Personalizing Your Civil Wedding Ceremony with Music

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I’ve written about the elements that make up a typical civil wedding ceremony and how you can mix and match these to create a unique experience. However, it is what goes in between the scripted lines that really bespeaks your wishes:

“The inclusion of music in your ceremony can add a dimension of emotion that words alone cannot. Your choice of music will depend on whether you want to give a touch of grandeur to your wedding, or whether you simply wish to reflect the joy of the occasion with music that is special to you.”

It is usually you, the couple, who provide the music and ask one of your guests to cue it in. On rare occasions people ask me if I take care of the music at weddings. I don't and this is why: the celebrant is not the stage-manager of the dramatic effects of a wedding, but the facilitator of the legal process of marriage. To that end I take control of the running order of your ceremony, introducing the parts and the readers and so on. It is better if you appoint someone else to take charge of actually turning on the music, fading it out, and stopping it - someone who can work in with me and do this at appropriate times. While in many respects the ceremony is like a piece of theatre, it is not - it is a precise ritual embedded in a serous aspect of law.

While you can use recorded music there are some moving options if your prefer something live:

“Some couples choose a string quartet or trio to create a serene atmosphere while guests wait for the ceremony to begin, after which the bride processes to a more ceremonial piece. Sometimes a harpist or vocalist with a guitar can create the required atmosphere. If you have a singer amongst your friends or family it is beautiful to have a song for guests to listen to while you are signing the Register.”

Without some music there is nothing to mark the beginning and end of your ceremony – it seems a little strange for a bride to emerge out of silence : an audience needs something to mark the moment when they need to stop mingling and pay attention. A specially chosen piece of music or song indicates that something is about to begin, then may be changed to something else for the entrance of the bride. Then it is nice to have something to fill the space when the signing of the documents is done. And at the end when it is all over and you are announced for the first time as husband and wife it is beautiful to have something triumphant and happy to uplift your guests as they crowd around to congratulate you.

There is an endless and changing number of contemporary songs ideal for weddings, and in my material I list some of the popular classical choices – just to get you started on what you may want.

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