Wedding Music Help

I was told to re-post my request for assistance here in hopes that benedictgal would see it, but anyone’s help is appreciated of course!



I’m a complete novice when it comes to knowing what music is allowed at Catholic weddings, so please don’t flame me. The songs I like, my pianist friend is having a hard time playing, and he suggested some alternatives. I told him I’d figure out if they’re allowed or not. These would be for the prelude, while the guests are being seated.

He suggested:
Brahms - Intermezzo in A major Opus 118
Debussey - Clair de Lune
Chopin (I think his works aren’t allowed, but I’m not sure)

I’m also not sure if the piece of music matters or if it’s the composer i.e. if a composer composed some sacred music, all his work is deemed ok. I’m also not sure how much it matters if it’s just for the prelude. I really want my friend to play Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, but he’s looking for a simple arrangement, so I’m going to have to find that for him. Suggestions on where to find a simple arrangement for that would also be appreciated.


Try this website. I think you will have more success with getting answers.

There are two very good intermediate versions of Jesu Joy… in sheet music form. Try Also, if you have a music store or piano store in town, they will be able to find it for you.

At the risk of sounding mean, I would consider a different pianist and even an organist. Talk to your church music director or the local Piano Music Guild. Also, ask around for piano teachers in the area, they usually know very good ones.

The only song I know for sure that is not “permitted” is “Here comes the bride”. Most music is allowed as along as it is reverent. Mendelsshohn’s wedding march is beautiful and can be used - it is the one from the movie the Sound of Music.

When you go in to talk to the priest, he should have a wedding co-ordinator who helps him with scheduling. They usually have a book with that particular parish’s rules and regulations for weddings.

God Bless you and your fiance.

I love Jesu, joy of man’s desiring… by ???
This was my processional so I am a little biased…:stuck_out_tongue:

Helo, mountainman!

Jesu, Jesu Joy of Man’s desiring is certainly a good selection. I have even heard the Prince of Denmark down here a lot.

Have you considered using a hymn as the entrance processional? More often than not, the weddings down at the Cathedral will occur during the Anticipated Sunday Mass and the bridal party will process with an entrance hymn (since this is the parish’s anticipated Mass). Depending on the season you choose to marry (Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter), certain stipulations apply.

For obvious reasons, you could not have Christmas hymns during Advent and the music during Lent would have to be subdued. You could use “Love Divine All Love Excelling” as the processional, as it does not have “Alleluias” in it (which would automatically knock it off the list during Lent). You might even use the Litany of the Saints as the prelude. This is appropriate because you are asking the saints for their intercession as you begin your new life together.

Down here, the Ave Maria (Schubert version) and the Panis Angelicus are staples. However, if you wanted a Marian hymn, you could certainly use the Salve Regina. During Easter, you could also use the Regina Caeli.

Here’s some more background info that might clear some things up.

We’re getting married in a chapel in the mountains. There’s no parish, although a priest from our parish is performing the mass/ceremony. Here’s a pic, just for fun:

We’re getting married May 16th, so we’ll be in the Easter season, but not Lent. What stipulations apply? I’m wondering what stipulations apply. Is it up to my priest, since it’s not really constrained by the regulations of a parish?

For the processional, we’re hoping to use the Trumpet Voluntary.

For the lighting of the unity candle, Schubert’s Ave Maria.

Recessional, Handel’s Alla Hornpipe.

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by Bach was going to be one of several preludes while our guests are being seated.

My friend said he could also play these as preludes, and I’m wondering if they’re allowed:
Brahms - Intermezzo in A major Opus 118
Debussey - Clair de Lune
Chopin (I think his works aren’t allowed, but I’m not sure)

Does that help? Is there any more info I can provide? What questions do I need to ask my priest when I meet with him Friday?


WOW! What a beautiful chapel and surrounding reflection of God’s Glory.!

Congrats in advance.

The Unity Candle is not a part of the Rite of Marriage and should not be used. It appears no where in the liturgical rubrics. If you are going to use it, leave it for the reception as this is not a part of the Sacrament.

Here is my suggestion:

Process in with either Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring or the instrumental version of At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing (since it is Easter).

If you are going to have a cantor, the parts of the Mass should be sung. These include the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation (in this case, the Alleluia), the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen and the Agnus Dei.

The brides down here use the Schubert version of the Ave Maria for the offertory. The custom down here is to have the mothers of the bride and groom bring up the gifts. If the priest is going to use incense, a solemn instrumental piece (short) would be appropriate. What my parochial vicar does is chant a Latin hymn if the instruments are not playing.

