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Wedding & Reception Music and Entertainment

Here are some examples and suggestions for Wedding Ceremony Music. For booking entertainment for your wedding or wedding reception, we suggest You can search for local wedding bands, party bands, string quartets, ensembles, classical soloists, and virtually any other wedding music category free-- and there is no commission for booking through the site. Click here to search for live entertainment for your wedding reception, rehearsal dinner, or wedding ceremony.

European and American weddings

From the 16th century to the present, a European or American church wedding often involves the bride walking alone slowly down the church aisle to a processional tune and returning together with her new husband to a lively recessional tune. For over 100 years the most popular processional has been Wagner's Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (1850), often called "Here Comes The Bride". For the recessional the most popular tune is Mendelssohn's Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826). Another popular choice is Widor's Toccata from Symphony No. 5 (1880). As the couple leave the church, bells are rung. During the service there will be a few hymns, often chosen by the bride. The law now requires paper documentation so there is an extra piece of music while the couple retires to sign the register. This might be a reflective piece such as Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". For civil weddings there is usually no wedding music.

After the few photographs the reception follows. This is a meal followed by a dance. In previous centuries the newlyweds would be the first to dance and then they would separate to dance briefly with each of the other people present. Only the most conservative or wealthy weddings now have couple dancing. Instead a DJ is employed to play popular records, often chosen by the couple.

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Classical music for Weddings

Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" and Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream" contain wedding marches. Bach wrote a "Wedding Cantata" (1723) and Smetana wrote an opera called "The Bartered Bride". Goldmark wrote a "Rustic Wedding Symphony". Tippett wrote "The Midsummer Marriage" (1955). Stravinsky wrote "Les Noces". Edmund Spencer's poem "Epithalamion" of 1595 is an ode to marriage. It has been set to music by Roberto Gerhard.

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Jewish Wedding Ceremony Music

At Jewish weddings, the entrance of the bride is accompanied by a tune called baruch habba. After the ceremony there is a traditional dance called the hora. This is a circle dance, with the men circling the groom and the women circling the bride.

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The Hawaiian Wedding Song

Coco Palms Resort was a luxury in Hawaii. It opened in 1953 and became the focus of the last 20 minutes of Elvis Presley's film "Blue Hawaii" (1961). The climax was a wedding with Elvis singing "The Hawaiian Wedding Song". This had originally been written in Hawaiian by Charles E King in 1926. It had been given English lyrics by Hoffman and Mannin. Elvis's version is a dual-language version of both songs. He sang it to his bride at his own wedding. As a direct result of the film, about 500 Americans per year were married at the Coco Palms Resort, and most of them used the famous song as part of the ceremony. Even after the hotel closed in 1992 the song is still a popular choice, especially for Presley fans.

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Egyptian Wedding Music

In Egypt there is a specific rhythm called the zaffa. Traditionally a belly dancer will lead the bride to the Wedding Hall, accompanied by musicians playing the elzaff, on drums and trumpets, sometimes the flaming torches. This is of unknown antiquity, and may even be pre-Islamic.

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Mairi's Wedding

Hugh S Robertson wrote the words to Mairi's Wedding (The Lewis Bridal Song) in 1935, using a traditional Scots tune. It was specifically written for the wedding of Mary McNiven, who lived into her nineties. Since then it has been recorded by Kenneth McKellar, The Clancy Brothers, The Chieftains, The Kings Singers, and others. The Rankin Family took it to number one in Canada. Needless to say it is popular in weddings with a Scottish theme.

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Come Write Me Down

The traditional English "Wedding Song" is also known as "Come Write Me Down" or "The Second Answer is Better". It dates from before 1820. A young man woos a woman, who replies saying her freedom is more important than marriage. Just as he turns to leave, she changes her mind and accepts his advances.