Alternatives to the Wedding March
Classical to Hollywood, there are lots of choices
By Kelli Robinson
"Wedding March," composed by Richard Wagner in 1848, has been a traditional wedding processional song for more than a century. The song made its wedding debut in 1858 at the ceremony of Victoria, The Princess Royal and the Crown Prince of Prussia. Commoners, aspiring to be like nobility, began using the song at their wedding ceremonies. Although the "Wedding March," also known as "Here Comes the Bride," is still a popular choice, many couples pick different songs for the bride's entrance. The selections are as varied as the weddings themselves.
When selecting wedding processional music, consider the following guidelines:
- Inquire if approval is necessary with your place of worship. Some secular songs may not be permitted in a religious setting.
- Be aware of the song's length. Is it long enough for the bride to complete her walk down the aisle? If too long, is there an appropriate place to end the music without it sounding awkward?
- Consider whether the kind of music you want to have matches the song selection. Will the song be played on the piano or organ? Are you having a string quartet or acoustic guitar?
- Consider instrumental versions that keep the focus on the bride. If the song lyrics are important to you, type them in the program provided to guests, or consider using the song in a different portion of the ceremony.
- Incorporate your tastes. Select songs that have meaning to both of you.
Couples wanting to keep the classical music theme without using "Wedding March" have many options:
- "Ave Maria" (Shubert)
- "Cannon in D" (Pachelbel)
- "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (Bach)
- "Ode To Joy" (Beethoven)
- "St. Anthony's Chorale" (Hayden)
- "The Four Seasons" (Vivaldi)
- "Water Music -- Suite in F major" (Handel)
Hollywood has produced many romantic scenes and love songs. Consider the following pieces used in some romantic love stories:
- "All I Ask of You" (Andrew Lloyd Webber, "The Phantom of the Opera")
- "Evergreen" (Paul Williams and Barbra Streisand, "A Star Is Born")
- "Love Theme from 'Romeo and Juliet'" (Henry Mancini, "Romeo and Juliet")
- "Someday My Prince Will Come" (Larry Morey and Frank Churchill, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs")
- "The Rose" (Amanda McBroom, "The Rose")
- "Unchained Melody" (Alex North and Hy Zaret, "Ghost")
- "Wedding Processional" (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, "The Sound of Music")
A classic ceremony can be held without classical music. The following pieces, through the music, lyrics or both, capture the essence of true love that every couple wants to experience:
- "At Last" (Etta James)
- "Can't Help Falling in Love" (Elvis Presley)
- "The Wedding Song (There Is Love)" (Paul Stookey)
- "Unforgettable" (Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole)
- "What A Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong)
About the Author
Kelli Robinson is a freelance writer and a contributor to DexKnows.
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Select ceremony music
Music is a critical element to making guests feel welcome. Traditional selections such as the prelude give guests cues to what's coming next. Consider music that has personal meaning and seasonal significance and works with your theme.
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A musical ensemble of four musicians playing string instruments. Typically includes two violins, a viola and a cello.View the Full Weddings Glossary