Wedding Music Guide
Music is an integral part of a wedding service. It adds to the dignity and special air of the occasion, and also contributes one of the notes of rejoicing and celebration. Also, it provides a chance for the couple to choose one or more pieces of music that are special to them for one reason or another. Most church weddings are accompanied by organ music as that is the most easily available instrument in that setting. Also the organ will be powerful enough to fill the whole church with music, whereas a soloist on another instrument such as an oboe or violin may not be loud enough to cover the bustle of everyone getting to their feet and saying how lovely the bride looks!
You need to think about music at the following times during the day (some of these times have specific titles and I have included approximate timings as a guide):
• As people arrive at your ceremony – ‘The Prelude’ (15 minutes)
• When you walk in – ‘The Processional’ (2 minutes)
• Set pieces during the ceremony (4 minutes)
• While you sign the register – ‘The Interlude’ (10 minutes); you may require two pieces here, as it can take a while if people are taking photographs
• As you leave the ceremony – ‘The Recessional’ (5 minutes)
• As people arrive at the reception (15 minutes)
• During the reception drinks (1 hour)
• During the meal (2 hours)
• After the meal (4 hours)
Choose Live Music, DJs or Recorded Wedding Music
For each of the times mentioned above, you need to decide if you want live musicians, a DJ, or whether you prefer to play CDs or downloads on an MP3 player. Check with the venue if there are any restrictions on having live music or DJs, particularly if the venue is in a residential area. Some venues require musicians to be covered for public liability insurance and have a current PAT (portable appliance test) certificate for electrical equipment. You should also find out if you need to hire staging, lighting, speaker systems, or a dance floor, or whether the band or venue provide this and how much it costs. There are specialist companies that will hire everything from chequered dance floors to karaoke machines.
When you get your estimates keep them on file or record in the Budget Planner, then when you have decided on the best price and supplier, fill in the final column of the planner.
Choosing Live music for Your Wedding
If your budget allows, live music is a great way to add atmosphere to your special day. The price will depend on how many musicians you require, how long you want them to play for, whether they have to learn specific music you’ve chosen, and how far they have to travel. When you contact a musician, find out what sort of music they play and ask if you can request specific songs or pieces. Most live musicians will have sets that they play at weddings and should be able to provide you with a demo CD. Some musicians arrange to meet up with the couple before the occasion and discuss the type of music they like, and any particular songs that bring back strong memories of them together.
When you are choosing music for the reception, a key thing to think about is the noise level of the guests and the acoustics of the room. Apparently, brass and woodwind instruments tend to cut through background noise better. You also need to check if the musicians need amplification, in which case they will need access to electricity. Keep in mind that most classical musicians will play acoustically, unless you specifically ask them to provide amplification. Check with the venue where bands or musicians usually position themselves. If you want musicians to play outside, make sure they are happy with this and think about what would happen if it rained or was very hot – you could buy or hire a pagoda from a camping shop to give them shelter or shade.
Don’t expect classical musicians to play for hours without a break. Four half-hour sets would be the most they will usually play – that is a lot of music to practice beforehand and the concentration required is enormous.
Questions to ask when you first contact musicians for Your Wedding
• How long have they been playing together?
• Have they played at weddings before?
• Have they played at your particular venue before?
• Are their charges based on hire time or playing time?
• How long will they play for and how many breaks will they take?
• Are they members of any professional societies?
• Can they provide references?
• Do they have contingency plans for illness, etc.?
• Can you hear them play at a live event or receive a demo CD?
• Can you meet up to discuss requirements?
• Can they play recorded music during intervals?
Music Variety for Your Wedding Day
When you are deciding on music for the evening, think about how much variety you want. A band should have a fairly wide repertoire, but they tend to specialise in one genre or era. If you want a mixture of salsa, jazz, rock and soul, for example, you may be better having a DJ.
One good way to compromise is to have a band that can play recorded music through its amplification system when they take breaks.
If you decide to go for live music, you need to bear in mind that a band is not a DJ, and so while they can try to accommodate playlists, it is impossible to learn many songs for specific requests.
