In the UK you can now personalize almost every part of the wedding day – the flowers, dress, vows, etc. Music is no exception – for both civil and (increasingly) religious ceremonies. No longer does a bride process in to “Here Comes the Bride” and out to the Wedding March (unless that’s still “your thing”). Now, the available music for your UK wedding ceremony is endless. Yet another big decision to make about your wedding day!
Before you reach for the iPod and click “shuffle”, take some advice from an experienced wedding musician, whether you’re enjoying live music or playing from a mp3 player or CD. I have played at hundreds of weddings, and I play two instruments – violin and piano. Not yet simultaneously, though! I invite all of my clients to pick the tracks that mean the most to them, and then I set about learning them. So I have a unique perspective on the wedding music trends.
Entrance of the Bride
When choosing music for your UK wedding ceremony this should be top of your list. The music that everyone remembers – the first thing you hear on the wedding video, and the track that will make you – and everybody else – shed a tear of joy. Hopefully.
A large proportion of my brides pick similar tunes – “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri has been the favourite over the last two years. Perhaps the Twilight generation have reached the marrying age. Here is my Top Ten:
My advice: Pick something that moves reasonably quickly, even if it is a ballad. Some ceremony aisles are just a few paces long, and nervous brides tend to scamper down the aisle. You should take your time so as to enjoy more than a few seconds of entrance music!
Departure of Newly Married Couple
The second most important UK wedding music choice you will make. In civil ceremonies in the UK the registrar will have the guests applaud you out. So make sure you choose something anthemic – something with a bit of backbone, so you and your guests can hear it above the applause.
The register signing is a three-stage process: you and your witnesses sign, the official photographer takes his or her photos, and then you are ready for the guest paparazzi shots. You should schedule three songs for this period, in order of importance – as the whole process can take up to ten minutes (often swelling a short civil marriage ceremony from 15 to 25 minutes).
Here I offer my brides no strict guidelines apart from “choose the songs you most want to listen to” – you will be seated, relaxed and smiling for most of this period with a chance to enjoy the music! It’s also the music that you will be sharing with your guests, as they will be doing the same thing.
Songs You Can’t Have at a Civil Ceremony
Under UK law, music in a marriage ceremony music by “secular” in nature – even music used to introduce or conclude the ceremony. It is up to your local authority and registrar as to how they interpret this. Any music – whether sung or played on an instrument, live or recorded, must observe this guidance.
And interpretations vary. Recently I was unable to play “Angels” by Robbie Williams and “Thank God I Found You” at three different ceremonies in Wales, though I have played them with no objections in other parts of the UK. So check with your registrar first, or go here for more information: https://celebratewithmusic.co.uk/songs-you-cant-have-at-a-civil-ceremony/
Simon Jordan is a UK wedding pianist and violinist with many years of experience of playing at weddings across the UK. He is a former Radio 2 and Radio 3 producer and has played at the Royal Festival Hall and toured Europe as a violin soloist.