Wedding Day Music Ideas
A Guide to hiring a string quartet, a string trio or a string duo to play for your wedding.
Why have a string group play for your ceremony?
- " It makes such a difference having live music"
- "The ceremony was just so special, especially having the string trio playing"
- "This wedding was really different, we just loved the quartet music"
Vicars and registrars also voice how lovely it is to have live musicians adding a special touch. They say that a cd player is so impersonal and that the beautiful atmosphere created by a string quartet or a string trio makes the ceremony stand out from the rest.
A string quartet or trio can entertain your guests as they assemble for your ceremony, play for the entrance of the Bridal party, play during the signing of the register and finally play for the exit of the newlywed couple.
Live string music makes such a difference to a wedding ceremony and your wedding will certainly be remembered by your friends and family as having an extra special atmosphere.
Why have live background music for the drinks reception and/or wedding breakfast?
Whilst couples tend to give much thought to their choice of music for the ceremony and evening entertainment, they frequently forget to consider their requirements for the rest of the day. Good hosts appreciate the need to keep their guests happy, relaxed and in a party mood throughout the day and a string group is one of the classiest ways to do this, especially during the time the photographs are being taken.
An experienced string group playing popular classics, love songs and ballades in the background during the drinks reception and/or wedding breakfast can create the most wonderful relaxing atmosphere and enhance everyone’s experience of the day.
How do you choose the right quartet, trio or duo?
If you want the best, enquire 12-18 months in advance as the best quartets/trios/duos get booked up early.
REMEMBER: entertainment agencies can charge up to 30% commission, so it may save you money if you book your group directly.
Ask who the members of the group are, their qualifications, and find out how long they have been playing together. If you’re paying out a lot of money you want to know you are getting a quartet or a trio who know what they are doing.
Quartet/trio/duo playing is a specialist skill and takes years to perfect - a few people thrown together for your wedding is not something you want. You simply would not contemplate having a band for the evening reception made up of people who had never rehearsed together - that would sound disastrous! So don’t settle for a substandard string group either.
Make sure you get a contract of service or at least written confirmation of your booking. Ask where you can hear them play - many groups now have sound clips on their websites and the most professional groups play at wedding fairs so clients can meet up with them and listen to them play. Make sure their playing is of a standard you find acceptable.
BEWARE of groups who advertise claiming to be a ‘professional quartet/trio’ when in fact they are using the term in the context of receiving payment rather than as a reflection of their level of experience or ability - this is a widespread misconception.
General considerations and information.
Weddings inevitably run late. Find out what the group’s policy is on playing after the agreed time is. Sometimes musicians have to leave promptly to get to another function or event, so make sure that you are sure of the length of time you need when you are confirming the booking, as it may be too late to change it on the day!! However, most groups will try to help out if they can.
Ask for a list of the music they play so you can choose the music you want to be heard on the day. If they can’t supply a list, this means they’re not very organised and it would be advisable for you to move on.
Ask to see some testimonials, although many string groups have some testimonials on their website. You could also ask if you could speak to or email another couple who had the group play for their wedding. You could ask them about communication, professionalism, standard and presentation on the day of their wedding. Also how friendly and easy to work with were the group?
If you want music in a church, find out if the group includes playing for your guests' arrival. If they don’t, then insist they at least set up before the guests start to arrive. Be careful they don’t add on an extra charge if the ceremony starts late and runs over the time agreed. If you want the musicians to accompany the hymns choose a group that is willing to provide the music, all necessary music arrangements and will accompany a singer if required. Most professional groups will arrive at least half an hour before they start to play in order to set up and liaise with vicar/wedding co-ordinator. This should be included in the service that they offer.
String instruments are very delicate and can be damaged easily in direct sunlight, extreme cold or dampness. They can cost tens of thousands of Pounds so understandably players can be very protective of them and don’t want to play in extreme elements. If you would like the quartet or trio to play outside at your drinks reception, make sure you find out in advance if they’ll do so and get it in writing. There’s no point in paying for a string quartet or trio sitting in a hotel lobby playing to no one, while your guests are outside enjoying champagne in the sunshine. Most groups are happy to be outside with you as long as there is some sort of shelter from the elements eg a gazebo or similar. Of course, if your wedding is during the autumn, winter and early spring months it may be too cold for musicians to be outside, even under a gazebo. Remember that you and your guests can move about if it is chilly – the musicians are static and get cold very quickly.
If you have more than 120 guests and you’re thinking of having a string group playing while you have your meal in a large banqueting suite, don’t waste your money on a string group which does not have it’s own PA System, because it will just not be heard. A microphone placed in front of them hooked into the in-house system will not work either. If the quartet or trio has an amplification system and they need to use it please make sure that it is PAT tested. You should also check that the group has public liability insurance - a lot of venues require this nowadays.
Most string groups take bookings on hourly increments with the majority not taking bookings of more than 3/4 hours, although it is always worth asking. There may be travelling expenses on top of the fee quoted. The musicians will take a comfort break during their booking but they usually make sure they liaise with you so everybody is happy with the timing.
