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Music for your Wedding Ceremony

Paul Fagan Weddings

Two blog posts ago, I wrote about choosing music to have during your wedding reception. This week, I’m discussing your options when it comes to your marriage ceremony, be it civil or church. Many brides and grooms to-be can feel overwhelmed at the prospects of deciding whether or not to have singers or instrumentalists or both, what sort of music is appropriate and how much or little you actually need. This guide will hopefully give you some insights into selecting the best musical programme to make your day amazing.

Singers and Instruments

Many people choose to have a singer lead them through the musical dimension of a wedding because it is personal. A singer speaks through song to the couple. It is a failsafe choice. Of course a singer is going to need instrumental accompaniment. This is where the options are wide-ranging. A conventional setup is to have a singer accompanied by the piano or a church organ. Your singer may sing and play or primarily sing and need another person to accompany them. Most singers and pianists/organists, with experience, work well together, whether or not they know each other beforehand. Normally a practice between the two will take place leading up to the big day. An increasing trend is to have solely instrumental music with no singing throughout your ceremony. This scenario lends itself quite well to having pianists, harpists, flautists and uileann pipers, but to name a few, perform during the ceremony. Or any combination of these work equally well. Lastly, you may also consider hiring a choir, professional or amateur depending on your desires, who in themselves bring another beautiful dimension to your day.

Civil or Church?

Leading on from the first paragraph, you may want to consider what’s appropriate to your ceremony, musically speaking. If you are having a church ceremony, whether it be Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland or any other Christian denomination, your music will be required to reflect the spiritual at least at certain times; that is to say, some of your musical choices will be solemn as opposed to funky. Different priests and ministers permit varying degrees of secular (non-religious) music so it’s perhaps best to consult with your celebrant on the music firstly. With civil and humanist weddings, your choices are much more vast because you aren’t subscribing to the expectations of a church’s rules. It is generally a good idea to give proper consideration to the nature of your ceremony before deciding what music will work best.


See my blog post on having an Irish themed church wedding: 


Choice of Music

The music which you decide upon will take careful reflection on your part. The music on your wedding day expresses who you are, your ambitions, your memories, your hopes and much more besides. You might select a range of music to cater towards your family surrounding you. Your music may range anywhere from the organ greats of Pachelbel’s Canon, Mendlessohn’s Wedding March and Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring to the Christian rock songs of Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United to modern popular music, classical music and Irish folk. You should consult your musician for ideas if you’re unsure as they will be more than delighted to assist you using their extensive experience. Watch out on websites of musicians for set-lists of what they can offer you.

Musical Parts of the Ceremony

The following is an example of how you might conduct a church ceremony and separately, a civil ceremony:

Catholic Ceremony

Entrance piece (Bride walks down the aisle)

Music for the lighting of the candles

Responsorial Psalm (May be sung)

Alleluia (Before the gospel)

Offertory Procession (Instrumental)

Parts of the mass (Doxology, Lamb of God)

Communion (Song, instrumental or both works here)

Post Communion Reflection

Signing of the Register (Any choice of music here)

Recessional (This should be an upbeat song or instrumental as bride and groom leave together)

Civil Ceremony

Entrance piece (Bride walks down the aisle)

Music between readings

Wine or Sand Ceremonies

Music after celebrant’s address (before vows take place)

Post-Vows Reflection

Signing of the Register

Recessional (This should be an upbeat song or instrumental as bride and groom leave together)

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