APO's Rowan Newton looks into the history of music at weddings and what makes those specific works so perfect for the big day.
Weddings are a great celebration of coming together, of both a couple and their communities. Music and celebration go hand-in-hand – despite how much weddings can vary across cultures and religions.
As with many aspects of the wedding day, personal choice and cultural traditions will have a big role to play in determining the music played, but in Western-style weddings, classical music remains the most popular choice for the walk down the aisle.
Like many such wedding traditions, the popularity of certain pieces of music would begin with the royal family of the era, who would set the trend for the current must-have wedding song of the period. Wagner’s Lohengrin, Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March (also called Trumpet Voluntary), Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pachelbel’s Canon in D are examples of this.
Each of those works were used in royal wedding processions and have subsequently been catapulted into common repertoire, where they remain some of the most popular pieces of the orchestral world to this day.
The flexible nature of the rondo and canon forms, as well as the undeniably grand air that accompanies these pieces help to solidify them as excellent processional choices, but accompanying the pageantry of an elaborate royal wedding is what helped them capture the public’s imagination.
Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
Whichever music is chosen, one thing is certain – years, and even decades later – hearing just a few bars of that special piece will instantly transport you back to your wedding day, the memories you created with your partner long ago, and the many more to be made in the future.
Rowan Newton is the APO Business Partnerships & Events Executive and can usually be found working with sponsors and organising corporate hosting events. She also plays the clarinet in her spare time and is passionate about music and the arts.