Live music is the soundtrack for your wedding day and it beautifies and enhances the aural and visual atmosphere of your wedding. Chances are that hiring a musician isn't something that you normally do and perhaps this is your first time. You may not know what questions to ask music professionals, or where to even begin. That's why I wrote the following checklist as a great place to start.
Instruments: Choose instruments that reflect your personality and style. What sound and visual appearance will help to bring your vision to life? Is your wedding more casual or is it classic? Is it romantic or a lively celebration? What instruments will sound best playing your song selections? To decide what ensemble best fits your event, share the answers to these questions with your music professional and he or she can help guide you. You can also listen to music samples of a variety of different ensembles online. I offer many different ensembles featuring the flute, strings, piano, harp, and guitar, and I also have music samples for each. One of my groups is sure to be a perfect fit for your style, and if for some reason I don’t have what you’re looking for, I will gladly make recommendations for other musicians using my connections in the music world.
Number of Musicians: Consider the size of your space and the number of guests that will be attending your ceremony. In general, plan to have at minimum one musician per 50 guests. It’s also a good idea to hire more musicians, such as a quartet, for large outdoor spaces. A duo that includes an amplified harp, guitar or piano can also fill a space with sound as effectively as a quartet. More isn’t necessarily better however. For small weddings in an intimate space, an acoustic soloist or duo is a great choice. Also consider your budget. The number of musicians that you hire is usually the single most important factor in determining the price of your live music.
Repertoire and Song Selection: Can your music professional play the songs and styles of music that you want? Do you want to honor any family or cultural traditions with your wedding music? If a song that you want to have played is not included in the musician's repertoire, ask them if they take special requests and if there will be an arranging fee. Each of my ensembles has an extensive repertoire and I'm also a professional music arranger which means that I regularly make special music arrangements for my clients at a reasonable price.
Amplification: Most instruments are very resonant and their sound carries quite well, even in outdoor spaces. For larger events or in settings with lots of ambient noise, make sure that your music professional can provide quality amplification if needed. Some wedding venues don't allow amplification, so don't rely on having it until you've inquired first. I have both a battery powered amplification system and a high quality plug-in amplification system that I regularly use for our performances when needed.
Hire Experienced Music Professionals: Your music professional should be an experienced wedding musician who is able to guide you through the music selection process. They should know what questions to ask be and able to foresee potential problems so that the music on your wedding day will run smoothly, and they should always present themselves professionally. Make sure that they are well trained, regularly performing musicians who are able to give you confidence in their musical abilities. I have over twenty years of experience performing music for weddings and I'm also lucky to love running the other aspects of my business as well.
Extra Costs: When you're hiring musicians to play for your wedding, be aware that there may be extra costs in addition to their basic fee. Make sure that you know what services are included in their basic fee, and what services are available at an extra cost. Extra costs can include fees for travel, musician tent rental, amplification, special music arrangements, additional microphones, and moving equipment between the ceremony and cocktail locations. I don't like surprises and I'm sure that you don't either, so my music quotes includes a list of the services that your quoted price covers, and also a list of optional add-ons and how much each one costs.
Consultation: Ask your music professional if they will meet with you so that you can talk about your wedding with them in person and hear them play. I provide a complimentary consultation either before or after you book. Or, if you don't have time to have a consultation, you can use my Wedding Music Planner.
Contract: It is important to work with musicians who provides a contract so that expectations for both the musicians and client are clearly defined in advance. A contract also shows that the musicians are professional, reliable, regularly performing musicians. I always provide a contract so that expectations on both sides are clear.
Contact: Do you have specific questions about your wedding music? Are you looking for a wedding musician? I'd love to hear from you!
Know What Your Musicians Expect Ask your music professional what their policy is for environmental conditions including rain, temperature extremes and requirements for shade. Often the venue or musicians will provide these items, sometimes for an additional cost. Ask in advance what they expect you to provide for them at the performance. Some instruments are extremely vulnerable to weather and sunlight and others are more hardy. I will play solo flute in adverse weather conditions but I don't ask string players to join me! Most likely your guests won't want to be outside if the weather conditions are bad either. I request natural or tent shade for stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello) during hot weather and sometimes, one armless chair for each musician.