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Classical Wedding Music

There are many classical music selections that are traditionally used in wedding services. Here we provide recordings of some of the most popular choices to help you familiarize yourself with the music. Keep in mind that most of these selections have been arranged for a variety of different instruments; the recording here may be performed by a string quartet but an organist may be able to play the same piece. When hiring musicians, check to see whether they have arrangements of the music you're especially set on.

There are two main types of music that go into a wedding ceremony: music to accompany marching for the processional, bride's entrance, and recessional; and more reflective music as a prelude and for appropriate places within the ceremony, such as during the signing of the register or while the mothers walk down the aisle.

Processionals or Recessionals

The Bridal Chorus from Wagner's opera Lohengrin is the well-known "Here Comes the Bride" tune. It's a bit over-used, and some churches find this one inappropriate due to the questionable circumstances of the wedding in the opera!

Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary, also known as "The Prince of Denmark's March," is probably the second most popular processional. This was played at the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

The Rigadoun by Andre Campra makes a majestic processional or recessional, and is a nice change of pace from the more obvious choices.

Jean Joseph Mouret's Rondeau from his Suite de Symphonies is sometimes used in weddings. It's best known as the theme to "Masterpiece Theatre." Charpentier's Prelude (from his "Te Deum") is another popular selection from the French Baroque.

The Toccata from Widor's Symphony No. 5 for Organ is a spectacular showpiece for organ that makes a great recessional. Marcello's Psalm XIX is another glorious recessional that's a little less demanding for the organist.

Many selections from Handel's Water Music are suitable for weddings. The Alla Hornpipe works well as recessional music.

Mendelssohn's Wedding March from the music for A Midsummer Night's Dream is a popular recessional but sometimes meets with the same objections as Wagner's Bridal Chorus.

Prelude or Ceremony Music

The Air in F from Handel's Water Music and Pachelbel's Canon in D are popular as preludes and can even work as processional music if you want something a little quieter.

Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring and Air on the G string are two popular pieces for preludes.

Some selections can serve as vocal solos or as meditative instrumental music. Examples include Bach's Bist Du Bei Mir from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach and Sheep May Safely Graze; and Handel's Largo from Xerxes or Wherever You Walk from Semele.

Massenet's Meditation from Thaïs and Saint-Säens's The Swan from Carnival of the Animals are two reflective instrumental selections suitable for the wedding ceremony.

Wedding Planning and Wedding Music Links

Wedding Bells and Sounds - A Guide to Ceremony Music


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Updated 12/08/2010.