Organized and compiled by BJ Kuehl for the and newsgroups.
Please email BJ directly with additions or corrections to the FAQ.

Medieval & Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ: Questions about Music

7.1: My fiance and I love period music. Any ideas for how we could do the music for our medieval/renaissance wedding? Also, what kinds of instruments are considered period?

7.2: Where can I find musicians who play medieval music?

7.3: I am looking for good quality CDs for my Wedding. I need suggestions for both Dancing and Ceremony music. It need not be for any specific period - but would like it to have a medieval flavor. All suggestion are great appreciated.

Medieval & Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ: Questions about Music

(c) The Medieval and Renaissance Theme Wedding FAQ was compiled
by and is maintained and copyrighted by Barbara J. Kuehl.  All
suggestions and additions should be emailed to her at  This document may be freely redistributed 
without modification provided that the copyright notice is not 
removed.  It may not be sold for profit or incorporated in 
commercial documents without the written permission of the holder.
7.1:  My fiance and I love period music.  Any ideas for how we
     could do the music for our wedding?  Also, what kinds of
     instruments are considered period?

From: (Trystan L. Bass)
A single harpist would work well or a lute/mandolin player.
Other period instruments include the flute, bagpipe, guitar,
viol (forerunner of the violin), many types of horns,
spinet/virginal (forerunners of the harpsichord), organs (much
like modern church organs), and a wide variety of drums.
From: (Amy E. Rottier)
We had a medieval-themed wedding, with Celtic undertones.  For
music, we had an Uilleann piper (also called the Irish pipes).
I don't know what the music was called, but it was lovely.  The
piper was fabulous, and the sound was like no other.  Ethereal,
yet woodsy and homey.  Definitely put us in the right frame of
mind.  Mark and I both like Highland pipes (what everyone calls
"bagpipes"), but I wanted something "older", hence the Uilleann.
And, I must tell you, that the Uilleann is featured on most of
the Celtic music pieces I have at home.
From: (Robyn Whystle(mka T. Shawn Johnson)
The instrument that has changed the least since the middle ages
is, surprisingly, the TROMBONE.  While it was called SACKBUT in
earlier times, it has changed only in tuning.  A consort of
trombones makes a lovely early sound, and is great for
processional-type music suitable for weddings.  If you want a
truly regal sound, have trombones at your wedding.
From: (DLW)
The dinner started with a trumpet heralder inviting us in from
the entrance area of the building.  Then there was a brass and
string group of musicians (I know, not really medieval, but it
gave it an air of such), and vocal groups which sang (without
music) traditional midwinter songs.
From: (Barbara Jean Kuehl)
At a wedding I witnessed at the Minnesota Renaissance Faire,
two musicians dressed as monks played Handel's "Air", 
Pachelbel's "Canon in D", Purcell's "Trumpet Tune". and Mouret's
"Rondeau" on guitar and trumpet.
From: (Bdavis0102)
Try Vivaldi's "Largo."  It was used in the movie version of
"The Princess Bride" and is really lovely.  One guitar.
From: (Stepstar)
I used to play at a Ren festival, and one Saturday night some
people got married at the chapel there.  At that time the chapel
had no roof or windows.  It was just bare timber framing, but it
looked rather romantic in the rising moonlight.  The groom
looked dashing in his boots and the bride was piled high with
many types of old white lace and was led to the chapel entrance
riding a white horse.  Both had a profusion of flowers in their
hair.  Me?  I was just one of many musicians trying to figure
out what to play for these fine and brave folk...and then
someone started playing - believe it or not - the Russian Army
marching song.  He played it very slooooowly and it actually
sounded quite beautifull.... and with a wooop and a laugh we all
