Wedding music makes the wedding ceremony. Do you think that’s so?
Imagine any grand wedding you’ve been to, or perhaps a royal wedding you’ve watched on television. How would it have worked without the music?
That’s all very well, you may be thinking, but our resources don’t run to grand wedding music … Well, you may find that it’s not as expensive as you fear, and if you can plan, discuss and work closely with the Organist or Music Director of your church you will usually find him eager to help you. After all, he doesn’t want to spend his Saturday afternoons being bored when he could be making good music!
So you’ve named the date, you’ve spoken to the Minister, and now it’s time to talk to the Organist. What should you say? The bottom line is: what wedding music do you want and how much is it going to cost?
Discuss it with close family and get some idea before you see the Organist. Do you want a choir or soloist? How about hymns? You don’t have to have them if you don’t want to.
You’ll find that the Organist will try hard to put you at your ease, and he (or she) will understand if you’re a little nervous and will help you make a good choice of wedding music.
No idea what to have? You may like to have a look at the List of Wedding Music we’ve made up for you here at Music-for-Church-Choirs.com
If you have requests, don’t be shy of asking, and you’ll find the Organist will be happy to make suggestions. It might be an idea to include something which will appeal to older family members. Ask the organist if you can hear the suggestions on a wedding music CD, or ask him/her to play them for you. If you don’t like a piece, say so!
Do you want the traditional Wedding Marches? Many people love them, but you don’t have to have them. After all, it’s your Day, and it’s your wedding music. Be firm about what you want, but do take the Organist’s advice over technical matters. If he tells you that Widor’s famous Toccata won’t work on the Church harmonium, you’ll have to believe him! But he will surely have some ideas of what will give you the effect you’re looking for.
Timing is important …
You will have about 15 minutes to fill beforehand and 7 minutes at the signing of the register. On top of this there will be entrance and exit pieces and hymns. You need to keep the service flowing so there aren’t any boring bits, – you don’t want the action held up too long by the wedding music.
Do you want to have hymns? Everyone has their favourites and it might be a nice touch to choose one or two which were sung at your parents’ weddings. Don’t choose one with many, many verses and please choose hymns which everyone knows! It’s always an anti-climax if the congregation don’t sing. Three hymns is usually a good number.
Include the words of the hymns in the Order of Service and beware of those which have double meanings! The bride shouldn’t process to O Purest of Creatures and don’t leave the church to Fight the Good Fight… Check the words mighty carefully.
A Choral Wedding
Do you want a choir? They don’t come cheap, but if you just have a soloist it’ll cost a lot less, and can be very effective. Professional singers are usually paid “by the head” so eight will cost twice as much as four. But they’ll also make twice as much noise! If you buy four good singers they will sound fine, provided the church isn’t huge. The Organist will give you an exact quotation and you’ll have time to reflect before you decide. If you have particular requests for the choir that’s fine, otherwise be guided by the Organist but again make sure you hear a CD of the pieces before you agree to them.
When you print the Order of Service include all the wedding music (ask the organist to check the proofs to see that it’s all spelt correctly) and also the names of the organist and soloist. This isn’t just a courtesy – it looks really good on the programme. Also include the words of the hymns. Many people haven’t been to church for ages, but they’ll really enjoy a good sing once they remember the words. Check the proofs of these carefully – you don’t want your friends to be singing “All people that on earth do smell”!
If you want a pop song most organists will oblige – but do remember that they aren’t usually pop stars. Some people like to have a wedding singer soundtrack and it might be possible to play a track from a CD over the PA system, but you’ll need both the Minister and the Organist to approve. Also, there’s a great difference between the sound of a church organ and a pop CD … you might be disappointed with what you hear. Take the Organist’s advice on this – he knows his church best.
You might have a friend or family member who’d like to sing or play for you. That’s a lovely way to personalise your wedding music, but make sure they have the chance to practice with the Organist beforehand.
The Question of Fees
There’ll be a basic Organist’s fee which will vary – there isn’t a standard rate. If you ask for a difficult piece which needs to be learned specially he may charge more. If you are having a video made for wide distribution you may again be asked for a supplementary, and if you want someone else to play, you will still be expected to pay the usual fee to the resident Organist.
Why? Well, it’s his bread and butter you’d be taking. Imagine turning up to your office to find the boss has brought his daughter in to work for the day, so you don’t get paid? With regard to singers’ fees take the advice of the Organist. There’ll be an accepted rate for your area. If you try to shave money off here you may end up with grumpy singers instead of inspired ones!
Please arrange for payment on the day – before the service. With all the excitement there’s little chance that the fees for the wedding music will be remembered afterwards!
These days when the traditions of who pays for what at weddings have broken down somewhat, you may find that one of your relatives or guests would be delighted to sponsor the wedding music instead of buying yet another unwanted silver fish slice. Or perhaps your workmates might like to club together to make the day truly memorable.
When you’re dealing with an Organist or Choirmaster, you’ll know that you’re working with a professional. Once you’ve made your choice of Wedding Music, you can leave him to it and concentrate on all the other exciting and challenging aspects of planning your Wedding.
Now, over to the Met Office to plan the weather for the day…
These articles may also be of interest to you:
Choir Practice – Taking a Choir Practice
Funeral Music (Family) – Funeral Music – a Guide for the Family
Choosing Wedding Music (Choir Directors) – Choosing Wedding Music – the Choir Director’s view
Minister vs. Organist – Minister vs. Organist
Funeral Music (Organist) – Funeral Music – a Guide for the Organist