Our step-by-step guide will help you travel from bewildered to booked in no time at all. If at any time you need additional assistance, you can Contact Us for individual help and advice.
So, let’s get started by answering some basic questions. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about all your answers, but anything you can answer now will help streamline your choices later.
- What is your total budget for music?
- How many people will be at your event?
- Will they be sitting quietly (e.g., wedding) or talking and moving around?
- What kind of space is available for the performers?
- What kind of music do you want for your event?
- How long will your event last?
Choose an Ensemble
Let’s start by comparing price and basic details.
|String Quartet||2 Violins, Viola, Cello||Robust sound|
Suitable for any size event
|1 hr: $750
2 hrs: $1000
|String Trio||2 Violins and Cello|
Violin, Viola, Cello
Alternative for mid-sized events
|1 hr: $600
2 hrs: $750
|String Duo||Violin and Cello||Intimate sound|
Alternative for small events
|1 hr: $450
2 hrs: $550
What about sound? Here you can listen to all three ensembles playing the same piece.
Pick your Music
Now let’s look at some music options for each portion of the wedding. Also, for even more advice and samples, be sure to check the blog articles in our Wedding Music category!
|Service Element||Details||Popular Selections
|Prelude||We will perform approximately 30 minutes of music before your wedding begins. We will construct an interesting and appropriate set from our extensive selection of mood-setting classical pieces.|
Some couples want specific pieces to be played (or not played, as the case may be) during the Prelude. If you have a special request (or strong opinions) about the Prelude music, don't hesitate to communicate your preferences.
|Seating of Honored Guests||Much suitable music exists for this part of the wedding. There is really only one consideration: if you have a large number of people to be seated, and a long aisle, you will want to choose something sufficiently long. Music can be repeated, but some tunes "wear out" quickly.||
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach)
Sheep May Safely Graze (Bach)
Air from Orchestral Suite 3 (Bach)
Sinfonia [Arioso] (Bach)
|Bridal Attendants||The considerations that apply to the seating of the mothers also apply here: aisle length and number of participants. If you have 11 bridesmaids, 6 flower girls, 2 camels and a dancing bear, you will need something like the Pachelbel Canon. If you have 2 bridesmaids and a ring-bearer, you can still use the Canon, but you could also use something much shorter.||
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Air from Suite 1 in F (Handel)
Trumpet Voluntary (Stanley)
The Grand Dance from King Arthur (Purcell)
|Bridal Processional||Aisle length applies here as well, but in the opposite respect: if you have an outdoor wedding with a 20 foot aisle, you might not want to use the Pachelbel Canon, as it will barely be started and you will be at the altar.||
Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin (Wagner)
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Prince of Denmark's March (Clarke)
2nd Act [Trumpet] Tune from The Island Princess (Clarke)
Trumpet Tune from Dioclesian (Purcell)
|Music for the Unity Candle can be one of the most difficult selections to make. If everything goes to plan, the lighting of the Unity Candle may take less than 30 seconds. Often, couples request a special song that may last as long as three minutes. While this seems like a short time in normal life, in "wedding time" it is very, very long. If you don't think so, try this experiment: set a timer for three minutes and stare at one, unmoving object for the entire time. That's what your guests will be doing.|
It is perfectly acceptable to have no music at all here, and that has become an increasingly common choice.
On the other hand, never forget that this is your wedding. If you have always wanted a certain song played at this moment, or if you want some time in the wedding to stand and gaze in each other's eyes, or if you are having a mid-service event that may be time-consuming (such as a communion) don't hesitate to make your request. Just remember those three minutes.
|Recessional||This is music for the exit of the bride and groom, attendants, and sometimes the mothers and grandmothers. Traditionally it is livelier music than the processionals.||
Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn)
Alla Hornpipe from Suite 2 in G (Handel)
La Rejouissance from Music for the Royal Fireworks (Handel)
Marche from An Occasional Oratorio (Handel)
|Postlude||We usually play an additional piece after the bridal party has exited (and after any announcement or dismissal from the officiant), for the "public" exit. This should also be lively, similar to the music of the Recessional.|
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we answer the mysteries of the universe!
Why should I have live musicians?
Live music at your wedding or event can transform the average into the extraordinary. You may not have a horse-drawn carriage, tens of thousands of dollars in floral arrangements, or access to the Westminster Cathedral, but for a comparably nominal cost, you can walk the aisle or enjoy your meal to the music of princes and princesses (or Charlie Daniels, if that’s more to your taste).