quickly joined in.  And it is THUSLY that two young souls got
married...and to the highly ironic and rather humorous
undertones of a tune that under any other circumstances no one
would have touched with a proverbial ten foot pole.
From: (Melanie Ganson)
We had a harp and flute; a combination I would have never
thought to put together, but it was very pretty.
From: ejk4e@darwin.clas.Virginia.EDU (Edward James Kilsdonk)
We are having a celtic harpist play for us.  We were thinking of
walking in, in part, to "Brian Boru's March" a simple but
effective minor key piece by O'Carolan.  You might also want to
wander into the folk section of your favorite music shop or
library and see what you can listen to to get ideas, or ask the
folks on
From: (fiona ligget)
I am having a Celtic harp at my wedding.  There are two types of
harps to my knowledge--the Concert and the Celtic.  The  Celtic
harp is smaller.  For my wedding I am looking at having the
following songs:
Wedding March by Mendelssohn
My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose
Morning Has Broken
Mairi's Wedding
Skye Boat Song
A Time For Us: from Romeo and Juliet
The above songs are good for either harp.  The next list of
songs are only for the Concert harp:
Bridal Chorus by Wagner
Lara's E
Theme: from Dr. Zhivago
Memory: from CATS ( Andrew Lloyd Webber)
Music of the Night : from Phantom of the Opera
Scarborough Fair
From: Kirsti Thomas 
Most harpists/harpers play weddings frequently and often have a
selection of pieces appropriate for the occasion.  For the
record, most professional harpists will have a standard wedding
reportoire (which varies from performer to performer) and will
charge extra if they are required to learn a piece not in their
From: "John A. Resotko" 
I'm a harper, and have several friends who play in Celtic bands
on traditional instruments or play and sing historical (period)
music.  I plan to coerce many of them to play for the wedding
and reception (provided they let me play as well!) I will
probably hire one of the more traditional bands, then invite any
of my other friends who play to bring their instruments along.
From: Berlin)
Your answer is a brass quintet!  To back up my personal bias, I
will say that no other ensemble can give you the same wide range
of repertoire from rennaissance through twentieth century
classical music to ragtime and jazz!
From: Susan Carroll-Clark 
At a wedding I attended, the music was played on a modern
synthesizer but had a very medieval feel about it.
From: (Amypamy)
We found some dancers to "do" our reception.  It turned out they
were free; I made a donation to their favorite charity.  But
they were incredible.  They specialize in Irish dancing, but had
a few medieval Celtic dances in their repertoire.  They
organized the guests into rows and squares and had them going
for awhile.  For music, I had brought my stereo out, and we set
it up with two extra speakers.  It was more than we needed.  I
bought CDs of medieval/Celtic music, and just put on the
scrambler (whatever it's called).  The dancers brought their own
music, which they cued up themselves (and had no problems).
From: Amy E. Rottier 
We're going to find a small band or strolling musician and an
enthusiastic dance instructor to conduct the "festivities" at
our medieval/renaissance theme wedding.  We thought it would be
so nice to have someone show the guests a few steps of an Irish
jig or a May dance or something.  Of course, I plan to have a
stereo and music for late night dancing by the roaring bonfire!
I *will* dance at my wedding!!)
From: Patricia D. Mooney
Background music was all CDs  -- chants, madrigals, etc.
From: (Miche)
The music was played on a small tape machine hidden out of
sight. When I asked where the music was coming from I was told
it was 'shy minstrels' hiding behind a curtain!
From: Kristiina Prauda 
We had a group of students of old music to play medieval songs
and tunes before dinner (that really helped to set the mood!).

7.2:  Where can I find musicians who play medieval music?

