When the Wedding March Goes Off Course

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Much of the Western world – and pretty much all of the Western media – is focused this week on the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Since our own purview is classical music, that’s the starting point for our musings on the whole fantastically silly business. (Note to Will and Kate: Congratulations and best wishes, you two – and also, deepest sympathy. The odds of any marriage lasting aren’t what you’d call encouraging, and to have all of us breathing down your necks for every second of it can’t be making it any easier. Seriously: good luck.)

This week we’re asking you to share the playlist from your wedding (and offer suggestions of classical music that would be appropriate for use at weddings). Wonderful ideas abound, ranging from the expected Pachelbel Canon and the Mendelssohn Wedding March to an unexpected selection by Gilbert & Sullivan and a piece of Mendelssohn incidental music called War March of the Priests (which, it seems to me, would be particularly suited to an interfaith ceremony).

My favorite wedding music story is a second-hand tale; in other words, I wasn’t there, but I sure wish I had been. An organist friend of mine was playing at the wedding of his niece, and he decided to pull the leg of his sister-in-law, the mother of the bride. He improvised a Bach-style choral prelude, creating a pretty little musical filigree into which he inserted a melody at the moment the bride’s mother was being ushered to her seat before the ceremony. Not everyone noticed what the melody was, but the bride’s mother did. It was, "The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be."

Wish I’d been there to hear it for myself.

Perhaps you’ve attended a wedding where the music choices came with a twist, or didn’t quite work out as planned. Organists, especially, must have some stories. Care to share them?