Developing Music to Match Your Wedding Style

Suggestions for setting the mood with music.

Developing Music to Match Your Wedding Style

Photo: Robert George

Whether you’ve dreamed of walking down the aisle to the traditional “Here Comes The Bride” or the popular “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” music is a wonderful way to personalize your ceremony and make it truly memorable. The songs and sounds you choose may be the most important element in creating the perfect mood for your special day.

The first step any couple must take is to decide which instrumentation you would like to perform for your wedding. If you have always imagined a certain instrumental sound, you should go that direction. If you don’t have an idea as to which instruments you would like, start by getting a CD that features a variety of different combinations of instruments playing wedding music. This will help you narrow down the possibilities.

Entertainment agencies can shorten your search time for professional, reliable and talented musicians. They will provide you with video and audio of a variety of musicians based on your needs and they can help coordinate your music selections and the musicians they require.

Before you select music for any part of your ceremony, ask your location if there are restrictions about the types of music allowed in the facility. Some places of worship have strict rules about music, instruments played, amplification and composers. Some Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis will not allow Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” (Here Comes The Bride).

Planning a ceremony in a venue other than a church or a synagogue presents a different set of considerations. If the ceremony is outside, make sure the musicians will be covered or in the shade. Most instruments are delicate and expensive; the slightest drizzle can end the performance. A tent, awning or gazebo, could solve the problem. If your ceremony is in a public place, the time of day and noise restrictions may apply. Sometimes you may be restricted to acoustic instruments and an electric guitar may be totally out of the question.

Most wedding ceremonies, civil or religious, will require music in at least three places: the prelude (before the wedding), the processional, and the recessional. You may also want to include a postlude (post-ceremony music) and musical interludes during the ceremony. Your choices could range from light classical to standards, depending on the instrumentation that you have selected for your ceremony.

The prelude is the music intended to set the mood for the guests as they enter, are being seated, and waiting for the ceremony to begin. This music is usually calm and reflective. Suggestions include: Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Satie’s “Gymnopedie,” Bernstein’s “One Hand, One Heart” and Delibes’ “The Flower Duet.” Other selections include “Pavane,” “The Wedding Song,” “When I Fall In Love” and “Somewhere In Time.”

The processional is played as the bride walks down the aisle. This music is usually uplifting and dramatic to bring focus to the bride. Suggestions include Bach’s “Air on the G string,” Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary,” Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin.” Jewish music choices include “Dodi Li” and “Erev Shel Shoshanim.” Popular music choices include Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro” and “All I Ask Of You” from Phantom of the Opera.

The recessional is played as the newly married couple walks back down the aisle after they have been pronounced "Husband and Wife." This is usually lively music to show the feelings of excitement and celebration. Suggestions include Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons (Spring)," Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," Handel's "Water Music." Jewish music choices include "Simon Tov and Mazel Tov" and "L'Chaim." Popular music choices include "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You" and "For Once In My Life."

Opening photograph by Robert George