Vermont Weddings by Vermont Bride
Click here to find Vermont Weddings Vendors

VT BRIDE Loves


February 29, 2016  TAGS:  MUSIC  RESOURCES  INSPIRATION

Your Processional: Wagner’s Bridal Chorus – Yes or No?

“Oh yes that would be great!” or, more commonly, “NO WAY!” are typical answers I receive to the question of using Wagner’s Bridal Chorus for the bride’s processional. Very few people are undecided about having this piece, commonly known as “Here Comes the Bride” or occasionally “Wedding March” (not to be confused with the popular recessional “Wedding March” by Mendelssohn), at their wedding. I’d like to share some thoughts and video clips that might just switch some opinions one direction or another, so hold on, because although you’ve heard this tune before – probably many times, your thoughts on this piece of music might just do a few backflips!

First, let’s start with this gorgeous and unique rendition of this popular processional:

 

So if you were on the “No Way!” end of things, I suspect there’s a chance that if you listened to the above you may be second guessing yourself. Now, don’t get too set on that choice too quickly though, since I haven’t started the con argument yet, but I just thought I’d allow a moment to enjoy the beauty of this music. On that note, here’s the original, as Wagner composed it, for your enjoyment:

 

 

So – Wagner’s Bridal Chorus can be really lovely, and the words are quite lovely as well – here’s the English translation of the first verse, as provided by Wikipedia:

Faithfully guided, draw near

to where the blessing of love shall preserve you!

Triumphant courage, the reward of love,

joins you in faith as the happiest of couples!

Champion of virtue, proceed!

Jewel of youth, proceed!

Flee now the splendour of the wedding feast,

may the delights of the heart be yours!

This sweet-smelling room, decked for love,

now takes you in, away from the splendour.

Faithfully guided, draw now near

to where the blessing of love shall preserve you!

Triumphant courage, love so pure,

joins you in faith as the happiest of couples!

Wagner’s Bridal Chorus was first used as a wedding processional at the wedding of Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, to Prince William Frederick of Prussia in 1858 (pictured below). It was the standard for the bride’s processional through most of the 20th century, and remains popular today. 

 Your Processional: Wagner’s Bridal Chorus – Yes or No? | Vermont Bride Magazine

So some of you may be thinking “Wow! Yes - let’s use Wagner’s Bridal Chorus for our wedding!” Others are surely NOT convinced – and I will now assert that there is in fact potentially good reason to avoid this piece.  So now for the cons.

First, there are some religious traditions which do not allow the Bridal Chorus, commonly Catholic and Lutheran weddings as well as some other Christian traditions, due to thematic material in the opera from which it came. Second, Wagner was terribly anti-Semitic, and in fact Hitler was a great fan of Wagner’s music. If you will have Jewish guests at your wedding, you may wish to think twice about using any music by Wagner, particularly this piece, which does have connotations for many Jewish guests. Rumors circulated at one point that this piece was selected to accompany the march of concentration camp residents to the gas chamber during World War II. It appears that this has not been validated, but it’s difficult to separate this piece from that image once the thought has been circulated.  

Also, although Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, and his music, are beautiful, and the words to the Bridal Chorus seem very appropriately beautiful for a wedding, the opera itself is a tragedy, ending with the death of the bride and groom before their marriage is consummated. 

When I was in elementary school, my brothers always sang “Here comes the bride, big fat and wide, here comes the groom as skinny as a broom.” I suspect that’s often reason in itself to NOT choose this piece for your wedding. And finally, some couples simply wish to go off the beaten path for their wedding music choices. And THAT may be the ultimate question – are you a traditionalist? Or do you like to do things a little differently? 

My take on that is: It’s your wedding, you know who your guests are, and it’s your choice, perhaps with input from your officiant. I hope this article has you thinking from a new angle! My hope is that that will help YOU to refine your choices of what will make your wedding feel like your own!

Many thanks to Angel B. at  http://www.avictorian.com/ for sharing the photo of Princess Victoria’s wedding above. 

Lisa Carlson is a flutist offering ensembles for weddings and other occasions in duos, trios, quartets in a variety of instrumental combinations, and staff wedding music writer for Vermont Bride Magazine. She also maintains a private flute  studio in Montpelier, Vermont, in addition to teaching flute at Upper Valley Music Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and online.