Top 5 Wedding Marches

Few would deny that music plays an important part in every wedding ceremony, whether it is church or civil. From the potentially nervous, nail-biting first few minutes spent waiting for the entrance of the bridal party, through to the joyous fanfare announcing the couple as newlyweds; no matter whether traditional or modern, beautifully chosen music adds to the atmosphere and character of every wedding ceremony.

It can also act as a cue for the beginning and end of each stage of the ceremony, from the bridal procession to the recessional fanfare. Over time, several wedding marches that fit with different stages of a ceremony have grown vastly in popularity, so much so that they are now seen as the traditional choices for brides. We’ve looked into the Top 5 Wedding Marches below!

1. Bridal Chorus – Wagner

Here comes the bride… ♫ From ‘Lohengrin’, Wagner’s Bridal Chorus is the perfect choice for the steady bridal procession up the aisle. After a very brief fanfare introduction, the principal theme is relatively short (20-30 seconds), which fits well with most civil ceremony venues. There is also an middle section to the piece which can be played if you will be marrying in a large venue and preceded by a lot of flowergirls and pageboys, allowing the tune to last as long as 110 seconds, which should cover most eventualities!

2. The Wedding March – Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn’s Wedding March is another great triumphal march suitable for the recession back down the aisle of the bride and groom, as it begins with a joyful fanfare acting as the signal for everyone to stand up and congratulate the happy couple. The Wedding March is similarly structured to the Bridal Chorus, composed in sections, and therefore also flexible in length. However, the exact duration of this piece is not critical, as it is in Rondo form so can go round and round again until all of your guests have left the venue.

3. Canon in D Major – Pachelbel

Another popular choice for the procession of the bride, Pachelbel’s Canon in D presents a short theme followed by a number of variations, offering many alternative finishing points and thus of flexible duration. For the same reason, it is often played as interlude music while the marriage register is signed. Composed by Pachelbel around 1700, this piece actually remained forgotten for two centuries and was only rediscovered and published fairly recently in 1919, and has since enjoyed a meteoric rise to popularity.

4. Ode to Joy – Beethoven

A piece popular for either the procession or recession, the triumphant Finale to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the best known themes of the Western Classical repertoire and has even been adopted for use as the European Anthem.

5. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

OK, Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is not a march at all, but a gorgeous arrangement of a German Chorale! Well spotted – nonetheless, this is another extremely popular choice occasionally used for either the procession or the recession, but more commonly played during the signing of the marriage register. In this case, it is often performed quite slowly and reverentially at wedding ceremonies – which is probably the direct opposite to the way Bach intended it to be played!

If we’ve missed out your favourite, let us know below!

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