A Musician's Take: Choosing Wedding Ceremony Music
As a wedding musician, I get asked all the time for suggestions of pieces to play during the ceremony. While I have some ideas on my website, every couple has their own taste and many factors to consider before choosing repertoire. The following are some things to think about while selecting your wedding ceremony music.
Hire your musicians wisely
Consider what instrument(s) would be best depending on the location of the ceremony (outdoors, indoors, amount of space near the altar), the amount of guests, and the atmosphere that you want to create. If you are on a budget, solo musicians are much more economical than groups.
Pick pieces that you love
This may seem obvious but take some time to think of how you could incorporate your favourite songs into the ceremony. Do you have any special songs as a couple? What style are they and what type of instrumentation? Make your wedding music stand out by including songs that add that extra layer of meaning. If you are looking to have a non-traditional wedding song as part of your ceremony, bear in mind whether or not it will suit the group or solo musician that you are hiring. Musicians love to discuss with their clients about the music selection to make sure that it is both feasible and appropriate. If you prefer a more traditional approach, listen to some recordings of the classics like Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Wagner’s Bridal March and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. These pieces are often performed by wedding musicians and can be arranged for almost any group of instruments.
Respect the culture of your venue
If you are having your wedding ceremony in a particular religious or cultural space, it can hugely affect your music selection. Some of these types of locations have guidelines about what kinds of music can be performed there. Make sure that you respect their wishes and that you discuss these kinds of protocols before you book.
Have a chat with your officiant
Each wedding ceremony has different musical requirements depending on what is being included in the program. The most basic wedding will have both a processional and a recessional piece. Consider what other parts of the ceremony you may want to have music i.e. prelude, the signing of the registry, the lighting of a unity candle or any other special moments. Some brides may even want to have distinct entry music for the different members of the wedding party.
Timing is everything
Once you’ve picked your ceremony music and arranged everything with your musicians, keep in mind that they will most likely not perform entire pieces. On the big day, things tend to move along very quickly. Musicians will follow the flow of the ceremony, for example, ending a processional piece once the bride arrives at the altar. Make sure that the pieces that you want played work well in a short time frame and that if there is a particular section that you want to hear – tell the musicians!
Best of luck with the selection process!