Wedding Music Guidelines

A word on appropriate music for weddings…

The marriage liturgy is unique among the festivities of a wedding. This gathering of the church speaks of marriage in ways other than a civil ceremony or social reception. The couple exchanges their vows in the context of an act of worship; they commit themselves in the presence of the church. The prayers, the readings, the processions, the giving and receiving of rings, the nuptial blessing are all simple and profound expressions of faith in God and in each other.

According to the teaching of the Church, music “should be considered a normal and ordinary part of [this] liturgical celebration” (Liturgical Music Today, #13). The music, along with all the other gestures and rites of the wedding liturgy, is to establish a spirit of prayer and celebration and to strengthen the expression of faith. The couple will want their relatives and friends to look at the profound meaning of uniting two human lives and to reflect on their own lives and loves, and their own marriages. Led by the faith and sincerity of the couple, those who gather around them can center on God, the author of all life and love. The music must support this and should not detract from the setting of faith or distract people from prayer.

Music is not an incidental part of the ceremony, nor is it “filler music” to fit between the words of the wedding. Music is a heightened language that, like the rites and symbols and words of the wedding liturgy, can express in a manner deeper than words can express the hopes, feelings and understandings of the couple; it enables all gathered to celebrate the union of the couple as witnessed by the Christian community, in the presence of God. Thus, selections should consider the ability of your guests to engage and participate as well as the beauty of the selections themselves. Your gathered assembly is an extension of the Old St. Patrick’s community; therefore your family and friends present are encouraged to participate in both word and song in the way to which Old St. Pat’s is accustomed.

All music chosen for your wedding should reflect the dignity and the reverence of the occasion and must work hand-in-hand with the liturgy to express the Christian nature of love, faith and marriage. Thus music in the following categories should not be used:

  1. Any music that is purely secular in nature, and as such, neglects the sacred union of the couple.

  2. Popular musical favorites which merely recall sentimental, personal associations; such music should be reserved for the wedding reception.

  3. Songs that do not have an obvious relation to prayer.

In the case of music being requested that is not on our list, the final decision as to the appropriateness of the piece of music will belong to the music director in agreement with the pastor of Old St. Patrick’s Church.

Ceremonies celebrating marriage outside of Eucharist are still celebrations of the wedding sacrament. Therefore, the above principles still apply.

Wedding Musicians

To fulfill the needs of a Roman Catholic liturgical celebration, all weddings must have at least a pianist and a cantor (vocalist) as musicians for each wedding; one of our staff pianists will automatically be hired for your wedding (please note that the fee for the pianist is separate from the church donation and will come through the music department), but you have the opportunity at our Wedding Music Fairs to listen and select your top several choices from our excellent cantors. From there we can add on as many other instruments as you would like! We encourage hiring at least 3-4 extra instrumentalists to give a fuller and richer sound in the church. Some popular combinations include, but are not limited to:

  • Piano, cantor, violin, flute, cello, trumpet

  • Piano, cantor, string quartet (4 players), possible addition of oboe or flute

  • Piano, cantor, flute, cello, harp

  • Piano, cantor, traditional Irish instrumentalists (3 players)

The cost of each musician is in the $225-$275 range (with a couple of exceptions).

Wedding Music Cancellation Policy

We look forward to securing professional cantors and instrumentalists for your wedding and also to providing peace of mind to both you and them. Once received, cantors and instrumentalists are quickly booked and will reserve the date and time for your wedding if available.

To honor their commitment to our wedding ministry, once booked, changes which cause one of our professionals to cancel a booking will require a $50 fee if requested between 8 and 12 weeks from the wedding date. If the change is within 8 weeks, you will be responsible for paying the full quoted fee.

Changes to the musical selections or requests to add incremental cantors or instrumentalists can be made at any time with no fee.

Guest Musicians

Unfortunately, due to the high number of weddings that are performed at Old St. Patrick’s, it is policy that guest musicians (not on the approved musician roster) are not allowed. This is to insure the quality of music that Old St. Patrick’s is known for, and to make your wedding day go as smoothly and flawlessly as possible. Thank you, in advance, for your understanding.