One way to incorporate a love of early music into a marriage ceremony is to borrow music written for one. Johann Helmich Roman composed “Drottningholm Music” for a royal Swedish wedding in the 1700s. These compositions are found on the recording entitled Johann Helmich Roman: Music for a Royal Wedding, with the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra.
Another appropriate selection is Johann Pachelbel‘s setting for organ on the famous Lutheran hymn “Von Himmel hoch,” which includes a lovely chaconne, which is essentially a set of variations, which your organist may pick and choose as many as needed. Organist Joseph Payne performs on the CD release entitled Johann Pachelbel: The Complete Organ Works, Vol. 2.
If you’d rather avoid church music, there are plenty of secular pieces for organ. May we suggest another recording by Joseph Payne entitled Early English Organ Music, Vol. 1, which highlights many of the delightful secular tunes.
The final chorus and chaconne in Henry Purcell‘s “The Fairy Queen” are both charming and singularly appropriate for a festive wedding. Les Arts Florissants performs on the Harmonia Mundi release of a version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Another great selection by Purcell is the song “If music be the food of love,” performed by Nancy Argenta on a release entitled, Purcell: Songs and Airs.
Another excellent source of wedding-friendly songs with English words is the music George Frideric Handel. His air “Where’er you walk,” performed by tenor John Aler on the Deutsche Grammophon recording of the composer’s opera, “Semele,” could be sung by a female just as well. Handel’s “Water Music” was recorded in 1990 by The English Concert, directed by Trevor Pinnock. The overture to the second suite would make a grand processional, indeed.
If there is no keyboard available, a guitarist can provide solo pieces as well as accompaniment. John Williams performs Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Cello Suite No. 3 in C major transcribed for guitar on the CD entitled The Art of the Guitar.
The harp is another instrument that seems to conjure visions of romantic serenades for many of us. Cheryl Ann Fulton performs on The Once and Future Harp, including multiple appropriate pieces in the case you are lucky enough to hire a harpist.
For grandeur, Giovanni Gabrieli‘s 16th-century instrumental works can scarcely be matched. A mixed ensemble of period instruments, the Gabrieli Consort and Players performs a canzona on the recording Music for San Rocco.