Eugene Portman on piano

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Wedding Pianist - A jazz pianist can provide classical music for the wedding ceremony or civil partnership and jazz for the reception.



I can be hired for this service in Essex, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, London and other areas of the UK


The Civil Wedding Ceremony

At one time I used to consider it a novelty if I had to play the piano for a wedding; now, there seldom seems to be a week when I don't have at least a couple of weddings to play for. One thing that has become more and more popular, is the civil wedding ceremony and I think that this is the reason that I am booked for more and more each year. The advantage of having a jazz pianist, jazz trio, duo or any other live musician, is that they can provide the music for the ceremony, drinks reception and the wedding breakfast.


Please visit my Ceremony Music Site if you need more help.

If you are thinking of hiring me or anyone else to provide wedding music, then the only thing that you really need to concern yourself about is your choice of wedding music for the ceremony. You can, of course, leave the choice up to the musician or musicians; but try and give them a guideline. If you don't want to pick each piece of wedding music for the proceedings then just try giving a style of music or maybe a composer.


If you are thinking of having classical music for the ceremony, and jazz or something lighter for the rest of the proceedings - then make sure that the musicians you hire are comfortable with the styles that you have in mind. I was classically trained (as most professional pianists are) so traditional wedding music isn't usually a problem.

I frequently have phone calls from people who are worried about what music to have for their civil ceremony. The ruling is supposed to be that: you can have any music you want, as long as the pieces you have chosen don't have any reference to religion. I talk to registrars on a weekly basis and there seems to be many differences of opinion as to what is allowed. The rules seem to be set but they appear to be at the mercy of the registrars interpretation. For instance: "Ave Maria" and "Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring" are commonly thought to be banned from the civil ceremony - yet I have played both of these during ceremonies in the past.

Some registrars need to know what is going to be played for the ceremony well in advance while others just come over to me and ask me on the day. I've even had a registrar want to know what pieces I had planned for the gathering of the congregation - which is not really part of the ceremony at all.

Most people like to choose music that means something to them and their partner, but I frequently find that couples worry about the ceremony and end up leaving the choice of music up to me. It is wise not to risk choosing "Ave Maria" and "Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring" because they will both, more than likely, be rejected. Later on I am going to give you some ideas of playlists that will definitely be accepted. Before the start of the ceremony there is usually some music played while everyone enters the room and sits down. This is usually refered to as "the gathering of the congretation". You don't have to worry about this bit too much as it is not really part of the ceremony.

Here are some guidelines for choosing music for your ceremony:

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Recommended venues Page



The civil ceremony has four main part's as far as a musician is concerned and they are:


1) The gathering of the congregation.

2) The Procession

3) The signing of the register

4) The recession


The gathering of the congregation.

The gathering of the congregation speaks for itself really - I just play music while people gather and seat themselves. This section doesn't really have a time span and it isn't necessary to choose music for this section. However, if a couple does select wedding music for this part of the ceremony, they must accept that either: I won't be able to play all of the chosen piece or pieces, or more frequently I will have to play extra music of my choice.

The Procession.

The next section is the entrance of the bride and traditionally this is carried out to Wagner's Bridal March. Although most people stick to the Wagner; you can have any music you like. The one thing you must consider when looking an alternative is that it doesn't take long for the bride to walk down the aisle - usually 15-30 seconds. Also, the music has to be something that can be brought to an end easily. A lot of couples go to great lengths to choose something very special for the entrance: only to find that I can only play a small snippet. I often recommend using the same music for the entrance as the signing of the register (see the playlist page). This usually ensures that you will hear your favourite piece of music in it's entirity during the signing.


The signing of the register.

The signing of the register usually takes about 5 - 6 minutes and it is customary (but not essential) to have music that is calm and mellow. So if your favourite piece of music is only two or three minutes in length then you'll probably have to choose two pieces of music so that it will cover the 5-6 minutes. I suppose that if you did choose something that was too long there would come a point when I would have have to stop playing but the piece would have to be excessively long.

The recession.

This is where everyone leaves the place of the wedding ceremony and traditionally this was always carried out to Mendelssohn's Wedding March. In this day and age wedding couples seem to request everything but the Wedding March. Anything seems to be appropriate for the recession but most people seem to select something that is jubilant. The music is played for as long as it takes every one to leave the ceremony room (3 - 5 minutes). So as soon as the last person has gone; I finish.

Everything that I have mentioned above also applies to the civil partnership.

Please note that none of the above guidelines are written in stone. You can have something up-beat for the signing of the register and a slow ballad for the recession. As I said earlier, you can have any music you want, as long as the pieces you have chosen don't have any reference to religion.



If you would like to see some playlists for ceremonies then click HERE


Drinks Reception

That's it! The ceremony is over and you can start the celebration.

