The type of music used in a wedding ceremony must be a good fit for your venue. In churches, couples often have to stick close to an approved list of musical choices. A bride who has her heart set on walking down the aisle to the very popular Bridal Chorus by Wagner (also known as Here Comes the Bride) may be disappointed to find that the pastor or musical director will not allow those pieces to be used because of the negative connotations of its original setting (from the opera Lohengrin, to mock an ill-fated wedding). In fact, in 1971 the Roman Catholic Church and its Congregation for Divine Worship of the Sacraments issued a document forbidding the use of Bridal Chorus at weddings.
In secular venues or garden weddings, a couple can usually choose any type of music they’d like, though there may be some limitations if their chosen minister is affiliated with a particular church and set his or her own guidelines.
In any type of venue, wedding music can be further dictated by the amount of space and the availability of instruments. Some very old churches may only have a pipe organ, which might limit your processional choices to traditional organ pieces such as Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Alternatively, some newer churches may have only a piano, which could slightly diminish the grandeur of the bride’s entrance. In these cases, couples may choose to bring in a string quartet or add instruments to play along with piano for a fuller sound.
At outdoor weddings, instruments are often limited to ones that can be easily carried and don’t need electricity. Guitars, harps or string quartets are most often used at outdoor weddings, and can be exactly the right fit – a string quartet playing Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at a beautiful May or June wedding when flowers are in full bloom can be breathtaking.