Out of the Box Ideas for Wedding Ceremony Music That You Already Can Play

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Wedding repertoire is usually predictable. Even with the occasional request for an unusual pop song or family favorite, most brides like to stick to the tried and true, the evergreen favorites.

So I am always delighted when a bride tells me to pick the selections myself. I usually ask her what sort of mood or atmosphere she envisions for her wedding. Does she prefer formal or romantic? Serene or joyful?  Sometimes I take cues from the location, choosing different music for a garden, a mansion or a beach.

And then I let my musical imagination run wild. What have I always wanted to play at a wedding? I have a number of pieces that are favorites of mine that I am able to suggest to wedding couples, and I find that the couples are usually very receptive to my musical ideas.

Would you have some ceremony music suggestions ready to offer, should a bride ask? It’s a good idea to prepare a response, so you can sound assured and confident, which will help your bride feel confident, too.

I have put together a short list of processional and recessional ideas to help you. They all come from books you probably already have. And they fit my special criteria for wedding processional music:

1. Processional music must not have page turns.
2. It must be comfortable to play, i. e., pretty easy. After all, you have to keep track of the procession.
3. It must be easy to repeat, so you can lengthen it as needed when the ring bearer refuses to walk up the aisle.
4. It must be easy to end in a number of places, so that you can make a graceful ending when the bride reaches the altar.
5. Finally, I like the pieces – one or two processionals and a recessional – to go together in terms of feel or time period. While I don’t try to create a musical “theme,” I do like a sense of musical unity.

So here are a few quick and easy ceremony “set lists”:

For a Renaissance atmosphere
(From Medieval to Modern, Volume 1, Milligan)

Processional 1: Farnaby, The New Sahoo (If I’m feeling lazy, I leave out the 32nd notes.)
Processional 2: Montclair, Air
Recessional: Daquin, Tambourin

For a formal, elegant mood
(From Thirty Little Classics, Dilling)

Processional 1: Gluck, Chorus from Alceste (I only play the first two pages.)
Processional 2: Wachs, Pavane
Recessional: Mozart, Such Chiming, Melodious from The Magic Flute

For a quiet garden wedding
(From Second Harp Book, Paret)

Processional 1: Mozart, Minuet from Don Giovanni
Processional 2: The Queen’s Music
Recessional: Bach, While Bagpipes Play

Other great pieces to try:

Andrès, Automates Collection
Henson-Conant, The Nightingale
Grandjany, Petite Suite Classique

And I love the Schubert Ave Maria, no matter how often I play it…

What is your favorite wedding selection to play?

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  • Devon-Melanie

    Hi Anne,
    I’m making notes of these suggestions for my learning curve- I’m still on the “baby pieces”. But these sound like nice pieces to learn someday. Just love to learn from your blog. Thanks again for sharing.


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