Ceremony Music Inspiration from the Royal Wedding (Part 1)

Wasn’t it amazing?  I can’t stop thinking about the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.  I know many brides to be out there are drawing inspiration from the elegance of the day in all sorts of areas—and I wanted to do a breakdown of the instrumentation and ensembles that performed and offer some ideas on how you could get a similar sound for your day!

For Prince William & Kate:
London Chamber Orchestra
A chamber orchestra is an orchestra comprised of 50 or fewer musicians—strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion with a conductor.  The London Chamber Orchestra is the UK’s longest established professional orchestra and yes, they are available for hire.

Get the Sound:
For a full sound that is elegant and rich but with fewer musicians (since most brides probably aren’t going to be able to have 50 professional performers) opt for a string quartet plus piano and 1 or 2 trumpets.  The piano will help add fullness to the sound while the strings will give the rich tone.  The trumpet(s) lend that exciting formal elegance that is so appealing.  Be ABSOLUTELY sure that these musicians are high quality professionals because poor playing—bad intonation, etc. can quickly turn regal elegance into ear splitting agony.

For Prince William & Kate:
Westminster Abbey Choir
There are many types of choirs but the Westminster Abbey Choir is comprised of 30 boys and 12 professional adult singers.  Choir of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor composed of 23 boy choristers and 12 professional adults.

Get the Sound:
Most cities and some churches have children’s choirs.  It would certainly be a lovely spin on the flowergirl/ringbearer concept to have the children in your wedding be vocalists!  Be careful that you’re not signing yourself up for too much complexity in the midst of the rest of the planning:  this is your big day, but for the families of these children from the local kid’s choir, it is one of many items on the family to-do list. 

If you don’t want to risk that, opting for adult professional vocalists is a good route to go.  The singers in Westminster Abbey Choir & the Choir of St George’s are some of the most talented in the UK in the classical realm.  Having 1-4 classically trained vocalists (perhaps a mix of male and female voices) is going to create a wonderful, robust effect. 

For Prince William & Kate:
Organ by Robert Quinney
The 35 year old sub-organist for Westminster Abbey (the sub-organist is responsible for all events at the abbey.)

Get the Sound:
Many churches have a resident organist.  The songs performed at the Royal Wedding are definitely very technically challenging so make sure that your church organist is comfortable with the musical selections you make.  Showing some enthusiasm and appreciation for the organist’s years of training can go a long way towards getting his or her best efforts! 

Venue:
One thing to keep in mind when contemplating a royal-esque wedding is venue.  Classical instruments and vocalists really benefit from an indoor setting with good acoustics such as a chapel or cathedral.  While one can achieve amazing things these days with sound amplification, you’ll have better results inside than in an outdoor setting such as a garden or vineyard.  If you are having an outdoor wedding, positioning the musicians in front of any sort of wall will help the sound immensely. 

Stay tuned for my next post about the specific song selections Prince William and Kate used for their day.  I will include suggestions of songs similar if you’re looking for something along the same lines without being an exact match. . . . and if you are interested in more ideas and information about professional ceremony music, please visit us on www.effesenden.com!

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