experienced violinist
wedding dance

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Air on a G string
Eine Kleine
Con te Partiro
All I Ask of You
Moon River
The Rose

Avoiding Wedding Music Mishaps

Music Planning Tips for a Seamless Wedding Ceremony


cello with wedding flowers

The part of the wedding ceremony that requires the most careful planning, from a musical standpoint, is the processional. It is during this time when the mothers are seated, the attendants process up the isle, followed by the bride making her grand entrance. While the primary responsibility falls on the musicians that all of this goes smoothly, there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid wedding mishaps and ensure that the ceremony music comes off smoothly.

In my experience, the primary way to insure that the processional is seamless is to establish a "Cue Person". If you are the bride or groom, feel free to print out this web page and give it to your Cue Person. Whomever you have play for your wedding, here are some planning guidelines we hope are useful to you.

Establishing a Cue Person

This is probably the single most important thing you can do to avoid mishaps and ensure that the timings during the processional go smoothly. Essentially, the Cue Person acts as a liaison between those who will be processing and the musicians. If you have a wedding planner, most likely she or he will be giving the cues. If you do not have a wedding planner, make sure the Cue Person attends the wedding rehearsal.

Check in with the Musicians

The first duty of the Cue Person is to check in with the musicians before the prelude music begins. The prelude often starts 20 to 30 minutes before the ceremony so the Cue Person will need to arrive early. The Cue Person and musicians can go over what cues are needed and how they will communicate. Normally, there is a head musician whom the Cue Person will communicate with. The Cue Person usually will be stationed where the bridal party will be entering for the processional. The only cue signals needed are,

1) a hand wave in the air for "Yes"


2) a forward finger circle for “Delay! Keep Playing!”

Simple as that!

Seating of the Mothers

If you have special music for the seating of the mothers, the first cue is to inform the musicians that the mothers are ready to be seated. The Cue Person should wave a hand in the air over the head. The lead musician will nod "yes" to confirm the hand signal was seen. Make sure that the mothers do not process until the prelude music stops and the new music begins. This may be a minute or so as the musicians need to find a suitable place to stop and not abruptly cut off the music.

Processional of the Attendants

The processional for the attendants can begin immediately after the mothers are seated or there can be a break between the two events. In either case, be sure of these three simple things;

1) If you want the processional to begin right after the mothers are seated, have the Cue Person check that everyone is ready before the mothers are seated. This is especially important for large wedding parties or processionals that include flower girls and ring bearers.

2) After the mothers are seated, the Cue Person will give another a hand wave over the head to the musicians that everyone is ready to process. The lead musician will nod "yes" to confirm the hand signal was seen. If there is an unexpected delay, such as your maid of honor's shoe strap breaks (!), the Cue Person will give a forward finger circle in the air to signify, "there is a delay, keep going." That way, the musicians know if they need to provide some filler music. So an important responsibility of the Cue person is to deal with delay issues as they come up.

3) The Cue Person should remind the attendants that the music will stop and new music will begin before they process.

Processional of the Bride

Once the processional of the attendants is finished - seamlessly, of course, because you followed our advice and established a Cue Person! - it is time for the bride's grand entrance. Sometimes the person officiating gives a signal for the guests to stand. Other times the music starts first and then the guests stand. Other times the cue is when the dorors open in the back for the bride. Generally, however, another wave of the hand by the Cue Person is a good idea to signal the bride is ready to process. So if you are the bride, just take a deep breath and when the music changes begin your processional. There's no need to rush. Take your time and enjoy the moment. You will never be so close to being treated as royalty!

As you can see, the often overlooked but important Cue Person can be the solution to wedding planning mishaps and mistakes. It can ensure that your ceremony proceeds smoothly as planned through the processional music. And that is one less problem to worry about on your special day!

We hope our website is useful to you. If so, please consider telling others about it (i.e. fellow "knotties" at theknot.com) or linking to us. Thank you!

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