The wedding recessional is an important part of any ceremony, as it serves as a bridge from wedding to reception, in both formality and mood. The music is joyful, upbeat and loud! For a classical music wedding there are many choices. Here are some of the most popular, as well as a few unusual alternatives.
Mendelssohn – Wedding March from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
The war-horse of the wedding recessional, it became a wedding staple after its use in the 1858 wedding of Queen Victoria’s daughter to Prince Frederick William of Prussia. Quite lengthy if played in full, it can easily serve as a combined recessional and postlude.
Handel – Hornpipe from ‘Water Music Suite 2 in D’
Second in popularity only to the Mendelssohn, Handel’s original prominently featured trumpets and horns. First heard in 1717, this music was not composed for a wedding, but rather as entertainment for George I of England and his friends as they floated down the Thames on a barge!
Handel La Réjouissance from ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’
Another popular choice from the music of Handel, La Réjouissance (literally, ‘The Rejoicing’) was premiered in 1749 at a somewhat disastrous outdoor concert celebrating the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The piece is not very long, and is most suitable for shorter recessionals, as it can become somewhat tedious if repeated too many times.
Stanley – Trumpet Voluntary in D
Sometimes heard as a processional as well, this is actually one of many “trumpet voluntaries” by English baroque composer John Stanley. Though frequently performed on trumpet, it was not actually composed for trumpet at all. The piece is one movement from a longer work for organ (called a Voluntary). In this particular section, the composer calls for right hand melody to be played using the ‘trumpet stop’ on the organ – hence a trumpet voluntary!
Clarke – Duke of Gloucester’s March
Jeremiah Clarke is best known for two common processionals that for many decades were erroneously attributed to Henry Purcell – the famous Trumpet Tune and equally famous Prince of Denmark’s March. The Duke of Gloucester’s March was one of many pieces written in honor of the child prince William, Duke of Gloucester. It was recently featured as the bridal processional in the 2010 wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.