Recent Comments

"We chose Jennifer as our wedding ceremony harpist for our June, 2014, wedding and could not have been more pleased. Jennifer was wonderful to work with throughout the entire process leading up to our wedding. During our initial consultation, Jennifer played her harps live over the phone (which was a total surprise to me), and we discussed several details of our day. She also offered suggestions as to what setup would work best at our venue, the Danada House. After that initial consultation I had absolute confidence in Jennifer as our harpist and knew she would be a wonderful addition to our day. When meeting with her at her home to select our music, Jennifer was professional and fun, and put us at ease during the process. She played various music selections for us live so that we could get a feel for what we liked and didn't like, and how the music sequence would sound during the ceremony. She was able to customize exactly what we were looking for. When we left, we felt excited and confident in how the music would complement our ceremony. Jennifer reached out and was in constant communication with us leading up to our wedding which was much appreciated. The live music added an extra touch to our day and I am so happy with how everything turned out! It sounded beautiful! I would absolutely recommend Jennifer to anyone who is looking for a harpist for live event music. Thank you, Jennifer!!"

Kristin D.
June 7, 2014

"Jennifer Keller was great to work with. She has great customer service and it was very easy for her to figure out what music I would want for our wedding. From start to finish she would answer back right away to any questions I had. Her music is just amazing to listen to and I could not have asked for anything better for the music for our wedding. She played at one of my friend's weddings and I hadn't realized it till I was talking to my friend about the amazing harpist I found. I would recommend Jennifer Keller to my family and friends. The music was beautiful and it was perfect for our special day!"

Sabryna V.
April 26, 2014

"We had the pleasure of enjoying Jennifer's beautiful harp music at my son's outdoor wedding ceremony at the Grove in Glenview. Jennifer took the time to meet with the bridal couple several months prior to the event and was very helpful in recommending musical selections which resulted in a beautiful ceremony. Her professionalism extended to her timely arrival and the guests were treated to pre and post musical selections. Jennifer's presence will definitely enhance any special occasion."

Patrice M.,
April, 2014

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.  Plato

Weddings

Jennifer Keller HarpistCongratulations on your recent engagement!  Many couples find that choosing music for their wedding ceremony can be one of the most difficult tasks in the entire wedding planning process.  The information below is intended to assist you in figuring out what your musical needs are and to suggest some options to make your day perfect.  For outdoor ceremonies, click here.

For purposes of simplicity, I have divided ceremonies into two categories:

 Protestant/Civil and Catholic

Most weddings follow one of these outlines, regardless of location or officiant.  Please contact me directly if you are being married in the Orthodox, Jewish, or other faiths.

 

General Ceremony Music Guidelines

Information that applies to all ceremonies, regardless of faith.

1.  If you are being married in a church, ask if they have any musical guidelines or requirements.  Some won't have any at all.  Others may not allow pop tunes.  Some may only allow their organist to play the organ or piano.  If you are being married in another location, like a country club or hotel, you probably won't have this issue. 

 2.  Have live music.  Recorded music will never match the level of taste and refinement that live music brings to an event.  Sure, there are great recordings, but they are still mechanical reproductions of a live event and they will never create the same ambience that a live performance does.  Look at it this way: is listening to a CD or watching a DVD of your favorite band the same thing as being at a concert?  Of course it's not!  Leave the CDs at home.      

3. Hire Professionals.  Professionals are people with a great deal of skill and experience in their chosen field.  They take their work seriously, treat their clients well, and deliver a product or service of superior quality.  With professional musicians, this means that you get help choosing the right music and a flawless and effortless performance of that music for one of the most special events of your entire life.  In addition, professionals that have played for thousands of different kinds of events know what to do when things do NOT go as planned, or when plans get changed at the last minute.  Why not give yourself the peace of mind that comes with having that kind of expertise working for you?

This is one of the most special days of your life.  Hiring professionals allows you to relax and enjoy it even more.

4.  Ask your musicians for their suggestions if you want music that is different but still appropriate for a wedding ceremony.  A consult to choose music is usually included in their fees, and they may have a great recommendation that is perfect for you (and doesn't show up on the many wedding CDs.)

5.  Concentrate on the events in the ceremony that will only require one piece of music, such as the processional for the wedding party, the bride's entrance, and the recessional.  You will find it much easier to let the musicians handle the prelude and post ceremony music.

6.  There are quite a few traditional wedding tunes that are appropriate for more than one event in a ceremony.  Consider using a familiar song in an unusual place, such as the Canon in D for the bride's entrance, or the Trumpet Voluntary for the Recessional.

