Top 10 Wedding Ceremony Songs (For String Quartet)

I have been playing for weddings for about 20 years, and over that 20 years, I have received a LOT of wedding requests. Some of these requests have been for the ceremony, and others for the reception, but for this post I’m going to stick to the songs that people love to hear for their wedding ceremony.

  1. Canon in D – J. Pachelbel – This is hands down the most requested ceremony song of all time. I think that I have played Canon in D at nearly every wedding I have played, and that’s a lot! Sometimes Canon is played for the bridesmaids, and other times for the bride, but unless you are a cellist, you will agree that Canon in D is a beautiful tune and is quite appropriate for an elegant walk down the aisle. I prefer this tune as one for the bridesmaids, because of it’s understated beauty.
  2. Trumpet Voluntary (aka Prince of Denmark March) – J. Clarke – This commanding tune is most frequently used as the processional. And, what bride wouldn’t want to walk down the aisle to it, really… If you really want to do trumpet voluntary right, you should add a trumpet to this tune. I have even had weddings, where the trumpet and an organist were hired just to play this one tune, giving it a truly over the top sound, when contrasted with the quiet elegance of the string quartet for the rest of the ceremony.
  3. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach – To get this tune off on the right foot, the correct pronunciation of the first word in this title is Yay-zoo. The pulse of this tune makes for really good walking music, and it’s another one that is great for the bridesmaids, or even the seating of the mothers and grandmothers. It’s an elegant and memorable melody that will probably get stuck in the heads of some of your guests. Definitely a classic wedding music choice.
  4. Air from Suite in D (aka Air on the G String) – J.S. Bach – This is one of my favorite wedding tunes to play. The interplay between the different instruments makes this Air stunningly beautiful. Bach was no slouch, when it came to writing music, but this is one of my all-time faves. Because this is a slower tune, I have most commonly played this for the lighting of the unity candle, although it works well as prelude music as well.
  5. Claire de Lune – C. Debussy – Although, I haven’t had the opportunity to play this tune as frequently as those above, Clair de Lune is a gorgeous tune. The emotion in this melody is evident from the start. And, passion flows through every second of it. Debussy was a master of using music to express emotion, and this is one of his masterpieces.
  6. Water Music – Finale (Sometimes recorded as Water Music – Hornpipe) – G.F. Handel – The Finale from Handel’s Water Music is a triumphant piece with a jubilant feeling. When your guests hear this tune, they will have no doubt that this is the end of the ceremony. They only risk here is that you may want to skip down the aisle to this one.
  7. Ave Maria – F. Schubert – Ave Maria is a classic – especially for Catholic wedding ceremonies. The violin carries a beautiful and slow melody. It’s bound to bring tears to the eyes of many of your guests. * Special Note Regarding Ave Maria: There are many tunes named Ave Maria because the name means prayer to Virgin Mary. The Ave Maria by Schubert is probably the one you want. 
  8. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade) – W.A. Mozart – If there is only one string quartet tune that you will recognize, it might be Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, (A Little Night Music) by Mozart. Eine Kleine Nachmusik is actually a suite of 4 melodies, but the most popular tune among these is the Serenade. This piece is fun, and fast moving, and is sure to please. Serenade makes a great tune for post lude music as the guests prepare exit the ceremony.
  9. Wedding March – Mendelssohn – Mendelssohn’s Wedding March is the tune you hear in the movies as the recessional. Everybody recognizes it, and it truly is a beautiful tune. It originally appeared at the wedding scene in a musical rendition of Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Nights Dream. If you want to stay traditional, this is your tune, but if not, consider Handel’s Finale from Water Music. *Special Note regarding Wedding March: Some Churches don’t allow this tune because the consider it to be “Secular Music”
  10. Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) – Wagner – Here is the tune that some people love, and others love to hate. Bridal Chorus originated as a part of Wagner’s romantic opera, Lohengrin. It has been played so often that it is the song people think of first when they think of Weddings. Here Come’s the Bride is the name most people know this tune by. Truly because this tune is so common in our society, my clients rarely have us play it. The reason is that people who hire a string quartet are looking for something classy and different. They want to set themselves apart, and the Wedding March doesn’t do that. However, for the traditionalist, this is your tune for the processional. *Special Note regarding Bridal Chorus: Some Churches don’t allow this tune because the consider it to be “Secular Music”

