Should you have music at a very small, intimate church wedding ceremony?
Many couples planning a small wedding will choose to have no music at all. I can understand that, but it’s a shame.
Music is such a powerful way of expressing emotion. Your joy is no less just because the ceremony is small. I think you’d be losing something by foregoing music just because of the size of the wedding.
So how to best have music for small weddings?
There are two things you need to do to have effective, special and memorable music at a small wedding:
Create a more intimate sound:
Use less music. But use it in the right places!
Tips for a more intimate sound:
There are several ways to create a more intimate sound.
Get close to your musician (or get the musician close to you)
A piano might be just what you need
A piano is a wonderfully intimate instrument. If there’s a piano available (whether in the chapel or in the main part of the church), especially a grand or “baby grand”, consider using it as the primary instrument.
The organ can work too
The organ, whether in the chapel or in the main part of the church, can still be used to great effect. The trick is to use it correctly.
A loudly-played organ may sound irritating with only a few guests present, so the organ’s softer stops must be used. A softly-played organ can sound wonderful!
A skilled organist will be able to use the quieter stops effectively to achieve this wonderful sound. But watch out for less-skilled organists that turn quiet music into something bland and uninteresting.
Don’t shy away from other instruments
Solo instruments, such as flutes, violins, cellos or harps can help achieve intimacy. Such instruments can easily be used as the only instrument or can could be used with a piano (or nearby organ).
Even a singer can work well. Just be sure your singer (particularly amateur singers) are comfortable singing in front of a very small group.
Tips for less music
The second thing you will want in a small wedding is to go easy on the music. That means using it where it will contribute and no more than that. Too much of it for a small ceremony can destroy the intimacy!
Suggestions for getting the right amount of music:
Use very little music before the ceremony.
For a small number of guests, there simply is no reason to have lots of music beforehand. A very intimate performance (for example, a solo piano or violin playing nearby the guests’ seating) could allow you to get away with slightly more music. But do focus on keeping it short.
Avoid a separate bridal processional.
A smaller ceremony usually also means a smaller wedding party. Especially if held in a chapel, there won’t be enough time to get through two pieces of music let alone one. Cutting two pieces short will be more awkward than cutting one piece short.
So keep it simple and just use one piece for the wedding party and the bride’s entrance.
Skip the postlude entirely and perhaps also the recessional.
Your guests will be able to exit very quickly, so a postlude won’t be necessary. It won’t take the wedding party long either, so the guests could start leaving during the recessional (after the wedding party has exited).
A small, intimate wedding can be a lot less stressful and should be every bit as joyful as a larger wedding. Music is one of the best ways to express this emotion and done right, will make a wedding of any size extra special.