A key moment in a wedding ceremony is the wedding processional. While there are many choices of music to choose from, the following are 10 of our favorite classical wedding processional songs. Choosing the one that suits you best will truly set the tone for when you both say “I Do.”
1. Canon in D a.k.a. Pachelbel’s Canon
Originally written around 1700 by Johann Pachelbel. It remained in obscurity for centuries after it was written and made a major comeback in 1968 from an arrangement by Jean-Francois Paillard. In the 1970’s many ensembles covered it and since then its chord progression were used in a variety of pop songs. Here are a few pop songs that it appears in: C U when U Get There-Coolio, Basket Case-Green Day, Don’t look back in anger-Oasis, Graduation(friends forever) by Vitamin C, Memories-Maroon 5 and many more.
2. Minuet in G Major and G minor – Petzold
The Minuets in G major and G minor, BWV Anh. 114 and 115, are a pair of movements from a suite for harpsichord by Christian Petzold, which, through their appearance in the 1725 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, used to be attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. These Minuets are among the best known pieces of music literature. The 1965 pop song “A Lover’s Concerto”,(by the Toys) which was a huge hit, is based on the first of these Minuets.
The 1995 film Mr. Holland’s Opus has a scene in which the title character, a high school music teacher, lets his students know the connection between “A Lover’s Concerto” and the Minuet in G major. He incorrectly identifies the piece as written by Bach, which makes sense because the scene is set in 1965 when the public still believed it was written by Bach.
3. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (or simply “Joy”) – Johann Sebastian Bach
This is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from a chorale setting of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1723. Pete Quaife, the original Kinks bassist, worked the song into the Village Green Preservation Society track Wicked Annabella in 1968.
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, shortened to simply “Joy”, became a pop hit record in 1972 by Apollo 100. It went to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 during the winter of that year.
4. Clair de Lune aka Suite Bergamasque
Suite bergamasque (L. 75) is one of the most famous piano suites by Claude Debussy. It was written by Debussy around 1890. Its name comes from Verlaine’s poem “Clair de lune”, which means “moonlight” in French. This has easily become many brides favorite classical wedding processional song.
5. Love Dream a.k.a. Liebestraum – Franz Liszt
Liebesträume (German for “Dreams of Love”) is a set of three solo piano works by Franz Liszt, published in 1850.
6. Ode to joy – Ludwig van Beethoven
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, also known as Beethoven’s 9th or The Choral, is the final complete symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, composed around 1823. the Ninth Symphony is known as one of Beethoven’s greatest works, and among the greatest pieces of music ever written. In 1972, the musical backing (without the words) was adopted as the Anthem of Europe by the Council of Europe and then in 1985 by the European Communities (now the European Union).
7. Bridal Chorus (a.k.a. “here comes the bride) – Richard Wagner
From the 1850 Opera Lohengrin. Wagner’s piece was made popular when it was used as the processional at the wedding of Victoria the Princess Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858. “Bridal Chorus” could easily be the most famous out of all classical wedding processional songs.
8. Meditation from Thais
This is a symphonic intermezzo from the opera Thaïs by French composer Jules Massenet. The piece is written for solo violin and orchestra. It premiered at the Opéra Garnier in Paris in the early 1890’s.The Méditation from Thaïs is known to be one of the great encore pieces;
The cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott have recorded a version for cello and piano by Jules Delsart.
9. ON the Beautiful Blue Danube, opus 314 – Johann Strauss
Composed in 1866, the Beautiful Blue Danube was first written as a song for a carnival choir with comical lyrics. The piece was prominently used in Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. After a leap from the worlds pre-historic past to its space filled future, the majority of The Blue Danube are heard as a space plane approaches and lands with a space station; it finishes while another spacecraft travels from the station to the Moon. The piece is then played again over the closing credits of the film.
“How Blue” is a song based on “The Blue Danube”, by The Mills Brothers in 1954.
10. Lakme Duet (a.k.a Flower Duet)
This is a famous duet from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé, originally opening in Paris in the early 1880’s. It is often used in ads and films and is a popular concert piece. It was adapted for the track “Aria” in the British Airways “face” advertisements of the 1980s . It has been featured in the films Meet the Parents and True Romance and tv shows including The Simpsons.