Ceremony Music

Musically, a wedding ceremony ALWAYS includes the following:

* Prelude (usually about 15-20 minutes prior to the ceremony)
* Processional
* Entrance of the Bride
* Recessional
* Postlude (usually about 10-15 minutes after the ceremony)

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Other ceremony events that may require music include:

* Lighting of the Unity Candle
* Sand Ceremony
* Presentation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
* Communion

As your harpist, I can provide music for all of these events either as a soloist or in conjunction with other musicians. A consultation to choose your music is included in the ceremony fee. Most traditional wedding music is available for harp, and there are some very appropriate and beautiful works written especially for the harp. During our consultation, you will only need to choose music for specific events in your ceremony. It is not necessary for you to select music for the prelude and postlude.

Protestant/ Civil Ceremonies

This is a general outline and you can add or omit things to fit your situation.  The musical suggestions given are things I frequently play for wedding ceremonies, but they are by no means your only options.  Although some pieces are listed in more than one place because they are appropriate for more than one event during a wedding ceremony, I do recommend that you use each piece only once.

Prelude:  This is the 15-30 minute period prior to the start of the ceremony while your guests are arriving and being seated.  The parents of the groom and the mother of the bride are escorted down the aisle and usually go to light the tapers in the unity candle arrangement that represent the families.  When the mothers return to their seats in the front row, one or two ushers come forward and unroll the runner.  When the runner reaches the end of the aisle, we move on to the processional.    
Musical suggestions:  Prelude in C (Bach);  Rigaudon (Campra);  Largo from “Winter” (Vivaldi)

Processional:  This refers to the entrance of the bridal party and includes the officiant, groomsmen, bridesmaids, maid/matron of honor, and the flower girls and ring bearers.  All the attendants may walk down the aisle, or the groomsmen may enter from a different door and not walk down the aisle at all.  The flower girls and ring bearers are usually the last ones to walk in before the bride.  Once the last attendant takes her place, this piece of music will end and the music for the bride will begin.    Musical Suggestions:   Canon in D (Pachelbel); Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach); Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

Entrance of the Bride:  The moment we are all waiting for!  Musical Suggestions:  Bridal Chorus (Wagner); Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke); Canon in D (Pachelbel)

Welcome:  Your officiant will welcome the guests to your wedding.  Many times this is followed by an Opening Prayer or Invocation.

Readings:  These are texts that have special meaning to the bride and groom, read either by the officiant, guests, or members of the bridal party.  Following the final reading, the officiant will proceed with the meditation.

Meditation:  This is the officiant’s personal statement to the couple.  In some places, it may be called a sermon or homily, but it is usually shorter than what is done in a Sunday morning church service.

Exchange of Vows:  The bride and groom face each other and exchange their vows.  At their conclusion, the officiant will ask for the rings.

Exchange of Rings:  There may be a brief statement about the rings and what they represent, and then you will exchange your rings.

Lighting of the Unity Candle:  Some officiants may briefly explain the symbolism of lighting the candle, others simply step aside and let you make your way forward to light the center candle in the arrangement.  Some couples also take roses to their parents at this time.  The ceremony continues when you are back in front of the officiant.  Musical Suggestions:  Arioso (Bach); O Perfect Love (Barnby); Menuet D’Exaudet (Exaudet)

Final Blessing:  The officiant’s final prayer and blessing of the new couple.  Sometimes this is followed by the Lord’s Prayer with all the guests participating.

Pronouncement: The bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife and invited to kiss. 

Recessional:  The bride and groom go back down the aisle, followed by the bridal party and their parents.  Once the parents have exited, the guests are either dismissed by the ushers or are free to leave on their own.
Musical Suggestions:  Wedding March  (Mendelssohn); Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke); Allegro from “Spring”  (Vivaldi)

Postlude:  This is the 5-10 minutes played while the guests are leaving.  In contrast to the prelude music, these selections are more upbeat and festive rather than calmer and more meditative.

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Catholic Ceremonies

Weddings in the Catholic church take place either during Mass or outside of Mass, and you will probably receive a book from the church that will guide you through the planning process. You will also probably be required to use a cantor and an organist/pianist in addition to the harp for your ceremony, and the organist and/or your priest may have specific instructions about what music you are permitted to use. Since musical guidelines vary from parish to parish, I contact the church's organist and speak with him about the musical requirements for weddings in that church before we meet for our consultation.

This is a general outline for a wedding during Mass, but you will need to check with your parish as to the exact order of events. Items with a star are part of the liturgy and are sung by the cantor and the congregation. If you are being married outside of Mass, some or all of the Liturgy of the Eucharist will be omitted.

