I’d like to ask a quick question about your wedding music: what springs to mind first? Your first dance, “your song” maybe? Or the ceremony music? Do you find it easier to plan the soundtrack to your evening, and struggle with ideas for personalising your ceremony music? I know I would. I don’t know the first thing about classical music, and if I had a wedding to plan I really wouldn’t know where to start with that part of the day. If you’re struggling with the same issues of classical music then you, my lovely friend, are about to be enlightened and entertained by a brilliant article written by Sam Houston (of Wedding Music Consulation) for the English Wedding Blog. Read, learn, smile, enjoy! Claire x
The Right Note – how classical music can enhance your wedding day
Classical music has a funny reputation – it’s either screamingly elitist or ringtone fodder (Toreador, anyone?!). When I tell people I’m an opera singer, eyes slowly glaze over and quiet prayers are sent up that they’re busy the night I have a concert. However, my job has been useful to friends and family when they’ve asked me to sing at their weddings – a gift for them and a privilege for me!
I recently decided to set up Wedding Music Consultation, a service helping couples select the perfect classical music and musicians for their ceremony – after all, I have many years of experience. I excitedly got online to do some research but it soon became clear that there is little to no information available. I should have felt like I’d found my niche – the only business out there providing a much needed facility but instead I felt a little disheartened, like I was trying to resurrect a dead art.
Well, I am here to confirm that classical music is alive and well and, after chatting to several brides-to-be at a recent wedding fair, I want to dispel the two main reasons that – according to my less than official poll – put people off:
1. “Classical music isn’t for us”
It is true that concerts are filled with older audiences but classical music is used daily in all media (remember The Flower Duet in the BA advert?), making it much more accessible to all generations. When it comes to weddings, I understand why couples tend to go for the ‘standards’ for their ceremonies – and why not? Ave Maria is popular because people love it – but I really think that, with a little help, your ceremony music can be as unique as your dress, your flowers and your favours.
As an example, I recently organised the music for a bride in Dublin. She sent me some details about herself, her fiancé and her church and we agreed that I would offer up choices for the church organist to play for her entrance, the signing of the register, Holy Communion and their exit at newlyweds. After reading about her church online, I looked into Irish classical composers around the time the church was rebuilt in 1802 (when I felt its history began) and found John Field, whose piano sonatas are both beautiful and peaceful – a wonderful accompaniment to Holy Communion and register signing. I then chose a warm French aria for her to walk in to and a section from an upbeat Handel Organ Concerto to leave to – choices which met the bride’s requirements for Pachelbel’s Canon-like harmonies and a quirky, happy exit. My bride will now have her perfect ceremony music without lifting a finger!
There was a time when classical music was just music and musicians always played at great celebrations – especially weddings, the greatest of them all. Don’t be afraid of what we call classical music, as songs from 40-50 years ago can be ‘classical’ to the modern ear. What music comes to mind when you think of your favourite film? More often than not, it’s a classical piece – why not walk down the aisle to that? My last bride requested Stevie Wonder’s ‘You are the Sunshine of My Life’ as exit music – this was the a first for me but, after a little bit of work, I found an arrangement for her string trio to play and she and her husband left beaming!
My initial advice would be to go to your venue and stand by the entrance. What do you hear? Do you hear strings or trumpets? Do you hear one voice or a choir? Live music can enhance your special ceremony no end, so be as bold as you dare.
2. “Classical musicians are too expensive”
If only! We all train very hard for many years for not much financial reward but, honestly, it’s the passion that drives the majority of performers – not the cheque. If today’s statistics are true, and the average wedding does set couples back approximately £15,000 – £20,000, then the cost of live ceremony music will only be about 1-2% of the overall cost – a bargain, no? You can also book musicians to play on after your ceremony, entertaining your guests while they enjoy their first glass of champagne!
I understand that, without family or friends in the biz, you might feel it’s difficult to know who to book, not trusting the adverts you see in magazines or online. This is where Wedding Music Consultation can step in! All recommended singers and instrumentalists are professional musicians, so you can rest assured that your choice of music will be beautifully performed.
So please remember that ceremony music can be as personal as possible to you both on your special day – just don’t sacrifice the majesty of the moment because you don’t think classical music applies to you or you think we’re too expensive… it does and we’re not!
Wedding Music Consultation