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Weddings (planning page)

Relax. This is the easy part. All you need to worry about are two pieces of music (or possibly three)--what you'll be coming in to, and what I'll play while you're marching out. Everything else can be taken care of by me, unless you have an Aunt who is singing, or cousin Ed's going to wow us with his clarinet--it's your wedding, so you can plan it like you want it (provided the pastor approves it, of course.) Here is a quick rundown of the musical element in the ceremony. 

Prelude music

About twenty minutes before the start of the wedding I start to play music, while the guests are being seated. I have a list of things I usually play, but if you want to request something I'm open. Sometimes somebody (a friend, a relative) sings a piece or two here. I can play most, or all the selections on either the organ or the piano, or both (one at a time, usually). If you have a preference, let me know.

The mothers

A few minutes before the ceremony the mothers are seated. They usually light candles which represent their children; these are the candles that will later be used to light the single unity candle in the middle. Sometimes a special piece is played during this time.

The processional

When everybody is in place--we go! Here is where you'll need to choose something to march in to. Below is a short list of the most common processionals I play. It doesn't have to be one of these, but most of the couples I've played for have chosen one from this list. Click on the title below to hear a bit of each one.

  Trumpet Voluntary Jeremiah Clarke  
  Canon in D Johann Pachelbel  
  March from "Lohengrin" Richard Wagner  
  Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring J. S. Bach  

It is quite popular these days for brides to choose one selection for the bridesmaids and one for themselves. Keeping in mind that a nervous bride usually takes about 25 seconds to negotiate the aisle at Faith church, the following combinations seem to be popular, and work pretty well: Trumpet Voluntary followed by Canon in D, or Trumpet Voluntary followed by the March from "Lohengrin" (which was once THE piece everybody marched to but doesn't seem to be very popular anymore). "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" seems to be one of those pieces that is better for both bride and bridesmaids since it doesn't chop up as well as the others, and, when you get to the end of the aisle, I wrap it up as fast as I can find a phrase ending.

Music during the ceremony

After the wedding "sermon" there is usually a brief period of "traveling music" while the couple moves up near the altar for their vows. I usually just improvise quietly for about 30 seconds, which is all the longer this takes. Sometimes an additional solo is placed here.

Unity candle

After the vows, the couple goes to the altar and lights a single candle from the two that their mothers have lit before the ceremony. This is the most common place to have someone sing a special song. It only takes about a minute to light the candle, but if you don't mind listening to the rest of the song it can be a nice musical interlude.

Other additions

Occasionally an additional piece is inserted in the service. Recently, someone sang the Lord's Prayer in place of the congregation's recitation of it right near the end of the ceremony. Sometimes a hymn or two is included in the service. If there are multiple scripture readings a musical number might be placed between them, particularly if there is a soloist with several songs to sing.


After the pastor introduces you as the new Mr. and Mrs. you are sent dashing back down the aisle to one of these pieces, or another that you've chosen. Again, click on the title to sample a bit of it.

  Hornpipe from the Royal Water Music Handel  
  The Rejoicing Handel  
  Wedding March Mendelssohn  
  Ode to Joy Beethoven  
  Toccata from Symphony no. 5 Widor  
  March in D  Anna Magdelena Bach Notebook  

      If you are ready to make your selections, send me an email at [email protected]

If you want to wander from the beaten path, the following websites have a large number of suggestions for wedding music.

This is a huge database of music--written music, as well as how to get recordings. It is run by the Music Library of the University of  Virginia. You can listen to a few of their recordings on this website, but mainly it features hundreds of ideas for music which you will then need to track down on your own (hint: you should be able to use the call numbers of the pieces in their library to see if we have them in our own)

This group, the San Francisco Strings, plays for weddings and also features several pieces that you can listen to by clicking on them. Warning: these are MIDI files, not actual recordings, so the sound can be a bit... well, at least you'll get some idea of how the piece goes. The website seems to have a few bugs in it, but you can hear actual recordings of the group (which are very nice) at http://www.sfstrings.com/soundarlekin.htm (the link on the other page is currently busted). If this makes you hungry for a string quartet or some other instrumental combination at your wedding, let me know. I can probably find someone for you.


Good luck, and call or email me with any questions ([email protected])


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