I am a Sort-of Modern Girl. Although the idea of getting married isn't all bad and I'd like to get married one day, I'm not hanging out for it and I don't think I'd mind staying single. Really! It's true! Please believe me, despite what I'm about to tell you!
I have a THING for collecting walking-up-the-aisle music.
It started when a friend of mine got engaged and asked me if I knew good wedding music. I went home, spent a whole afternoon and evening listening to music, and made her a mix CD. Of course, it turned out she didn't want classical music (a standpoint I simply can't understand), least of all the sort of music I recommended, which were definitely not the traditional wedding songs. She ended up unable to find a modern walking-up-the-aisle song, and fell back on Pachelbel's "Canon in D". Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with "Canon in D", or "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" or "Trumpet Voluntary" or any of the other standard wedding songs; in fact, I think they're beautiful and appropriate, but I've just heard them so many times at weddings, and I want to be a little more creative in my choice.
Then another friend got engaged, and soon after I was hooked on collecting wedding music. I now have a playlist on my iPod of possible wedding music. Some of it more possible, some of it less so. I justify it by saying it's for friends. But I know if I get engaged, ever, the choice of music for walking up the aisle will be just about the most important decision to do with the ceremony, in my eyes. And woe betide the fiance who gets in my way!!
So here is my list of ideas for slightly original wedding music.
Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, by Saint-Saens. [the first few minutes] You're going to have to have a BIG personality, or at the very least a big cathedral to pull this one off. Okay, so it's a bit OTT for a wedding - and I don't blame my friends for turning down this option - but something in me WISHES I could walk up the aisle to music like this. Maybe if I marry Prince William like I intended when I was nine.
Nimrod, by Elgar. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music with a perfect crescendo, I think, building up to what could easily be the entrance of the bride. It has slightly bittersweet overtones, but not too much so - easily could be interpreted joyously.
Ode to St. Cecilia's Day, by Handel. This is a lovely, lovely, happy piece that my recorder ensemble used to play. Definitely in keeping with the wedding vibe, but not especially well-known.
Madrigal, from Romeo and Juliet, by Prokofiev. Dreamy, pretty, romantic... Creating exactly the right sort of feeling, I think. A charming little flute part at the beginning that would be perfect for the flowergirls walking in, then building up with the bridesmaids and the bride.
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, by Rachmaninoff. I can't claim this to be my own idea, as my sister used it for walking up the aisle at her own wedding, but I remember thinking it was a lovely, classy choice. The only thing that's necessary, I think, is a reasonable-sized wedding party, or the gaps between bridesmaids and bride may be too long, as it builds so beautifully towards the bride's entrance, and you can't really cut it off early.
Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, by Grieg. Obviously not my idea, given the title, and it so happens that another sister walked up the aisle to this (as did I, as I was her bridesmaid). We only played the last section of it, about two and a half minutes, which was sectioned perfectly for our bridal party - one flowergirl, three bridesmaids, and then the dramatic entry of the bride. I would recommend this one more highly than any of the others, because it is an AWESOME piece of music, unusual enough not to bore people, but totally suited to a wedding. Some people dislike it because it's not quite as dignified (or dull?) as some wedding music, but I love it!
Bist du bei mir, by Stolzel. This is a gorgeous song for voice and keyboard accompaniment, and is not unusual at weddings. My suggestion to make it your own is to have piano or organ accompaniment, with an alto recorder on the tune. I know, I know, you've never heard a recorder played pleasantly. Honestly, an alto recorder is perfect for this song, and if you will pay my flights and accomodation, I'll come and show you!! Otherwise, find a good recorder player, and they will show you.
Finlandia, by Sibelius. Okay, so not the whole thing - that would be incredibly inappropriate. However, if you have a pipe organ in the church you're using, I once heard a pipe organ version of this song which I thought would totally fit the occasion. Start from about 3:30 in, and go up to the point at which the famous hymn tune begins. A grand wedding march!
Rustle of Spring, by Sinding. This is a beautiful piano piece, evocative of spring and happiness! Another piece with a fantastic build-up towards the entrance of the bride.
Cello Suite #1 in G, by Bach. This would be an amazing and VERY classy entry. My only concern is that it's slightly sombre, but although it wouldn't work for everyone, I think some people it would suit precisely.
Fantasia on Greensleeves, by Leonard Bernstein. The beginning section of this is atmospheric, romantic, and would create a really special feeling as the bride walked the aisle, I think. Almost like she was walking on air.
So I don't really approve of walking up the aisle to modern music... but because you're my friend, and if you absolutely INSIST on it, here's some ideas for some modern instrumental music - mostly from films, funnily enough - that wouldn't be completely horrible.
Message to my Girl, played by Carl Doy. [instrumental version of the Split Enz song]
Forrest Gump theme.
Pepinot, from the film "Les Choristes". Gorgeous song.
PM's Love Theme, from "Love Actually". A little OTT but if you're into that...
Maggie and Finn, from "Waking Ned Devine". Celtic feel - lovely.
Bridge over Troubled Water. I have an instrumental version of this played on piano by Karel Roessingh which wouldn't be bad.
And one vocal song which actually would be kind of lovely: Fix You, Coldplay
My Secret Weapon
Finally, The Song that I want to walk up the aisle to. It is a close call with "Wedding Day at Troldhaugen", but at least Troldhaugen is specifically a wedding song and if someone else uses it, I can still use it. This song, however, is not a traditional wedding song, and I do not tell my friends about it, in case they steal it. I feel about it similarly to how you'd feel if your best friend or sibling used the name you've been holding on to since you were ten for their child.
However, my siblings are all married now, and my face-to-face friends don't read this blog, and so I am going to break my silence. Drum roll, please.
Romance, from The Gadfly, by Shostakovich. Not all interpretations of this work for weddings, but I have a recording of it which is probably on iTunes everywhere - the artists on this version are Tamsin Little and Piers Lane. It is the most beautiful piece of violin music I have ever heard, with piano accompaniment. It is the perfect timing for a walk up the aisle - about three minutes. It crescendoes perfectly. I can't say enough good things about it.
So there you have it. My secret is yours. Use it well.