Family, Cultural, Religious, and other rituals are a big part of many ceremonies.
And, it is very appropriate to have music played as these rituals are performed.
Types of Rituals
Perhaps the most popular of the ceremony rituals is the Unity Candle. There are also several other rituals that can be used in place of, or in addition to, the Unity Candle Ritual. Among these are the Rose Ceremony, the Crystals or Sands Ritual, a Wine Ritual and other Flower Rituals. In addition to these more standard rituals, there are a myriad of cultural, religious, and family rituals, some of which may be unique only to one family. The one thing common to most of these rituals is that they can be accompanied by music.
Vocal or Instrumental
So is it better to choose vocal or instrumental music for a ritual? It depends on the ritual. For rituals where words are spoken (e.g. the Rose Ceremony), you would want to have soft instrumental music playing in the background. In general, you don't want to have the words of a song competing with your words or the words of the Celebrant. For rituals where there are no words spoken (e.g. a memorial candle lighting), you could choose either a vocal or instrumental piece.
The Nature of Ritual Music
The music chosen should compliment the ritual - it should not be distracting, or take the focus away from the ritual. Toward that end, you'd want to choose music played at a lower volume and, if it is a vocal piece, with words that are at least generally appropriate to the ritual. There is a specific questions we'd like to address here...
Is a Solo Appropriate for a Ritual?
Elsewhere on our site, we said that a solo would probably not be appropriate during the seating of the VIPs because it may serve to take attention away from the VIPs. Does the same hold true for a ritual?
As explained before, the very nature of a solo focuses attention on the performer, and might draw some attention away from the ritual itself. That said, a solo played and/or sung at the right volume, with words befitting the ritual can add to the ritual.
The difference, per se, between the seating of the VIPs and most of the other "rituals" in the ceremony is that the seating of the VIPs involves persons other than the Bride and Groom, while just about all of the other rituals will involve mainly the Bride and Groom.
If the Bride and Groom decide to share some of the spotlight with a soloist, that is their decision, but taking some of the spotlight away from the VIPs could be interpreted as being discourteous to the VIPs. It's a small distinction, but one that we thought should be mentioned.
One other possibility for worded rituals is to have instrumental music played during the ritual itself, and then have a vocal piece played or have a soloist sing to the Bridal Couple after the ritual.
Some Great Ritual Songs
For vocal pieces below, you may want to consider the instrumental versions for worded rituals...
All I Ask Of You (from Phantom of the Opera)
The Lord's Prayer - Albert Hay Malotte (this can also take the place of the guests saying the prayer aloud)
Ave Maria - either Bach or Schubert
The Wedding Song
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring - Johann Sebastian Bach
Meditation (from Thais) - Jules Massenet
Amazing Grace - Various Artists
Greensleeves - Various Artists (Possible Use For Christmas Season Wedding)
One Hand, One Heart (from West Side Story) - Various Artists
Whither Thou Goest - Karyn List/Nancy Enslin
Sheep May Safely Graze - Johann Sebastian Bach
For Always - BeBe & CeCe Winan
For Better Or Worse - Debbie Gibson
Two Flames That Glow - Elaine McDonald/David Gerard (Especially for Unity Candle)
Flesh Of My Flesh - Leon Patillo
I Do - Paul Brandt
O Perfect Love - Sir Joseph Barnby
Household Of Faith - Steve & Anne Paynter
Love Will Be Our Home - Steven Curtis Chapman & Susan Ashton
The Hawaiian Wedding Song - Andy Williams
Everytime I Close My Eyes - Babyface
Evergreen - Barbra Streisand
In My Life - Beatles
If - Bread
You And I - Eddie Rabbit & Crystal Gayle
Sunrise Sunset (from "Fiddler On The Roof")
How Sweet It Is - Marvin Gaye
How Sweet It Is - James Taylor
I Knew I Loved You - Savage Garden
You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone (Especially for Unity Candle)
You Light Up My Life - LeAnne Rimes (Especially for Unity Candle)
I Will Be Here - Steven Curtis Chapman
Kind And Generous - Natalie Merchant (For A Thank You Ritual for VIPs)
Readings are a part of many ceremonies. Let's learn how music can be used during readings.