Music & your ceremony

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

The kind of ceremony you have will help determine the wedding music you choose

Music at religious wedding ceremonies

A religious ceremony can include hymns and secular music, although it’s best to check with the minister officiating first. Generally you’ll need:

  • Joyful but unobtrusive music as guests arrive.
  • Something stately as the bride comes in, which is long enough to last the length of her procession up the aisle.
  • An instrumental or a sung piece (possibly by a solo artist or group as a change from the organ) during the signing of the register.
  • Something triumphant and uplifting for the bride and groom leaving the church.

You could also have:

  • A hymn after the entrance of the bride.
  • A hymn after the marriage ceremony.
  • A hymn after the prayers and final blessing.
  • A sung psalm after the marriage.

Music in civil wedding ceremonies

Register office ceremonies are generally shorter than religious ceremonies, leaving fewer opportunities for music. You might want some recorded music playing while people arrive/leave or the register is signed, but check your choice of music with the registrar well in advance.

Remember that a register office ceremony can’t contain religious music or readings, or any music that might detract from the solemnity of the occasion.

Music at licensed civil venues

If you’re getting married at a state‐licensed premises, you’ll have more choice and opportunities for music. You might want to have music at similar points to those in a church service, but you can also have it in other parts of the ceremony too ‐ subject, as always, to the approval of the registrar.

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A few words about copyright…

Copyright exists in creative works such as hymns for 70 years after the death of the writer. During that time, it is illegal to reproduce the works in any form without the permission of the copyright holder (or their appointed agent). If you want to reproduce the text of a hymn under copyright in your order of service, you’ll need the permission of the copyright holder for which a charge of between £10 and £25 is usually made.

You don’t need the copyright holder’s permission if you just want to sing the hymns ‐ you only need it if you want to print the hymn words (for example on an order of service).

[Order of Service cards ordered and printed by don't need permission ‐‐ we will arrange that for you.]

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