Finding Wedding Ceremony Musicians: What Those Wedding Sites Aren’t Telling You

Congratulations! You’re getting married. You’ve set the date, booked the venue, and have begun planning one of the most special days in your life. You’re checking out those websites and books that offer advice on planning a memorable wedding, or maybe you’re working with a wedding planner. Many of the online sites offer general guidelines, but who better to tell you about wedding musicians than a wedding musician?

What The Sites Say

One common point made on at least three of the major wedding websites is in regard to your musicians being able to play special requests that you might have. Most professional musicians are able to make this accommodation. However, if it is not part of their usual repertoire, the musician will either need to buy or arrange the music themselves. This requires an investment of either time or money on the part of your musicians. Be prepared to compensate them for this.

One site offers advice on the number of musicians that are appropriate for particular sizes and venues of weddings. The length of your guest list does not need to dictate the number of musicians playing for your ceremony! The musician you contact can steer you toward the number of musicians appropriate to your vision (and your budget). For example, you’ve selected a contemporary love song to be part of your ceremony; a string quartet will probably work better than a solo or duo, as there will be more musicians to cover all those parts of the song you’re accustomed to hearing—a bass line, harmonies, etc. A soloist, on the other hand, may need to use ‘backing tracks,’ also called pre-recorded accompaniments—which give your musician less flexibility in terms of timing with your processional or recessional, and will also require amplification. A string quartet provides both the sound you’re looking for and the flexibility crucial to a real-life ceremony.

What The Sites Aren’t Telling You

How an experienced musician can make or break your ceremony. Things can happen during a wedding ceremony—your young flower girl or ring-bearer suddenly turns shy and won’t walk down the aisle; the bride is running a half-hour late; it starts raining as your garden wedding begins. An experienced ensemble knows how to deal with these situations. They know how to keep the music going until the flower girl is ready to go, they have a large enough repertoire to entertain the guests until the bride arrives, and they have most likely have a plan of where to play from when the raindrops start.

When it comes to your musicians, any outdoor wedding must have an inclement weather contingency plan. As the violist in a string quartet, I can tell you that moisture will ruin a string instrument. Most serious string players (the type you want playing for your wedding ceremony)—whether they are full-time professional performers, your local orchestra teacher, or someone who played beyond high school—have instruments that value in the five figures. Asking a string player to play in the rain is the equivalent of asking you to crash your car. Inclement weather doesn’t just mean rain; cold and fog will wreak havoc on the musician’s instruments, and will not give you the musical experience that you want for your wedding.

Budget wisely. Music is an integral part of your wedding ceremony; this is not the area in which to cut cost. Your musician has had, in all likelihood, to give up time that they use to teach or perform elsewhere to play at your wedding. Musicians who play for weddings take that responsibility seriously; they strive to provide you with a beautiful and memorable experience. Just as they are respectful of the importance of your day, please be respectful of their time and effort in working with you to create the ceremony of your dreams. A reputable wedding musician will let you know where and how they can work with you on providing an affordable and lovely set list for your ceremony.