A guide to classical music for your wedding

08 Nov 2018

Don’t know your Bach from your Elgar? Here's how to plan the perfect classical music wedding playlist

Image: Larisa Birta via Unsplash

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You’ve bought the dress and booked the venue… but what about the music? Planning the perfect accompaniment for walking down the aisle, signing the register and departure can really personalise your wedding; and in the process, you’ll probably discover that you know more classical music than you realise.

Classical music has shone a light on the human condition for centuries, and love has never failed to be a theme; there is a lot of music about love. Getting hitched offers a great opportunity to embrace classical music for the first time.

Suzy Klein is a radio and TV presenter, who presents BBC Radio 3’s mid-morning show Essential Classics - find it on BBC Sounds. Suzy is also set to present Our Classical Century with Sir Lenny Henry on BBC Four, Thursday 15th November, 9pm. The episode begins a year-long season of classical music across the BBC.

Here, she shares a few simple tips to get you started with classical wedding music...

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There are no rights or wrongs with classical music

The most important thing is that you hear something and it moves you – it might remind you of a feeling, a loved one or a memory. As long as it’s personal to you, it’s the right choice.

Classical doesn’t have to be ‘relaxing’

There is an idea that classical should be relaxing, but, this is a bit of a myth – more often, I think classical music is exciting, energised or passionate. Try: Cesar Frank’s Violin Sonata (final movement) which was written as a wedding gift; Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, written as a birthday present for his wife; or Chopin’s Preludes, written in Majorca for his lover - the writer, Georges Sand.

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Image: Jan Stretcha via Unsplash

Classical music is all around you

Think of the last film you went to see... remember the music? The lift you were in earlier today, or the hold music on the phone? Remember The Three Tenors singing at the World Cup back in 1990? That’s Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s famous opera, Turandot. Try: Ocean’s Eleven (Debussy - Clair de Lune), Chocolat (Satie – The Gnossiennes), The Crown and The Big Lebowski (Mozart’s Requiem). Think of adverts, movies, TV shows where you’ve heard an orchestral piece and go and Google it – I promise it’ll lead you into entire days spent listening to some of the greatest music ever written.

You don’t need a symphony orchestra to create a memorable musical event

So you’ve worked out what you want to hear but you can’t afford an 80-piece orchestra, let alone fit them into the venue. No problem, try contacting a string quartet, small choir, or any ensemble you can find and ask them for their set-list – you’ll be amazed at how many pieces they can arrange and perform for you. If the venue you’re getting married in has a piano, that’s great too. Pianists are very flexible, but don’t forget to book a piano tuner.

Whether you studied music at school or not, you’ll definitely know more classical music than you realise. Make your wedding really personal and plan the music that makes your heart leap, your eyes shed a tear and lips smile. There is a treasure trove of music to discover and it may provide you with a passion for life.

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Our Classical Century with Sir Lenny Henry on BBC Four, Thursday 15th November, 9pm