For anyone who follows Clementine and I on social media, you’ll know that for the past six months we’ve been in wedding planning mode. We got married on 5th March, and you can catch up with our wedding planning updates over on her blog. One thing we haven’t covered to-date is the wedding music, obviously an important part of the say for us!
It’ll come as no surprise that music played an important part in our wedding. “What music did you choose?” has been the question on many people’s lips. In this blog post, I wanted to share how and what we chose, and hopefully offer some tips and advice along the way.
My first observation is that it’s possibly much harder to choose wedding music when you’re musical. That sounds daft, but I think it’s true. There are, in many ways, infinite choices! We were very lucky to have an organist who was happy to oblige with our less common wedding music choices, in fact he was very excited at the prospect of not having to play the Wagner, Mendelssohn and ‘All things bright and beautiful’.
There were essentially three areas of the service where we needed to choose music:
- Organ music for processing in and out
- While the marriage document was being signed
I have to confess, I’d started to think about wedding music options even before we were engaged, and starting some Spotify playlists was a great place to begin.
Choosing organ music was perhaps the trickiest thing. We had to be mindful of not expecting too much of our organist in having to learn new pieces as well as the capabilities of the instrument in the church. He was, as I mentioned, extremely obliging but nevertheless we did want to ensure he felt comfortable with our choices.
Our shortlist of organ music included:
- Rutter: Toccata in 7
- Mathias: Fanfare
- Sumsion: Ceremonial March
- Faulkes: Grand Choeur in D
- Lang: Tuba Tune
- Smart: Postlude in C
- Jacob: Festal Flourish
- Jackson: Archbishop’s Fanfare
We decided we wanted something stately and not too lively for the procession at the start of the service so we went with the Jacob, a piece which was actually a Spotify recommendation and new to me.
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Choosing music to walk out to at the end of the service was a little harder. We discounted some pieces as suitable for skipping more than processing, and in the end, it was a toss-up between the Faulkes and the Smart. We went with the Faulkes and indeed, our organist commented on the fact both were well-suited to the instrument in the church.
As fewer people know traditional hymns these days, there has been a move towards having those which were popular in schools (mainly in the 1990s) such as ‘One more step’ and ‘All things bright and beautiful’. Given we didn’t want to go down that road, and equally, we didn’t want to go with traditional wedding hymns such as ‘Love divine’, the world, as they say, was our oyster. That doesn’t necessarily make choosing any easier.
One thing we said all along was that the church service was the most important part of the day for us, and as we said when we met with the with vicar, we wanted the service to have a strong Christian message. We therefore chose hymns which reflected this:
- Lord for the years
- Will you come and follow me (Tune: KELVINGROVE)
- Go forth and tell (Tune: WOODLANDS)
Whilst these are not necessarily well-known hymns outside of churches, they have good, strong tunes, and people commented that even though they didn’t know them, they were easy to pick up. They also had a strong Christian message which fed through the whole service. We were grateful to have the church’s choir to boost the congregational singing.
Whilst there were modern hymns and worship songs we might have chosen, we once again had to be mindful of the type of church and resources available.
Signing the marriage document
Yes, there’s no marriage certificate anymore, it’s an A4 printout which you sign, although the process is similar. It just means you don’t get a certificate on the day, rather you have to apply (and pay) for it after the wedding.
The choir offered to sing during the signing of the marriage document, for which we were very grateful. Once again, mindful of the time available, we asked the organist to give us a selection of things to choose from which were already in the choir’s repertoire. He offered us three anthems to choose from:
- Be Still (Evans, arr. Shephard)
- Brother James’ Air (arr. Jacob)
- Day by Day (How)
All three were lovely choices, and had there been more time, we might have had two or even three anthems, but in the end, we went with ‘Be still’ as this is an especially beautiful arrangement by Richard Shephard who died last year.
As you can tell, we very much went our own way with the wedding music. Overall, I think people appreciated this, the organist especially. It’s a reminder that your wedding is your own, and whilst you need to be mindful of the occasion, the venue, and the resources available, there’s no obligation to go with the traditional choices.
Do make contact early with the organist/director of the music at the church at which you’re getting married. They can offer a huge amount of advice and help, and a wealth of knowledge and experience. Even if you do decide to go with the traditional wedding choices, this does, at least, give you the opportunity to explore alternative options.
Overall, we were very happy with our music choices, and whilst there were a trillion other things we could have considered as alternatives, we felt that as a whole ‘package’, the organ music, anthem and hymns all complimented each other.
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