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The Wedding March

By Anna Lynn Sibal

Weddings in the western world – or western weddings held in Asia and elsewhere, can take many different forms. The form and style that a wedding takes are largely influenced by the customs, traditions and personal preferences of the couple to be married, particularly of the bride. But whatever shape a wedding may take, more often than not it has the wedding march.

The wedding march makes the entrance of the bride to the place of her wedding. The wedding procession prior to the bride’s entry is supposed to heighten the witnesses’ and even the groom’s anticipation of the appearance of the bride. Once the bride appears, the music that had accompanied the earlier procession of bridesmaids changes to signify that the bride has come. As the bride is the star of the entire affair, everyone at the wedding stands up in salute to her as she walks down the aisle to the altar, where her groom awaits.

The music by which the bride makes her way to the groom is a tune that is familiar with most people. In fact, the so-called Wedding March has been so associated with the bride’s walk to her destiny that the image of the bride marching on her father’s arm immediately comes to mind whenever this march is played. But this piece of music was never composed for such a purpose.

The Wedding March is a composition written by Felix Mendelssohn as an accompaniment to a scene in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1842. It is highly probably that Mendelssohn never imagined that this particular composition of his would gain him immortality by ushering millions of brides to their new status in life for more than a century and a half after he had created it.

How then did the Wedding March become the favored music for the bridal march?
This single fact came to be when Victoria, The Princess Royale, the eldest daughter of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria, selected this piece of music for her own bridal march when she married Prince Frederick William of Prussia in 1858. The Princess Royale eventually became The German Empress, Queen of Prussia.

Since people typically follow the fashion of royalty, especially during the Victorian Era, the Princess Royale’s selection sealed the fate of the Mendelssohn composition. It became the traditional bridal march.

The Wedding March does present a unique combination of pride, joy, elegance and dignity that every bride should embody on the day of her wedding. This music is especially appropriate if the wedding is held inside a church. It is no wonder that it is the one most favored by brides to accompany them as they walk down the aisle.

But just because the Wedding March has become the traditional music to accompany the bride’s walk down the aisle, a bride should not be compelled to march to it if she does not wish to. It is her wedding; she can pick any music to march to as she desires. In fact, many brides have already broken away from this tradition already.

If you are a bride-to-be and you are trying to choose what music to choose for your wedding march, you can use Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, by all means. But you are free to select any other music if you want.

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