Fun Facts About the History of Wedding Music

Photo by Two Irises
Photo by Two Irises

From rustic barns to elegant churches, wedding ceremonies and receptions vary wide and far, but almost every single wedding has some element of music.

Wedding music has evolved quite a bit from when most typical wedding instruments were invented in the late 1500s, coming at a time when the typical wedding ceremony featured a vocalist only. These days, you’re more likely to hear a Christina Perri song than a vocalist chanting. Of course, the music you’ll hear in a Baptist church in Georgia is a lot different than the music you’ll hear at an outdoor wedding in Japan, but both types of weddings incorporate music to elevate the ceremony.

“Here Comes the Bride” is one of the first wedding songs that pop into people’s heads when they think of wedding music. Actually part of the opera Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, the tune was written in 1850. It was first used as a wedding march at the royal wedding of Princess Victoria to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858, and has been a frequent choice for wedding processionals ever since. 

What about the first dance? This musical tradition of the bride and groom opening the dance floor comes from the days of old, when hosts of fancy balls would traditionally share the first dance. Then, the rest of the guests would be welcome to make their way to the dance floor. The tradition made its way into weddings, and ever since, brides and grooms have been kicking off the wedding reception festivities with a first dance.

Obviously, different cultures will have different wedding music trends and traditions. Here are a few cultural musical tidbits:

Indian weddings:

Many Indian weddings will feature a satar, dohl or other Indian instruments. Bhangra is a traditional folk dance typically performed at Indian wedding receptions. No one is 100% sure when it started, but it became popularized in the 1950s.

Irish weddings:

Common Irish music includes lively jigs and spirited melodies, often with a fiddle.

Greek weddings:

For traditional Greek weddings, the entire wedding party typically dances to a song called “Orea Pou Ine Nifi Mas” at the wedding reception. Translated, it means “How Beautiful the Bride is”. The dance they do is called the Kalamatiano. The upbeat dance has been around for ages; some even think Homer refers to it in the Iliad.

Catholic weddings:

Catholic wedding ceremonies don’t feature secular music. That means most churches won’t allow “Here Comes the Bride” or any popular pop songs.

Learn more about Catholic Wedding Songs here!

Jewish weddings:

When the groom enters an Orthodox Jewish wedding, a traditional song called Baruch Haba is played. Meaning “blessed is he”, the song has been played for over a century to announce the entrance of the groom.  

No matter what type of wedding you’re having, music will be an important part. It’s crazy to think just how many traditions are incorporated into weddings that have been around for years and years. Whether you’re playing Beethoven or Bruce Springsteen, we’re sure your wedding will hit a sweet note with your guests.

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