Planning your wedding now turns to the more intricate details of the wedding ceremony...music, readings, unity ceremonies. A wedding ceremony is a symbolic event which portrays the beginning of a lifelong love and commitment. Therefore, you as a couple want your aspects of your ceremony to have meaning to you and reflect your personality, style and love for each other.
Music helps set the tone for the entire event, whether it is religious, traditional or contemporary. Many couples already have a favorite style or level of formality in mind for their wedding, but often struggle to find exactly the right music. To make the planning for your music go more smoothly, approach it by breaking it down by the parts of the ceremony. You can choose one or two songs for each section.
The prelude is the first thing people hear as they enter the ceremony site and take their seats so it sets the tone.
Here are some popular prelude options:
- Air (from Water Music) - Handel
- Air on a G String - J.S. Bach
- Reminiscent Joy - The O'Neill Brothers
- I Can Only Imagine - Mercyme
- Largo - Handel
- The Wedding Song - Kenny G
- Wachet Auf - J.S. Bach
One of the most important scene-setting decisions you can make is the song or songs you choose for the processional. Some people choose just one processional piece that's played while the bridesmaids and the bride enter the venue, with the music paused momentarily or growing louder just before the bride enters. Others choose to select multiple processional pieces; for the mothers being seated, for the bridesmaids and for the bride. Either way the processional announces the beginning of your ceremony. (I personally prefer multiple pieces for each part of the processional. But as with other parts of your wedding the choice is totally the couples preference.) The joyful, accompanying music played during the processional reflects the pride and joy by parents, family and friends on the couple's special day. Remember to walk slowly and smile. It is your special day and all eyes will be on you!
Music during the ceremony can express how you feel about each other as perfectly as your vows. Some couples choose traditional pieces and others prefer contemporary music.
Here are some selections to consider for the ceremony:
Finalize your wedding ceremony with the perfect recessional music that expresses your happiness. You will be bursting with joy for your grand exit...all the nerves will be a thing of the past. Recessional music is the culmination of the entire ceremony and is often fast-paced and upbeat. The music you choose for the recessional speaks to your relationship going forward together.
Options to consider for the recessional:
- Finale (from Water Music) - Handel
- Ode to Joy - Beethoven
- Spring (from The Four Seasons) - Vivaldi
- Trumpet Tune - Purcell
- The Wedding March (from A Midsummer Night's Dream) - Mendelssohn
- Trumpet Voluntary - Clarke
- Hornpipe (from Water Music) - Handel
- Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- When I’m 64 - Beatle
- All You Need is Love – Beatles
- How Sweet It Is – James Taylor or Marvin Gaye
- Love & Marriage – Frank Sinatra
- This Will Be An Everlasting Love – Natalie Cole
These have only been suggestions of music and the sections of your ceremony in which to use for your wedding. Whatever songs you decide for your ceremony, if the music is meaningful to you is the most important thing.
Go to the following website and listen to other samples of music:
Readings at your ceremony can add meaning to the day. They are by no means necessary or a legal part of the ceremony. Readings can enhance your ceremony and allow things to be said in a very special way. They are also a great way to involve family and friends in your ceremony. If your are having a church ceremony, your clergy may also include the reading. Readings are a wonderful way to emphasize the importance of your special day by articulating the values that speak to your decision to marry.
If you are having a church wedding ceremony, you may want to choose a suitable religious reading. But you may also have the option of including a secular (non-religious) reading too. The choice of Bible texts is up to you but clergy are always happy to provide guidance.
Here is a selection of popular New Testament wedding readings:
- Matthew 5: 1-10 The Beatitudes
- Matthew 6: 19-21 Where your treasure is, there will your heart also be
- Matthew 22: 36-40 The Greatest Commandment
- John 15: 9-17 Love one another as I have loved you
- Romans 12: 9-12 Let love be genuine
- 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13 Love
- Ephesians 3: 14-19 May you be grounded and rooted in love
- Ephesians 5: 21-33 Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives
- Colossians 3: 12-17 Put on love, which binds everything together in harmony
- 1 John 4: 7-8, 12 Beloved, let us love one another
If you have decided for a non-religious or civil wedding ceremony, you can choose readings that are suitable for your special day.
Some options for where to find readings for a civil ceremony:
- Romantic Novels - authors like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tolkien, Toni Morrison or Hemingway
- Poems - Tennyson, Byron, Rossetti, Brian Patten's Love Poems
- Songs - "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion, "At Last" by Etta James or "Wonderwall" by Oasis
Before your final decision, here is a checklist to make sure you get the right reading for your wedding ceremony:
- Does the reading meet the approval from the minister/officiant?
- Is the text really about marriage?
- Will it fit with the rest of the order of service?
- Is it a self-contained piece that needs no further explanation?
- Is it free of any material that might offend your guests?
- Is it the right length?
Ideally, all your readings should sincerely reflect to everyone how much you love your husband or wife-to-be.
The Unity Candle: This is one of the most common ceremonies. The bride and groom take a lit candle and simultaneously light a third "unity candle". They may blow out their individual lights, or leave them lit. A variation of this, is to have the mothers/parents each light a candle representing the joining of two families.
Rose Ceremony: This is a simple unity ceremony where the bride and groom exchange roses. Other variations: the families exchange roses, the bride and groom exchange roses with their mothers/parents/families, the bride and groom exchange roses, then present their mothers with the roses, the bride and groom each present a rose to each mother.
Wine Ceremony: The bride and groom each take a carafe of wine and pour it into a single glass, which they both drink from.
Water Ceremony: The couple each pour a different color water into a single glass container, creating a third color.
Sand Ceremony: It is similar to the water ceremony. The bride and groom both pour different colored sand into a glass container.
Breaking Bread Ceremony: In this ceremony, the bride and groom tear off pieces of bread and then each eat a piece. Sometimes the bread is also shared with family and friends. It symbolizes their future together as a family.
Garland or Lei Ceremony: In this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers. This is a common part of Indian weddings called varmala or jaimala. It represents a proposal by the bride and acceptance by the groom. It also represents their new unity which is blessed by nature. In Hawaiian weddings, the bride and groom typically exchange leis. The families may also exchange leis with the couple. Leis represent the love and respect you have for the person you are giving it to and the unity of the new family.
Broom Jumping: An African-American tradition that has its roots in slavery times when slaves couldn't marry. Typically the family places the broom on the ground. The bride and groom hold hands and jump over it together. The broom can later be put in a place of honor in their home.
I hope this blog has helped to answer some of your questions and concerns about your wedding ceremony. Have you chosen the wedding music for your ceremony? Are you planning on using a reading during your ceremony? Are you and your fiance incorporating a unity ceremony in your wedding? Please share your ideas and plans for your very special day.