I’ve seen some recommendations for 40 to 45 minutes, but I think that’s ridiculous!
Most of your guests will arrive within 15 minutes of the start time.
So my standard recommendation is: plan for 15 to 20 minutes of wedding prelude music.
But it does depend on the number of guests you’ll have in attendance. For all but the very smallest of ceremonies, you should plan for no less than 10 minutes of music. For larger numbers of guests, more music is appropriate.
I don’t think you’d ever need more than about 30 minutes. Few if any people will plan to arrive so early. They know they’ll be sitting in a pew from when they arrive until after the ceremony, so they won’t be planning for an early arrival.
Other special wedding prelude music
You might be planning on having a certain piece played while the candles are lighted or (more commonly) when parents and grandparents are being seated.
If so, factor this into your timing. You’ll want a seamless transition between your “regular” prelude music and these “special” pieces. You won’t abruptly cut from one piece to the next and you won’t want to abruptly end the special piece when the people are seated. Not factoring this into your timing may mean a late start to the ceremony!
You don’t need to do all this by yourself
Your musician can help you with timing of course. Some pieces can be extended or shortened to make it all work. But you should have a decent idea of how much you need when you start picking music (and for later on if you need to eliminate some because you picked too much).
Need more information?
How much music you need is just one thing to consider in planning your music. There are others. Plus you’ll need music ideas! Check out the linked articles or even the Guide to Selecting Memorable Church Wedding Music, which will give you everything you need to know to make your ceremony music everything you’ve dreamed it would be!
What do you think?
Do you have any other ideas for getting your wedding prelude music timing just right? Have you been to a wedding where the prelude music was way too short or way too long? Leave a comment and share your thoughts – it will be appreciated.
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