“The focus of the wedding liturgy, like every other liturgical celebration, is the worship of God. Music, which is an integral element of the celebrations of Christian marriage, enables those who assemble to express their faith, to enter into the worship of God, and to give thanks for the mystery of divine love that is revealed in the union of husband and wife.”

A Companion to the Catholic Book of Worship III: Guidelines for Liturgical Music, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 105.

Music for the wedding liturgy differs from secular wedding music in that it does not merely provide a background or mood for the occasion, but expresses the common prayer of those assembled. The most important musical elements in the wedding liturgy are the responsorial psalm and, in the nuptial Mass, the other communal acclamations (“parts of the Mass”) led by the cantor or choir and accompanied by organ.

Popular songs and secular pieces, while they may be very appropriate for a wedding reception, are not permitted in the wedding liturgy. Similarly, certain works such as Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, which are traditionally associated with weddings, are not used in the Catholic wedding liturgy because of their strong secular associations.

The Director of Music & Principal Organist is responsible for assisting you in choosing appropriate music and musicians for your wedding, working to ensure that the music is of high quality, and enhancing the prayerfulness, joy, and dignity of your celebration of the sacrament of marriage.




Prelude music is customary in the 10-15 minutes before the wedding liturgy begins to welcome the assembly and set an appropriately prayerful and joyful tone. Preludes may be for solo voice or for choir. If they are instrumental, they are usually left to the discretion of the organist or other musicians.


The cantor may sing a solo, such as:

  • Laudate Dominum, Vesperae solennes de confessore (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)
  • Ave Maria (Johann Sebastian Bach/Charles Gounod)


Alternatively, the choir may sing:

  • Beati quorum via (Charles Villiers Stanford)
  • Jesu, the very thought of thee (Edward Bairstow)
  • If ye love me (Thomas Tallis)
  • Sicut cervus (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)
  • Ubi caritas (Maurice Duruflé)



The processional represents the gathering of the whole community and the procession of the ministers of the sacrament, i.e., the bride and groom. As such, only one continuous processional piece is permitted; no one person is highlighted by the processional music. In the absence of an opening hymn, an instrumental piece may be chosen.

The processional can be either a hymn sung by the assembly or an organ/instrumental piece. The mood of the processional may be stately or meditative; both are equally appropriate.

Examples of Processional Hymns:

(A cantor/choir is recommended to lead the singing. Numbers refer to Catholic Book of Worship).

  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, CBWIII 625
  • For the Beauty of the Earth, CBWIII 531
  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell, CBWIII 578
  • Come, Lord Jesus, to this place, CBWIII 627
  • This Day God Gives Me, CBWIII 650
  • God Beyond All Praising, CBWIII 561


Examples of Instrumental Processionals:

  • Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel)
  • Trumpet Voluntary/Prince of Denmark’s March (Jeremiah Clarke)
  • Prelude, Te Deum (Marc-Antoine Charpentier)
  • Air, Water Music (George Frideric Handel)
  • Overture, Fireworks Music (George Frideric Handel)


Gloria in excelsis Deo (Nuptial Mass)

This hymn of praise to God is only included when the Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated as part of the rite.


Responsorial Psalm

The Psalm follows the first reading and is sung by the cantor, with responses sung by the assembly. (Note: please follow wording as given in music.)

  • Psalm 33: May your love be upon us, O Lord
  • Psalm 34: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord
  • Psalm 103: The Lord is kind and merciful
  • Psalm 128: May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives
  • Psalm 145: The Lord is close to all who call him


Gospel Acclamation

Outside of Lent, this consists of an “Alleluia” response, led by the cantor, and a scriptural verse chosen from the three options below.

  • Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
  • God is love; since God loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is perfected in us.


Presentation of the Gifts (Nuptial Mass)

The presentation of the gifts, if it takes place, is generally very brief and calls for brief, often improvised music.


Eucharistic Acclamations (Nuptial Mass)

These parts (including the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Amen, and Agnus Dei) are normally to be sung by the whole assembly, led by a cantor/choir. The Lord’s Prayer is generally not sung.


Communion (Nuptial Mass)

A hymn to accompany communion can be sung by cantor and assembly, such as:

  • Gather us together, CBWIII 601
  • Ubi caritas et amor, CBWIII 376
  • When love is found, CBWIII 629
  • Make me a channel of your peace, WC 898
  • O perfect love, WC 721


Alternatively, the cantor may sing an appropriate solo repertoire piece, such as:

  • Panis angelicus (Cesar Franck)
  • Laudate Dominum, Vesperae solennes de confessore (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • The Call, Five mystical songs (Ralph Vaughan Williams)


The choir could otherwise provide its own Eucharistic offering. Choral pieces listed under “Preludes” may also be used here:

  • Ave verum corpus (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • Jesu, the very thought of thee (Edward Bairstow)
  • O sacred feast (Healey Willan)
  • O sacrum convivium (Thomas Tallis)
  • O taste and see (Ralph Vaughan Williams)


An instrumental piece, or organ transcription thereof, may also be used:

  • Air, Water Music (George Frideric Handel)
  • Air, Ouverture No. 3, BWV 1068 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (Johann Sebastian Bach)


Signing of the Register

This takes place immediately before the Recessional as the couple, priest, and two witnesses, sign the marriage license. The following options may be sung by the cantor:

  • Ave Maria (Franz Schubert)
  • Ave Maria (Johann Sebastian Bach/Charles Gounod)


Alternatively, the choir may sing:

  • Jesu, the very thought of thee (Edward Bairstow)
  • If ye love me (Thomas Tallis)
  • Sicut cervus (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)


Alternatively, the congregation may sing a hymn:

  • Hear us now, our God and Father, WC 722
  • O perfect love, WC 721
  • Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life, WC 853



  • Trumpet Voluntary/Prince of Denmark’s March (Jeremiah Clarke)
  • Trumpet Voluntary (John Stanley)
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon (George Frideric Handel)
  • Prelude, Te Deum (Marc-Antoine Charpentier)
  • Rondeau, Sinfonie des Fanfares (Jean-Joseph Mouret)
  • Prelude in G Major, BWV 541a (Johann Sebastian Bach)