Margaret Sneddon, Harpist
Ceremony Suggestions - A brief discussion about ceremony music in general followed by a list of suggested songs.
Music can be a beautiful and important part of your wedding ceremony. It's a wonderful welcome as your guests arrive and find their seats and helps establish a joyous and reverent mood. Click the player on the Music Samples page to hear some examples as you read.
Musically, the typical wedding is divided into several sections including the prelude, the processional, incidental music during the ceremony and recessional.
The prelude music is usually left to the discretion of the musicians. The timing is not precise and the musicians will want to be able to adjust their program according to factors such as the number of people that have arrived and any unexpected delays. If there are a few particular favorites that you would like to include in the Prelude, be sure to mention them to the musicians and they will be included if possible.
In the Christian tradition, the last thing to happen before the processional begins, is the seating of the immediate family, any grandparents, the groom's mother, and finally the bride's mother. Traditionally, no one is seated after the bride's mother. However, this tradition has relaxed somewhat in recent years.
A special song is often selected for the seating of the immediate family. If this is the case, an usher should advise the musicians when the family is about to be seated. The ushers and family should wait while the musicians conclude the piece that they are playing. A pause in the music will be the signal to the ushers that they should start seating the family members when the music starts again.
When the immediate family has been seated, the musicians will once again conclude the piece they are playing. The bridesmaids should wait until they hear another pause in the music. When the musicians start playing again is when the bridesmaids should start. Everyone in the processional should wait until the previous person is almost to the altar before starting and then walk slowly.
If the music is to change, another pause will occur between the last person in the bridal party and the bride. This will usually be the maid of honor or a flower girl. The bride, usually escorted by her father, will then start down the aisle. It is very helpful for the musicians to know the number of people in the bridal party and who will be last.
In the Jewish tradition, the family and both parents of the bride and groom are part of the formal processional. Therefore, the processional music usually begins with the seating of any grandparents.
It is important for the bridal couple to select the pieces that they want for the seating of the mothers if applicable, the procession of the bridal party and the procession of the bride. It is not required that the music change for the bride and if the procession is very short, or the wedding is informal, it may be preferable not to switch.
It should also be noted that "Here Comes the Bride" which is actually the Wedding March from the opera, "Lohengrin" by Wagner, is not usually considered appropriate for a Jewish wedding.
Some thoughts about the Pachelbel Canon
The Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel is a beautiful piece that begins simply and gets more elaborate and beautiful as it progresses. It is a popular choice for the wedding processional. However, unless the processional is long, it has to get cut before the best part! This is especially true if it is used only for the bride. The bride has usually arrived at the altar before the introduction is complete. It is far more appropriate to use the Canon for the entire processional, or have it played toward the end of the prelude when most of the guests have arrived and can hear it in its entirety.
Here is a list of music that is beautiful and appropriate for a wedding ceremony. You can pretty much mix and match the music for the bridal party and the bride. There follows a section that suggests some pretty combinations.
Aire on a G String - Bach
Aria - Kuhnau
Bransle de la Torche - Praetorius
Bridal March from Lohengrin (Here Comes the Bride) Wagner
Canon in D - Pachelbel
Come Ye Sons of Art Away - Bach
Chaconne - Purcell
Hartes Ease - Holborne
Hornpipe - Handel (From Water Music)
Hornpipe - Purcell
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Bach
Largo from Concerto in D Major - Vivaldi
Largo from Winter - Vivaldi
Minuet Finale from Water Music - Handel
Pavane in Renaissance Style - Wachs
Rigadoon - Purcell
Rondeau - Mouret (Theme from Masterpiece Theater)
Sheep May Safely Graze - Bach
Spring - Vivaldi
Te Deum - Charpentier
Trumpet Tune - Purcell
Trumpet Voluntary - Purcell
Al Kol Eleh - Shemer
Bridal March - Hassidic
Chorsha ha Eucaliptus (On the Jordan)
Entreat Me No to Leave Thee - Avery
Erev Ba - Avissar
Erev Shel Shoshanim
Dodi Li - Sher
Hodaya - Miron
L'Kha Dodi - Zeira
Lu Yehi - Shemer
The Lark in the Clear Air
Loch Ta Boat Song
My Love is Like a Red Red Rose
SOME NICE SEGUES FOR BRIDAL PARTY AND THEN BRIDE
Canon in D to
Come Ye Sons of Art Away
Erev Shel Shoshanim
Hornpipe from Water Music
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Largo from the Four Seasons
Hornpipe by Purcell to Rigadoon by Purcell or Rondeau by Mouret
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring to
Hornpipe by Handel
Hornpipe by Purcell
Pavane in Renaissance Style
Rondeau by Mouret
Largo from Four Seasons Winter to Bridal March or Jesu Joy or Trumpet Voluntary
Pavane in Renaissance Style to Trumpet Voluntary
Rigadoon to Bridal March or Trumpet Voluntary
Trumpet Voluntary to Bridal March* or Trumpet Tune
Allegretto from Spring - Vivaldi
Concerto in B Flat Major, First Movement, Allegro Moderato -Handel
Hornpipe from Water Music - Handel
Ode to Joy - Beethovan
The Rejoycing From Royal Fireworks Music - Handel
Rondeau (Theme form Masterpiece Theater) - Mouret
Sonatina I - Naderman
Te Deum - Charpientier
Trumpet Tune by Purcell
Trumpet Voluntary - Purcell
Wedding March - Mendelssohn*
Artza Alinu - Flok tuneBashana
Chussen Kalle Mazel Tov
Dodi Li - Chen
Eile Chamda Libi
Haba'ah - Hirsch
Hevenu Shalon Alekhem
Hine Ma Tov
Rad Halaila - Trad. Hassidic
Give Me Your Hand
Rocky Road to Dublin
Scotland the Brave