Find Your Dream Dress for Every Destination

For the past couple decades, the term “Destination Wedding”  has immediately conjured up images of turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and palm trees gently swaying in the ocean breeze. But, as brides and grooms are continuing to break the mold of tradition and are having ceremonies that truly reflect who they are as a couple, the word “destination” is no longer synonymous with “beach”. A destination wedding can truly be just about anywhere – we even had a bride shopping for her destination wedding being held in Indiana! So even if the concept of a destination wedding is evolving,  what won’t be changing any time soon is the fact that brides want to look and feel great on their wedding day. The question is: Does the location of a wedding have to determine the style of dress?Maggie Sottero Destination Wedding Gowns

We believe that brides should wear what they want regardless of where they are getting married.  Getting married on a beach doesn’t mean you have to wear a bikini, just like getting married in the mountains doesn’t mean you have to wear polar fleece and Gore-Tex® – although you totally could if you wanted.  From sea level to 11,000ft up, brides don’t have to limit themselves to one certain style; they can still have their perfect gown.

Fabric is an important factor to consider when it comes to deciding on the best dress for the occasion.  For instance, a dropped waist gown with a full skirt can look appropriate in any setting, but a thick satin will be warmer and heavier than a lighter weight taffeta. This could make the difference when it comes to being comfortable on a beach or hiking up a mountainside for the perfect photo.

Ballgowns don’t have to be for formal weddings only;  fabric can play a role here too. Tulle or organza skirts will show movement and be more airy whereas satin will have a richer, more structured look and feel. An elegant chiffon or lace gown can look perfect on the coast or on a wooded hillside, and these are usually more streamlined and easy to transport.

Accessories and simple alterations can also transform dresses, making them look perfect against any backdrop. Removing layers of tulle, adding embellishments, sashes, shawls, straps, etc, and of course, bustling the dress can take a dress from mountain chateau to surfside or any place in between. Keeping the gown bustled for the ceremony is also an option if it is more comfortable or better suited for the location.

Remember, the location of a wedding should not completely dictate what the dress looks like and should definitely not force a bride into wearing something she isn’t comfortable in or doesn’t love.  Most styles of dresses can work in any environment. After all, a confident, happy bride looks good in any setting!

If you are planning a destination wedding, here are a few tips from Dora Grace to keep in mind when traveling with a wedding dress:

  •  DO NOT CHECK THE DRESS!! If traveling by plane, carry the dress on the plane with you. It should fit in the overhead compartment. If not, ask if the flight crew would be willing to put the dress in their closet up front.
  • Ask the resort / hotel where you are staying if they have a steamer to use on the dress, research cleaners in the area to see if there is a reputable place to have the dress steamed, or invest in a travel-sized steamer and bring it with you for any touch-up wrinkle control that may be necessary.
  • Keep the dress in a garment bag that closes properly and has no holes in it while traveling. An opaque bag is also a good idea so that you don’t have to worry about any sneak peeks!
  • Hang the dress up someplace safe and let it air out once you get to your destination – this will help with the wrinkles.

And Now, the Music

The music presentation ultimately sets the tone for a wedding celebration. Certainly, music comes in all styles. It can be casual or sophisticated; classical or rock; reggae or jazz; polka or pop; country or R&B, and everything in between. It can be loud or soft; fast or slow. Music appeals to young and old alike. It can make you feel lively or lethargic, calm or excited, or change the mood and morale instantly.

Music subtly augments a cocktail party and enhances dinner guests’ conversations, creating the mood for a celebration, and adding more joy to the experience. Then, if well read, planned and properly programmed by an experienced wedding DJ, it energizes a dance floor continuously for hours before dancing even begins.

Music is a common element for our everyday lives, but with your wedding celebration, the music should be, well… nothing less than extraordinary. That’s exactly what an experienced wedding DJ must be able to consistently do from the first song to the very last dance.

An experienced wedding DJ should play a wide variety of music styles as part of their music programming, to embellish the dancing portion of your special day and help make it a huge success. It is possible to seamlessly combine ethnic tunes, oldies, and today’s hottest hits masterfully and strategically into a cohesive presentation to allow your guests the opportunity to participate in your celebration and enjoy themselves on the dance floor.

How does this all work?

Music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting an environmental mood – dopamine. It produces a feel-good state in response to other certain positive tangible stimuli like food, lighting and more. A professional wedding DJ clearly understands that guests often express their identity through different types of music. It triggers certain emotions shared by guests, enabling them to connect with and convey their inner feelings, without needing to define them. The ideal soundtrack for a wedding affects emotions and behaviors and helps create a sense of belonging.