Live music is an ancient tradition of man, stretching back to earliest civilization. Whether a Gipsy fiddle band or full orchestra, princes and paupers alike have been married, fêted, and buried to the strains of live music. I have never heard a regret from a bride or host about using live music. Not one has ever said, “This would have been so much more glorious with a boombox and a cheap wedding CD.” We go to concerts because live music is more entertaining, more memorable, and more intimate than an mp3.
I’m convinced. But how do I know you’re any good?
Take a listen to some of the live recordings on the Demo page. They give a very good sense of the sound and quality of each ensemble: quartet, trio, and duo.
I don’t know anything about music or picking the right music for each part of the wedding? Can you help me?
In a word, Yes.
I have been personally playing weddings and events for 20 years, and can help you design a highly traditional or totally non-traditional music experience. You will receive as much personal attention as you need to help you make your choices.
Also, if you’ve gotten this far, you have already found our Planning page, because you are on it. Click through the tabs for a step-by-step guide to choosing your event music.
And for some fun wedding music facts, visit the Wikipedia Wedding Music entry.
How much will all this live music cost? Isn’t it impossibly expensive?
No, the cost is surprisingly low, compared to what you are probably paying the photographer, videographer, florist, limousine, caterer, and venue. Wedding music is one area in which there has remarkably little inflation over the last decade. While other wedding services have doubled or tripled in price, wedding and reception musician costs have risen only marginally. This is bad for us, but good for you.
If budget is a major concern, the Trio and Duo represent a significant reduction in price over the Quartet. See the Ensembles tab for a detailed breakdown.
I’m having an outdoor wedding? Should I still hire you?
A good question, with a somewhat complex answer.
Unamplified strings have a definite problem carrying outdoors, especially in an open-air environment. Since there are no walls or ceiling off which to bounce the sound, the volume decays rapidly as you move away from the instruments.
If you are having a small, intimate outdoor wedding, this is not a problem, and strings can be very complimentary.
If you are having a large outdoor wedding, it is not worth the expense unless you also have a competent sound engineer who can mic and broadcast the strings over the sound system. String mics are not vocal mics, so you need a sound engineer with the appropriate equipment and experience, not the wedding DJ who happens to have a couple extra mics in his closet.
Finally, be aware that outdoor weddings involve special contract riders related to weather, temperature, seating areas, shade coverage, and concert dress. These are not onerous requirements, but measures designed to protect musicians’ equipment investment and personal well-being.
How do you handle payment?
We require a $50 deposit along with your signed contract. The balance is due the day of the engagement, prior to the performance start. Sometimes people choose to pay the entire amount up front. This is not required. We accept cash, checks, and PayPal.
Can you play….?
Yeah, pretty much.
We have a large and always growing selection of music from which you may choose. But if you really want a certain special piece, I will purchase it, if available, or write an arrangement. If purchased, you will be charged the purchase price, or some portion thereof. With enough advance notice, I will arrange one piece for free (within reason – not the entire Ring Cycle). After that, prices typically run around $100 per arrangement.
Be aware that just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be. Anything is possible, but not everything sounds good when played by strings. Some things sound, well, silly, and other things just sound boring or inappropriate. If you do have special requests, I will be more than happy to guide you through this minefield.
Finally, don’t ever be afraid to ask. We can pretty much play everything from Abba to Zappa. Of course, if you ask for something by the Bay City Rollers, I will have to laugh at you and publish your name on the website.
Having said all that, if you are looking for mostly or completely rock/pop music, I have a different quartet which specializes in it. We are very good, played one of the most exclusive Superbowl 45 events, and you should check us out over here.
What if one of your musicians doesn’t show up?
We hire bounty hunters to find them and punish them.
But what about my wedding? won’t it be ruined?
No. But people do have medical emergencies and car accidents. For this reason, we have contingency music for smaller ensembles. I have personally been in this business for 20 years, and it has yet to happen to me, but there is always a first time. (OK, so we did total a car in an ice-storm getting to a DBS Messiah concert, but – and this is the impressive part – we still got to the gig).
If a musician, for whatever reason, misses the entire gig, we will happily refund you their portion of the total. Then we will call the bounty hunter.
I have a question you didn’t answer. How do I ask you?
You can call me, or use our Contact form.