To use or not to use. That is the question.
Some dioceses and parishes take the decision out of your hands. They just ban it outright. Requests for it have become more scarce, at least in my meetings with engaged couples and wedding planners. Who knows; maybe they still ask organists to play it? Our parish had at least one wedding last year in which it was used. It’s part of the Catholic Culture of Complaint: whine long enough and loud enough and the Church will eventually give in to your wishes.
Why do so many musicians, liturgists, and clergy dissuade couples from using it? There is no screaming single reason, but a medium hum of several:
– The music is from Richard Wagner’s 1848 opera Lohengrin. The secular source for the music is enough for many people to dismiss it as a liturgical possibility.
– The bridal chorus is not the accompaniment for the nuptials of Elsa and Lohengrin, but part of the procession to the wedding bed. It’s hard to deny sex has its role in marriage, so I find this reason rather flimsy.
– The marriage itself is doomed when Elsa, on the wedding night, tempts fate by doing what she has been asked not to do. In the end, she loses her beloved and dies a tragic death from grief. Some liturgists point that the Bridal Chorus accompanies a ill-fated couple, but you could say the same thing for the psalms Jesus and the disciples sang after the Last Supper.
– Others will wave the banner of anti-Semitism over the composer and his works.
What I find more objectionable liturgically is the idea of instrumental processional music accompanying the bride and some or all of the wedding party. If the liturgy has indeed begun, the choice should be (for the reform2 crew) an antiphon and psalm or (for everybody else) a hymn or song.
But if you’re going to have the bride traipse down the aisle to instrumental music, why is the Bridal Chorus so bad compared to Shakespeare or King George’s 1717 yacht party on the River Thames?
If you’ve been a bride turned away from the wedding music about which you’ve always dreamed, and nobody gave you a good reason why, this is the best I can give you.