Here Comes The Bride – Music for Wedding Ceremonies

The formalities and legalities of a wedding can be regarded as the “bone structure” of the ceremony. Without those legalities, without the correct words, documentation, certificates and authorities, the ceremony cannot be a legal one.

But the bare bones of such a ceremony can be – and ought to be – beautifully “dressed” with things that add to the meaningfulness and fascination of the ceremony. The very word “ceremony” reminds us that a wedding is one of the important occasions of one’s life, that it is something deserving all the pageantry and ritual that the couple may wish to include. This sense of something more than simply an official procedure can be expressed more informally, too – in which case the “ritual” is quite relaxed and with simplicity and charm.

Whether the marriage ceremony is formal or informal, whether it is traditional or modern, there is no doubt that beautifully chosen music adds to the atmosphere and character of the ceremony – and a first-class celebrant can help the couple to choose the music that best fits their occasion.

How Much Music Should We Have?

A marriage ceremony is not restricted to use only a set number of musical pieces. In fact, some weddings – usually elaborate ones – can include a quite astonishing amount of music. Some – very simple ones – might opt to include virtually no music. But my recommendation as an Authorised Marriage Celebrant is that the couple include a minimum of one piece, to be performed or played during the Signing of the Register.

Many wedding ceremonies also have music played as the bride walks down the aisle; this is called the Bride’s Processional. Equally many wedding ceremonies include music to be played as the bride and groom walk out together once the final words of the ceremony have been spoken; this is known as the Recessional.

These are not the only places in the ceremony where music may be played or performed. Before the ceremony begins, there may be music quietly played to set the mood or keep the guests entertained; hymns may be part of a religious marriage ceremony; more music may be included before the vows or after the vows; and so on. There really are no bars to having as much music as one wants, or as little music as one wants.

The most frequently used musical layout in a wedding ceremony is thus as follows:

  • Processional music
  • Signing of the Register music
  • Recessional music

What Traditional Music Is Played At Weddings?

Both the Processional and the Recessional tend to be Wedding Marches – that is, pieces which have a graceful beat and ceremonial quality that adds to the atmosphere of a traditional wedding. A wide variety of pieces fall into this category; for example, the Wedding March from Wagner’s Lohengrin, pieces from Handel’s Water Music, the Pachelbel Canon in D, the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, virtually all Trumpet Voluntaries, to name but a few.

During the Signing of the Register, music by Mozart, Handel, Bach, Beethoven, Purcell, Monteverdi and many more can be used. The duration of this music should be at least 5 minutes.

Can Non-Classical Music Be Used In Weddings?

Couples may choose to include music from other cultures – Indian music, music from China or Japan, pop music from Italy or Volksmusik from Germany, for example. So much music can add quite a fascinating quality to the ceremony, and the sense of ceremony will not be diminished if the music is chosen for its meaningfulness to the couple.

Equally, the use of music not usually associated with weddings – rock and roll, country music, medieval music, any sort of music – can be used if the couple wishes. A first-class celebrant will be happy to explore whatever genre of music will be appropriate for the bridal couple, and can offer a multitude of suggestions.

Live Music Or Recorded Music?

Of course, the easiest (and least costly) method of including music in the ceremony is with the use of CDs. The Authorised Marriage Celebrant is able to use specially compiled CDs of music for the ceremony without breaching copyright, and of course will provide the audio equipment to enable the music CD to be heard by all the guests.

It is the celebrant’s responsibility to organise the CD in the case of recorded music being used in the ceremony.

If the couple wishes to have musicians performing live and/or a singer performing live during the ceremony, it can add a very special quality to the wedding. The music choices would usually be decided upon by the couple with the help and advice of the Authorised Marriage Celebrant, and the celebrant may liaise with the performers on behalf of the couple. Alternatively, the couple may wish to speak directly with the performers.

The responsibility of hiring performers is the couple’s. A first-class marriage celebrant will frequently have some excellent contacts with wonderful musicians who can do justice to the ceremony’s musical requirements, and may be able to offer recommendations or suggestions to help the couple make their decision.

Is Music Necessary For The Wedding Rehearsal?

Because a wedding rehearsal is designed to sort out any potential problems beforehand, usually with a complete run-through, it is highly recommended for the music to be part of the ceremony. If a CD is being used, the celebrant will arrive for the rehearsal with the CD and the PA system, to make sure about volume, placement of the speaker, time length of the pieces, and so on.

If live music is to be played during the ceremony, it’s strongly recommended that the musicians and singers be present at the rehearsal. They will need to know where they are placed for the ceremony, whether they are playing or singing loudly enough, at what points exactly they will be performing, and so on. To ensure that the ceremony runs as smoothly as possible, it is definitely worth having a complete run-through. The musicians and singers may charge an additional fee for this rehearsal, or it may be included in their fee; this is the responsibility of the couple.

Why Have Music?

