Wedding Music

A Parish Guide to Planning Your Music

This information is for all couples planning weddings at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen, to help you plan your music:

Catholic weddings contain both vocal and instrumental music. You may already be familiar with much of the vocal music from attending church on Sundays. For instrumental music, we provide here some recordings to help you imagine the possibilities.

Instrumental Music

Preludes (during the Gathering and Seating of the Assembly):  The time before the ceremony sets the tone for the liturgy. Cheerful music played as people gather in the church is best. See the recordings list below for some good sample preludes.
The Processional:  An inspirational highlight of the ceremony! This is the time for grand, festive instrumental music. The procession is commonly made up of two pieces of music – one for the entrance of the bridal party, and a second piece for the bride (or couple). The lists of suggestions and recordings below have pieces for both parts of the procession.
The Recessional:  The music should be joyful; it’s time to celebrate! Some people like the traditional Mendelssohn Wedding March; others prefer Ode to Joy, or maybe one of the upbeat & bubbly marches by Clarke, Purcell, or Handel. Check the recordings below.

Vocal Music

All wedding liturgies include a Responsorial Psalm, (so-called because it responds to your 1st reading), just like regular Sunday Mass. Your choice of Psalm should be based on the text, not the music. The texts can be found in your pre-Cana materials (where you choose your scripture readings). The psalms are also listed in the suggestions below.

Special Music at a ceremony follows the exchange of rings. At this time you may have a candle-lighting, a flower presentation, and/or the signing of the marriage license. This music can be instrumental or vocal. When Mass is celebrated there is music during communion. Suggestions for these parts of the wedding are listed below, and the words and music to most vocal selections can be found in the church songbooks, “Today’s Missal.”

Additional Musicians are Available!

Vocal and instrumental soloists are encouraged and can add great beauty to your wedding. The Music Director is the coordinator for hiring these additional musicians, and will be happy to be in contact with you as you choose your favorites.

While the parish organist is a good singer, an additional professional vocalist can greatly enhance the wedding liturgy. Available vocalists include St Stephen’s own Choir Director Jennifer Wu (you may hear her on Sundays), our Choir Director Emerita Evelyn Troester DeGraf (you may hear her here on the website), and the professional vocal ensemble, Ghostlight Chorus.

Instruments that sound great in our church and have proved to be popular with couples include trumpets, flute, violin, cello, harp, string quartet or brass quartet. If you’re choosing trumpet or a brass quartet, a nice addition to that is timpani/percussion.  Our church also has an excellent grand piano, and any of the instruments listed above work well when paired with either the piano or pipe organ.

The cost for extra musicians is little compared with most wedding expenses, and your ceremony will benefit greatly from this relatively small investment (see below for fee list). At your request, additional musicians are hired for you by the parish music director. Your payments are made directly to the musicians, and are to be submitted via the music director no later than 2 weeks prior to the wedding. Fees for 2024 weddings are listed below. Guest organists are generally not permitted.

Important Note

Musicians serving at your wedding are from within the parish music ministry of Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen. The parish employs an organist who sings, and maintains a roster of professional singers and instrumentalists who are available for your wedding. The musicians recommended by the church perform here regularly, and their wealth of experience here results in the best performances. Outside musicians consistently have not measured up, and this is why they are no longer permitted. This has been especially true of wedding entertainment companies that market at catering halls & “bridal shows,” and of family & friends who “like to sing” but may have little real experience singing as soloists at important events, or who may find themselves too overcome with emotion to perform well. GUEST MUSICIANS – those not specifically recommended by our parish – ARE NOT PERMITTED. If a performer would like to be added to our parish roster of professional musicians, he or she should contact the music director to schedule an audition.

2024 Musician Fees at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Church

  • Solo Instrument (Trumpet, or Violin, Flute, etc.):  $300
  • Harp – $500
  • String Quartet, Brass Quartet, or Vocal Quartet:  $1,500
  • Vocalist (in addition to the music director):  $300
  • Professional Choir (subject to availability):  to-be-determined, please inquire

To book any of the above for your wedding, contact James Lake, the parish Music Director:


  1. Te Deum
  2. Canon in D
  3. Trumpet Voluntary
  4. Bridal Chorus
  5. A Thousand Years (cello, violin & piano)
  6. What a Wonderful World (cello/violin & piano)

Vocal Music During the Ceremony:

  1. Ave Maria (solo)
  2. The Gift of Love (duet)
  3. Aurora (Italian devotional song)
  4. Panis Angelicus (song during Communion)

Instrumental Music During the Ceremony:

  1. Laudate Dominum
  2. Ave Maria (by Gounod)
  3. La Grace
  4. One Hand, One Heart (string quartet)


  1. Wedding March
  2. Hornpipe
  3. Spring (string quartet & classical guitar)
  4. Trumpet Voluntary by John Stanley (organ solo)
  5. Trumpet Tune (2 trumpets & organ)

Sample Preludes:

  1. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (brass quartet – with opening fanfare)
  2. Canzona, by Gabrieli (brass quartet)
  3. Air, by JS Bach (string quartet & guitar)
  4. Suite in D, by J Clarke – MinuetSybelleBourreeEcossaisseGigue
  5. Serenade, by J Clarke – (trumpet & string quartet)

Your Selections

If you have any selections in mind that aren’t listed here, be sure to let us know!  Your personalized music ideas are welcome!  Once you’ve reviewed this online guide and recordings, and collected your ideas, please submit your selections & requests, along with some other key information the organist needs, using this easy online form:

Click here to submit your music selections.

The Music Director will confirm your submission within 24 hours.  If you have questions or issues not covered on this site or in the form, feel free to call or email if you wish to discuss your choices.  This is a special liturgy, and the music should be both appropriate and meaningful to you, your families, and your guests.  See Contact Info below.

About the Music Director

James Lake, Parish Organist & Director of Music
–  Jim has been the organist and music director at Sacred Hearts & St Stephen since 2003. He earned his Master of Music degree as a scholarship student at Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music at Rice University’s prestigious Shepherd School of Music. Jim’s continuing organ studies were at the Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ, and at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. A frequent performer with symphony orchestras, Jim has performed at all of New York City’s major concert venues, including Carnegie & David Geffen Halls, the Metropolitan Opera, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Barclays Center. As a recording artist, Jim has performed for television and radio, and was heard on Broadway as a soloist in the soundtrack to Lincoln Center’s Tony-Award-winning production of War Horse.  He has performed at over 1,000 wedding ceremonies over the past 25 years.