting married in a more intimate indoor venue, you might not be able to accommodate a large ensemble. On the other hand, if you’re marrying at a huge, grand venue, the music of a single musician might not create enough sound to fill the space, depending on the speakers and other audio equipment.
How far in advance of my wedding day will I need to book my wedding musicians?
We recommend researching and booking your wedding ceremony music about 6 months before your wedding day. This will give you enough time to find the right pros.
What are the different songs I’ll need to choose for my ceremony?
There are several “musical moments” during your wedding ceremony where you’ll want to work with your music pros to choose specific songs. These include:
- Prelude: These are songs that are played as your guests enter and take their seats before the ceremony begins. We recommend working with your music pros to select upbeat, joyful, and romantic songs for your ceremony prelude.
- Processional: During this portion of the ceremony, music will be played as the wedding party walks down the aisle. Then, a different song is played as the bride (or brides, or grooms in same-sex weddings) walks down the aisle. Processional songs can be a bit tricky to choose. They should be neither too fast nor too slow—a good rule of thumb is to choose songs that matches a natural walking pace. For the main processional, the song should match the grandeur of the moment.
- Interlude: Some ceremonies use music to transition from different portions of the proceedings. These are usually emotional songs, and are sometimes performed by friends or family members with musical talent (similar to a ceremony reading, it’s a nice way to give a shout-out to a loved one).
- Recessional: Once the couple is married, a celebratory and very upbeat song is usually played as they exit the ceremony, following by their wedding party.
- Postlude: This instrumental music is played as guests are leaving the ceremony. Your ceremony musicians usually will select these songs to match the feel of your recessional.
What are some wedding ceremony song ideas?
When it comes to choosing wedding ceremony music, there are lots of different songs to choose from, particularly for your processional and recessional. Your ceremony musicians will likely have a list of songs on their repertoire, but they may be able to learn a special song or two if you give them enough advanced notice.
Here are a few of our favorite wedding ceremony songs:
- Classical: “Canon in D” by Pachelbel, “Air” by Handel, “Wedding March” by Mendelssohn, “Bridal Chorus” by Wagner, “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven
- Modern: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder,“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole,“A Thousand Years (Instrumental)” by The Piano Guys, “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles, “Ave Maria” by Beyonce
What is included in the price of a ceremony music package?
Of course, the more musicians who will be performing at your ceremony, the more you’ll pay. Typically, you will pay for the musicians’ time—meaning they will arrive with enough time to set up before your ceremony, play music for about 20-30 minutes before your ceremony, perform during your ceremony and during the recessional until your guests have exited. If you would like for your ceremony musicians to also perform during your cocktail hour, that’s an extra charge. Be sure to also factor in travel time—if your ceremony musicians are traveling a longer distance to be present at your ceremony, you may have to pay an additional travel fee.
If you’re getting married outdoors, your musicians may need amplification so that they can be heard. You can work with your ceremony musicians to arrange this amplification (usually a PA system with microphones and speakers)—but it may be an additional charge. You may need to provide your ceremony musicians with chairs to sit on (your venue can easily handle this), but they will probably bring their own music stands.
Are there any additional costs associated with wedding ceremony music?
Be sure to factor tips into your ceremony music budget. Each musician should receive a gratuity of between $25 and $50. And don’t forget write an online review for your wedding musicians to help future clients find them.
What are the wedding musician costs in a church, temple or other house of worship?
If you’re getting married in a house of worship, an organist will likely be included with the wedding fee. Houses of worship may have specific rules as it pertains to live music and amplification, so it’s usually best to go with the provided musician if offered.
How can you save money on wedding ceremony music?
If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend hiring a soloist or duo as opposed to a larger ensemble. It’s a more cost-effective way to have live ceremony music without spending a huge amount.