Finding and choosing cantors and instrumentalists (musicians) for your Catholic wedding
Who will provide the music at your wedding? Here are some of the possibilities:
- A cantor leads the assembly in song; she or he usually sings the verses of a song (or of the responsorial psalm), then invites the whole assembly to sing the refrain.
- A soloist sings a song by herself or himself while the assembly quietly prays.
- A choir consists of several singers who help the assembly sing.
- Instrumentalists play a musical instrument (piano, cello, organ, violin, flute, etc.) either accompanied by the song of the assembly, or alone (while the assembly prays).
Your wedding does not need all of these musicians—a piano and cantor could be just fine. You have several options for choosing people to fill these roles:
- Use the parish music ministry. Most parishes provide some form of music ministry for weddings. Whether that consists of just an organist or cantors and other instrumentalists will depend on the parish; the music minister will tell you what is available. Expect to pay a fee for this service.
- Invite friends and family to provide music. You might want to have friends or family members provide the music at your wedding. If you go this route, check with the music minister at your parish first. All the music at your wedding needs to fit smoothly into the liturgy—a tricky task that usually requires some experience, and at least some familiarity with the liturgy, to do well. It is especially important for cantors, or leaders of song, to have some training, since their role is to lead the assembly in song. If you have friends or family who would like to sing or play at your wedding, but who are not comfortable with the liturgy, the music minister might be able to find simple, safe ways for them to participate—such as providing prelude music, or a meditative solo after the communion hymn.
- Hire musicians. If you would prefer to hire professional musicians, you will want to choose ones who have experience with Catholic liturgical music. Your parish music minister will probably be able to recommend good musicians for hire. Since it is expected that you would utilize the parish's music ministry for your wedding, if you hire musicians instead of using the parish's music minister(s), expect to pay a fee to the parish as well.
No matter who you choose to provide music for your wedding, you will want to consult with the musicians before settling on particular songs for your wedding service.