Posted by: Court | June 27, 2008

Musical wedding memories

Music has always been a very integral part of my life. My mom grew up always singing with her mom, and passed that on to me. And as we are super-close to her side of the family, every time we’d all get together, it was constant signing.

So when it came time to choose the music for our wedding, things got very personal. I had dreamed for quite some time about using the bridal processional from “The Sound of Music.” This was going to be rather tricky for two major reasons, both pertaining to getting married in the Catholic church:

A) As a general rule of thumb, secular music is not permitted.

B) No recorded music is allowed.

Let’s examine “B” first. For those of you who are familiar with the bridal processional of which I speak, you’ll understand that “B” kind of posed a problem. In the movie, there is a huge organ (which we don’t have in our church, huge or not), and many horns (which could get expensive).

As for “A,” I found myself very fortunate. We met with the music director at our church (who also sings at Mass, albeit less and less these days) who has the most beautiful voice, and also plays the guitar and piano, amongst other instruments. When he asked what I had in mind for the processional, I said I knew there were rules, but I just had to ask if I could use the processional from “The Sound of Music.” I hummed it out, reminding him that it was all instrumental (hoping this would excuse the secular-ness). He said, “I don’t see why not.” I was over the moon.

As it turns out, we were blessed to have him sing at our wedding, along with a truly talented pianist who plays at Mass as well. I was, however, worried that their rendition wouldn’t quite hold a candle to the visions dancing in my head from the movie. These two men are musicians gifted by God, and I trusted them wholeheartedly. But without an organ and 30 horns, I feared it wouldn’t match up. Still, giddy with the mere fact that the song was allowed, I didn’t think about it again until it was time to walk down the aisle.

In fact, as the photographer snapped the last few shots of my dad and I standing in the Narthex and the doors were about to swing open, I know that the beginning of the song was playing, but I didn’t really process it. I was so wrapped up in the fact that I was about to become a wife. But as we took four or so steps into the chapel, it hit me. And it was beautiful. Our singer was playing a horn. One single horn. And it couldn’t have been more perfect. It was our wedding day.

I looked to my dad – I had more or less forgotten that this song would be playing me down the aisle – and whispered, “Oh, I picked this song!” And it was so right. I can vividly remember my feelings. I was absorbing the music, smiling at friends and family, trying to take the whole thing in. I was so caught up that I got about halfway down the aisle before my eyes really locked into my husband’s. And then I couldn’t stop staring at him, smiling back at me.

If you’ve ever been to a Catholic Mass,  you know that there is a lot of sitting, standing, kneeling – it can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with it. I know, as a former non-Catholic myself. There is also a lot of music – An entry song, a Gloria, a Responsorial Psalm, an Alleleuia, the Presentation of the Gifts, a Sanctus, a Memorial Acclamation, Breaking of the Bread, Communion song(s) and a Recessional. I took that opportunity to include a few songs that meant a lot to my family, and it was so special.

Backstory: the summer before I left for college, my mom’s side of the family went to Oklahoma to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. As a surprise, the six children (my mom, her brother and sisters) set up six chairs back-to-back, and two forward-facing chairs so that it was like Grandma and Grandpa were driving a station wagon, with the three oldest in the middle seat, and the three youngest in the “way-back.” When my mom and her siblings were growing up, they used to pack the whole family in the station wagon, passing brown paper lunch sacks filled with snacks around the car, singing songs to pass the time. So they had Grandma and Grandpa sit up front, passed out song sheets to everyone in the room, and played a CD that my uncle had recorded with all of the songs on, so that we could sing along. It was a huge hit, and really special for everyone.

One of the songs was the Doxology:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

I fell in love with the song, and we used it in our wedding. When it started up, I looked over my shoulder from my place on the kneeler, towards my Grandma. It took her a second to catch on, and then I saw it click, and she started singing along. It truly warms my heart each time I see it on our wedding video.

I’m not sure that music plays such an integral part in most weddings. Certainly our vows before God were the most important part of the ceremony. But for us, and really for me as a part of this beautiful, musical family, the music is a lasting part of the most wonderful day of our lives.

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