Weddings are a beautiful event that have a deep significance in all cultures. Part of the reason for this significance grows out of the many different ways that a wedding functions; as an emotional and spiritual joining of the couple in the eyes of their community, as a legal joining in the eyes of the law, and, of course, as a time to throw a great party with all your closest friends and family.
Wedding music also fulfills multiple functions that are closely associated with the different sections of the wedding. Having a general knowledge of these functions and sections will help you make an informed decision when you choose your wedding music.
The wedding music begins with 15-20 minutes of music before your services begins. This provides your guests with some pleasant music to listen to while they talk and look through the program. Through experience, I've learned that it is crucial that I find the right balance of volume during the prelude. This balance is quiet enough that your guests can chat and loud enough that they can recognize the musical and visual cues that the service is beginning. Too little volume, and guests will unwittingly talk through the entire processional and until they notice the bridesmaids in the front of the chapel.
Typically, the service begins when the officiant and/or groom walks to the front of the chapel, which is soon followed by the processional. The time between the first bridesmaid coming down the aisle and the last bridesmaid standing in her place can range anywhere from 45 seconds to a few minutes. This makes it almost impossible to find music that is perfectly timed. Fortunately, the illusion of perfectly timed music is easy to create with the right choices. To create this illusion, your musical must be able to be repeated indefinitely and ended at almost any time, all while providing a musically satisfying experience. Part of the reason that Pachabel's Canon is so popular in weddings is that it fits both these requirements; it is a fairly long piece of music, but every 20 seconds provides me with the ability to stop the music in a satisfying place, allowing me to time the "ending" of the piece precisely with the last bridesmaid's walk.
A friend once shared with me about a poor music choice at a wedding he had been at. The couple had asked some friends to sing a song as the bridesmaid walked down the aisle. The friends started singing the song, but the bridesmaid was already at the alter before they were through the first verse. The wedding party had to stand awkwardly through 2 minutes of verses and choruses before the song was over. This couple could have avoided this moment and created the illusion of a perfectly fit piece of music if they had known the wedding music basics that you now know.
The truth of the matter is that it typically takes the bride only a matter of seconds to walk down the aisle. This means that the song must be able to be cut short with a musically satisfying closure. It is also usefully if the music can be repeated indefinitely, just in case the bride (or her father) decide to walk extra slow. These are the same requirements that the processional holds, and in fact, the songs used in these two sections are almost completely interchangeable. The Wedding March fills both of these requirements and has a strong, declamatory opening that lets the audience know that the bride is coming, which explains its frequent use in weddings.
As the new couple walks out of the hall, I like to play a piece that is a little bit faster than the music used previously. This serves a dual function; first, it creates an upbeat and celebratory mood; second, it gets the audience, who have been sitting for 30-60 minutes, moving and chatting again as fast as possible. This will help your guests transition into the cocktail hour and get back into a socializing mood.
While these are the most common components of a wedding ceremony, I often get requests for small sections of music within the service, during candle-lightings or moments of meditation. Choosing the proper music for these segments is only a matter of selecting a song that takes into consideration the emotional and spiritual function of the section and these general musical principles.
Now that you have read about the different sections and functions of wedding music, you can listen to these examples and hear the effects they create. If you'd like to talk with me about music for your wedding, please tell me about your wedding or call me at 215.260.5383
© 2012 Kale Good | Design by Kale Good