From: (ChipZempel)
If you're looking for early musicians (most of us can't afford
to advertise in the yellow pages - that would pretty much wipe
out most of the money we'd make!) here are a few ways to track
some down:  1) Call the American Recorder Society in Boulder CO
and ask if they have a local chapter in your area. Contact them
and ask if they have a group that performs. (Skill level can
vary WIDELY!), 2) Call local music stores, ask if they have
someone who teaches recorder. 3) Call local universities, ask 
if they have an early music ensemble, student or faculty, and 
4) Post to, or alt.fairs.renaissance, or asking if anyone knows performers or groups in
your area. People often know people who know people.
From: (Lanfear)
Through the staff at the Renaissance Faire where we held our
wedding, we hired a woman that played hammered dulcimer.
From: (Lone Vulf)
Try your local Renaissance Faire....if there are not musicians
performing there, the entertainment staff can probably provide
you with the names and addresses of local musicians who have
sent addition tapes, desperately trying to get work.
From: (Jason L)
We were able to get 4 musicians who work at the Southern
Renaissance Faire (CA).  Since the demand for Ren music is
small, their prices tend to be low. We got all 4 for the entire
afternoon & evening for $500.
Suggestions:  1) Peruse the local paper's arts calendar for
dances, go to them and ask the musicians, 2) Check with the
music department of local colleges, 3) Flog the web, e.g.
3) If all else fails, contact CDSS (country Dance & Song Society
in NOrthampton, MA) in US, EDFS in UK and ask if they have any
members in your area.
From: (Johanna Turner)
You might try seeing if there's a local English Country Dance or
Contra Dance community in your area. Check newspapers (ours has
a weekly listing of Contra and English country dances) and music
(instrument stores) that cater more to a traditional music crowd
rather than electric guitars and drums.
From: Dale Breault, Jr. (
Word of mouth is the best way to find a band or anything else
for that matter.  Ask couples or parents who have recently had a
wedding.  Ask the catering people -- they go to a lot of
weddings.  Ask the reception hall or restaurant people -- they
host a lot of weddings.  Take an evening or two and go to all of
the local clubs and bars.  You get a ready-made audition this
way.  Call any local universities or colleges and ask around.
From: Adina Sobo (
Actually, the way I found the group for my wedding was by
listening to the music at the Mall.  San Diego's Horton Plaza
hires strolling musicians to entertain shoppers, some other
large malls do as well.  Some of them are not really good,
others are, and there's a wide range of styles (ethnic,
elizabethan, country westers, a capella, and so on).  For that
matter, you'd be amazed at how many strolling troubadors at the
Ren Faires have business cards.
From: (Trystan L. Bass)
For authentic live music, ask around at a local Renaissance
faire or SCA event or on or alt.fairs.renaissance.
Try at a local college's music department too.  There also many
tapes of Medieval folk tunes, church music & chants, & even some
new-age music used Medieval style instruments.  A single harpist
would also work well, but no pianos (they weren't invented yet).
>From (Laura Beth Weiss)
Ken and I have hired a harp and violin duo from the local
symphony to play at our ceremony.  I have heard these two before
and the combination is lovely.
7.3:  I am looking for good quality CDs for my Wedding.  I need
    suggestions for both Dancing and Ceremony music.  It doesn't
    need to be for any specific period, but I would like it to
    have a medieval flavor.  All suggestions are greatly

From: (Trystan L. Bass)
There many recordings of Medieval folk tunes, church music, and
Gregorian chants.  Even some new-age music uses Medieval style
instruments. Look at a large, well-stocked record store in the
folk music and instrumental section.  Sheet music for Medieval
ballads and folk songs is available too -- check at a large
music store.  If they don't have it, ask them how to order it.
College libraries sometimes have large sheet and recorded music
selections, which you can make copies of.
From: (Grizel)
Do you have a national chain store called Best Buy near you?
It's an electronics, appliances and music store.  Their
selection of medieval music (they call it ancient Music or
ancient classical) is out of this world.  They have everything
from 13th century Spanish dance songs to monks to 17th century
Italian lute love songs.
From: hamilton@adi.COM
Here's some period recommendations:
For Ceremonial Music:
"The Pleasures of the Royal Courts".  Early Music Consort of
London.  Elektra/Nonesuch 9 71326-2
  1. The Courtly Art of the Trouveres (1200s)
  2. The Burgundian Court of Philip the Good (1400s)
  3. The German Court of Emperor Maximilian I (1400s)
  4. Italian Music of the Medici Court (late 1400s-early 1500s)
  5. The Spanish Courts in the Early 16th Century (1500s)
"North Italian Music for Cornetts and Trombones 1580-1650".
Concerto Palatino Accent Records ACC8861D
"Carlo Gesualdo:  Tenebrae".  Hilliard Ensemble.  ECM Records
1422/23 78118-21422-2.
"Giovanni Gabrieli:  Canzonas, Sonatas, Motets".  Taverner
Consort, Choir and Players.  EMI Classics [late 1500s, early
"Renaissance:  The Music of Josquin Desprez".  The King's
Singers.  RCA 09026-61814-2 [1400s-1500s]

