Music is an inherent part of humanity.
It enhances our lives in numerous ways every day, and it is a vital component to celebrations all around the world. As a wedding ceremony represents one of the most memorable and significant occasions in a couple’s life, the music should reflect the spiritual experiences, family traditions and deep emotions that define their lives.
My wedding took place at First Presbyterian Church 37 years ago. Ronald Miller was the organist, and the concert choir from the University of South Carolina, under the direction of Arpad Daraz, sang several selections. I remember being inspired and swept away by the sense of awe and reverence in the sanctuary that night, especially when recessing to Widor’s Toccata. My daughter, Rhoda Jane, in her wedding to Matt Bowers, had traditional music as well, but added a soloist who sang Malotte’s Lord’s Prayer and bagpipers who played Highland Cathedral with the organ. It was uplifting!
The wedding stands as a moment in time that signifies the covenant of love and commitment between two people, and music is a glorious part of that ceremony. In days gone by, the bride would meet with the church organist and listen to selections that she might want in the service. Traditional music by Bach, Handel, Purcell, Pachelbel, Mendelssohn and Vivaldi characterizes many church services. However, the digital age has changed all of that, making it easy to listen to a plethora of musical pieces for the ceremony — from the procession to the recession.
Traditional, popular and contemporary styles of music reflect the couple’s taste and serve to make the day memorable. The Internet is replete with samples of wedding music to peruse. Depending on where the ceremony will be and what the protocol is for the venue, the bride can listen to and select music for each part of the service. “Something old and something new” can be easily juxtaposed by researching music and then hearing it played or sung by an organist, pianist, soloist or instrumentalist in the church or selected venue. This is vital to form an idea of the acoustics and the overall sound of the music. Personally choosing the music adds a dimension of completeness to the process.
As a singer, I have sung in countless weddings, both traditional and contemporary. Whether in a church setting or otherwise, the personal connection with the couple and their families was immeasurable. Having a singer as a part of the ceremony is a choice. If the bride and groom know singers personally, have an appreciation for their vocal ability and want them as a part of the ceremony — that is very special. Otherwise, hymns are meaningful for the congregation to sing and actively participate in the service in lieu of a singer.
The act of giving oneself completely to another in love is a blessing. May God grant that the music will play on!
Rhoda Paschal received her Master of Music and Doctoral Degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of South Carolina School of Music. She has been featured in many operas, oratorios and concerts in the area. She is national board certified and teaches at A. C. Flora High School. Rhoda is the alto soloist at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia and a member of its touring Chamber Choir.