This lady? Is the late, great Etta James whose most famous hit, At Last, has become to modern wedding processionals what Pachelbel’s Canon in D was to the same part of the wedding in the seventies and eighties. Miss James, who died last week, lived long enough to see her song become a wedding classic.
Every decade or two, a new tune becomes the It Tune for wedding processionals. Let’s face it, even Wagner’s famous wedding march had to start off as a newfangled and slightly scandalous choice on someone’s part. Now it’s so traditional that an approximately equal number of couples would never dream of anything else, or would never dream of using it. For the record, I fall into the latter category. I don’t care much for Wagner overall, and I really dislike the idea of using a piece of music from such a disastrous marriage as a way to start off a new one.
And after I’d been to roughly sixty bazillion weddings where the Canon in D was played as the processional, I went right off Pachelbel, too. I still, however, have fond memories of the wedding I attended where the bride was a member of a string quartet who gave her the gift of playing her wedding gratis. They brought in a replacement violinist, and did Pachelbel proud. It was a charming choice between the musicians in question and the intimate backyard setting.
I, however, have never belonged to a string quartet, and the brief period in which I attempted reluctantly – and entirely without a natural talent for it – to learn the violin is an episode best never mentioned again.
So when it came time to plan my own wedding, I needed something different. Oh, also, I was being lead up the aisle by a bagpiper, and frankly, none of the tunes I’d heard other brides use was going to sound right on the pipes other than the theme from Star Wars… which my piper would have flat out refused to play.
In the end, my piper suggested a traditional Scottish tune called Highland Wedding, which was pretty, joyful, and composed with pipes in mind. It was perfect. We recessed to another traditional Scottish tune, Mairie’s Wedding. That one was my suggestion. Those choices still make me delighted. Neither was overdone in my set, but both were written to celebrate weddings and traditional in one of my background cultures. I loved the tunes, the musicians in question knew them well, and the guests seemed to enjoy both selections.
What about you? What would your perfect processional/recessional tunes be? Something traditional or not? Something played on a harp or a kazoo?
Tell me all about it!