Two hearts are at Journey's Endelssohn,
Whate'er their future they must share it.
I trust they Lohengrin and bear it."
The two essential Standard Snippet wedding marches derive their music from:
- The bridal chorus that opens Act III of Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin. The German words begin "Treulich geführt ziehet dahin," but most English speakers know it as "Here comes the bride."
- The prelude to Act V of A Midsummer Night's Dream from Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music to William Shakespeare's play (Op. 61). Generally used as a recessional.
These two pieces, commonly referred to as "Lohengrin" and "Mendelssohn," are often played at Real Life and fictional weddings, even if those weddings are in films set before the pieces were actually composed. The combination may have been popularized by its use at the wedding of Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia (later Kaiser Friedrich III) in 1858.
Some churches discourage the use of this and other secular music at weddings held in their facilities. Some churches and musicians also discourage their use because of the context: Elsa's wedding in Lohengrin is anything but happy, the marriage wasn't consummated, and by the end her beloved departs and her brother has been turned into a swan; and A Midsummer Night's Dream is not the most... shall we say "monogamous" of Shakespeare's plays. And some organists are just bloody sick of them. The former is also generally not used at Jewish weddings, due to Wagner's anti-Semitism and his association with Nazism (Mendelssohn was a Lutheran with Jewish ancestry, by the way - and disliked by Wagner).
If it's not one of these pieces of Classical Music being played at the wedding, odds are pretty good it's either Pachelbel's Canon, the Prince of Denmark's March by Jeremiah Clarke (sometimes incorrectly called the Trumpet Voluntarynote , and notable for being used at Princess Diana's wedding), or "Sheep May Safely Graze" from Johann Sebastian Bach's "Hunting Cantata".
- Lohengrin is played in a distorted, nightmarish fashion when Stanley is having his comedic Catapult Nightmare in Father of the Bride.
- Both Mendelssohn and Lohengrin are used for the polyandrous wedding at the end of Horse Feathers where all the Marx Brothers (except Zeppo) marry Thelma Todd.
- Laurel and Hardy movies often used a swing-tempo version of Mendelssohn's tune in the background to underscore the woe of married life.
- In My Dearly Beloved Detective (a Soviet movie about a Distaff Counterpart to Sherlock Holmes), Holmes and Watson go to a bachelor club disguised as men. The club's anthem, sung throughout the scene, is set to Mendessohn's music, but the words are... not exactly wedding promoting.
- The opening notes of Lohengrin are sampled in the Wedding Song in Corpse Bride.
- Lohengrin is played in Flash Gordon at Ming and Dale's wedding, for some reason...
- It seems like The Graduate was an unintentional pioneer in making Mendelssohn work wonders for powerful dramatic wedding moments.
Ben Braddock: ELAINE!!!Marty McFly: NOOOOOOOOO!!Wayne Campbell: CASSANDRAAA!!!
- In Mr. Bug Goes to Town, the two ladybug children perform Lohengrin at Honey and Mr. Beetle's wedding, one blowing on a giant harmonica and the other singing a cappella. Later, when Smack and Swat crash the wedding to warn their boss of the approaching humans, Smack hijacks the harmonica to snap up the pace, while Swat whispers a warning to the tune...
We've gotta scram! We've gotta scram! Trouble's a-comin' and we've gotta scram!
- In an Anachronism Stew example, Gaston hires a band to play the Lohengrin bridal march in Beauty and the Beast when he's about to propose (unsuccessfully) to Belle. The film takes place in the mid to late 18th century, the bridal march was composed in 1850.
- Unsurpisingly this is motif throughout The Wedding March. It plays over the opening title card, during the wedding at the end, in a distorted minor key when Cecilia is told she's being married off to a man she's never met...
- An aversion from Dorothy L. Sayers' Busman's Honeymoon: "Lord Peter set his foot down resolutely on Lohengrin and Mendelssohn, and we were played out with Bach."
- Discussed in I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, when Johann/Eunice is planning the wedding to Jake. The Eunice personality is adamant that the Mendelssohn not be used, because, she says, it always sounded to her like the triumphant clucking of a hen that's just laid an egg.
- Used in the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Holy Matrimony, Murdoch!", for Murdoch and Julia Ogden's weddng. Including Mrs Brakenreid insisting that everyone hum Lohengrin during the rehearsal.
- The classic Sesame Street episode of Maria and Luis's wedding used Lohengrin at the beginning of the ceremony and Mendelssohn at the end.
