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Friday, 9 AM - 1 PM

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Wedding Music

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The following is a description of music used in weddings at Memorial Church. Please use this link (Wedding Organ Music Samples) to listen to the short samples of organ and vocal music. Every wedding has organ music; some also include a vocalist or trumpet player.

Please note that during the academic year, I do not play for weddings.  I have several excellent substitutes who have many years of experience playing at Stanford and elsewhere. Our wedding coordinator will contact you directly approximately 14 weeks prior, with the name and contact information of your organist and with payment instructions.

Only classical-style music or music from an established religious tradition is performed in Memorial Church. For example, we do not perform popular music such as Peter, Paul and Mary’s “The Wedding Song”, selections from Broadway musicals, movie themes, etc.

Please either email or USPS mail the following form indicating your selections to your assigned organist.

Please Note: All guest musicians must be approved by me well in advance (8 weeks) of your ceremony.

The Wedding Coordinator will send you payment instructions 14 weeks prior to your wedding. Please do not mail in any checks until you are given the payment information.

I hope this information is of help in selecting your music and that your wedding at Memorial Church is a happy and memorable occasion for you.


Robert Huw Morgan, University Organist

Music for the Ceremony

The following should help you choose the music for your ceremony. You may wish to leave most of the decisions up to your organist. In that case, you only need to decide whether you would like the traditional wedding marches (8 & 12) for your processional and recessional.

I. Processional

The processional is the most important music of your wedding. Couples generally prefer two separate compositions, one for the entry of the attendant(s), another for the entry of the bride. For the attendant(s), numbers 1 through 10 are appropriate, with the exception of number 8 which can only be played for the entry of the bride. Your biggest decision will be whether or not you would like the traditional Bridal Chorus by Wagner. Occasionally, a couple prefers a quiet processional, such as the Canon by Pachelbel (number 25).

II. Recessional

The recessional is also very important. It comes at the end of the ceremony as the wedding party (the couple, the attendant(s) and the clergy) leave the Church. I strongly recommend a loud, exciting organ piece. Numbers 11 through 15 are particularly appropriate. Again, your biggest decision concerns the use of the traditional Wedding March by Mendelssohn (number 12). You may wish to use a brilliant organ piece such as the Toccata by Widor (number 13) or the Final by Vierne (number 11).

III. Music during the Ceremony

Most weddings contain at least one organ piece during the service. Most often the organist plays a piece after the readings (or the sermon  if there is one), while the wedding party ascends the stairs to the chancel for the vows. Numbers 16 through 27 are all appropriate, but the compositions most frequently performed are the familiar works by Bach (numbers 16 through 20), the famous Canon by Pachelbel (number 25), and the beautiful Rhosymedre by Vaughan Williams (number  27). For something a little more lively, you might want to consider Wachet auf by Bach (number 24).

If you plan to have a unity candle-lighting ceremony, you  will need a short composition at this time. Any quiet piece on the CD is appropriate, such as numbers 20, 27 or 16.  If the bride or groom comes from a Roman Catholic background, the Ave Maria by Schubert (number 21) would be particularly nice here. If your service includes communion, you will want some music there. Any quiet piece will be fine.

IV. Prelude Music

The prelude is played before the service while guests are being seated. The organist typically plays about twenty minutes of music for the prelude, so six to eight selections can be performed here. Although most couples leave the choice of the music to the organist, they are quite happy to include (or exclude!) any compositions from the samples (Wedding Organ Music Samples) that you wish.

Some people like a familiar hymn played as part of the prelude. Of course, that is perfectly fine. However, we strongly discourage the performance of a long medley of one favorite hymn after another. Such a solution would be acceptable in a small parish church, but you deserve something much more memorable at Stanford!

Vocal Music

Ceremonies sometimes include vocal music, which can add a wonderful touch to your wedding. Once again, please keep in mind that only classical-style music or music from an established religious tradition is performed at Memorial Church weddings. All selections and vocalists must be approved by Dr. Robert Huw Morgan. We have recorded some of the songs with both a soprano soloist and a tenor soloist. From this link, Wedding Organ Music Samples, you can choose which type of voice you would prefer.

If you decide to include vocal music, I strongly recommend that you contact one of the following superb singers.

Vocal music is generally accompanied by the organist, with both the vocalist and organist located in the rear gallery of the church. No microphones are needed or available.

Weddings with vocal music often include two songs. Three should be regarded as the absolute maximum, otherwise your ceremony will turn into a vocal recital. Songs fit best at the following points in the service:

  1. During or immediately following the formal seating of parents or close relatives. Any vocal music before this point would probably be lost while noisy guests come into the church. Lively songs are good (numbers 30, 31 & 38). Ave Maria (numbers 21 through 23 & 42) is sometimes sung for the seating of the mothers.
  2. Between the readings.  At this point I particularly like The Call by Vaughan Williams (33 & 34)
  3. During the lighting of the unity candle, before the final prayers.  A gentle, quieter song is best here.
  4. The Lord’s Prayer may be sung towards the end of the service where it would normally be said by the congregation. However, you should check first with the clergy taking your ceremony, as some clergy prefer to have it said by the whole congregation.
  5. During communion.  At Roman Catholic weddings, Panis Angelicus (35 & 36), or one of the settings of the Ave Maria (22 & 42) would be entirely appropriate. Almost any other gentle song will work here. You should use no more than one song for communion.
  6. Relatively few weddings have hymns sung by the congregation. If you do decide to have one, please make sure that it is one that will be familiar to the congregation. Most times, this does not work well.

Trumpet Music

Sometimes, weddings also include a trumpet player. The organs in Memorial Church are so spectacular that you should not feel any necessity for trumpet music as well. But a few trumpet pieces in your ceremony can add extra flare to your wedding.  If you would like trumpet music, it is very important that you hire an excellent musician. Here are a few superb trumpet players:

  1. Jay Rizzetto, 510.339.1418
  2. Dave Burkhardt, 650.589.5228
  3. Joyce Johnson Hamilton, 650.321.9846

Trumpet music is always accompanied by the organist from the back balcony. Solo organ versions of processionals and recessionals often played on trumpet are included in the samples (Wedding Organ Music Samples):


  1. Trumpet Voluntary (or Prince of Denmark’s March), Jeremiah Clarke
  2. Allegro (from Water Music), George Frideric Handel
  3. Trumpet Tune, Henry Purcell

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S. Bach (14) could also be played at some point in the service by organ and trumpet together. Your trumpet player may also be able to play along with the traditional wedding marches by Wagner and Mendelssohn if you want to use these pieces. Trumpet players are always happy to recommend other pieces from their repertoire if you want additional music.

Wedding Music – Due 3 Weeks Prior to Wedding Date

Please complete the following form and send it to your assigned organist. You may leave blank any categories that do not apply to your wedding or for which you would like the organist to select a suitable composition.

  • Bridal Processional
  • Unity Candle Lighting
  • Communion
  • Date and Time of Wedding
  • Name, Phone, and Email of Bride or Groom
  • Prelude (Seating of guests. This selection is generally left to the discretion of the organist.)
  • Formal Seating (Played at the end of the prelude, while relatives are seated)
  • Processional (attendants)
  • During the Ceremony:
  • Music before vows (performed while the wedding party ascends the chancel steps)
  • Recessional