Depending on the length of your walk your music cues may need to be short or long. Most wedding coordinators will space out your attendants to compensate
for a very long or very short walk: If your ceremony is in a small chapel they might be spaced out one at a time so that when the first bridesmaid reaches the
front, your second begins her walk from the back. On the other hand if your ceremony is outside and the walk is very long your coordinator will probably design
the procession more like a parade, with each of your attendants spaced at regular intervals and all walking at the same pace.
This usually keeps the bridesmaids' processional under 3 or 4 minutes. Longer cues get stale from too much repetition of the music. The traditional Protestant
wedding tunes - Trumpet Tune, Trumpet Voluntary, Here Comes The Bride, Canon In D - are composed in 8 bar phrases, so they can be effectively ended
whenever they need to be. A bride's processional in a small chapel might be very short - often under 30 seconds. Popular songs are usually longer forms and are
not as easy to end on the fly in a convincing fashion but I always have several options worked out before hand to deal with this issue.
Here is the traditional processional order The music cues are numbered 1), 2), 3) etc.
Grandmothers can be seated informally during the prelude or just before the mothers.
1) Mother of the Groom and Mother of the Bride enter after all other guests have been seated.
Officiate, Groom, Best Man and Groomsmen enter as the bridesmaids' music is starting.
(Variation: men enter before mothers)
2) Bridesmaids, Ring Bearers, Flower Girl (processional).
3) Bride and Father Of The Bride (bride's processional).
4) Exit music (recessional).
Also, you may want a short song during your ceremony - possibly in conjunction with a unity gesture like a sand ceremony, candle lighting, communion etc.
Many church traditions have service music integrated into the wedding ritual these include Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu and I am sure many other faiths.
In your planning process consult your music director to determine the optimal number of tunes for your circumstances. Weddings with too many abbreviated
tunes sound choppy and unsatisfying. In very small venues with a small number of attendants you might want to consider combining one or two events into one
music cue. Examples: mothers + 1 or 2 bridesmaids; mothers + bridesmaid + flower girl; etc
Vocal music is usually most effective either before the processionals or as a recessional. That's because it is more difficult to abbreviate lyrics than instrumental
music. That said, I have sung many processionals.
Here are some random ideas about how to start choosing tunes for your wedding ceremony:
For your mothers' entrance music - ask your mother (pick music that means something to your mother and new mother-in-law).
For bridesmaids you might want something that contrasts with the bride's processional: If that is pretty and feminine (one of my favorites is the guitar solo
Catalonian Song) you might want something a bit slower and contemplative for the bridemaids like Canon In D, Here There Everywhere, Can't Help Falling In
The traditional bridal processionals are being used less and less these days. Brides are choosing popular songs that speak to them personally. Any song that
people recognize will bring to mind the lyrics even if it is not sung and a good melody will always be effective even if many of your guests are not familiar with it.
The challenge arises when we take current popular song and strip it of it's lyric - which is probably what attracted you to the song in the first place - and try to
craft a compelling instrumental performance out of it.
Keep in mind that when you program a tune that very few people know - the symbolism is lost on many of your guests.
A really effective strategy is to use music that speaks to many people.
Same sex ceremonies...
Here are a couple of possible scenarios that I have seen:
One partner wants to walk down the aisle while the other waits at the altar OR both walk in together.