- Used in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Course: Oblivion" during the wedding of Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, which during the latter song when the rice gets tossed during the newlywed couple's departure we see the rice sink into the floor and fall down into the Jeffries tube below, cuing us in to what the crew will discover in the episode.
- "Here Comes the Broad", a track from the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Wolfgang's Big Night Out (an album of swing arrangements of classical compositions) combines elements of both Lohengrin and Mendelssohn.
- The Irrelevant Act Opener "Bride and Groom" from the musical Oh, Kay! begins with a longer version of the punny Ira Gershwin lyric quoted above; George Gershwin set the first line to a variation on Mendelssohn's tune.
- Our Town plays this entirely straight for the wedding scene, though it's implied that these two pieces, along with Handel's Largo and a few hymns, are all the town organist may know, since "there isn't much culture" in Grover's Corners.
- In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Lorelei's wedding song, "Button Up with Esmond," begins with the Mendelssohn snippet.
- Hamilton: Lohengrin plays at the end of Helpless to signify Alexander and Eliza's wedding. This is a case where the song is used for a time period far before it was actually composed (1780), but Hamilton in general is a very, very deliberate Anachronism Stew (the rest of the song is R&B, after all) so it's not too jarring.
- In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, a minor-key variation of Lohengrin plays for the evil vizier's wedding to the fake Cassima ("Oh no, it's wedding music!"). When Alexander weds the real Cassima, the normal version of Lohengrin and Mendelssohn is played as usual.
- In Matrimelee, the last Power Instinct game to be released in English, the reward for defeating Princess Sissy and winning the tournament is to marry her. Appropriately enough, a remix of Lohengrin plays when she appears, and a remix of Mendelssohn plays for the fight.
- At the start of Haunted Castle, Mendelssohn plays over Simon Belmont heading out with his newly-married wife — only to veer off key when Dracula flies in and whisks her away.
- One of the late-game quests in Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak involves convincing Jingle to play Lohengrin for a wedding.
- Castle Crashers, a dark, twisted rendition of "Here comes the bride" is used as the boss theme of the Conehead Groom.
- Street Fighter II uses Mendelssohn in Ken's ending as he marries Eliza.
- A vintage Fleischer Popeye cartoon had Bluto and Olive marching down the aisle behind Justice Wimpy to an appropriately broad and graceless version of the Lohengrin tune.
- In the Futurama episode where Leela is getting married to another cyclops, Hermes does a rasta version of Lohengrin.
- In the Disney propaganda short Education for Death plays over a Book Burning.
- An episode of The Simpsons which parodies The Graduate ends with Grandpa Simpson and Mrs. Bouvier running out of her wedding to Mr. Burns while Mendelssohn plays in the background.
- And in another episode ("I Married Marge"), in the flashback story, Homer has a wedding with the pregnant Marge in a cheap chapel, and as they walk to the chapel, one man is seen playing Lohengrin on a Casio electronic keyboard.
- In "Thursdays with Abie", an aspiring author plans on murdering Grampa to end his book about him with a sad death, and he makes up his own sinister lyrics to Lohengrin as he advances toward a sleeping Grampa with a Vorpal Pillow.
Here comes the prize
- In "Rabbit of Seville", after a mutual escalation where each side points bigger and bigger guns at the other, Bugs instead offers Elmer flowers and chocolates, which causes him to reappear wearing a wedding dress. After Bugs rushes through a ceremony with himself as Justice of the Peace, Bugs carries his new "bride" to the threshold to the tune of the Mendelssohn Recessional. (Whereupon he drops Elmer off a very high ledge into a prop wedding cake reading "The Marriage of Figaro".)
- Being an episode about a royal wedding, "Lohengrin" appears all over the place in the season 2 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- The wedding in the Rugrats episode "Let Them Eat Cake" uses Mendelssohn for what should have been the bride's walk down the aisle. The use of Mendelsshon instead of Lohengrin is a double case of Fridge Brilliance: (a) the couple's names are Ben and Elaine, and (b) Ben is Jewish, being Boris and Minka's son, so it makes sense that they wouldn't use the Wagner piece.
- Played with in the Kim Possible episode "Car Alarm". As Kim and Ron pursue the stolen Kepler rocket (converted to a road dragster by Motor Ed), Wade remotely opens a panel containing a couple of gold rings. Ron becomes flustered and Rufus starts humming "Lohengrin". Wade then explains that the rings are "magno-rings" to help Kim hang on after jumping onto the Kepler.