How to Choose Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Your wedding is in six months and you have sorted out the venue, catering, and the officiant. Yet, you still don’t have your wedding ceremony musicians! All the big wedding vendor sites have lists of musicians an arm’s length long. Where does one begin?
Quite simply, this is a personal choice. Although recommendations from friends and family are important, there is no one-size-fits-all. At the end of the day, you as the bride or groom will have to see which musicians resonate (no pun intended!) with your personalities and dreams the most. Here are a list of things you can think about.
1. What is the ambiance that you would like to establish during your ceremony? How do you want the guests to feel when they enter the venue? How do YOU want to feel before, during, and after the ceremony? Ideally, the music should not create the atmosphere – it should reflect the atmosphere. Can you see (hear) the difference? In other words, rather than the music artificially making people feel a certain way, it should be a natural expression of what is already happening “on the ground”.
2. What kind of sound do you want? There are many options available for ceremony musicians. String quartets and other string ensembles (such as trios, duos, and a wedding violinist) can give an elegant touch. In fact, the warmth of string music is hard to replicate!
3. How many guests do you anticipate having? Obviously the musicians need to be heard. I recommend that you hire no fewer than 3 musicians if you have 75-100 guests and certainly no fewer than 4 if you have over 100. This applies to string ensembles. Remember that strings are not usually amplified, which is actually a GOOD thing. Amplified music often (but not always) substitutes volume for warmth.
4. Is your wedding music ensemble or contractor easy to work with? Unfortunately, many groups have amazing players but they are not able to communicate effectively (or even appropriately) with their clients. It’s very important that your musicians are willing and able to coordinate the fine-details of the wedding ceremony. As an example, someone from your wedding party can give them a signal when to start and stop playing (if you feel that this necessary).
5. Are the wedding musicians professional? Although it might be tempting to hire conservatory students, remember that they are not necessarily reliable and that you do get what you pay for. Students have other priorities and your wedding is not necessarily going to be the most important in their need to make a living.
6. Are your musicians reputable? There are many groups out there that play the “occasional” gig, but unless they specifically advertise as a wedding ensemble, you might not be satisfied, no matter what you pay. A world-class quartet that tours the country might actually not be the most appropriate ensemble for your wedding, as tempting as this may sound.
7. Finally, do the musicians make you feel like YOU are the most important? Musicians have a reputation for being egotistical (after all, they are used to getting all of the attention). You want someone who is dedicated to your happiness with a “customer is always right” attitude.