A Wedding Music Guide for Brides


Many brides tell us that they don't know where to begin when planning the ceremony that is the centerpiece to their most important day. This free Guide will get you in the know! Print this page & use it - it will help you make better decisions regarding your wedding with less anxiety!
Baroque composers wrote a great deal of ceremonial music, either as royal court musicians, or as church musicians. The nobility required their court composers to write new music for weddings, coronations, funerals, and other special occasions. Both Protestant and Catholic worship services of this era were filled with new music written by some of the greatest composers the world has ever known! The wonderful tunes used in this guide are available from the Miller-Rowe Consort.  Their popular CD, Mostly Baroque - Music for Weddings, presents these classic pieces in beautiful & unique arrangements for hammered dulcimer & classical guitar!  Click here for audio samples!

 


The Prelude: Before the ceremony begins, the musicians play approximately thirty minutes of Prelude music. These selections, ranging from joyful to serene, are performed during the seating of the guests and set the mood for the ceremony to follow. Though optional, some brides choose a special piece for the seating of the mothers to end the Prelude.

Prelude Selections:

Air on the G String - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
This “Air” comes from Bach’s Orchestral Suite #3 in D major. Its popular title “Air on the G String” is from an arrangement for violin and piano by the great German violinist August Wilhelmj who played most of the melody notes on the “G” string of the violin.

Air (from Water Music) - George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Handel wrote three suites collectively known as Water Music, which were first performed for King George I of England and his guests as they floated down the Thames River on the royal barge.

Trumpet Tune - Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
The trumpet tunes and voluntaries were written not for the brass instrument, the trumpet, but for the "trumpet” set of pipes on the organ. These brassy reed pipes were used for joyful, rhythmic tunes. Purcell, considered to be one of the greatest of all English composers, was himself an organist at Westminster Abbey in London.

Rondeau - Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
Mouret was a leading composer for the French court and directed the Paris Opera orchestra. Originally part of his “Suites de Symphonies, Premiere Suite, Fanfares,” this piece is best known today as the theme for the TV series “Masterpiece Theatre” on PBS.



The Processional:
The Processional accompanies the entrance of the bridal party. Two different pieces are usually chosen, one for the attendants and one for the bride. Both tunes are typically stately and majestic.

Processional Selections:

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Bach is the supreme composer of the Baroque period, as well as being a consummate organist and church musician. This lyrical melody, written originally for his church Cantata No. 147, is a favorite at weddings.

Canon in D - Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
As organist and composer, Pachelbel was one of the leading progressive German composers of his time.  Pachelbel’s most famous work consists of a lovely repeating bass line which serves as the foundation for variations above written for strings. (The Miller-Rowe Consort often add their own distinctive variations, improvised on the spot in live performances).

The Prince of Denmark’s March (Trumpet Voluntary) - Jeremiah Clarke (1674-1707)
A voluntary is an instrumental piece usually for organ, written for use during the entrance or exit of the congregation, or as an offertory during a church service. Originally titled “The Prince of Denmark’s March,” this harpsichord piece was popularized in an arrangement for trumpet, organ, and percussion by Sir Henry Wood, who renamed it “Trumpet Voluntary”  and ascribed it to Purcell. This tune was used for the processional in the 1981 royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Like Purcell, Clarke was an English organist and composer.

Bridal Chorus - Richard Wagner - (1813-1897)
Wagner included this piece for choir and orchestra in his opera, Lohengrin. In today’s weddings, it is used only as an instrumental processional for the bride.



The Recessional:
Following the the benediction and introduction of the newly married couple, the Recessional signals the
exit of the bride and groom followed by the wedding party. Here the music mirrors the festive mood which concludes the ceremony.

Recessional Selections:

Hornpipe (from Water Music) - George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
(See description above under Air). This exuberant piece is frequently used as a recessional.

Wedding March - Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
This wedding march, used primarily as a recessional, comes from Mendelssohn’s symphonic piece,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” based on Shakespeare’s play.

Ode to Joy - Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Beethoven’s famous theme from his Choral Symphony, the Ninth, is used in many modern hymnals with the hymn text Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee penned by Henry van Dyke (1852-1933).

Psalm 19 - Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739)
The text of Psalm 19, “The Heavens Declare,” is a song of praise to the Lord, extolling the glories of God’s creation. With its festive rhythms and energetic tune, this piece fits well as a recessional. Marcello was an important Venetian composer.
 


A Sample Wedding Ceremony

Musical Prelude
  (Selections normally made by musicians, including tunes
    such as...)
  "Air" (from Water Music) ...................................... Handel
  "Trumpet Tune" ...................................................... Purcell
  "Rondeau" ............................................................ Mouret

  Seating of the Honorary Bridesmaids
    “Air on the G String”............................................... Bach

  Seating of the Grandmothers and Mothers
    “Canon in D”.................................................... Pachelbel

Processional
  “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”.................................... Bach

Bridal Processional
  “The Prince of Denmark’s March”.......................... Clarke

Celebration of Marriage
  Welcome
  Affirmations of Marriage
  Scripture Reading  (Genesis 2:18, 21-24)
  Giving of the Bride
  Charge to Bride and Groom
  Charge to Groom
  Charge to Bride
  Scripture Reading  (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
  Exchange of Wedding Vows
  Prayer of Blessing
  Exchange of Rings
  Lighting of the Unity Candle
  Pronouncement of Marriage
  Benediction
  Presentation of the Couple
Recessional
  “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”.............. Dyke/Beethoven
For elegant music for your wedding, reception, or rehearsal party, contact the Miller - Rowe Consort:
Email us!  Our wedding CD, Mostly Baroque - Music for Weddings, is also available!
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