Classic Wedding Music Favorites
Wedding Music Reveals the Heart of the Couple
Music is a magical medium for expressing the deepest of human feelings. Wedding music really helps sets the tone for the whole ceremony and should reflect the personalities and tastes of the bride and groom. It greatly enhances the ceremony, keeps the party fun and the dancing lively or tender during the reception.
In traditional Western religious ceremonies, the music begins when the church doors open to receive guests for the wedding. Many churches have a fine organ or piano, and the church organist or pianist is hired to provide the music. Other musicians such as a violin duo, a violin and cello pair, a string quartet (composed of two violins, a viola and a cello), an acoustic guitarist or a harpist may be engaged. It’s important to suit the instruments to the size of the space and the number of guests that will fill it.
The processional begins when family members are seated and the wedding party enters. When the notes of the bride’s special processional march begin all eyes are cued to turn to her beautiful entrance. If there are to be vocalists or hymns, they’re performed during the ceremony at special times such as the lighting of the unity candle. After the couple is presented as husband and wife, the recessional begins and the entire wedding party follows them out to this bright music.
Once the Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin (Here Comes the Bride) was the traditional bridal march played at weddings. Today formal rules have relaxed and couples care more about creating a ceremony that reflects who they are, not what pleases others. Some traditional music remains highly popular but many modern selections have joined the play list:
• Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel (or Per-Olov Kindgren on Classical Guitar)
• Hymne by Vangelis
• A Thousand Years by The Piano Guys
• Promenade by Mussorgsky
• Sheep May Safely Graze by Johann S. Bach
• Here Comes the Bride (by Wagner) Vicente Avella on Classical Piano
• Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin
• Trumpet Voluntary by Henry Purcell
• Trumpet Voluntary in D by Jeremiah Clarke
• Rigaudon by Andre Campra
• Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn
• Don’t Stop Believing by the Vitamin String Quartet
• Tocata from Symphony No.5 by Widor
• Now That We Found Love by Heavy D and The Boyz
• Signed,Sealed,Delivered by Stevie Wonder
Then it’s time to party at the reception and music sets the beat. Many couples hire a wedding music DJ to keep the music flowing and encourage guests to dance. They provide the DJ with their play list requests ahead of time, including their first dance, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance and last dance selections. DJs are only one option. Certain types of bands can complete a theme wedding perfectly. There are swing, jazz, country western, rock and 40s bands as well as string ensembles for more formal dancing.
Music is a part of wedding celebrations throughout the world. In Egypt the bride is led to her wedding by musicians playing trumpets and drums in a rhythm known as zaffa. In Jewish weddings the groom enters to the traditional “Baruch Hoba” and the celebration song of Suman Too (or Good Tidings) is played at receptions. Jewish wedding invitations actually invite guests to “dance at” the ceremony. In Ireland, a bagpiper pipes the bride into the church for the mass and then pipes the couple in to the reception. Pipers also know several tunes suitable for dancing. The Irish Wedding Song is traditional played by the piper then he presents his dirk for the cake cutting.
Jamaican weddings are community affairs involving lots of music and dancing. One dance is the Quadrille, learned by their ancestors from the early slave masters on the island. In Greece, the names of single ladies close to the bride are written on the bottom of her shoes. All the names that are rubbed off during the night of dancing will soon be married themselves, so the tradition goes. In Scotland, a piper stands at the door of the church to play as a greeting to guests. The piper leads the couple from the church to their car after the ceremony. The traditional Sword Dance is performed at the Ceilidh (reception) and all sing Auld Land Syne at the close.
Persian, English, Italian and French wedding guests all dance and enjoy the music at wedding receptions. The English include processionals and recessionals and hymns with ceremonial music. All over the world, the magic of music is used to enhance the specialness of the wedding ceremony and the joy of the celebration that follows it.