Something as simple as tempo has a big impact. The tempo (or the speed and pace) of specific music selections affect a guest’s perception of time. A slow tempo creates a sense of well being and makes guests want to stay longer, while a fast tempo increases emotional feedback and makes customers perceive waiting times to be shorter.

An experienced wedding DJ should understand this and know precisely which music selections will enhance the environmental flow to create the atmosphere and enrich something as simple as the cocktail and dining experience. It goes far beyond just playing Kenny G or Yanni for these two hours like many amateur DJs do. Proper music selections in the hands of a professional are just as important as using the right colors, lighting and temperature to create a festive atmosphere.

Mary’s Lake Lodge & Resort, Estes Park, CO

Last week, we had the pleasure of visiting some of the fine destination wedding venues in Estes Park, Colorado,  including the historic Mary’s Lake Lodge and Resort. Mary’s Lake lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the area, originally founded in 1913.

They had a tragic fire in the 1970’s which caused it to close for about 20 years while they rebuilt the lodge and built new accommodations, including luxury condominiums. Mary’s Lake Lodge and Resort has been hosting weddings since reopening 1999.

Mary's Lake Lodge Restaurant


Business Name:  Mary’s Lake Lodge & Resort

Primary Contact: Ashley Reynolds-Raines

Title: Director of Sales & Marketing

Address: 2625 Marys Lake Road, Estes Park, CO 80517

Phone Number: 970-586-5958

Contact Email: [email protected]


Q: How many guests can you accommodate?
A:  We can accommodate up to 150 people for ceremonies and receptions

Q: How long has your venue been in business?
A:  Since 1913.  We are a historic lodge.

Q: How long has your venue been hosting weddings?
A:  Since 1999.

Q: How many weddings do you host a year on average?
A: Between 150 and 175 per year

Q: What is the cost (or range) for your venue?
A: Average weddings cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

Mary's Lake Condo available for Lodging

Q: Do you host Ceremonies, Receptions, and/or Honeymoons?
A: Yes, we have outdoor and indoor ceremony sites, two indoor reception venues, and luxurious hotel suites and condominiums for honeymoons.

Q: Do you have different options or packages available for weddings?

A: Yes, we have plated and buffet-style dinner packages, and hors d’oeuvre reception packages.  Our prices vary and we can accommodate any budget.

Q: What special amenities do you have to accommodate weddings?
A: We have enough lodging on property to accommodate all wedding guests, we have a lovely bridal suite for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready the day of, and we provide a complimentary honeymoon suite for the bride and groom.  Our packages are inclusive so we handle the catering, bar set-up, room set-up and clean-up.

Q: Do you offer any wedding services?
A: Our services include the food, set-up, staff, alcohol, and event coordination for the wedding.  All other services can be provided by outside vendors.

Q: Do you have an on-site coordinator for the day of the wedding?
A: Yes, I am the day of event coordinator for the weddings.

Q: What services do you provide?
A: I make sure that everything is on schedule for the ceremony and reception and contact any outside vendors to organize set up times.

Guest Rooms feature Oversized Jacuzzi Bathtubs

Q: Do you have any restrictions on outside wedding vendors?
A: No restrictions

Q: What are the benefits of booking their wedding here?
A:  The food is outstanding; the service is always wonderful, and I am there every step of the way to make sure the special day is perfect.  The atmosphere is ideal for a mountain wedding with impeccable views all over the property.  The lodge is historic and has a rustic feel coupled with modern amenities.  It is truly a unique and memorable venue.

Amazing Moutain Views from Mary's Lake Lodge

Q: What do brides tell you is the reason that they choose your venue?
A: The most common reason is because of the great views from both the ceremony site and the reception room.  Any bride who is looking for a Colorado wedding in the mountains, we provide an ideal atmosphere for it.  Two other reasons are that we have so much lodging on property that their guests can all stay together, and that we have amazing food, so they know their guests will have a great dining experience.

Q: What makes your venue unique?
A: We are a perfect combination of rustic and elegant.  The historic lodge provides the Colorado casual, getaway in the mountains atmosphere while the condominiums and the reception venues are luxurious, beautiful, and modern.

Q: What kinds of things can a Bride expect when she contacts you, and throughout the process?
A:  Attention to detail, follow-through, great ideas to help make her special day even more special, and a stress-free planning experience.

