Wedding music advice for Catholics

I don’t do a lot of weddings, but when I do, these are the sort of things I tend to tell the couples when I’m consulting with them about the music for their weddings.


Don’t do “Here Comes the Bride.” Let’s put aside the common objection to the Bridal Chorus from “Lohengrin,” commonly known as “Here Comes the Bride,” that it’s too pagan for a Catholic wedding. (I agree, though.) I think it’s more important to note that it’s really, really, really, cliche. Do you want this aspect of your wedding to be as lame as that chick flick you saw a couple months ago?

Don’t do secular music. I don’t care if “Wind Beneath My Wings” or “Sunrise, Sunset” is your song. (If it’s “Sunrise, Sunset,” you are clearly 80 years old.) The idea is that you’re issuing consent for your marriage before God, soooooo no. These aren’t gonna work.

If the musicians suggest something you’d like won’t work, listen. We will accommodate as much as we can, but sometimes some ideas won’t work. When the musicians indicate that to you, they need to explain why.

Try something outside the regular Church music. May I suggest Handel’s “The Rejoicing,” from “Music for Royal Fireworks,” or how about “Rigaudon” by Andre Campra? If the organist you choose has something off the beaten path, give it a serious listen.

Don’t worry about the Mass parts. I mean, pick a setting, but no one’s going to sing them anyway. They should, but they won’t, especially now, because there’s no such thing as a Mass setting everyone knows thanks to the new norms.

Don’t have your friend or family member cantor. Unless they’re superprofessional and won’t cry because IT’S SO EMOTIONAL. Just pay someone.

Look for a Song of Songs setting. Matt Maher (contemporary) and Luke Mayernik (modern/traditional hybrid) both have very good versions (that require two cantors, one male and one female).

And after all those instructions, the most important advice of all: relax! After you’ve picked your music, you’re done. Don’t rethink it. The musicians are professional and can steer you from bad decisions.


2 responses to “Wedding music advice for Catholics

  1. I agree. I did ask a cousin to lead the responsorial psalm. He’s sung in choirs and handled it beautifully. We also had our professional violinist friend do a violin Communion meditation on “Jesus Christ, Bread of Life” (Dvorak tune). The cantor is also a friend (although we paid her). I might add to this list: 1) include people, where appropriate and 2) encourage people to sing.

    • You know, I’m torn about encouraging people to sing. The problem is that it’s often an exercise in futility at weddings. (Funerals, too.) The pastor at my main parish doesn’t even bother to have the hymnals passed out (during weekend Masses, they’re kept in the back and handed out as people enter). But it’s not always the case; I’ve been a groomsman in a couple of weddings where pretty much everyone sang. I think it’s more important to have music appropriate for the nuptial rite than get people singing, either way — but if you can find stuff that does both (“Hear Us Now, Our God and Father” being one I can think of off the top of my head), there’s certainly no problem.

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