After the ceremony everyone usually starts making a lot of noise. They have so much to say because they've had to keep so quiet throughout all the serious bit. I usually play through this part and I usually find that for once I don't have to worry about being too obtrusive.


The Wedding Breakfast

This is the bit where I provide the entertainment while everyone is eating and chatting. Most of the time I just go with the crowd: I play mellow dinner jazz if they are quiet and more lively stuff if they start making more noise. One of the most important things for me as a jazz pianist in this situation is to be aware of whether my music is interfering with the conversation of the wedding guests. If it is; then I'm doing something wrong. For most weddings I play the piano right up to the speeches and that's where I usually finish. I do however, occasionally carry on after if there is a gap between the end of the speeches and the start of the evening's entertainment. All weddings are different and at the end of the day it is up to you and what you would like me to do.

The Evening Reception

More and more I am called upon to provide the evenings entertainment. Some couples prefer to have something a little more relaxing than the normal disco have me as either a solo pianist, a duo (piano and bass or piano and vocals) or one of the bigger line ups. Others have a disco in one room while I am playing in another. This latter option gives your guests a choice and it's amazing how many people choose to come into the room with solo piano music. What a lot of people don't realise is that most of the guests at a wedding haven't seen each other for a long time and desperately want to talk. Having mellow jazz gives people that freedom.

Set playlists for ceremonies

Interesting Facts about weddings.
Amanda Joy - Original Ink Drawing Of Your Marriage Church.

I can provide line ups from just solo piano right up to a five piece band with piano, bass, drums, vocals and sax. Please note, however, that whichever vocalist or instrumental line up you choose - it will not be a function band. Quite a lot of couples like the idea of having mellow jazz but they would quite simply like just an hour or two dance music at the end of the night - without having a fully blown disco. I can now provide this. Please visit the disco page for more information.

Please discuss your requirements

I suppose about half of the weddings I play the piano for have the ceremony in a church. This means that I often just play for the reception drinks before the meal and the wedding breakfast. I am also frequently involved in the evening's entertainment - especially if they require a jazz singer, jazz trio or quartet. Everyone's requirements are different so please don't be afraid to discuss any special requirements with me. First of all if you fill out the form here - I'll be able to give you a quote. Alternatively if you don't like filling out forms, you can email me  and give me any relevant information that way.


If you need help with the music for the ceremony then have a look at the following pages:

Set Playlists For ceremonies

Classical Music I've Used For Ceremonies

My repertoire (jazz)

or visit the following site:


A Thousand Years - Christina Perri

Clair De Lune (Suite Bergamasque)





My availability as a jazz trio, duo or quartet.

If you are looking for wedding music that is a little bit different from the usual function band or DJ; then a jazz trio, duo or quartet playing tasteful mellow jazz might be the answer. Click here for more information.

Please fill out the form for a free quote here



Useful wedding links

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Here Are The Areas I will Cover

COUNTIES IN ENGLAND: Avon, Devon, Isle of Man, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Northants, Surrey, Berkshire, Durham, Kent, Northumberland, Tyne, Wear, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire East Yorkshire Leicestershire Nottinghamshire West Midlands, Cheshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, West Sussex, Cleveland, Gloucestershire, London, Shropshire, West Yorkshire, Cornwall, Hampshire, Manchester, Somerset, Wiltshire, Cumbria, Herefordshire, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Derbyshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Staffordshire, Wirral.

COUNTIES IN SCOTLAND: Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Galloway, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, The Highlands, Dumfriesshire, Fife, Midlothian, Stirlingshire, West Lothian, East Lothian, Glasgow, Perthshire, Strathclyde.

COUNTIES IN WALES: Cardiff, Flintshire, Pembrokeshire, Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Gwent Powys, West Glamorgan, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, South Wales, Wrexham.

CITIES AND TOWNS IN ENGLAND: Bath, Barnsley, Bedford, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Burton-On-Trent, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Carlisle, Canterbury, Cheltenham, Chester, Chesterfield, Coventry, Crawley, Croydon, Derby, Dover, Durham, Eastbourne, Exeter, Folkestone, Gloucester, Guildford, Harrogate, Hereford, Huddersfield, Hull, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool, Luton, Maidstone, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Norwich, Northampton, Nottingham, London, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Runcorn, Warrington, Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Swindon, Telford, Torquay, Winchester, Windsor, Worcester, York, Southampton.

CITIES AND TOWNS IN SCOTLAND: Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dunfermline, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gretna Green, Inverness, Kilmarnock, Oban, Perth, Stirling.

CITIES AND TOWNS IN WALES: Cardiff, Caernarfon (Caernarvon), Colwyn Bay, Swansea, Bangor, Caernarfon, Newport, Rhyl, Tenby.

Please note that most of the photographs on this site were taken by Eugene Portman and are subject to copyright.