Prelude: This is the 15-30 minute period prior to the start of the ceremony while your guests are arriving and being seated. The parents of the groom and the mother of the bride are escorted down the aisle and usually go to light the tapers in the unity candle arrangement that represent the families. When the mothers return to their seats in the front row, one or two ushers come forward and unroll the runner. When the runner reaches the end of the aisle, we move on to the processional.
Musical suggestions: Prelude in C (Bach); Rigaudon (Campra); Largo from “Winter” (Vivaldi)

Processional: This refers to the entrance of the bridal party and includes the officiant, groomsmen, bridesmaids, maid/matron of honor, and the flower girls and ring bearers. All the attendants may walk down the aisle, or the groomsmen may enter from a different door and not walk down the aisle at all. The flower girls and ring bearers are usually the last ones to walk in before the bride. Once the last attendant takes her place, this piece of music will end and the music for the bride will begin. Musical Suggestions: Canon in D (Pachelbel); Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach); Ode to Joy (Beethoven)

Entrance of the Bride: The moment we are all waiting for! Musical Suggestions: Rigaudon (Campra); Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke); Canon in D (Pachelbel)

Welcome: Your guests are greeted by the priest and welcomed to your wedding. This is followed by the Opening Prayer or Invocation.

The Liturgy of the Word:

Old Testament Reading: The scripture you select from the Old Testament is read, usually by someone who has been asked to do so by the bride and groom.

*Responsorial Psalm: This is a psalm text set to music and your organist can assist you in choosing one. During the Mass, the cantor will sing the response twice, inviting the congregation to join her the second time. The cantor then sings the verses and the congregation sings the given response after each verse.

New Testament Reading: The scripture you select from the New Testament is read.

*Gospel Acclamation: This is an 'Alleluia' sung by the cantor and the congregation in the same format as the psalm. (If you are getting married during Lent, the text of this response will be different.)

Reading of the Gospel: The scripture you select from the Gospel is read by the priest.

Homily: This is the priest’s meditation and personal statement to the couple, and it is usually shorter than what is done in a regular Mass.

The Rite of Marriage:

Exchange of Vows: The bride and groom face each other and exchange their vows. At their conclusion, the priest will ask for the rings.

Blessing and Exchange of Rings: There is usually a brief statement about the rings and what they represent, and they are blessed with holy water before they are exchanged.

Pronouncement of Marriage: The bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife.

Lighting of the Unity Candle: While some priests may briefly explain the symbolism of lighting the candle, most simply step aside and let you make your way forward to light the center candle in the arrangement. The Mass continues when you are back in front of the priest. Musical Suggestions: Arioso (Bach); O Perfect Love (Barnby); Menuet D’Exaudet (Exaudet)

Prayer of the Faithful: A prayer of intercessions, both general and personal, this can either be read by the priest or by someone asked to do so by the bride and groom. After each intercession, the congregation responds with "Lord, hear our prayer."

The Liturgy of the Eucharist:

Presentation (or Preparation) of the Gifts: The water and wine are brought forward and the priest prepares the elements for communion. Vocal and/or instrumental music is appropriate here, depending to the parish guidelines.

*Eucharistic Acclamations (Holy, Holy, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen): All of these are sung by the cantor and accompanied by the organ/piano and harp.

Lord’s Prayer: Recited by the entire congregation.

Nuptial Blessing: The blessing of the bride and groom by the priest.

Sign of Peace: The priest wishes the congregation the peace of Christ, and invites them to offer each other a sign of peace. The bride and groom usually greet their bridal party and parents during this time. Any music during this time is optional.

*Lamb of God: Sung in the same format as the Eucharistic Acclamations.

Communion: In many parishes, this music not only has to be a has to be sung, but the piece has to be a hymn with a Eucharistic text that is familiar to your guests, so that they may also participate. Like the Acclamations, the harp can accompany the cantor.

Presentation to the Blessed Virgin Mary: The bride leaves the altar area and goes to the statue of the Virgin, where she kneels to pray. When she is finished she leaves a small bouquet of flowers at the statue, and returns to the altar. The 'Ave Maria' is usually sung during this time and the harp can easily accompany the singer for this.

Concluding Rite:

Solemn Blessing: A final blessing of the couple in multiple, short verses. After each verse, the congregation responds with 'Amen.'

Dismissal: The priest declares that the Mass is ended, and bids everyone to go in peace He may also present the newly married couple to their guests.

Recessional: The bride and groom go back down the aisle, followed by the bridal party and their parents. Once the parents have exited, the guests are either dismissed by the ushers or are free to leave on their own.
Musical Suggestions: Wedding March (Mendelssohn); Trumpet Voluntary (Clarke); Allegro from “Spring” (Vivaldi)

Postlude: This is the 5-10 minutes played while the guests are leaving. In contrast to the prelude music, these selections are more upbeat and festive rather than calmer and more meditative.

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