Choosing DJs and recorded music for Your Wedding
The main things to look out for when choosing a DJ are a wide range of music (from the 1930s up to the current day), excellent sound and good light effects. It is important to meet musicians or DJs beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable with them, since they will be creating quite a lot of the atmosphere on the day. Find out how long a DJ will play music for and what happens when they take a break. Ask them for specific requests ahead of time to make sure they are available. If you are producing a playlist, try it out on some friends to see if it is the kind of music that would get them on the dance floor. You also need to time it, so that you have enough songs to last the evening.
First Dance Music Selection
If you want a first dance, remember to choose a song that is special for you both – you will probably have a favourite love song or piece of music. Traditionally, the wedding couple dance the first number alone. So you can sign up for dance lessons before your wedding. It is also a good way to keep fit and quite a fun way to build up to the wedding. If you don’t want to do a first dance alone, prime some guest to join you, or ask your mistress or master of ceremonies to announce that you invite everyone who wants to dance to help you start it off.
Questions to ask to finalise Wedding Music Arrangements
• Until what time does the venue allow live or recorded music?
• How long will they need to set up at the venue?
• What are their space requirements?
• Do they need a power source?
• Do they provide a PA/their own amplification?
• How many chairs will they need?
• Do they need lights?
• Do they expect to be fed and watered?
Money-saving tips for the Music Arrangements at your Wedding
• If you are on a tight budget, you can choose a single instrumentalist who is able to provide the widest range of musical styles. For example, you could ask them to play classical music during the ceremony, light popular music during the drinks reception and jazzier numbers during the meal.
• Hire a solo musician for the ceremony – you’ll only have to pay them for an hour at the most and you can then play CDs or downloads for the rest of the event.
• See if any friends or family would like to play a tune or two for you.
• To save paying for travel costs, ask the venue or a local church for recommendations of musicians who play locally.
• Contact your nearest university or music college to see if they have students who are willing to perform.
• If you’re on a budget or like the idea of playing your own music, set up a playlist on your MP3 player or record a CD and put it through the venue’s PA system (check if they have one).
• Some cabaret artists, such as drag queens, also double as DJs.
Top tips for the Music Arrangements at your Wedding
• Let musicians know your schedule for the day, so that they can set up and take breaks at appropriate times.
• You could ask the musicians to play classical music during the ceremony, light popular music during the drinks reception and jazzier numbers during the meal.
• If you are supplying your musicians with alcohol, make sure they stay sober enough to do a good job for you.
• It’s best to go for something graceful, stately and calming while you walk into the room and something more exuberant when you walk out.
• The processional pieces should be quite short – for example, two minutes – so that you can time your entry and not end up standing around like spare parts.
• Also, you can have some fun with the music by playing something unexpected or amusing to make a grand entrance.
• If you want a longer piece, it’s often better to have it as a solo during the ceremony, or during the signing of the register, as you get to hear much more of it.
Order of Service Reading, Prayers Music and Bible Readings
1) Discuss the content and order of Service with the officiant. Seek their advice and, if possible, refer to order of Service sheets from previous weddings
• discuss inclusion of Holy Communion/Nuptial Mass
• discuss version of Service and vows
• state any preferences – for the Reading(s)
– for the Prayers
– for any specific points to be mentioned in the Address
• seek approval to include any performances – by the choir
– by singer(s)
– by musician(s)
• discuss the hymns, psalms and organ music you would like
2) Arrange to meet the Organist
• discuss the music you would like played. It may be helpful to purchase or borrow a CD or download relevant tracks – as a medley before the service begins
– for the entrance of the bride (Processional)
– during the signing of the register
– leaving the church (Recessional)
• offer to obtain sheet music, if appropriate
• discuss your choice of hymns/psalms
• determine how many order of Service sheets are required for the choir
3) Book singer(s) and musician(s)
4) Decide whether you will print the words or use hymn books
Wedding Music and Bible Readings
Music can play an important part in your wedding as it sets the tone, creates an atmosphere and helps make the day more memorable for everyone. It is advisable to keep readings fairly short and to choose hymns that the majority of your guests will recognise and can join in singing. You can choose from a majority of traditional and modern hymns, psalms and testaments.
