I am sitting at my son's wedding location (wedding doesn't start for about 45 minutes) and my daughters have been at work practicing a song for the ceremony. The 2 girls (well, hardly "girls" anymore . . .) always sound so beautiful together! Their brother wanted to have them sing for his wedding and they couldn't hardly turn him down. Having all 4 of our kids together (the 3rd time in their lives) was, in itself, somewhat amazing! Our older daughter lives in Arizona, our older son lives in Illinois, our younger daughter lives in Georgia, and our younger son (the groom) lives in Texas, yet, despite the years and distance, we're going to hear a duet in short order. They selected a very modern song (I'd never heard it before) and it's beautiful. Got me to wondering what songs might have been sung at our ancestors' weddings.
Of course, we know that many early marriages were of convenience or business (combining 2 families & their assets), so possibly the romantic love songs were not sung at such unions. However, we also remember such stories of Romeo & Juliet (OK, so that was fictional, I think), Abelard & Heloise, Antony & Cleopatra, Abigail & John Adams, and Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning.
Robin Frederick has an interesting website about Early Love Songs and that may shed some light on the songs our multi-great-grandparents (and earlier) crooned. Then there are songs of unrequited love (not likely to be heard at a wedding . . . after all, that's when the 2 get together, not pine for the loss of love not returned . . . well, unless the object of one or the other's affection is not present!). So, while "Greensleeves" (possibly by King Henry VIII) may be a song of love, our ancestors probably did not include it in their wedding ceremony!
How about those who married in the 1800s? Check out the "Greatest Hits" of that Century at "Most Requested Music Hits of the 1800s" to see the few love songs included there (including "Beautiful Dreamer," mentioned in an earlier blog, among others).
So, unless your ancestors happened to leave a record of what they had sung at their wedding, we will probably forever be in the dark about the music portion of their wedding ceremonies. Still, it's fun to imagine those early weddings with maybe just a touch of music, even if it was only Mendelssohn's famous "Wedding March," written in 1842.