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Friday, June 25, 2010

Here Comes the Bride

Bagpipers are becoming more popular at weddings. Many people are unsure of what the role of the piper at a wedding is, when he should play and what tunes are best.

The Wedding

The bagpiper (at the entrance to the chapel) traditionally pipes guests in and out of the ceremony playing medleys of traditional Scottish marches and aires including Scotland the Brave, etc. It is also traditional but not always requested for the piper to pipe the bride down the aisle, maybe play during the signing of the register and then pipe the newlywed couple out of the ceremony. In my experience the bride has always had a tune in mind for being piped down the aisle and in this part of the world that tune has generally been The Wedding March (“Here comes the Bride”). If asked to play during the signing of the register it is almost always Amazing Grace or occasionally Highland Cathedral.

Afterwards

The next point of call for the piper is to have him play during the taking of the photos (off camera and in the background). Traditionally what the piper plays is at his discretion and will include medleys of marches, jigs and reels to entertain guests. It is often required of the piper to pose in several photos, usually just with the bride and groom and any photos of just men wearing kilts.

At the Reception

The piper is not always required to play at the wedding reception but if he does it is traditional for him to pipe in the guests and then pipe the bride and groom to the top table (and be presented with a whiskey for doing so.) The tune he will pipe the bride and groom in with is usually one that will get guests clapping. Scotland the Brave never fails or Gerry Owen and neither do numbers such as The Minstrel Boy or The Rising of the Moon (AKA The Wearing of the Green).

More is less

As with all piping you must remember the pipes have a loud and commanding presence. Used even slightly to excess they will detract from any service. Therefore this is the most I would consider using a piper at a wedding. Many opt for much less, using the Piper to punctuate the event at one or two key points.

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