Traditional Hymns □ Alleluia, sing to Jesus
□ All people that on earth do dwell
□ All things bright and beautiful
□ And did those feet in ancient time (Jerusalem)
□ At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow
□ Come down, 0 Love divine
□ Dear Lord and Father of mankind
□ Father, hear the prayer we offer
□ Glorious things of thee are spoken
□ Great is thy faithfulness
□ Guide me, O thou great Redeemer
□ I vow to thee, my country
□ Immortal, invisible, God only wise
□ Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
□ Let all the world in every corner sing
□ Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy
□ Love divine, all loves excelling
□ Now thank we all our God
□ O for a thousand tongues to sing
□ O Jesus I have promised
□ O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder
□ O perfect Love, all human thought transcending
□ O praise ye the Lord
□ Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
□ Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation
□ Rejoice the Lord is King
□ The King of love my Shepherd is
□ The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23) – to the tune of Crimond
Modern Popular Hymns □ Amazing Grace
□ Be still for the presence of the Lord
□ Bind us together
□ Come on and celebrate
□ From heaven you came helpless babe (The Servant King)
□ Give me joy in my heart
□ Give thanks with a grateful heart
□ I cannot tell why he whom angels worship
□ Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it
□ Jesus put this song into our hearts
□ Jesus, stand among us at the meeting of our lives
□ Let there be love shared among us
□ Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us
□ Lord for the years your love has kept and guided U Lord the light of your love is shining (Shine, Jesus, shine)
□ Make me a channel of your peace
□ Morning has broken
□ New every morning is the love
□ Lord of the Dance
□ One more step along the world I go
□ Teil out my soul
□ You shall go out with joy
Favorite Psalms □ 23: The Lord is my Shepherd
□ 48: Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised
□ 67: God be merciful unto us, and bless us
□ 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
□ 127: Except the Lord build the house
□ 128: Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord
Readings Old Testament □ Genesis – Chapter 1, verses 26-28 and 31a
□ Song of Solomon – Chapter 2, verses 10-13 and Chapter 8 verses 6 and 7
□ Jeremiah – Chapter 31, verses 31-34
□ Tobit – Chapter 8, verses 4-8
New Testament □ Matthew – Chapter 5, verses 1-10
□ Matthew – Chapter 7, verses 21, 24-27
□ Mark – Chapter 10, verses 6-9 and verses 13-16
□ John – Chapter 2, verses 1-11
□ John – Chapter 15, verses 1-8
□ John – Chapter 15, verses 9-17
□ Romans – Chapter 7, verses 1, 2, 9-18
□ Romans – Chapter 8, verses 31-35, 37-39
□ Romans – Chapter 12, verses 1, 2, 9-13
□ Romans – Chapter 15, verses 1-3, 5-7, 13
□ 1 Corinthians – Chapter 13
□ Ephesians – Chapter 3, verses 14-end
□ Ephesians – Chapter 4, verses 1-6
□ Ephesians – Chapter 5, verses 21-end
□ Philippians – Chapter 4, verses 4-9
□ Colossians – Chapter 3, verses 12-17
□ 1 John – Chapter 3, verses 18-end
□ 1 John – Chapter 4, verses 7-12
Wedding Music to play Before the service
Ushers, guests, the groom and best man will be at the church well before the bride, so it is best if your organist has a repertoire that will keep him or her occupied for at least 20 minutes before the bride is due. This helps to get people into the wedding mood, and also gives them the chance to listen to some enjoyable, relaxing music while they wait. The music can be of any kind the organist chooses but it is best to keep it fairly sober and classical, unless something like ragtime or old time music hall fits in with the style of the rest of your wedding!
