Wedding Services: Basic Music Guidelines

May 5th, 2014

Music can be a major element at a wedding, which often does not receive sufficient attention. Just as other elements (location, dress, flowers, liturgy, and décor) are crucial in setting the tone for the event, music offers a unique way to convey the feelings, emotions, and personalities of the couple and the theme of the service. Music is an important means to help guests relax and become comfortable as they wait for the service to begin. Music has the ability to set the mood, evoke emotion, and provide a measure of cohesiveness and continuity.

It cannot be stressed enough that all music must be discussed with the instrumentalist and pastor as an integral part of the overall design of the service. Many wedding couples today seek to include trendy, popular music as a part of the service. The wedding, however, must be viewed, first and foremost, as a worship service with music selections appropriate to the occasion. Church organists and music ministers are capable of offering suggestions for the selection of appropriate music to be used for preludes, processionals, recessionals, and postludes. Traditional and classic selections are numerous. Likewise, several contemporary offerings may be deemed appropriate. The following presents a basic listing of service music that may be appropriate for the wedding service.

Prelude Selections

“Adagio” (from Sonata in E-Flat), by Mozart
“Air” (from Water Music), by Handel
“Air on a G String” (from Orchestral Suite, no. 3), J. S. Bach
“Allegro” (from Brandenburg Concerto no. 4 in G), by J. S. Bach Nocturne in E-Flat, Opus 9, no. 2, by Chopin
“Waltz” (from Act 1 of Sleeping Beauty), by Tchaikovsky

Processional Selections

“Traditional Wedding March” (from Lohengrin), by Wagner Trumpet Tune, by Purcell
“Trumpet Voluntary” (from Prince of Denmark’s March), by Clarke Canon in D, by Pachelbel
“Romance” (from String Quartet), by Mozart

Interlude Selections

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by J. S. Bach
“Air on a G String” (from Orchestral Suite, no. 3), J. S. Bach
“Ave Maria,” by either Schubert or Gounod
“Ode to Joy,” by Beethoven

Unity Candle Selections

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” by J. S. Bach
“There Is Love (Wedding Song),” by Noel Paul Stookey
“Ave Maria,” by Schubert
“Amazing Grace,” by John Newton
“Flesh of My Flesh,” by Leon Patillo Canon in D, by Pachelbel
“You Light Up My Life,” by Joe Brooks

Recessional Selections

Traditional “Wedding March” (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream), by Mendelssohn
“Ode to Joy,” by Beethoven
“Spring” or “Autumn” (from Four Seasons), by Vivaldi Sonata in G, by Tartini
“Toccata” (from Organ Symphony no. 5), by Widor First Movement (from the Brandenberg Concerto no. 1 in F), by J. S. Bach

Again, coordinating music between the wedding couple and musicians is of utmost importance and should be accomplished early in the wedding planning process. Professional musicians will certainly be able to expand on the above list and offer the couple a greater variety of selections to choose from. Input from the wedding couple also helps to personalize the service so it will be remembered as a joyous, fitting event in the life of the couple and those who gather for such a momentous occasion.

excerpt from: Just in Time! Wedding Services by J. Wayne Pratt Copyright©2008 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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