Before the service, the music needs to set the atmosphere of the wedding. Therefore you need to consider if you want it to be upbeat and cheerful or more elegant and relaxed. A good option is usually a wedding harpist or string quartet. If live music is not for you, or budgets won’t stretch that far, choose pre-recorded piped music, which gives a hearty start to the wedding. When choosing the processional wedding music for the start of the ceremony, check how long it takes for the bride to walk down the aisle to ensure that the music isn’t too short, or far too long.
The signing of the register takes at least three to four minutes and therefore you want a piece of music which will last approximately five minutes long. The signing music should be calmer and more relaxed so it contrasts with the more upbeat and celebratory recessional music. It is popular to use a classical piece of instrumental music, perhaps by a string quartet, or alternatively you could pick a modern piece with meaningful lyrics.
It is important to get your recessional music just right. It rounds of the wedding ceremony and whether the music is chosen to accompany you as you march victoriously out of church, or glide serenely along on your husband’s arm, it sets the atmosphere for the rest of the day. Your photographer will be taking photos straight after the ceremony so you want everybody to look like they are enjoying themselves, and music is a great way to give them that feel good factor after they have been sitting quietly throughout the ceremony. Again, live music is ideal, or perhaps a pre-recorded modern piece which is meaningful to you and your groom.
Due to legalities, religious material cannot be used during a Civil Partnership or Civil Wedding Ceremony, so traditional popular religious hymns are out of the question. Do ensure that your readings and any music you intend to use have been approved by your Registrar. Different Registrars will have slightly differing views - but do be cautious of any religious connotations - for example the song "Angels" by Robbie Williams will be denied at a Civil Wedding for its religious (angelic) references. If you are unsure whether or not a particular piece is permissible, or if you feel that your Registrar is unreasonably preventing you from having a particular piece, you can consult the General Register Office on 0151 4714803.
If you are having a Civil Ceremony it can be a challenge to find a meaningful piece of music that doesn't have religious content. Look to instrumental versions of film soundtracks for some great classics that all your guests will recognise:
Having performed at your ceremony, most musicians will charge very little extra to play during your drinks reception too, or may even include it in their basic package. We would always recommend using a professional musician to play at your wedding, but if you are happy to take the risk there is no reason why a student at Grade 5 upwards wouldn’t be capable of performing.