From ancient drums to communicate over long distances, to the modern streaming of spotify, music is all around us and is an integral part of our everyday lives. You may not be a professional musician but many play an instrument or two and nearly all appreciate good music of one genre or another.
When formal weddings were the sole domain of the church; hymns and other forms of sacred music were the norm and even in so-called pagan ceremonies music played a significant role both as part of the ritual and the customary celebrations that followed.
Music is powerful. It has the ability to touch us on an emotional level. It has the power to evoke feelings of joy, of sadness, of melancholy and tap into our psyche on many levels. I venture to say that there are pieces of music from your past or present that elicit some kind of emotional response from you, such is the power and nature of music.
When it comes to one of the most important days of your life, the day you legally and ceremonially join your life to another; emotions are heightened and music of meaning often plays a significant role in the proceedings. Prior to the ceremony background music can be a means of setting the tone of what is to follow. It’s thoughtful selection will mean that older guests are not subjected to inappropriate lyrics or to lyrics that are not consistent with the occasion.
Processional Music: There are many ways that a bride or partner may make their entrance in regard to order. Here are three main options and there are of course variations on each of these.
The American: in which the groom or one partner is located at the front with his / their attendants and the bridesmaids enter in reverse order and simply mirror the other side. Any page-boys or flower-girls would be next followed by the bride / partner. The music for this style of processional can be just one piece or broken up into two sections, the bridal party entering to one piece and the bride to a second selection.
The English: Generally the groom / partner and attendants are already at the front and the page-boys and flower-girls enter followed by the bride / partner and then the bridesmaids. You may recall this taking place at the recent royal weddings and it was the way brides processed down the aisle in Australia up until the 1950 when the American influence started to dominate such things. Think about the bridesmaids holding up the train as to make sure it was not soiled, you may have seen this taking place in pictures of weddings from the days where this style of processional was the standard entrance.
The Scottish: Which is a processional style of entry in the true sense of the word. The highland piper leading the way, followed by the celebrant, the couple, the bridal party and at times the immediate family. This is in many ways similar to the Indian / Pakistani custom of the groom making his way, on horse back, to his fiance’s home, or the ceremony space, with his entourage following behind. The recessional can take place with similar grandeur as once again the piper leads the couple and the bridal party out of the chapel or wherever the ceremony is taking place.
The other times that music is traditionally required is during the signing of the documents / paperwork. And finally;
The Recessional music as you exit / recess back down the aisle. This music is best loud and lively.
Live music, be it a harpist, a string quartet, a duo or an eight piece rock band always adds a special vibe visually as well as audibly. But that does not mean that a carefully selected array of recorded music cannot have impact. Often the venue will have an in-house sound system and the day-of planner will arrange the playing for you. If however you are having a garden, a beach or a remote ceremony and power is not available then I offer a second battery optioned P.A. system to allow whatever you have your music stored on, be it a phone, an ipod or ipad etc. to be played. So long as it has a 3.5mm headphone jack I can get it loud enough for ceremonial purposes.
I suggest carefully listening to the lyrics of your selection as at times what appears to be an excellent choice can upon scrutiny not be appropriate for the occasion. For that reason I suggest instrumentals are often a safer alternative.
I hope this has answered any concerns you may have had regarding music for the actual ceremony and also offers a few alternatives regarding the processional / recessional. When it comes to the processional and most other aspects of your big day, it is ultimately up to you when and how and in what order you want to make your entrances as there are no hard and fast rules you are obliged to follow. Practicality is often an excellent way to assess such things.
As always, your questions are welcome and I am happy to discuss any aspect of your big day without obligation. Regards, Ron Gallagher www.yourcelebrant.com.au