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Music, way its delivered at wedding ceremony has changed over the years

DJ Marc DeHart provides music for about 15 weddings per year. Submitted Photo

Just like the style of wedding gowns have changed drastically since the nuptials of the bride’s mother and grandmother, the music at wedding ceremonies, and the way it’s provided, are vastly different today.

Once upon a time, a Christian wedding was a church-only event that saw the bride walking toward her groom on her father’s arm to the strains of “The Bridal Chorus” as an organist leaned heavily on the keys.

A singer selected by the bridal couple sang a few touching songs accompanied by the organist, and the happy couple strode out of the church as the organist bashed out “The Wedding March.”

Now, disc jockeys, which first replaced bands at receptions, are also a popular choice for the wedding ceremony, too.

During the wedding, the DJ plays selections requested by the couple or that were suggested to them by the DJ, according to wedding and event manager for Eisler Farms, Madison Roxbury.

“Most people want an instrumental version of a pop song,” Roxbury said. “That’s pretty popular.”

She said some couples have a violinist, pianist or vocalist who plays or sings during the ceremony. Singers are usually a friend or family member of the couple.

“It’s usually pretty few and far between,” Roxbury said.

She said traditional wedding marches are very rarely heard at modern weddings either.

“I’d say 30 brides per year walk down the aisle to ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri,” Roxbury said. “We joke that’s our wedding planners’ battle cry. We know it’s time to (work) when we hear that.”

She said a popular selection for the recessional after the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife is “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole, who released the song in 1975.

Regarding any new musical trends at weddings, Roxbury said some couples personalized their service and reception to fit their musical taste.

“A lot of people are just going with the genre they like,” she said. “It they’re into country music, they’ll do touches of that during the ceremony and cocktail hour. They are really pulling what they like instead of traditional music.”

Many brides also request the doors are open during a certain point in the song that plays while they walk up the aisle on their father’s arm.

“That’s important to them, I’ve noticed,” Roxbury said.

She said most ceremonies have a song at four points in the ceremony: the bridal party entrance, the bride’s entrance, a unity ceremony during the service like those using sand or candles, and an exit song after the couple are pronounced married.

Regarding any unusual weddings her venues have hosted, Roxbury said she has seen bagpipes played at nuptials, and one bride’s brother sang an almost operatic selection as she came down the aisle.

“There are some talented people in the area,” Roxbury said.

Succop Nature Park, an Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania facility in Penn Township, holds 65 to 75 weddings per year, mainly on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, said Karen Stein, Butler center director for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Most have both the ceremony and receptions there, with up to a few dozen per year opting for a ceremony at their church or other venue and a reception at Succop Nature Park.

Stein guessed that about 30% of bridal couples have a live singer or musician during the ceremony and cocktail hour instead of using their DJ for the entire day.

“The majority of ceremonies we see are about 15 or 20 minutes, and it’s done,” she said. “There are normally two songs, one with dad and the recessional.”

DJ Marc DeHart, a teacher in the Butler Area School District, has served as a DJ for scores of couples in the Butler County area.

DeHart DJs about 15 weddings per year, and did more than that before the coronavirus pandemic.

For ceremonies, DeHart normally plays a half-hour of music as guests arrive at the wedding, then a bridesmaid processional, another for the mothers of the bride and groom, a processional for the bride, then a recessional after the happy couple are husband and wife.

“More often than not, it’s an upbeat instrumental version of a pop song for the processional music,” DeHart said.

Unlike the case in weddings of yore, DeHart said he has only been asked to play “Bridal Chorus” — otherwise known as “Here Comes the Bride,” on one occasion.

“Obviously, you want to make sure the ceremonial music goes off without a hitch,” DeHart said. “I have to make sure I’m in tune with them and their guests.”

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