Getting married in a Catholic Church requires careful planning of the musical program to create a beautiful yet solemn ceremony. Having someone to guide you through the intricacies and expectations, all of the steps and procedures, in choosing the appropriate and beautiful songs is highly recommended to save you much time, stress and, in some case, heartache, in the throughout the planning process. This particular person must possess a thorough knowledge and have experience in wedding celebrations.
Keep in mind the arrangements and instrumentation of each song which will be played during the mass is not restricted to a single instrument. It would be better if these songs are accompanied by combination of instruments. For example, the choir can sing a song while the musicians are playing the guitar, harp, piano and organ all at the same time. Discuss with your musical director what songs you like and what instruments could possibly go well, and are available for hire, with the arrangements to make your wedding day unique and personal.
Below is the sample order of a Catholic Wedding, a suggestion of a suitable song for each section is included. It is important to remember that this is only a suggestion, consult with your music provider or priest for a greater number of music options:
Choose a subtle song as this will give your guests the first impression about your wedding. The Gift of Love by Hopson is a fine option. Another well known piece used is Cannon in D by Johan Pachelbel, this is an instrumental piece that works well in many arrangements and instrumentation.
For the bridesmaids the length of the song should be just enough for the number of bridesmaids and the length of the aisle. A popular choice is the Allegro Moderato by Handel.
At the end of this song a brief pause is sometimes included for when the bride appears at the back of the church. This has the effect of emphasizing the entrance of the bride into the church.
This is one of the most anticipated events of the ceremony. The bride walking down the aisle is a very emotional moment in any wedding. The song, “Laudate Dominum” (Mozart) is a great hymn that is not commonly used as an entrance hymn.
This is the part which is optionally sung in between the first and second readings. Readings generally come from the bible, in some ceremonies it is permitted to use other sources for a reading.
Common pieces used for the Responsorial Psalm are Here I am Lord and The Lord is My Shepherd.
During the presentation of gifts, beautiful songs of worship are played in the background to enhance the emotions of the crowd.
During communion it is common for the band to play a song to help people reflect on receiving Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. If the wedding is expected to be considerably large, or just as precaution, it is always advisable to select two songs for during this time.
Panis Angelicus is a popular song used during this time, another very popular traditional hymn is Schubert’s Ave Maria.
Signing of the Registry
As the official party sign the documents it is common for a piece, either solo vocal or instrumental to be played to accompany this.
This song is to signify the end of the ceremony and commencement of the bride and groom’s new life together as husband and wife. Songs that are vibrant, celebratory and full of life are the best choices for this song.
Well known hymns including Ode to Joy by Beethoven and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah are both good alternatives to the traditional wedding processional hymn.