For me, the Great British Summer conjures up images of Wimbledon, Henley, Royal Ascot, Strawberries and Cream, Cricket, the Village Fete and a chance to enjoy a walk outside on a long summers evening. Obviously everyone has their own take on what they believe constitutes a Great Summer. Ironically, running a Google image search for “Great British Summer” brought up a selection of pictures mostly involving rain and umbrellas! And therein lies one of the great things about being British. No matter what else might be going on, we like to talk about the weather. And when I say talk about the weather, this usually ends up as moaning about the weather. The impression we give as a nation is that our ideal day weather-wise would be warm but slightly overcast with occasional light drizzle (just because nothings ever perfect).
Anyway, returning to my Google image search, the one thing which seemed to be missing, were any images from a wedding. Now obviously people can, and do, get married at any time during the year. But as an organist who has been playing for weddings for the last 20 years or more, there is definitely a peak between May and September. A wedding service today can take a variety of forms, from Civil Ceremonies in Registry offices or other licensed venues to Church weddings, whether they be Anglican, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or any other religion. Even despite all these variances, the broad outline of the wedding service is much the same and certainly the options for music and the places where it might feature are roughly similar.
For the purpose of this post I am going to take the scenario of a Church Wedding at a typical Anglican church. The first part of choosing the music for your wedding is knowing what music can be incorporated. So below I have set out the standard musical elements in a wedding.
Before the Service
Generally the organist would play for around 15 minutes or so before the service whilst guests arrive and fill the church. Usually something reasonably lively and suitable for a wedding but leaving scope to make an impact on the arrival of the Bride. Some wedding couples like to pick a favourite piece of music to be included at this time although generally it is left to the organist to play something suitable.
Entrance of the Bride
Aside of any announcements which may occur first, the start of the service is the Bride’s arrival and walk down the aisle usually with her Father. At this point the organ should play something striking. A trumpet tune (of which there are many) is quite a popular choice.
There are normally 2 or 3 hymns which can be sung during the course of the service. These are entirely at the choice of the Bride and Groom although it’s worth checking what Hymn books are at the church. If the hymn you want isn’t in the churches own hymn book, you might need to consider printing the words in the order of service. Generally speaking this is a lot easier and minimises the amount of things to be handed out.
Signing of the Register
If you have a choir, they will often sing something during the signing of the register. Or alternatively many couples have a soloist, either singer or instrumentalist who could be a friend or relative. Always check whether they need an accompanist and also whether your organist is happy to do this for you. Most good organists will be happy to accompany any soloists during the signing of the register. Alternatively you may just want the organ to play during the signing of the register in which case there is almost any amount of suitable music. I would usually recommend something not too loud as people will be bound to talk anyway, but also not to slow and quiet either – this is a wedding after all!
Exit of the Bride & Groom
As with the entrance of the Bride, something striking and loud is usually played for the exit of the Bride and Groom. Again the choice of music is almost endless from Trumpet Tunes to Toccata’s, chorale’s or Fugues. Or, if you’re not a fan or traditional organ music then perhaps something entirely different! Unlike for the entrance of the Bride where the music will be ended at an appropriate point once the Bride has arrived at the chancel step, the music at this point in the service will usually continue while the bride & groom, priest, choir and guests leave the church.
If you are planning a wedding and need an organist or help choosing the music, then please get in touch via my contact page or call me on 07855 275353.