Choosing Marriage Ceremony Music

The music chosen for the key moments in a civil ceremony will often be different from what might be selected for a (Christian) church marriage service. Generally speaking, there is more open choice for a civil ceremony because the music should be non-religious (indeed, there are restrictions imposed on certain musical items by virtue of their sacred context: the Registrar will be able to clarify). Thus the infinitely wider spectrum of secular music is available.trumpet Conversely, in a church ceremony, the music is expected to be religious in content, although exceptions may be made at certain points in the service. Again, the Registrar or Minister will be able to advise.

The Processional March (Entry Of The Bride)

The exact duration of the music selected for the Processional is vitally important, and should be carefully thought through and thoroughly rehearsed before making a final decision. For instance, Pachelbel’s Canon in D is currently popular, but (without judicious cuts being made) is rather too long, unless the marriage is taking place in Westminster Abbey or an aircraft hangar. For either a civil or a church ceremony, perhaps the best choice is the most obvious one; Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (from his opera Lohengrin). For some people, this would represent a cliché and thus to be avoided, but there are good reasons for its popularity. Firstly, it is in 3 sections, each just over 30 seconds in length (when played at the customary tempo). This makes it readily adaptable to the precise time taken for the bride and her entourage to enter and process steadily to their correct positions for the ceremony. Secondly, there is a fanfare at the beginning which acts as the perfect signal for the congregation of guests to stand and receive the bridal party. Lastly, it is pretty much universally recognized (hence regarded as a cliché) – Here Comes The Bride says it all, really.

Signing The Marriage Register

Music is often played for a short while before the (fashionably late) Bridal Procession to help settle the guests as they arrive and to create a suitable atmosphere of anticipation. Likewise, during the completion of the legal formalities immediately after the actual ceremony, music is the obvious solution to bridge this interlude (which can take quite a few minutes, especially if photographs are taken). In a church service, the music chosen is usually contemplative, sober without being somber, and with some degree of religious context. In a civil ceremony the choice is much wider (so long as specifically religious themes are avoided), so a range of music from the sentimental to the light-hearted can be considered.

The Recessional March (Presentation Of The Bride And Groom)

As for the Bridal Procession, there is a wide range of musical items suitable for either church or civil marriages. Anything upbeat, joyful and march-like in character can be considered, and as this stage in the proceedings centres around the presentation of the newlywed couple to their family and friends, the transition from solemn and legal to a more festive festive and celebratory mood can usefully be signaled by a suitable piece of music. This music should ideally be of sufficient duration for the wedding entourage and all their guests to have moved outside (weather permitting!) or to a different reception room; this may take several minutes. Once again, arguably the best choice might be the obvious one (although to be rejected by some as a cliché) – Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from Incidental Music For “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, specially composed for performances of Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Mendelssohn wrote this music in 1826 (when he was just 17!) and Wagner completed Lohengrin in 1850, so over a century and a half of tradition is vested in their music. Worldwide, can a billion brides be wrong?

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