Wedding Music Info
I retired from church music in 2014 after serving as a church musician for nearly 35 years, and I’m “officially” retiring from playing weddings now too… though I may still have my arm twisted by friends and family members. 😉
At any rate I’ve lost count of how many weddings I’ve played over the years, and I’m often asked for suggestions on music for wedding ceremonies. As a classically-trained church musician my tastes in wedding music are broad but tend toward the traditional. Here are some thoughts… feel free to comment or add suggestions.
Ideas & Advice on Music for the Wedding Ceremony
If you’re having a church wedding – Talk with the church’s organist or music director at least a few months before the wedding. Most churches give their resident organist the ‘right of first refusal’ for weddings, but many church organists don’t mind if you select your own. Discuss your music ideas with the priest or minister so he or she knows what you have in mind and can make suggestions if needed. And check with the church to be sure the organ and/or piano is tuned and in good working condition.
If you’re having an outdoor wedding – Any music you have for an outdoor wedding will need amplification. Ask if the wedding site has a sound system available or can arrange to rent one. Outdoor venues typically don’t supply organs, pianos, or electronic keyboards – most likely your musicians will need to supply their own instruments and (depending on what they play) there may be extra costs involved in delivering them to the venue.
If you’re having an indoor wedding at a location other than a church – Ask the owner/event director for their recommendations. If you’re planning on having an organist or pianist, ask if the site has an organ or piano available and if it’s tuned and in good working order.
If you’re having singers or other musicians – Contact them at least one month before the wedding day to give them time to order and learn the music.
If you’re considering contemporary or popular music – You’ll almost certainly want one or more singers, so choose them well ahead of time to be sure they’re available and to discuss song selections. If you’re having a church wedding, keep in mind many popular songs sound terrible played on an organ, so you may want to consider piano, guitar, flute, or other instruments to accompany your singers.
Music for Various Parts of the Ceremony
These are some very traditional suggestions… 🙂
Preludes (while guests are being seated)
Canon in D – Pachelbel
Air on the G String – Bach
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach
Arioso in C – Handel
La Cavalliera Rusticana – Mascagni
Bist du Bei Mir – Bach
Air from “Water Music” – Handel
Arioso – Bach
Bridesmaids’ Processional – Recommended if there are three or more bridesmaids. The Pachelbel Canon in D (above) is very popular for this, or choose from any of the Preludes listed above.
Lighting of the Unity Candle / Presentation of Flowers to the Mothers
O Perfect Love (or other hymn, sung or played)
The Lord’s Prayer – Malotte (sung)
Ave Maria – Schubert (sung)
Ave Maria – Bach/Gounod (sung)
Recessionals – exit of the bride & groom, followed by exit of the wedding party and guests
Wedding March – Mendelssohn (the traditional exit)
Ode to Joy – Beethoven
Rondeau – Mouret (also known as “Masterpiece Theatre”)
Wedding March #3 – Bloch
Largo from Xerxes – Handel
Additional Music that Goes Well with Weddings (optional use for preludes, incidental music, solos, etc)
One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story)
All I Ask of You (from Phantom of the Opera)
The Wedding Song “There is Love” (needs a guitarist)
Grow Old With Me (John Lennon)
The Gift of Love
The Lord’s Prayer (Malotte)
Longer (Dan Fogelberg)
Ashoken Farewell (Theme from Ken Burns’ Civil War)
Selections from “Water Music” – Handel
Selections from “The Four Seasons” – Vivaldi