For Dance or Background Music:
"Fantasies, Ayres and Dances:  Elizabethan and Jacobean Consort
Music".  The Julian Bream Consort.  RCA 7801-2-RC
"Tielman Susato:  Dansereye 1551".  New London Consort.
L'Oiseau-Lyre 436 131-2. [1500s]
"Dances from Terpsichore".  New London Consort.  L'Oiseau-Lyre
414 633-2.  [Early 1600s]
"The Feast of Fools".  New London Consort.  L'Oiseau-Lyre
433-194-2  [1200s?]
"Songs and Dances of the Middle Ages".  Sonus.  Dorian Discovery
"1492:  Music from the Age of Discovery".  Waverly Consort.  EMI
"A Florentine Carnival:  Festival Music for Lorenzo de Medici".
London Pro Musica.  Pickwick International.  PCD 825 [1400s]
From: (Barbara Jean Kuehl)
For background (mostly instrumental) music with a medieval or
Celtic sound to it, try any or all of the following:
-Anything by Maggie Sansone and/or Sue Richards, i.e., 'Morning
Aire', "Mist & Stone', or 'Music in the Great Hall'.  Their
music is described as instrumental music and Celtic tunes from
Ireland and Scotland.  Sansone plays hammered dulcimer. Richards
plays Celtic harp.
-Anything by Robert Almblade and Carolyn Cruso, i.e.,
'Ballincheol', 'The Fifth Element', or 'Tone Poems'.  Mostly,
they compose their own music.  They both play hammered dulcimer
plus Almblade plays cittern and Cruso also plays flute,
panpipes, pennywhistles and other wind instruments.
-Narada has produced some celtic music CDs.  I have two of them:
'Celtic Odyssey' and 'Celtic Legacy', and both are very good.
-Try also 'Northern Lights' (harp & hammered dulcimer played by
Steve Coulter and Harris Moore), 'The Spiral Castle' (guitar,
Celtic harp and lute played by Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton),
and "Carolan's Cup' (hammered dulcimer played by Joemy Wilson).
In addition to the above, look for anything where the musicians
play hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp and/or lute.  Also look for
groups that play the music of Turlough O'Carolan, a blind Irish
harpist (died 1738).
From: (Arne Moslaatten)
If you look at the music of Turlough Carolan, you find airs,
jigs, planxty and laments.  Some of his tunes he composed, some
of them were traditional tunes.  Several of them were published
in London 1796 in a collection by Edward Bunting called "A
general collection of the Ancient Irish Music.  This means that
some of these tunes were looked upon as ancient in 1796!  It is
true that many of the popular dance tunes are much younger, but
some of the jigs might very well be over 300 years old.  Not to
mention the slow airs. They are a part of a vocal tradition going
back at least 700 years and very similar to the kvedar-style in
My fiance and I picked up a CD at the New York Renaissance Fair
called "The Flowers of Edinburgh". It's a beautiful CD,
approximately 40 min. which we will use during our cocktail
hour. Another CD I acquired was from Past Times called "Minstrel
Songs and Dances for a Medieval Banquet" which we will use
during dinner. I am also trying to get a CD called "Music For
The Coronation Of Queen Elizabeth I", which is mostly trumpet
music which we will use for our entrance. The rest of the
reception we will dance to regular Top 40 music. If you hire a
DJ, most of them will play the period music if you provide the
CD's or cassettes.
From: Witches)
Here are the best sources I have yet found for Early, medieval,
and renaissance music books, recorded music, and instruments. I
have ordered many times from both and really like their service.

Boulder Early Music Shop
2010 14th St. Boulder, Co. 80302
(303) 499-1301
Fax (303) 449-3819

Lark In The Morning
PO Box 1176, Mendocino, Ca. 95460
(707) 964-5569
Fax (707) 964-1979

Return to the
Medieval & Renaissance Wedding Page