top of page

The Most Famous wedding processional song Pachelbel's Canon in D Major

The Most Famous wedding processional song Pachelbel's Canon in D Major

The wedding processional is such a crucial moment in a ceremony — and a moving wedding processional song is the ideal way to set the tone for your "I do" moment.


Hotel Shangri-La Paris pic by. Pierre&Julia Photography

As wedding traditions evolve, it becomes increasingly common to walk down the aisle to sappy, chart-toppers by Ed Sheeran or wistful acoustic covers of classic rock hits. But Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major,” a composition that remains a perennial.

It was never intended to be.

How the singular piece of centuries-old classical music has transcended time and geographies to secure its status as one of the most popular wedding songs in Western society is a story where pop culture, music theory and imagination converge.

When and where Pachelbel’s Canon originated, and why exactly he composed it, is largely a mystery to music historians.

Violoniste Mariage Paris cérémonie Shangri La Palace Hotel Violon Electrique Yamaha Organiser son mariage musicienne classique
Hotel Shangri-La Paris pic by. Pierre&Julia Photography

It dates to the late-17th or early 18th century, and there’s speculation that it was written as a gift for the wedding of Johann Sebastian Bach’s older brother, who studied with Pachelbel.

The early 20th century was the era of getting early music out and figuring out how to transcribe it and who could play it.

But even then, Pachelbel’s Canon was still definitively not a wedding song. Go-to works by Richard Wagner and Felix Mendelssohn, on the other hand, were explicitly bridal marches.

Mariée , entrée de la mariée, shangri la palace, elopement, paris , petit mariage, musique mariage
Hotel Shangri-La Paris pic by. Pierre&Julia Photography

Although “Here Comes the Bride” are neither the original lyrics nor the real title for Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus,” the tune (often used for the processional) comes from his 1850 opera, “Lohengrin,” in which the wedding is a beautiful moment amid drama and tragedy. Likewise, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from the same period (often used at the end of the ceremony) comes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Pachelbel’s Canon, by comparison, is without text or context.

Ceremonie de mariage Shnagri La Hotel Paris Musique mariage Mariée
Hotel Shangri-La Paris pic by. Pierre&Julia Photography

The way it’s set up is that there’s a repeated pattern that happens in the bass line — you hear that, initially, by itself without the violins, and that unit is repeated 28 times in the whole piece — and then you hear the violins come in one after another. The reason it’s called a canon is because of what the three violins do in the upper voices: they play in a round.

Musically, it just happens to be a piece that you can do pretty easily in almost any configuration you have. You can do a million things with it.

It’s also perfectly paced for walking down the aisle, and it feels timeless because there’s no text. You’re not guided to one single way of thinking about the piece, so it becomes meaningful for every individual or pair.

Oficiente cérémonie laique wedding pastor paris violinist violoniste mariage musique romantique palace parisienne
Hotel Shangri-La Paris pic by. Pierre&Julia Photography

You have this four-bar subject that goes over and over and over, and therefore, we can cadence at any time, so you have the perfect piece of music for however long a procession takes. We can play the whole thing, and cycle it right back, or we can play only part of it and still have a very fulfilling piece of music. That’s always the problem — how are you going to disrupt the music if the procession only takes 20 seconds, or a minute and 40 seconds? The Pachelbel “Canon” is an easy and tasteful answer to that; we not violating the musical fabric so much by coming to a conclusion too early.”

And whether intended or not, there’s symbolism to that cyclical setup.

Euterpe Paris can play this piece for you in violin soloist performance, in string duo (violin and cello) , in string duo (violin and harp) , violin and piano duo, string trio (violin, viola, cello) , string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) , violin clarinette harp , violin cello and piano.


Wedding Pastor : Michelle


bottom of page