by Charles Panati

Below is the history of the Wedding March.

The traditional church wedding features two bridal marches, by two different classical composers, the precursor of the wedding march.

The bride walks down the aisle to the majestic, moderately paced music, of the “Bridal Chorus” from Richard Wagner’s 1848 opera Lohengrin. The newlyweds exit to the more jubilant, upbeat strains of the “Wedding March” from Felix Mendelssohn’s 1826 A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The custom dates back to the royal marriage, in 1858, of Victoria, princess of Great Britain and empress of Germany, to Prince Fredrick William of Prussia. Victoria, eldest daughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria, selected the music herself. A patron of the arts, she valued the works of Mendelssohn and practically venerated those of Wagner. Given the British penchant for copying the monarchy, soon brides throughout the Isles, nobility and commoners alike, were marching to Victoria’s drummer, establishing a Western wedding tradition.

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