All of the Songs You Should Consider For The Walk Down The Aisle

By Cathleen Freedman

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white . . . You know the melody by heart. But did you know some wedding venues refuse to play “Here Comes the Bride” or even the “Wedding March”? More importantly, did you know you don’t have to walk down the aisle to a classical composition? Serena Williams walked down the aisle to “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.

Regardless of whether you opt for a traditional hymn or a more contemporary number, the tune you choose should forever take you back in time to your wedding day. While talking about Meghan’s wedding march “Eternal Source of Divine Light,” Prince Harry said, “And now, both of us, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, we can close our eyes, listen to that music and take ourselves straight back to that moment.” Here, we’re breaking down classic bridal marches and bring up possible processional alternatives, so you can find the one.

Traditional Wedding Marches

“Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel

Ah, a classic and still a go-to for brides today. The song is considered to be composed around 1680 and is rumored to have been penned for Pachelbel’s brother’s wedding. Despite being centuries old, the Baroque song was not published until the twentieth century. “Canon”  became popularized in the 1970s due to French conductor Jean-Francois Paillard’s romantic recording of “Canon,” which re-introduced musical audiences to Pachelbel’s sweet song. In 1980, Robert Redford used the song as the opening theme for Ordinary PeopleBeautiful, elegant, and serene, the song’s musical composition resembles “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Frère Jacques.”

Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn

“Wedding March” was first used as a wedding march on January 25th, 1858 for the royal wedding of Princess Victoria Adelaide Mary Louise to Frederick William IV of Prussia. In 1842, Mendelssohn wrote “Wedding March” for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in PotsdamBecause of the play’s connection to pagan characters and Greek myths, some Roman Catholic churches still do not allow brides to walk down the aisle to this tune

Bridal Chorus (“Here Comes The Bride” or “Wedding March”) by Richard Wagner

It’s all about context, and the context behind Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” is unfortunate. The song was originally used in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, right before the wedding ceremony of the character’s short-lived marriage. Yikes. Plus, Wagner is a controversial man himself. He is remembered for being rampantly anti-semitic and for being a favorite composer of Adolf Hitler, which is why some wedding venues do not permit his “Bridal Chorus.”

Other Bridal Procession Song Options

Romantic Scores

If you want a traditional feel, choose an instrumental melody from a favorite movie you and your betrothed love. One OTM bride walked down the aisle to Hans Zimmer’s score from The Holiday. Other great film selections are: “The Glasgow Love Theme” from Love Actually, the theme from A Summer Place, the “Somewhere in Time Theme from Somewhere in Time, and “The Lake from The Notebook.

Movie Soundtracks

Love the movies? Take a cue from the silver screen and choose a familiar scene-stealing tune. Romeo + Juliet’s “Kissing You” by Des’ree is a perfect choice for the romantic and vibrant bride. Richard Curtis’s About Time features the Italian “Il Mondo” as the wedding march song of choice, but any song from the movie’s soundtrack would be an excellent selection. “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in Crazy Rich Asians are excellent songs as well. 

Instrumental Serenades

Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” is a popular and classic alternative to standard wedding march songs. If you want a more interesting number, turn to jazz standards like Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade.” If you want to follow in the footsteps of the royals, try “Eternal Source of Divine Light,” which, as we mentioned before, Prince Harry chose for Meghan’s processional in 2018.

On The Nose Popular Tunes

You can even choose a “tongue in cheek” song for your walk down the aisle. “Here Comes The Sun” is a particularly popular choice with OTM couples. One Dutch OTM bride processed to it at her wedding in the Netherlands, and OTM grooms kicked off their ceremony with the same song at their wedding in Mexico—they walked down the aisle to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Another OTM bride walked with her bridesmaids to The Beatles hit in California, while at a different OTM wedding, the  bridal party walked in to the same song, and the bride marched to Mumford & Sons’s “I Will Wait.” Three more Over The Moon couples also chose “Here Comes The Sun,” so you can rest assured we’re here for it!

Regardless, listen for songs that have the proper tempo for a wedding march. If your nuptials are in a church, be sure to make sure your song is approved beforehand. You never know what chord “Ave Maria” will strike with some people.