Choosing the right musician(s) for civil wedding ceremony music is vital. This is the formal part of the day and we recommend a solo pianist to make the proceedings run beautifully. If the venue doesn’t have a piano, we’ll supply a digital stage piano (free of charge).
What is a Civil Wedding Ceremony?
A civil wedding ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage ceremony performed by a government official. It can take place in any venue that has been granted a licence to hold civil marriage ceremonies.
Legally in the UK, you can get married if you are:
- 16 or over (or with permission from your parents or guardians if either of you are under 18 unless you marry in Scotland where you can marry at 16 without parental consent)
- free to marry because you are either single, divorced, widowed or not closely related
Choosing Your Civil Wedding Ceremony Music
A non-religious wedding or civil wedding ceremony must not have any religious connotations whatsoever. It is currently illegal to include any religious music or text in a civil ceremony. This includes extracts from the Bible, the Koran or the Torah and any religious songs, hymns, chants or poems. We often get asked for the beautiful ‘Ave Maria’ (Bach/Gounod) but this is not allowed in a civil wedding ceremony.
How to Time Your Civil Ceremony Music
A Civil Wedding Ceremony takes approximately 30 minutes. Your guests will arrive at your chosen wedding venue up to an hour before the Ceremony begins and will usually have somewhere to mingle before the formal proceedings begin.
Approximately 20-40 minutes before the Ceremony begins, your toastmaster or front of house venue manager will open the doors and usher your guests into the Ceremony room. This is a great time to start your music, with your pianist playing as your guests enter the room, thus creating a warm welcome. This part of the proceedings is often referred to as the Prelude.
Your pianist will know to play music that’s calm and serene and which will help settle any nerves. Sometimes the Registrars will require a list of songs that are going to be played for the Prelude.
For the Ceremony itself you will need to choose 3 pieces of music (at least) and will have to tell the Registrars in advance what they will be.
This is when the Bride enters the room and when the pianist will play the first chosen piece of music. The guests will be asked to stand and the entrance music begins. It is worth bearing in mind that this is very short (less than a minute long) so whatever song you choose make sure it doesn’t have a long introduction!
N.B. Some couples now choose to have their bridal party enter the room before the bride (parents, bridesmaids etc). If this is what you want to do then it’s probably a good idea to choose another piece of music for their entrance and then change songs when the Bride enters – this will highlight her entrance and add a little drama.
Processional Music – our choice
‘The Bridal March’ (Here Comes The Bride) by Wagner
About two-thirds of the way through the Ceremony is the signing of the register. This is where your second chosen piece of music will be played. This is the longest part of the Ceremony and is the point at which to place your favourite music. It is often the spot where a more contemporary piece of music is played. You may even like to choose a couple of songs as after the bride and groom have signed the register, guests will be allowed to take pictures of them and this can take somewhat longer than planned!
Signing of the Register Music – our choice
‘Cavatina’ by Stanley Myers
‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ by Harold Arlen
‘Gymnopedie No. 1’ by Erik Satie
This is the end of the Ceremony when the Bride & Groom leave the ceremonial room together as a couple.
This requires a short burst of exuberant music that’s uplifting and full of promise. The other wedding guests may take longer to head towards the exit so a song that can be extended is a good idea.
Recessional Music – our choice
‘Wedding March’ (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream) by Felix Mendelssohn
That’s the formalities over with – we hope you found this article helpful. If you would like a quote for a solo pianist or a small band for your civil ceremony please do not hesitate to call us on 0203 507 1988