How do we make sure we book a group who will offer us the highest standard of playing and professionalism we require? How much will it cost to receive best service?
- A school quartet will have limited experience and the playing standard will reflect this. Expect to hear the same pieces several times as the musical repertoire will be small. It may be worth thinking about how the music will sound on your video. Expect to pay between £80-£100
- A student group will be slightly better quality, but will probably be ad hoc. Reliability and punctuality may be considerations. From £160 - (but pay no more than) £200
- An amateur or semi-professional quartet will be made up of keen music lovers and will have a large selection of music to choose from. It is likely semi-pro players have day jobs; so it may be difficult for them to be available on weekdays. Standard of playing can vary greatly. £300+
- A professional string group will be of top quality and have an extensive repertoire of music to choose from. These players are full time musicians at the top of their profession and these musicians will give you the best musical performance available. Expect to pay £260 - £350 duo, £350 - £800 Trio and £460 - £1000 dependent on the length of the booking. Each group should have a price list they can send to you.
Please note that the costs mentioned in this document are only guidelines – each group will have their own prices.
Public liability insurance
School, student and amateur groups will probably not be covered by public liability insurance. Most professional groups will have this cover but it is imperative to ask about it as some may not. This may be an important consideration for you in case of an accident involving any of your guests - you don’t want this to come back on you.
Hiring a string group is like anything else really..........you get what you pay for!
If you require more information then please contact our friends at Ariella Strings
We all want our wedding day to stand out as a truly magical occasion, with this amazing dream comes attention to detail and a great deal of planning. 'With Bells On' is a wedding site which is dedicated to assist you in the making of those important decisions. Your wedding ceremony, whether church or civil, is the public exchange of promises between two people witnessed by their family and friends. The ceremony is the heart and soul of your very special day. Live music can greatly increase the sense of occasion and true emotion of your love as the ceremony unfolds. The musicians can play softly in the background as the guests gather together before the service starts, during the signing of the register and as you leave the service as newly weds, this will continue to enhance the ambience and set a wonderful feel for the whole day.
Do check prior to booking as there may be a lack of space or various other venue restrictions. Often a pre prepared CD of your choice is used. If you hire a highly experienced function band they may be able to assist you with this. (For that extra personal touch). Truly professional bands will insist on meeting you prior to your special day to discuss the music of your choice, to finalise details and to know exactly how you want your day to flow.
Upon your arrival as Husband and Wife at your wedding breakfast the subtle musical performance in the background can continue while you're receiving your congratulations from your family and friends. Depending on the type of band that you decide on, why not have a fanfare played for your entrance to the wedding breakfast.Once the speeches and the toasts have come to an end it's time to get those dancing shoes on!Kick start the evening with the fabulous live band that have helped create your special day and smooch on down to the dance floor for your chosen first dance
Most bands will have a standard list of around fifty to sixty songs that they will play at most weddings but if you choose the right band you can have a fully tailored set list of most, or indeed, all of your favourite songs. However, there are bands out there who have a repertoire of up to FIVE THOUSAND songs so all you need worry about is what you want to hear on the night. Of course there is nothing more memorable and enchanting than having your first song played by some top class professional musicians.Typically you can expect your musicians to play either two 45 minute sets, two 1 hour sets or a long 1 and a half hour set. But to get great value for money why not have two one hour sets? If your wedding package does not include a disc jockey, please ensure that your band has the facility to play recorded music during breaks and throughout the night. Often a Bride & Grooms' worst nightmare is, during the bands first few songs, that there may not be a lot of people dancing. Don't worry about that, they have just eaten (in need of a few more drinks!!), so it may be a good idea to think about starting times for your musicians.Most bands expect to be working until anywhere between midnight and one a.m. Your musicians will understand that speeches often run over time so will be completely flexible with how your day is flowing.
Finally. Something else worth bearing in mind is that your musicians will be at your wedding venue for quite some time as they have to set up and sound check prior to your reception.Most bands expect to set up anywhere between four and six o'clock. If they are there until midnight, then they are going to get hungry and thirsty. Nothing pleases musicians more than being invited to use an evening buffet and having a couple of soft drinks throughout the evening.
Reliability and quality of performance are the two attributes that are essential for headache-free, successful music at a wedding. If you go for cheap, you are likely to sacrifice either or both of the above! A professional musician will expect to take home £120 - 150 for an engagement. On top of that there are equipment and travel costs, along with publicity, advertising and agency costs should you not choose to book direct. Right, down to business... As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay £200 - 250 for a solo performance, £300 - 500 for a duo, £450 - 625 for a trio. A four to six-piece band starts at approximately £800. Depending on the versatility and professionalism of the musicians, the price increases to £1000 - £2000. Larger bands cost proportionately more.Most bands will be happy to reduce the price depending on mileage. Please expect to pay a deposit of anywhere between 20 - 25% as this will guarantee the booking and the date. Please be wary of amateur or semi professional bands, you will NOT get the quality or standard of musicians as those who live and breathe music professionally. For more information and advice, why not contact someone from our wedding directory, or the writer of this article Funk'n'Soul