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Choosing your wedding music: Guest Blog by Rachel Maloy

If you are following our wedding planning blogs, recently you would have read how we are struggling to find music we feel is right for our ceremony in particular. A bit of a search online and it seems this is a common issue that comes up on wedding blogs across the world. There are endless blogs and forum posts where people list what they had and give suggestions, but when you do what we do for a living, we tend to have heard it all before. So what is the best way to start looking at music? We asked exquisite and goosebump-inducing Soprano Rachel Maloy (who we highly recommend!) to give us a guide on how best to approach it…

 

​​Ceremony music: confused?

Music plays such an important part in your wedding ceremony, and is an opportunity to personalise the most formal part of your special day. But where to start? If you don’t have a musical background then this can be a bewildering process. Here are a few pointers that should help you on your way…

 

Music is a must during:

The Processional (entrance of the Bride)
The Signing of the Register
The Recessional (The Bride and Groom exiting)

Advice on musical choices may be available from your venue. Most churches will have an organ or piano and some may be able to provide a choir. Civil ceremony venues may have musicians in residence who are available to play at your ceremony for an extra charge.

Think about the role that you would like music to play. Are there particular songs or pieces of music that you want to include that have personal significance to you as a couple, or do you dream of a truly traditional wedding? This should help you on your way to making the right choices for you as a couple.

Before we begin . . .

Some churches may  impose regulations on the music that you can have, so it is worth chatting to your vicar if you are thinking of going down the less traditional route. You may find the Royal School of Church Music’s website a useful starting point. Similarly, if you are having a civil ceremony, there must be no reference to God or religion in any of your choices of music, songs or poetry. ​This includes songs in other languages, so if you have your heart set on Ave Maria, you’ll need to re-book at the church! ​If you are unsure, check with your Registrar.

Processional

 

Most brides have a picture in their minds of how they imagine walking down the aisle. If you dream of the traditional church wedding, you may have the organ playing Wagner’s Bridal March or Purcell’s Trumpet Tune. Perhaps the choir are singing Rutter’s A Gaelic Blessing or Biebl’s Ave Maria  or a string quartet are playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

Civil ceremonies offer greater freedom in your choice of music. Your wedding may have a theme that you want the music to fit around (like Iceland, perhaps . . . ) You may love musical theatre or a certain band. Or perhaps you still want the traditional processional. As long as the music does not have religious connotations you can have whatever you like.

​The Signing of the Register

 

You need something reflective for your friends and family to listen to whilst you are signing the register. This can take around ten minutes and can be very tedious if no musical ambience is provided. I have been to weddings where there has been no music and the congregation sat in embarrassed silence. Awkward! You don’t want that! The signing of the register is the part of the ceremony when I am usually asked to sing. Two songs are needed, and I discuss with the bride and groom what type of songs they would like. Some couples have ideas or have a particular song that they would like me to sing, whereas others listen to some suggestions and then opt for one traditional and the other something more personal or modern. Some popular traditional choices for a church ceremony are: Schubert’s Ave Maria​, Bach/Gounod’s Ave Maria, Franck’s Panis Angelicus and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. For church and civil ceremonies you could have songs which work in both scenarios such as All I ask of you, from Phantom of the Opera, One Hand, One Heart, from West Side Story (note from Lina- this is one of the most perfect wedding songs, and last time we heard Rachel sing it I was a mess), or Songbird by Eva Cassidy.

 

Recessional

Hurray!!! You are finally married! Let’s celebrate! Choose something jubilant to finish the ceremony as you walk out as husband and wife. In a church the organ may play Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, or Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, or the string quartet may play Vivaldi’s Spring.

 

Again, you can choose anything you like if you’re having a civil ceremony (providing there are no religious references!) I married my lovely husband, Toby, five years ago and at the end we walked out (or rather danced!) to Kenny Loggins’ Footloose!

I will never forget it!

Extras!

If you are having a church wedding you may want to include two or three hymns in your order of service. My top tips are to choose ones that people are more likely to know (think back to when you were at school) and to have a choir to carry the sound. There is nothing worse than having hymns that no-one knows with no-one singing! Remember that you don’t have to have hymns if you don’t want to.​ Some firm favourites might be Jerusalem, One More Step Along the World I Go, or Shine Jesus Shine to lift the roof off!

You may also like to think about background (or Prelude) music whilst your guests are being seated before the ceremony. Church organists will usually play for around fifteen minutes before the bride arrives, or a string quartet sounds wonderful as your guests are seated. Another option (and one that I had at my wedding) is to have a playlist of atmospheric music as people are seated.

