Typically, a number of pieces of civil wedding ceremony music are played during the course of the marriage service. This article takes a closer look at the various factors a couple should consider and provides ideas and suggestions for the civil wedding ceremony music.
How Many Pieces of Civil Wedding Ceremony Music Are Needed?
Essentially, a couple will often select four sets of civil wedding ceremony music for their marriage service. This is not to say that only four tracks will be heard, merely that music to reflect four different parts of the wedding will be played. The four sets of music are as follows:
Prelude Music - played prior to commencement of proceedings
Processional Music - as the Bride, or Civil Partners, enter
Music for the Signing of the Register - to be played as the couple complete the legalities
Recessional Music - played as the couple exit
In addition to the above, and at the approval of the Registrar, a couple may also opt for one or more songs to be played instead of, or straight after/before, the wedding readings. For those interested, our wedding ceremony songs article provides some useful ideas and advice.
When considering the civil wedding ceremony music, the main thing you need to know is that the music you choose must be non-religious, suitable for the occasion and approved by your Registrar.
Assuming you avoid a thrash metal version of Amazing Grace, then your Registrar’s will, by and large, be happy to go along with your suggestions. With this in mind, you can be left with a very big headache – exactly what civil wedding ceremony music do you choose?
Some of you will favour instrmental versions of modern love songs, whilst others will prefer more traditional and classical pieces of music such as Beethoven's Ode to Joy and Bach's Air on the G String. If you plan to select one or more pieces of civil wedding ceremony music, our prelude, processional, register and recessional wedding music articles will provide you with an array of suggestions and musical clips.
As soon as you've made your choices, you must seek the approval of the Superintendent Registrar before they can be used at the wedding, and some Registrar's are stricter than others. For example, those of you who have a preference for the Bridal March by Wagner may find a Registrar reluctant to accept it be played. The Bridal March is from the opera Lohengrin, and in the opera it is played to celebrate a wedding that is never consummated and ends just moments after the ceremony when the Bride betrays her new husband, reneging on her word and her vows. OK, it's unlikely that such a famous piece of civil wedding ceremony music will be rejected by your Registrar, but it does happen. With this in mind, it's worth double-checking with them asap.
Live or Pre-Recorded?
When it comes down to how the civil wedding ceremony music will be played, couples are faced with a straight choice – use the in-house music system or draft in a professional musician(s) to perform the tracks live. For many, the choice of ‘live’ or pre-recorded music is simply a matter of preference, but there are three other crucial factors to think about.
The first thing to consider is the obvious issue of cost. Professionals can set you back anything from a few hundred pounds to well into four figures, so it is worth shopping around. Harpists and string quartets are perhaps the most popular choices for ‘live’ performers for civil wedding ceremony music, but other musicians such as pianists, classical or contemporary solo singers, guitar soloists and bands are also popular choices. If couples are to use professionals, it makes sense to ask them to go onto perform at the wedding reception (assuming that it directly follows the service) which can help to cut costs a little.
The second consideration is the civil wedding ceremony music itself. Most skilled musicians will be able to turn their hand to any piece of music so you shouldn't have too many worries, but some will be limited by their own repertoire. Taking this into account, if you are looking to go professional and you have your heart set on a particular piece of music, it is wise to ensure that the musicians you plan to hire can actually play it first.
Finally, a far less obvious point that many couples overlook - the quality of the in-house sound system. Don’t assume that just because you are told there is one available it will be a high-tech pre-wired system. In some cases it can be as simple as a clapped out old portable CD player with dodgy speakers slumped in the corner of the room. With this in mind, it is essential you do your homework before making any decisions on how your civil wedding ceremony music will be played.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.