Wedding Music
The Tost String Quartet (image © ejm)

chamber music . classical music suggestions . music combinations . outdoor weddings . article written for "Wedding Belle"

wedding bells image ©ejm1999)

I wrote the following article for Wedding Belle, "make your wedding special and unique":

This is Your Big Moment
walk (don't run) down the aisle

I can't tell you how many brides I have seen racing up the aisle to arrive breathlessly in front of the minister just as the 5th bar of Pachelbel's famous Canon is being played - not even getting into the canon part. There is a scramble to find some sort of cadence so the ceremony can continue. (And then there are the rare times that the Canon is played through twice as the high-heeled brides who are getting married outdoors start their "aisle" walks way up on a grassy hill the day after a big rain....)

Many brides unwittingly shorten even more the time allotted for the musicians to play the bridal entrance music. Often, one piece of music is specified for their attendants and another for the exclusive entrance of the bride. Here is a typical example of what can happen in such a circumstance: The music begins for the attendants who are hovering in the entranceway. The crinolined flowergirl, out of her mind with joy to be the focus of attention, waltzes prettily up the aisle tossing flower petals and smiling radiantly to the wedding guests. The attendants follow at a judicious pace, giving all a chance to admire their beauty and to murmur approvingly at the impeccable taste of the bride, who has chosen exactly the right colour for them to wear. The last attendant takes her place just as the chosen "attendant" music comes to an end. The "bridal entrance" music begins and the wedding guests crane their necks to the back of the hall, only to see a cloud of petals and brief glimpse of flying veil. They all snap their heads back and forth searching in wonder through the floating petals. But she has already dashed by. There she is in front, standing beside her future husband waiting to speak their vows. How did she do that???

I want so deperately to say to these anxious brides that the wedding ceremony is already short enough. Take your time as you walk up the aisle. Breathe! Smile to your guests as well as to your future husband who awaits you. Give everyone a chance to see how happy you are. Enjoy and savour this moment as your great adventure into married life begins.

-E Morris, November 2001

classical music suggestions . music combinations . outdoor weddings . article written for "Wedding Belle"

Outdoor Weddings wedding bells image ©ejm1999)

a word of caution

Yes, it is very romantic to get married outside under the trees. However, most professional musicians are reluctant to play in the sunshine. If your wedding is to take place outdoors, you really must make sure that there is a large canopy for the musicians to sit under. A large tree does not count as "shade" unless no sun can penetrate its crown. This is not because the musicians have delicate skin, but because there is no sunblock that has been created to protect valuable varnished instruments. (One would never put that antique table out in the hot sun, so one should never expect string players to put their antique instruments out in the sun.)

Nor are string players willing to play outdoors when it is raining, even if it is just a few drops. Make sure beforehand that there is a contingency plan in case of rain. Again, it is a very good idea to provide a large canopy for the musicians to sit under to prevent any bad feelings.

classical music suggestions . music combinations . outdoor weddings . article written for "Wedding Belle"

Classical Music for Weddings wedding bells image ©ejm1999)

Pre-Ceremony . Processionals . Signing of Register . Recessional . Reception


Brandenburg 3 (1stmvt), JSBach
Canon in D, Pachelbel
Psalm23, Irvine
Trumpet Voluntary, Clarke, sometimes attributed to Purcell
Wedding March, Wagner - some churches do not allow this to be played

Pre-Ceremony . Processionals . Signing of Register . Recessional . Reception

Pre-ceremony / signing of register / communion

Air from 3rd Orchestral Suite, JSBach
Alleluia (Exultate Jubilate), Mozart
Amazing Grace, Traditional
Ave Maria, JSBach/Gounod
Ave Maria, Schubert
Ave Verum Corpus, Mozart
Double Violin Concerto, JSBach
Doxology (Old 100th), Purcell
Flower Duet from 'Lakmé', Delibes
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, JSBach
Meditation from 'Thais', Massenet
O mio babbino caro, Puccini
Panis Angelicus, Franck
Salut d'Amour, Elgar
Sheep May Graze, JSBach
Spring Vivaldi
Traumerei, Schumann
Wachet Auf, JSBach
WaterMusic, Air, Handel
Winter, Rain, Vivaldi

Pre-Ceremony . Processionals . Signing of Register . Recessional . Reception

Triumphal Recessionals

Arrival Queen of Sheba, Handel
Brandenburg 3 (1stmvt), JSBach
La Rejouissance, Handel
Ode to Joy, Beethoven
WaterMusic, Allegro in D, Handel
WaterMusic, Hornpipe, Handel
Wedding March, Mendelssohn

Some brides opt to have bagpipes or church bells change ring them down the aisle. This makes for a thrilling festive announcement of the end of the marriage ceremony.

Pre-Ceremony . Processionals . Signing of Register . Recessional . Reception

Greeting of Guests / Cocktail Hour / Dinnerhour

Classical music makes ideal background music for after the ceremony. Viennese waltzes, Musical Theatre or Operetta songs, and ragtime music also sound quite well in string arrangements and can add a lighter touch to this part of the wedding celebration. If you prefer Rock and Roll, it's probably wise to leave that kind of music to a band.

complete list of arrangements

classical music suggestions . music combinations . outdoor weddings . article written for "Wedding Belle"

Common Combinations wedding bells image ©ejm1999)

String quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)
Flute quartet (flute, violin, viola, cello)
String trio (violin, viola, cello OR 2 violins, cello)
Flute and harp
singer and strings (or organ)
Brass quintet (2 trumpets, trombone, French horn, tuba)
trumpet and organ

E Morris is a Toronto area freelance musician who often plays for weddings and wedding receptions.

wedding bells image ©ejm1999)

© ejm 2001, 2003, 2015
Toronto Ontario Canada

The Tost String Quartet (image © ejm)

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