 

Let’s get listening!

YouTube is a great tool to listen to the examples that I have provided, and who knows what else you may find? The music that you choose will make your day truly special, and one that you and your guests will remember forever.

 

Rachel is a professional singer, singing/music teacher and choir director.

www.rachelmaloy.com

rachelmaloy@gmail.com

 

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It’s Our Turn: The little things…

In the six weeks or so following our engagement, we got all the big things out of the way. Venue, photographer, dress, DJ, all sorted, and then wedding season properly kicked in so our plans were put on the sidelines. With less than six months to go now, we realise it’s time to kick our plans back in, but some of these decisions seem to be the hardest.

Our big choices were fairly straightforward, our venue choice being a little stressful, and photographer choice hard, but thanks to being wedding photographers we knew which suppliers we wanted to work with. What we are struggling with is the finer details – is it just us?

Favours

Being Italian, wedding favours or bonbonierre are considered an essential on the day, but I know my mother has a loft full of little ornaments and nik-naks with the dusty labels bearing the names of various cousins, the sugared almonds attached in their organza pouches way beyond their eat-by date. Favours in the UK have taken on their own form in the last ten years; frequently being of the edible kind – cupcakes, biscuits, chocolates or sweets – usually being devoured alongside the bread roll before we’ve even got a whiff of the starter.

Favours can also take on a more lasting memorial of the day, with small ornaments or gifts such as hankerchiefs or pillows being something nice for people to take home. Also popular is a lottery ticket or scratchcard, although we always wonder what would happen if someone won big – that could be awkward! I asked Lucie Taylor, who gave her guests the lovely scratchcard pictured below at her wedding earlier this year. Did she and Ed consider how they would feel with a big win? “We figured that if someone won big then they were at the day because we loved them and would have been happy for them.” Daw!

Tom and I have considered a monetary route on the favours, but with a donation to our favourite charity instead. I can’t help in thinking would our guests think we couldn’t decide what to do rather than a desire to recognise the charity at our wedding? Especially as our choice would be an animal charity. However, if the charity is linked to the couple in some way, for example a hospice that looked after a loved one, then it can be a lovely way to remember them.

Of course, the favour is a perfect opportunity to go a little leftfield and give your guests something that completely fits your theme, and have a little fun with it at the same time. We’ve also seen some great ‘sharing’ favours, bowls of sweets on each table for people to nibble on and interact with each other. A great idea was the lovely Mr & Mrs Bailey putting a big bottle of Baileys on each table for their guests to enjoy.

It is also completely ok not to do favours at all. After all, you spend so much on canapés, drinks and food, if your intention is not to leave them with a lasting memento of your wedding as the Italians do, then do they really need something else to nibble on? So if you don’t see the point, do away with it, no-one will miss it, trust us.

Ceremony Sounds

Music is another subject we are struggling on a little. We’ve never been the couple to have ‘our song’ so we have been trying to think of music that has the right sentiment and feel for our wedding.. We’re going for an Icelandic wintry theme, so given that we’ve been listening to a lot of Icelandic music this year anyway, it feels right to use this style of music. This doesn’t mean we are just going to play Sigur Ros though! I know what I want to walk up the aisle to but the rest, bah, we shall just have to keep on listening!

Same goes for the ceremony as a whole really, we want readings that have words which mean something to us, but there is such a huge amount of material out there, many of which we have heard at weddings frequently. We’d like to have something literary that is more unknown but there is only so much time someone can spend leafing through books for love passages! Much like the music, we currently have one chosen option, an Icelandic poem which talks about shimmering stars in a day in January – it’s so emotive and reminds us of our engagement, I burst into tears trying to read it aloud to Tom!

I think the thing that is hindering us with readings is that we have heard so many and the same ones over and over again. This is absolutely fine in the individual context of one wedding, as long as the words are right for you then go for it, but we feel we are having to look a little harder for something more unique to us. I’d particularly welcome any suggestions for alternative Shakespeare!

So that’s where we are at. A thunderstorm a week or so ago forced us to spend the evening on a laptop making wedding decisions so we got a couple of things done then. We’ve also been listening to a lot of playlists rather than our usual BBC 6 Music during the day, so we think we have now decided on the signing of the register music. The really hard one is the recessional!

I’d love to hear how you reached your choices…

Lina x

 

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