Music at your Wedding: Information

Covid-19 Update (July 2021): although all legal requirements have been lifted, with the current infection rates the Bishops have recommended that masks are still worn especially when singing. We are gradually removing the social distancing measures in the church itself, but these will continue for a couple of months or so. Check with Canon John what is in place at the time of your wedding.


Choosing the music for your wedding can seem daunting; there are a lot of guidelines here, but it tries to cover every eventuality and is based on my experience of dealing with the music for around 1000 weddings at the Sacred Heart! Please spend a little time looking through these notes carefully: if anything is unclear, do contact me via email at before making any decisions regarding music. If you want to call me, it’s 01372 841442.

My best wishes for a wonderful day for both of you in our beautiful church.

Bob Rathbone (Director of Music)


You have to discuss initial permissions and arrangements with the Parish Priest, Canon John Clark. A parish musician is automatically booked when the wedding is confirmed in the parish diary but you must also contact me to arrange the music.

There is a list of suggestions here: you can of course consult a wide variety of online sources of information – do be aware that some sites do not necessarily reflect music suitable for a Sacrament in a Catholic church! If you are still unsure, email or call to arrange a consultation to discuss and hear suggested music. This may be a good time to check costs.

You may have already some idea of the music you would like, in which case often an exchange of emails is all that is required. Check the fees that would apply to your choice of musicians.

The magnificent Sacred Heart organ is by far the best accompaniment for a congregation in the church and our instrument is capable of filling the church with glorious sounds. In addition to the organ, it is possible to book other instruments (such as a Trumpet) to great effect. Sometimes the Steinway piano might be used with very small congregations to create a more intimate atmosphere. All instrumentalists must be booked through the Director of Music though: please ask for advice if you have friends or family who might want to help.

When you have a reasonable idea of the music that you would like, please fill in the booking form (click on the link) – it doesn’t matter if there are some gaps.

Guest organists and other musicians:
If you wish to have your own organist or other musicians to help to lead the service, they must be approved first by the Director of Music or Organist. The Sacred Heart Organ is a large and historic instrument and any visiting organist must be experienced and competent; we will need to ask them to visit the church with one of us first – not least to show how to switch it on!
To protect the livelihoods of our musicians, the basic fee of £140 must still be paid in advance; (permission for a guest organist, pianist or any other musicians who replace the ‘in-house’ organist cannot be granted unless this is agreed). Please note that we do not permit the commercial hiring of outside musicians other than those booked by the Director of Music.

You may have family or friends who have offered to help by singing or playing on your special day. This can be arranged with the Director of Music – please be certain that singers or instrumentalists have had experience of playing or singing in a large building such as ours – it can put a huge amount of pressure on less-experienced singers/players, who of course want to do their very best for you. With guest singers, the higher rate of £160 is payable to the organist. If extra rehearsals are required with the organist apart from on the day itself, we have to charge £60 per rehearsal.

Please note that the use of pre-recorded music (CD only on our PA system) is not usually permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances; please ask, but it should only be a maximum of one item. It is also the policy of the Sacred Heart to discourage the use of non-sacred vocal music (in the same way that religious music is not allowed at civil ceremonies).