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A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music
Choosing Classical Music for Your Wedding and Life Together

Spring is here and summer is quickly approaching--if you are a bride-to-be, the advent of warmer months hastens plans and decisions for your special day.  One of the most daunting tasks can be the process of choosing music for your wedding. There are so many choices out there and the questions are endless. Do you want traditional wedding music or something off the beaten path? Will your mother cry if you don't march down the aisle to Wagner, or are you willing to try something new? Naxos can give you some pointers to navigate the world of classical music for your wedding, including all of the standards, some pieces with which you are familiar, and some beautiful treasures that you may never have heard before that will make your wedding a unique musical experience for everyone in attendance. The process can exciting indeed as you choose your unique soundtrack for your wedding day.  Who knows? It may spark a desire to learn more about classical music for enjoyment in your married life together.

Listen to Music
To start the process, listen to music and think about what you have heard recently. What have you heard at other weddings that you have enjoyed? What about concerts, church services, or even on the radio or at the movies? You can find some beautiful musical choices from all of these sources just by listening. In fact, much of the music commonly used in weddings originally was written for something else entirely. For instance, Wagner's traditional "Here Comes the Bride" march originally was written for the tragic opera Lohengrin. Likewise, Mendelssohn's traditional recessional was written as incidental music for Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night 's Dream.

Do Your Research
If you have the luxury of a good public library with music or a local university music library, those are great places to research music for your wedding.  Ask the librarian to assist you with finding classical music that might be appropriate for a wedding or a good beginner's guide to classical music.  Another great place to listen is at home with collections like A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music from Naxos, designed to help you along your way as you choose music for the five places within the service where music is played:  the prelude, processional, interlude, recessional, and postlude.  The prelude is 15 to 45 minutes of music before the wedding, played as your guests arrive.  The processional is the time when your bridesmaids, flower girl, and, of course, you come down the aisle.  The interlude is usually one or two pieces (depending upon the order of service) that are played during the ceremony, sometimes as the bridal party ascends to the altar or while the couple lights a Unity Candle.  The recessional is the joyous piece that is played as you and your groom recess back up the aisle followed by your attendants.  Postlude music can be played while your guests are exiting the gathering place or greeting the couple in the receiving line.

Getting It All Together
When you find some pieces of music that you like, whether from the library, the Internet, a concert, or another wedding, write down as much information about the piece as possible and take it to your local music store or to your musicians. The most critical things to note are the composer, the title of the piece, and the Opus, BWV, or K numbers. The numbers are especially important to note, as they serve a very important purpose.  If you tell your organist that you are interested in the Bach organ prelude you've been humming all day, he or she will be lost among the hundreds of preludes Bach wrote unless you have the number associated with the piece.  Titles can vary widely, but the more information you give your musicians, the better your chance for easily finding the piece that you want.  If all else fails, hum the tune; you are likely to find someone who knows what it is before long.

Music for Life
Most classical music sections in your local music retailer will be alphabetized by composer with additional sections for operas and particular genres of music. Ask a staff member for suggestions of music for beginners. A good place to start is the Naxos A-Z of Classical Music, a 2-CD set with a 500-page music reference booklet.  Where you go from there only takes some curiosity and an ear for good music. With this information in hand, we hope you will be better prepared to find the perfect music for your special day even if you've never worked with classical music before. We hope that your journey into the world of classical music will give you a new appreciation for an art form that can be an ideal accompaniment for all of your life, even beyond your wedding day. Consider classical music to accompany your studies, to provide atmosphere for an elegant dinner party, to calm a child, or to enjoy for its own sake. You will discover that there is a vast repertoire of music to discover from hundreds of years of history that can be enjoyed long after the vows have been said and the cake has been cut on your wedding day.
Sample Wedding Music Programme

These are some of the standard wedding day pieces that evoke the timeless elegance of weddings from across the generations. You can hardly go wrong with these favourites:

Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, BWV 147
 Handel: Pastoral Symphony
Bach: Sheep May Safely Graze,
BWV 208

Wagner: Lohengrin, Bridal Chorus

Schubert: Ave Maria

Mendelssohn: Wedding March

Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate, Alleluia

For more sample programmes and advice on choosing the music for your special day:

A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music (US version)
A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music
U.S. Version, 3 CDs, 8.503134

Bride's Guide to Wedding Music
A Bride's Guide to Wedding Music
UK Version, 2 CDs, 8.557246-47


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