For Holy Communion, the popular song here is Panis Angelicus or Ave Verum. But, you could have a hymn like Alleluia, Sing to Jesus or Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence sung.

If you are going to have a presentation of the flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, this is to be done after the post-Communion prayer, but, before the final blessing. You can certainly have either the Salve Regina or the Regina Caeli (the traditional Easter hymn to the Blessed Mother) sung.

For the recessional, you can certainly have Sing with All the Saints in Glory sung or played (it’s the Ode to Joy melody), since this is most appropriate for Easter.

Nonetheless, I would caution very strongly against the Unity Candle. Along with it not being a part of the Rite, it does not have any basis in any of the Traditions of the Church. We banned it at the Cathedral. As far as I can tell, it has also been banned at other parishes in the diocese.

What time on May 16th will you be marrying? If it is in the evening, you may want to consider using the Sunday readings. I believe that this might be the sixth Sunday of Easter. The readings are most appropriate for your wedding, since the Epistle and the Gospel treat the subject of love.

Regarding the stipulations, the priest is bound by what is set forth in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the requirements of the Marriage Rite and all other authoritative documents that the Holy See has issued about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In other words, he cannot do anything that is contrary to what the Church prescribes.

There is the issue of location. Is this chapel in your diocese? If it is not, he may have to get “permission”, if you will, from the bishop in whose jurisdiction the chapel is. The chapel looks beautiful from the picture. I am curious, though, is it Catholic? The reason why I am asking this is that if it is not, then another rule applies here:

  1. The Place for the Celebration of Holy Mass
    [108.] “The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise. In this case the celebration must be in a decent place”.197 The diocesan Bishop shall be the judge for his diocese concerning this necessity, on a case-by-case basis.

This is not to say that the chapel is not a sacred space; however, if it is not Catholic (non-denominational), you may want to get the necessary permission from the bishop.

Thanks benedictgal! I had no idea that the unity candle wasn’t part of the ceremony. I saw it too many times to realize that on my own. I’ll pass that along to my fiancee:)

Hi Mountainman! Congratulations and many blessings on your upcoming wedding.

Hope I can be of some help. In regards to the prelude music in question: Instrumental music should be “absolute music” or religious/sacred in nature. Absolute music means no secular or sacred connotation. Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary”, for example, would be considered absolute music.

The Brahms “Intermezzo in A” would technically be considered absolute music, so you could technically use it.

Debussy’s “Clair de lune”, however, would not because it is considered “program music”. There is already a connotation to the piece because of the title, which means literally, “light of the moon” or “twilight”. Thus, the piece was to connote the feelings, pictures, etc. of twilight. So, I would say that the Debussy would not be appropriate.

For Chopin’s piano works as with any instrumental work, it all depends on the title of the piece - whether or not they are program music or absolute music. So, I wouldn’t suggest nocturnes, ballades, mazurkas, waltzes, etc. You could possibly use Etudes, Preludes, Sonatas, Scherzos, Andantes, Allegros, etc. as they don’t connote a scene, specific feeling, a dance, etc.

Personally, I think because your wedding is in the Easter season, I would go for works that are within the Easter “spirit”, perhaps instrumental versions of Easter hymns. I agree with Benedictgal, that even using Easter hymns for your processional and recessional (or even during the mass) would be wonderful. If you do not wish to do that. There are many other sacred works that could be used.

As Benedictgal said, you really shouldn’t have a unity candle. They’ve basically done away with it in our diocese, although in the neighboring diocese some parishes are still “allowing” it, but I will tell my bridal clients who marry in that diocese that it really shouldn’t be done. If you are doing a presentation to the Blessed Mother, you could do the Schubert “Ave Maria” there. Also, since the wedding is in May, I believe since it is a Marian month, you can also use the “Ave Maria” as a processional, but check with your priest about that. Some are willing to allow it during the Marian months, but some aren’t. Since it is still in Easter, I would personally choose an Easter hymn or something like Trumpet Voluntary, though.

If you have a cantor, you should have the psalm and Gospel acclamation sung, as well as the parts of the mass. Other works that would be good which could be both instrumental or vocal are Franck’s and Lambilotte’s settings of “Panis Angelicus”, various settings of “Ave Verum Corpus” like Mozart’s setting. “Laudate Dominum” Mozart, Faure “Ave Maria” and Faure “Salve Regina”, “Hail Queen of Heaven” Hemy, “O Mary of Graces” Irish Traditional, “Salve Regina” Puccini (this was composed long before he wrote opera and was written as a sacred piece for organ and voice and can be sung very reverently.) and any Easter hymns.