The poet Longfellow said of music that it “is the universal language of mankind”. Robert Browning described music as something that banishes aloneness: “He who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables, said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Tolstoy described it as “the shorthand of emotion”. Anaïs Nin wrote that “Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together”. And Beethoven – well, for him it was an incredible intoxication that gave meaning to life: “Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.”

Because of this sense of marriage between great truth and music, and our emotions and music, music plays an incontrovertible part in the lives of virtually every human being. It is especially important during ceremonies that define us; it heightens our emotions gives meaning to the moment.

A wedding ceremony is unquestionably made more momentous and lovely if music plays upon the strings of silence, enhancing the words that make each marriage real and unique. A first-class marriage celebrant will be aware not only of the music pieces that can be perfectly added to your ceremony, but also of the greatest performances of those music pieces, so that you will be left with a sense of something almost beyond feeling – where the vows of your marriage are clarified and distilled to the very essence of meaning, to be remembered for the rest of your lives together.

Sophisticated Moravians Introduced Organs, Organists, Music To Early American

The Sophisticated Musical Culture of the Moravians in Early America

The richest and most sophisticated musical culture in colonial America was that of the Moravians in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. The Moravians came from German-speaking Bohemia to first settle in the West Indies in 1732. By 1741, however, a sizable community of Moravians had settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

In a few short years, Moravian communities were being established all over the colonies-many literally carved out of the wilderness. Important to those communities was worship and music and thus organs, organ music and organists played an important role.

Within five years of the settlement of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1746, Johann Gottlob Klemm installed an organ in the Moravian Church. Klemm thus claimed the distinction of being known as America’s first professional organ builder.

Who were the organists playing instruments built by Klemm and others? We know one Brother Wilhelm Grabs of the Moravians of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was called to become an organist in a new city carved out of the wilderness, Wachovia, North Carolina.

Documented in one of the extensive diaries kept by the leader of the Bethlehem community the following story is told: In 1774, Brother Wilhelm Grabs was chosen to transport a small one-rank organ from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Wachovia, North Carolina via ox cart through dense forested terrain. Once the organ was set-up in the rudely constructed church, Brother Grabs, a twenty-year-old man with huge hands more akin to his shoemaker’s trade, was assigned to learn the art of playing this little organ.

It is on this organ that Brother Grabs was playing when a band of Cherokee Native Americans appeared at the tiny settlement. The sounds of this remarkable instrument amazed them. Astounded, they imagined the sound was made by singing children hidden inside the box of the organ.

Exactly what type of music was played by these early American Moravian organists remains a mystery. Possibly it was notated in manuscripts brought from the organists’ countries of origin. Possibly it was music that was popular in their German homelands; or possibly the organists were skilled at improvising and required little or no written organ music for the use in church services of this period.

We do know, however, that the music played in 18th-century Bethlehem on a small one-rank organ would probably sound austere and plain-faced to our ears. However, this simple music was most certainly exhilarating in a world without the tumult, commotion and noise of our existence. The sound of those first Moravian organs must have been fascinating to people who had never heard such a thing as an organ.

Through the influence of the Moravians, a lasting mark was made on the history of Early America by organists playing the great music for the organ.

Understanding How You React to Learning Music

As a guitar teacher, my main goal is always to get my students playing the music that they want to play as soon as possible. I found out early on that everyone responds to learning to play the guitar in different ways. Over my career as a guitar and music teacher, I have come to find a few different learning traits and personality types to be the most common. The following is a list of those personalities with descriptions on how I focus on certain strong points to get the best results as a teacher and to get my students playing the music that they want to play.

#1-The Emotional player: These are the types of people who can let loose of their thinking and just play the instrument with lots of emotion and expression. I often find that these types of people physically use a lot of their body to feel the rhythm of what there playing and don’t mind letting their emotions take control of them. Things to focus on: I usually find that these types of players are not that interested in reading music and would rather learn songs by having other people show them how to play or by figuring them out by ear. The best thing to do if you’re a new player is to get proficient at playing open chords, movable bar chords and power chords. You have a lot of feeling and energy that your are dying to let out so the quicker you can play the essential chords that are used in guitar, the quicker you will be having fun playing what you want to play.

#2- The Songwriter: This is the type of person that loves to write their own music and create songs from scratch. You usually have a lot to say and like to share your thoughts with other people through songs. I have worked with some people who don’t care much to learn other people’s songs and I have worked with other people who don’t even understand that they are capable of writing their own music. In either case, I firmly believe that writing music is an extremely important skill for an aspiring musician to learn. It gives you a lot of insight as to what type of player you are and what skills you need to work on. Things to focus on: You don’t have to be a musical genius to start writing your own songs. Some people are scared to even try it, others need to do it to get out all their ideas. A lot of the most famous songs in modern music are extremely simple and easy to play with only a few chords that make up the whole song. Along with knowing how to play the basic open chords and having a good understanding of melody, I always encourage songwriters to study a bit of music theory so that they understand Harmonic Structure and how songs work to sound pleasing to the human ear. Even if writers can crank out songs like lightning, they usually, at some point, get frustrated because they only have a limited knowledge of how music works and get stuck writing the same old song time and time again. Understanding theory will give you more options and ways to be expressive in songwriting.

