When the Wedding March Goes Off Course

Monday, April 25, 2011 - 12:48 PM

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?

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Comments [8]

Hope Brown

More than eleven years ago my daughter was married and every detail was perfect--except for the trumpet accompanying the Trumpet Tune processional. Clearly the trumpeter was drunk because he was off key, not in time with the organ, and LOUD. It was shocking for a moment, and then became a welcome distraction from nervousness. Everything went very well after that, including the marriage.

Feb. 16 2012 05:53 AM
John Koster

One of my wedding guests many years ago was a great-grandnephew of Sitting Bull. His name was Eagle Shield but one of my aunts, who knew him by sight, slipped up after some champagne and introduced him to other people as "Mister Evil Savage." He's still talking to us....He too had had a bit of champagne....It was a nice wedding and everybody got home alive.

Jun. 22 2011 06:30 PM
Katherine Hoover

I guess I'm too late - but for a wedding of some young friends last year, I arranged - for 2 flutes and piano, all of us pros - 2 movements of a Telemann Trio Sonata, followed by 2 movements from Faure's Dolly Suite - Le Jardin de Dolly & Le Pas Espanol; followed by Faure's Pavanne for a processional of the gorgeous young bride in a long white dress with a deep aqua waist. It was magical. The pianist is also a singer-songwriter and wrote a song for the occasion. Good time had by all!!

Apr. 28 2011 04:07 PM

Speaking of Bach, I once attended an Orthodox Jewish wedding, where the processional played was "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring." I am sure no one in the wedding party had a clue but I could have fallen through the floor.

Apr. 27 2011 05:40 PM
elsa grotefendt from brooklyn, ny 718-836-7393

Many years ago I got married (also on April 29) with conventional wedding music. Had I but known I would have chosen "Walpurgis Nacht". eg

Apr. 27 2011 08:34 AM
Lea Mendelsohn from New York City

I think a piece by Philip Glass would be perfect to play while the congregation was waiting:anxious calm followed by gradually swelling excitement
For the Recessional: David Motion,
The theme (or Royal march) from Sally Potter's film "Orlando". Of course neither one would be chosen for the Royal Wedding.
I believe the processional should be chosen by the Bride and Groom, personally, I'd prefer Bach, something brisk.

Apr. 26 2011 07:38 PM
Neil Schnall

I'm sure the warts to which you refer are the in-laws.

Apr. 26 2011 01:34 PM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

Unfortunately, with every split second of a wedding being video'd with full sound, and with the accessibility to YouTube, every wedding, warts and all, is now out there for the world to see.

Apr. 26 2011 11:39 AM

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