On Air Now
Smooth Classics with Margherita Taylor 10pm - 1am
Walking down the aisle, signing the register, the first dance – let Classic FM help you plan the classical music for every stage of your wedding or civil ceremony with our handy step by step guide.
You've spent months planning, so take a little time to yourself and relax before the big day. How about Bach's sublime 'Air' from his Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major? Or, for something a little more romantic, try the smooth Chanson 'In Love' by Rudolf Friml.
The big day's finally arrived, and the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 is sure to ward off any pre-wedding nerves. If that doesn't work, the excitable mood of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez will definitely set the tone.
What better music to accompany a picturesque drive than some light-hearted pastoral music? Whether you're driving to a rural church or a stately country house, the Folk Song Suite by Vaughan Williams or Beethoven's lush 'Pastoral' Symphony, No. 6 will make for a relaxing journey.
The guests will arrive about 40 minutes before the bride, so if you're in a church, how about some organ music? Bach's Wachet Auf is a great organ favourite.
Majestic and beautiful, 'Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring' by Bach is a popular piece to accompany the bride walking down the aisle. Another traditional favourite is 'Here comes the bride': Wagner's 'Bridal Chorus' from Lohengrin. And you can't go wrong with Handel's 'Arrival of the Queen of Sheba' from Solomon.
Starting with just a solo cello, and ending in a blaze of violin virtuosity, Pachelbel's Canon in D builds in intensity in time for the bride to arrive. But if that's not your cup of tea, perhaps a spot of gorgeous film music? Craig Armstrong's Balcony Scene from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet is another wedding favourite.
If the slower romantic pieces don't take your fancy, what about using Clarke's Prince of Denmark's March, heard at Lady Diana's wedding to Prince Charles? It's sometimes known as Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary, but Purcell didn't actually write the music. Or there's the 'Alla Hornpipe' from Handel's Water Music Suites, arranged for organ.
Not everyone in the congregation will be familiar with less well-known hymns, so picking a lively song with a simple tune will ensure as many people sing as possible. Jerusalem by Parry is a good choice, and the simple chorus of Praise my soul the King of Heaven will encourage everyone to take part.
A musical interlude doesn't have to be a hymn. A piece of solo instrumental music is a great way to break up the different parts of the ceremony. Elgar's wonderful love song Salut d'amour is fittingly romantic, but a piece like Massenet's 'Meditation' from Thaïs, or the relaxing strains of Gabriel's Oboe by Morricone will give the guests a moment to reflect.
Fauré's choral classic Cantique de Jean Racine is contemplative and soothing, but many couples opt for a piece of solo singing while they sign the register. How about Vivaldi's beautiful 'Domine Deus' from his Gloria, or Howard Goodall's The Lord is my Shepherd for something more modern.
Sometimes the signing can take longer than one piece, and there are so many great pieces to choose from, it seems a shame to settle with one. Let the guests indulge in Rutter's peaceful anthem The Lord Bless You and Keep You, or Franck's Panis Angelicus. You could try Jackson's sublime choral piece, O Sacrum Convivium for a six minute window of contemplative beauty.
Many couples opt for a special poem or reading that's significant to both of them, but many of these have been set to music. If you're a fan of the Bard, Quilter's Shakespeare settings have lovely pastoral tunes, and many of his folk songs are suitably sentimental. Little Tree, Judith Weir's setting of three e. e. cummings poems, includes a beautiful love song called 'I carry your heart with me'.
If you're still looking for inspiration, why not take some from the biggest wedding of the decade? Ubi caritas by Mealor is a wonderful anthem, and Walton's Crown Imperial, or I Was Glad by Parry are suitably rousing.
The vows have been said, the register has been signed, and now it's time for one last uplifting chorus before the reception. What about How great Thou art for a suitably loud response from the congregation?
Hooray! The bride and groom have kissed, the ceremony is over and it's time for the reception. Send your guests out in style with the high-spirited 'Toccata' in D major by Widor from his Organ Symphony No. 5. Another traditional favourite is Mendelssohn's 'Bridal March' from Midsummer Night's Dream - it's so well-known because it's such a great piece!
The musical fun doesn't stop after the ceremony. While your guests eat, a bit of light music to accompany their meal will keep the atmosphere flowing. Mozart's Divertimentos for string quartet work well here - their simple tunes don't drown out the conversation. You could even try something a bit more jazzy: a string quartet playing well known tunes like Gershwin's 'Summertime' from his opera Porgy and Bess will be a hit as the evening progresses...
Some couples opt for a slow piece of romantic music, so why not take inspiration from film music? The Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually is beautiful. If you fancy something more upbeat, how about a waltz? Strauss' graceful 'Blue Danube' is sure to get you in a dancing mood.
The reception has come to an end, and the bride and groom are heading off on their honeymoon. The hard work's paid off, and it's time to celebrate. Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, or Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks might capture your mood!
After the exertion of planning a wedding, take some time to yourselves as a couple. Smooth, romantic and relaxing, 'Girl with the Flaxen Hair' from Debussy's Préludes will help you unwind. Or sooth your soul with the wondrous strains of Delibes' 'Flower Duet' from Lakmé.