#3- The Technical Player: These are the types of players that love music theory, playing physically difficult songs and usually enjoy reading music. The ability to read music is not a must, however it does enable a player to understand much more about the song both emotionally and how to perform it with more expression. If you like a good challenge and don’t mind spending a lot of time to perfect a certain song or technique, then you will probably find yourself in this category a lot of the time. Also, the theory side of music that is very math oriented is usually very interesting to you. Things to focus on: Technique, technique, and more technique! If you like playing technical music you are going to want to focus a lot on perfecting your technique. This includes every aspect of how you pick (whether it be with a pick or with your fingers), strum, slide, sit, stand, etc.! Having a big vocabulary of scales, arpeggios, and patterns to link them together is also a must. Playing fast is also something that you are going to want to spend some time developing. The ability to rip through passages at very high tempos is incredibly FUN and EXCITING! If you focus on the right learning methods, it’s not as hard as you might think although it always takes a lot of continued practice to get your muscles up to snuff to keep with the fast pace.

#4- High interest, Low attention span. I couldn’t think of a specific name for this description so sorry but that’s the best I could do. A lot of people with ADD can fall into this category but that’s certainly NOT a required trait. Now you might already be thinking that falling somewhere near this category puts you at a disadvantage but I will tell you from experience, nothing can be further from the truth. I have worked with a number of people who obviously had a really hard time keeping their thoughts in one place and focusing on a certain topic. While that might be the case, these people also had incredible pitch perception (sometimes even what’s known as perfect pitch) and the very valuable ability to learn music by ear. I couldn’t be more envious of these types of people because I can assure you that I am not one of them. Learning music by ear and developing pitch perception has never come easy for me and I have had to work my tail off to be able to do it well. I have seen some students who are able to master this ability with ridiculous ease.

Things to focus on: Understanding theory and reading music is usually difficult for these types of people. When I work with people that are like this, I always focus on getting their technique as good as possible because they already have the tools inside of them to be an amazing player, it’s just a matter of giving them the ability for their fingers to move the way they need to so that they can play what’s inside of them. It’s good to do a lot of ear training exercises and learning songs by listening to them. After they get to a certain point they usually form an interest in theory and understanding more about how music works because they become somewhat discouraged at what they don’t know and understand about music. I’m a firm believer in teaching what people want to learn and not pushing to hard for them to learn what they don’t. There are certain things that are crucial for every guitarist/musician to understand so I have always found a way to be able to teach those things in a manner that best fits their personalities.

Now these are just the main personality characteristics of people that I work with. There are plenty more and of course you can be some of one and some of another. The reason I think it’s important to understand where you might fit in to all of this is because it will enable you to have a lot more fun learning guitar and not get so frustrated when things become difficult. Always focus on learning the things that you want to be able to do and the rest will come with time if you are looking to become a well-rounded guitar player. If someone says that knowing how to read music is essential for a beginning guitar student and you do not take to reading easily, then I’m pretty sure your not going to be having that much fun when you start out. One very important thing that you need to ask yourself is what style of music are you looking to play. If you say Classical or Jazz, then I say that hands down, without a doubt you need to learn to read music. However most other styles of music can be played, written, and performed well without knowing how to read notes on the staff.

Set Up a Website For Your Musical or Play

Most artistic people would love to live in a world where if you create something unique and entertaining, the audience will come to you. Actually that is probably true, but it takes an awfully long time for the audience to find you. How long can you wait for the word to spread about the brilliant work you’re putting up on stage? If it takes a few week for the buzz to start getting around about your show, your run may already be over.

The truth is you want to get people in the seats right now. You probably don’t have a huge promotional budget to work with, but you don’t necessarily need one. There are a lot of tools today that let you tell the masses about your show without requiring a huge investment. With some techniques all you need to spend is your time.

What am I hinting at? You can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to build a following for your show, particularly if members of your cast and crew are active on those sites. When you include photos and videos in social media sites like these, you can get a lot of attention easily. Think about it. If I see a cool picture or video all it takes is a click of my mouse to pass it along to my friends.

Those sites don’t work very well in a vacuum, though. Once someone sees a tweet about your show and wants to learn more, where do they go? That’s why you need to have a website. It’s the home base for all of your marketing efforts. Get someone interested enough that they want to know more. Than make sure you have a website gives them either a link or a phone number to purchase tickets.

Websites are not difficult to create. Sure you could hire a design company to build an incredibly complex site with rich multimedia and advanced features. That’s great if you can afford it, but it isn’t strictly necessary. Buy a domain name for $10 and set up a site at It may not be the most intricate site in the world, but it makes it that much easier to fill the house.