Wedding Ceremony Music submitted by Cheryl Campbell
Music at weddings can add a great deal to the special day but choosing it can be a daunting task, particularly if you would like to feature classical music and you are faced with literally thousands of choices.
The Wedding March/ The Processional
Many weddings feature the bride with attendants (and possibly other members of the wedding party) making their entrances. Music for this part of the service is usually a high priority, and many composers over the years have written wedding marches.
Lohengrin Most of us have heard the infamous “Here Comes the Bride”. This wedding march comes from Lohengrin, an opera by Richard Wagner. While it used to be overwhelmingly popular at weddings, it is often not included anymore.
The story of the opera involves a wedding that is doomed from the start due to mistrust, which could explain the trend to use different music. Wagner is also somewhat “uncomfortable” and controversial due to his status as Hitler’s favourite composer (and the use of his music at concentration camps during WWII) as well as certain writings by the composer himself.
Midsummer Night’s Dream Another option for your trip down the aisle is the Wedding March from the incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream written by Felix Mendelssohn. This music is commonly used as a recessional, but is actually intended as a processional in the play.
Canon in D A heavily used processional is Pachelbel’s Canon in D (commonly referred to as the “Pachelbel Canon”). If you choose to use it however, be aware that many of your guests will have heard it in a wedding before (some of them numerous times).
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring A slightly less often used, but still quite popular processional is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach. This particular piece is taken from one of Bach’s many cantatas: BWV 147.
Your own choice
With so much beautiful music available, there is no reason not to choose something somewhat more unusual for your special day. If you find this daunting, simply start listening: you’re bound to find something you like. Take a trip to your local library: most have classical recordings for loan. If you are hiring musicians for the service, do not hesitate to ask for ideas: the same goes for classical loving sisters, uncles and friends.
After you have said your vows, signed the register and enjoyed the fabulous music that you have chosen for your ceremony, all that is left to do is triumphantly walk (or run) down the aisle. And of course, you will need the perfect piece of music to do so! Here are just a few examples of pieces regularly chosen for the recessional.
Mendelssohn: Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream Also mentioned in the processional article, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March was written as part of his incidental music to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Originally intended as a processional (and not intended for use in a real ceremony at all), this piece is very commonly used as a recessional.
Handel: Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (from Solomon) You can’t get much more triumphant than this famous piece by Handel from his oratorio Solomon. It is also regularly used for recessionals but not as commonly as some other choices.
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto (1st movement) Another recognizable piece appropriate for your stroll down the aisle is a selection from J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3.
Your own choice
As with the processional, do not be afraid to choose something unusual that you like! If you don’t know what to choose but know you like a particular composer, start there. Or, if you remember a piece from a movie, start with a movie database and check out the soundtrack listings.