Wedding Music to play as the Bride Arrives
The entrance of the bride may be greeted by a fanfare or a trumpet voluntary (depending on the talent you have at your disposal), and then the bride enters, usually to something relatively stately to mark the significance of what is about to happen. Before the (now rather hackneyed) Wedding March (‘Here comes the bride’) was first played in 1850, favourites used to be Handel’s Occasional Overture or Mendelssohn’s music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Wagner Wedding March (actually the Bridal Chorus from his opera Lohengrin) then swept the board for popularity, although other favourites in Victorian times included Handel’s Processional March and March from Hercules, Mendelssohn’s March from Athalie, and Beethoven’s Hallelujah Chorus from the Mount of Olives. More recently, brides have entered to Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and Verdi’s March Aida, amongst others.
Listed here are some pieces that are suitable for playing at various times during the service.
Bach Fugue in G Minor
Bliss Wedding Fanfare
Brahms Theme from One. St Anthony Chorale
Charpentier Prelude to a Te Deum
Clarke Prince of Denmark’s March
Collins Trumpet Minuet
Guilmant March on Lift up your Heads
Handel Hornpipe in D from the Water Music
Hornpipe in F from the Water Music
March from Scipio Coro from the Water Music
Minuet No 2 from the Water Music
Arriual of the Queen of Sheba March from the Occasional Oratorio
Mozart Wedding March from The Marriage of Figaro
Harris Wedding Processional
Hollins A Trumpet Minuet
Parry Bridal March
Purcell Trumpet tune Rondeau from Abdelazar
Trumpet Tune and Air
Stanley Trumpet Tune in D
Verdi Grand March from Aida
Wagner Bridal March from Lohengrin
Walton March from Richard III Crown Imperial
Zipoli Toccata in C
Wedding Music to play while the register is being signed
Try to arrange for some music to be played during this time, even if it is merely the organist repeating some of the pieces played before the service. This is the traditional time for friends of the bride and groom to play, or sing, or both, or if a choir has been hired this will be their chief spot. You can either choose the music yourself or leave it to the musicians concerned, depending on the extent of your own musical knowledge.
Albinoni Adagio in G minor
Bach Air from Suite in D
Sheep may safely graze
Adagio from Toccato Adagio and Fugue C
Jesu, Joy of Man ‘s Desiring
Brahms Behold, a rose is blooming
Dvorak Largo from the New World Symphony
Handel Minuet from Berenice
Flandel Pastoral Symphony from The Messiah
Franck Prelude from Prelude, Fugue and Variation Op. 18
Air from the Water Music
Macdowell Pastorale to a Wild Rose
Mendelssohn Allegretto from Sonata No 4
Mozart Romanze from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Pachelbel Canon in D major
Schubert Aue Maria
Vaughan-Williams Prelude from Greensleeves
Wesley Air and Gavotte
Wedding Music as you leave the church
Something triumphant and joyful is the keynote here; you are announcing to the world that you are married! Again you may have a piece of music that is special to you, but if not there are many suitable classical and modern pieces.
Bach The ‘Great’ G major Prelude
Clarke Trumpet Voluntary
Eigar Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4
Dubois Toccata in G
Guilmant Grand Choeur in D
Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks
Hollins Bridal March
Fletcher Festive Toccata
Karg-Eiert Now thank we all our God
Mendelssohn Wedding March from A Midsummer
Pachelbel Toccata in C
Smart Postlude in D
Vieme Carrilon in B flat
Final from Symphony No 1
Walton Crown Imperial
Wesley Choral Song
Widor Toccata from Symphony No 5
Allegro from Symphony No. 6
Some Guidelines Your Wedding Music Selection
You will need to check very carefully that the music you want is suitable for being played on the organ that is in the church. Some pieces can sound very grand played on a good organ by an excellent musician, but sound extremely weak played on a poor organ by an indifferent organist, in a church with dreadful acoustics. If you are using the church’s regular organist he or she will be able to advise you on the best pieces to be played on that particular organ; even if you are importing your own organist, it’s worth picking the brains of the regular one who will tell you which kind of music sounds best in that church. You may want to have your own music composed for your wedding, in which case you will need to be sure you have the musicians and the instruments to do it justice. If both organ and organist seem hopeless, all is not lost; a wide variety of tapes are available that can be played on any good PA system, so you can still have good-quality music.
Pictures from: freepik . com