Anyway, I hope that helps. It’s always best to talk to your priest about it.

Is that chapel in Estes park at the retreat center?

If so, that is where the pope stayed! Just an fyi, there is NO piano or keyboard in it.

Great chapel. It is under the diocese, many weddings take place there, however, you probably need permission, but it should be easy.

Thanks for clearing up that matter, agapewolf. It is a really pretty chapel from the outside. I am sure that it looks great inside as well.

Sarabande, since the wedding will fall during the Easter season, would it not be appropriate to have the Regina Caeli sung? It is both a Marian and an Easter hymn.

Just for the record, the unity candle is out! As soon as I heard it wasn’t a part of the rite, we ditched it.

Yes, it is the St. Malo Retreat Center where PJP II stayed. I’m aware there’s no piano there, but the retreat center had absolutely no problem moving there’s into the chapel for us.

Thanks for the help Sarabande!

Thats a bit bizarre…theres lots of steps. It is very difficult and expensive, and harmful to move the piano…You may want to double check that.

I agree with Agapewolf. You may want to rethink the piano. It can be very expensive to move a piano, especially if it has a lot of steps. We recently moved our piano from a second floor condo with lots of steps (for a condo) to the first floor of a home and that cost us a very pretty penny.

I checked out the photo you posted. It’s an absolutely beautiful chapel. I saw on the website that it has an organ in there as well. It might be more feasible to use the organ there and I would recommend auditioning the recommended organists on their list - unless your friend can play the organ as well.

Benedictgal - A Regina Caeli would be very nice. Good idea!

Hi! I didn’t notice this part of your original post.

It’s the composition that matters in regards to what is appropriate for liturgy. For example, Mozart composed music which would be appropriate for liturgy, but he also composed a lot of music which wasn’t - such as his operas and other instrumental music like “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” (A Little Night Music". So, it really depends on the actual connotation of the music.

I just remembered that someone mentioned the Mendelssohn “Wedding March” was appropriate. Actually, it isn’t appropriate even though there are a few parishes that might allow it (which are usually the same parishes that would permit Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” - aka Here Comes the Bride - from his opera “Lohengrin”). It is because the piece is from his ballet “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. That is considered a secular work since it is from a ballet with a Shakespearean story as background.

For a simple version of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, I would check out: (in case you can’t click on the link which has a list of the sheet music available for the Bach.)




I’m thinking they have a digital piano in the retreat center. I’m guessing if it was difficult or expensive, they wouldn’t have offered to move it for nothing.

There may be, although when I stayed there for a week last May, I didn’t see one. Just saying you may want to double check.

If it’s a digital piano, it shouldn’t be a problem to move. Just make sure you get it all in writing what the moving costs (if any) would be. The other thing I would suggest would be to have a listen with the digital piano or even a real piano. Not all pianos are the same. Some digitals are better than others where they may sound really electronic and not nice at all, and some real pianos are in bad shape where a digital would be the better way to go. When the digital piano is moved, have someone check it to be sure that it is working. I did an outdoor wedding once where they had a digital piano. Everything was hooked up for us, but when the pianist checked the piano, it wasn’t working and everyone was scrambling to find someone who could get the piano hooked up to the speakers and working. That’s one less stressful thing you’d want to be worried about.

Should you discover that the piano is a real one, then it is really important to check the moving rates as well as the tuning rates - and get it in writing. If the rates are ok for you, then also make sure that they move the piano at least two weeks before the wedding. Real pianos need some time to acclimate to its new environment before tuning. Whenever we have to move a piano, the tuners/movers tell us to give about two weeks or so to let the piano sit in the room and acclimate before even tuning it.

AND it’s really important that they have a real piano tuned before the wedding day. I have done a few weddings, where the venue or the church did not have the piano tuned ahead of time, or tuned it too early (usually with churches that have no air conditioning in the summer time and the humidity put it all out of wack), and the instrument sounded horrible. Many venues will have tuning fees and such in their contracts, so be sure they have that in there.

Anyway, these are just things I’ve learned since being a musician for weddings. Hope it helps.

I don’t even think there is room for a real piano in that chapel. Its pretty small inside.

I imagine since they offered a piano there is a way to make it work. I know of several people married there.

I LOVE that retreat center and chapel. I’m a native Coloradoan and my dad went to many retreats at that center. It is so incredibly beautiful up in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Congratulations and I’m sure your wedding mass will turn out wonderful!

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