Q: What advice do you have for a Bride thinking about booking her wedding here?
A: I can guarantee that your wedding will be beautiful, unforgettable, and your guests will have an amazing time celebrating with you and will commend you for choosing a unique venue.  You’ll never need to stress about anything; whatever needs to be done to make your day more enjoyable, I will take care of it.

Q: Do you have any other general suggestions for the wedding couple?
A:  Do not stress about the little things; that is my job J.  This is going to be the most memorable and wonderful day that you two have ever had together, and I assure you I will make it the best it can possibly be.  Make sure you relax and enjoy every moment.

Gallery Images provided by Mary’s Lake Lodge

How to Handle Music Requests at your Wedding Reception

Wedding Reception Dancing - Doing the DipDo you want the DJ to take music requests from the guests at your wedding reception – or not? Some couples do, others prefer not to. There is no right or wrong answer; but please remember, when a guest requests a song, that it’s not possible for a DJ to have every possible song that might be requested – no matter how big a DJ brags his music repertoire is.


There are other challenges that requests can present. Sometimes, guests may request songs that simply do not “fit-in” with the music programming, or a requested song may completely alter the mood or environment contrary to what you want. Playing heavy metal or gangsta’ rap, for example, will likely upset or displease some of your guests, especially the older ones. Certainly, songs containing objectionable, foul or sexually graphic language should not be played.

Wedding Reception - Danced So Much My Feet HurtIt’s just tacky to play any song with the “f-bomb” being dropped every fourth word at a wedding. Even though you may like a particular song, you’ll survive if you don’t hear it. Obviously, you don’t want to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable. Your wedding celebration won’t be hampered by a song that isn’t played, but could be significantly and instantly damaged by a song that is played.

An experienced wedding DJ will use their personal experience and professional judgment to know when it is acceptable to honor requests, while amateur DJs may be inclined to play any song that is requested.  (Remember, if inappropriate requests are played, these songs will make you look bad.)

Your Special Songs

You may have specific songs that you want to hear during your reception, dinner or dancing. That’s great, but there’s certainly no need to pick them all. That’s why you are hiring a truly polished professional wedding DJ. That person should know how to properly read a crowd, play the right tune at the right time, maintain music volume and seamlessly enhance the atmosphere.

In fact, outside of your special wedding dances (1st dance, father/bride dance, etc.), all you probably need to do is select a handful of songs you especially like to provide a flavor of what you wish to hear. Maybe it’s the first song you kissed to, or the very first song you danced to. If you would like supply an additional list or specific artists or songs beyond just a few, it’s often best to permit the experienced wedding DJ read the crowd and mix them in where and when appropriate.

Wedding Flowers: Professional Florist or DIY?

A bride can find so much information online about flowers: what’s in season, colors, styles and even suggestions. However, it’s consistently hard to find relevant information on proper care, handling, hardiness, and climate (indoor vs. outdoor weddings relative to the location). A professional florist/designer should be involved at the very beginning in selecting, then designing your wedding flowers.

The selection and initial design of your bouquets, centerpieces and personal flowers are equally as important as the artistry and mechanics of putting them together to look simply amazing; and then hold that same look. I often hear brides comment about recent wedding flowers from other weddings that featured brown, dead boutonnieres and some bouquet flowers wilted only two hours into the reception.

Both of these problems are quite common with inexperienced floral designers or DIY brides that don’t have the knowledge and experience to know which flowers are best to use, under what conditions and why. When selected properly, flowers should withstand the elements and look just as beautiful and fresh as when you receive them as they will at the end of your wedding…and even days afterwards.

When selecting your flowers, it is important to consider which flowers will endure best in heat, or wind, or cold weather or even all of them. Consider an outdoor summer wedding and reception, or extensive photos taken in the middle of winter in Estes Park outside for 40 minutes with beautiful snow scenery in the background. It happens a lot! Not all flowers are equal; especially because many popular wedding flowers are delicate and often require special handling, preparation and care.

Most wedding flowers are available year around due to a robust global flower market with relatively little to moderate price fluctuations. For example roses, hydrangeas, orchids and lilies can be purchased year around from all over the world, but not all flowers can withstand changing seasons, climate, or shipping conditions that may be required to get them here. So, working with a professional florist/designer to help guide you along the process based on practical availability, and their network of providers is truly cherished.

Every day brings new learning experiences in this industry. New flower designs are continually available that require testing for hardiness, usage, durability, season and climate to design the perfect wedding flowers for a bride’s very special day….and a professional florist/designer is the best place to start!