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Harpist, Margaret Sneddon / Blog

Wedding Ceremony Suggestions

Music can be a beautiful and important part of your wedding ceremony. It’s a wonderful welcome as your guests arrive and find their seats and helps establish a joyous and reverent mood.

Musically, the typical wedding is divided into several sections including the prelude, the processional, incidental music during the ceremony and recessional.

The prelude music is usually left to the discretion of the musicians. The timing is not precise and the musicians will want to be able to adjust their program according to factors such as the number of people that have arrived and any unexpected delays. If there are a few particular favorites that you would like to include in the Prelude, be sure to mention them to the musicians and they will be included if possible.

In the Christian tradition, the last thing to happen before the processional begins, is the seating of the immediate family, any grandparents, the groom’s mother, and finally the bride’s mother. Traditionally, no one is seated after the bride’s mother. However, this tradition has relaxed somewhat in recent years.

A special song is often selected for the seating of the immediate family. If this is the case, an usher should advise the musicians when the family is about to be seated. The ushers and family should wait while the musicians conclude the piece that they are playing. A pause in the music will be the signal to the ushers that they should start seating the family members when the music starts again.

When the immediate family has been seated, the musicians will once again conclude the piece they are playing. The bride’s maids should wait until they hear another pause in the music. When the musicians start playing again is when the bride’s maids should start. Everyone in the processional should wait until the previous person is almost to the altar before starting and then walk slowly.

If the music is to change, another pause will occur between the last person in the bridal party and the bride. This will usually be the maid of honor or a flower girl. The bride, usually escorted by her father, will then start down the aisle. It is very helpful for the musicians to know the number of people in the bridal party and who will be last. In the Jewish tradition, the family and both parents of the bride and groom are part of the formal processional. Therefore, the processional music usually begins with the seating of any grandparents.

It is important for the bridal couple to select the pieces that they want for the seating of the mothers if applicable, the procession of the bridal party and the procession of the bride. It is not required that the music change for the bride and if the procession is very short, or the wedding is informal, it may be preferable not to switch.

It should also be noted that “Here Comes the Bride” which is actually the Wedding March from the opera, "Lohengrin” by Wagner, is not usually considered appropriate for a Jewish wedding.