If you’re planning a wedding and have decided you’d like to have live music at your ceremony and cocktail hour, hiring musicians may feel like an overwhelming task, having never hired musicians before. For that reason, we would like to suggest some steps that will help make this process easier for you.
Step 1: Consider your venue and size of ensemble
Large indoor ceremony rooms – If the room you’re having your ceremony in is indoors, consider the size of the room. If it’s large, you can consider having a larger ensemble, say a string quartet that will not need amplification. For larger indoor rooms, you can also have a smaller ensemble like a duo (2 musicians) or trio (3 musicians) who could use amplification. The size of the room should also accommodate the space requirements of a larger ensemble.
Small indoor ceremony rooms – Smaller ceremony rooms are well suited to a solo or duo that may need no amplification. You can use a larger ensemble such as a string quartet, but if you space is limited, it might be uncomfortable to fit a larger ensemble and the sound may be overpowering.
Large outdoor ceremony spaces– For outdoor wedding ceremony spaces, the musicians will likely all need amplification, so before contacting musicians, it’s helpful to make sure that there is power available for the musicians’ sound system. Assuming the musicians will be amplified, you can choose any size ensemble; you’ll just have to tell your musicians that amplification will be required.
Small outdoor ceremony spaces – Since there isn’t much resonance outdoors, even if the space is small, many ensembles may still choose to be amplified. Larger ensembles such as string quartets may not need amplification. And if you have a small guest list with the musicians will be sitting close to the guests and celebrant, they may not need amplification.
Step 2: Decide on musical style
Before searching for musicians, you should have some idea of what style of music you would like for your ceremony and cocktail hour. Many couples choose a different style of music for the ceremony (such as traditional, classical wedding music) and for the cocktail hour (such as jazz).
There are many styles you can choose from for your wedding music. You should choose a style that fits the style of your wedding and your own personal preferences. Possible styles include:
- Traditional wedding music
- Spanish & South American
- Arrangements of your favorite songs
Step 3: Research musicians in your area
There are several ways you can locate musicians to hire for your wedding. You can use websites such as Wedding Wire, The Knot and GigSalad. That’s an easy way to find musicians who choose to advertise with them. You can also just do internet searches for “wedding musicians Phoenix”, “hire wedding musicians Phoenix” or similar. And of course you can get referrals from friends who have hired musicians before!
Check out the musicians’ websites and review their song lists to see if they play the styles you’re interested in. Some musicians will even have their repertoire listed on their websites so you’ll be able to get an idea of exact songs you might want them to play.
Step 4: Contact musicians
Once you find some musicians you’re interested in, you should contact them and give them the following information:
- Your wedding date
- The location of your wedding venue
- If you will be asking the musicians to move their equipment between the ceremony and cocktail hour
- What portions of your wedding you want music for (wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, etc.)
- When you want the musicians to be available to play. (Remember that for ceremonies, most musicians begin playing prelude music about 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony and play postlude music a few minutes after the end of the ceremony as guests exit.)
- What style of music you would like
- Any special music/song requests
Step 5: Consider quotes
After you’ve contacted musicians you’re interested in, find out whether they’re available on your wedding date, determine that they’re a good fit your vision of your wedding and ask for a quote. DO NOT ASK FOR A QUOTE RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING OF YOUR COMMUNICATION unless you care about nothing besides price. If that’s the case, you may end up being disappointed in the quality of the music in the end.
Just like you probably didn’t buy the cheapest dress you could find or hired the cheapest caterer you could find, we suggest you base your decision on much more than price. When selecting your wedding musicians, we suggest you consider the following:
- Experience – how long have they played their instruments, were they trained in music performance at top music schools and how long have they played together (some ensemble members have played a long time individually but have not played a long time together which could affect how well they play as an ensemble.)
- Professionalism – does their website look professional (this is a good indication of how professional the ensemble is as a whole), do they respond to you quickly and professionally, do they have professional quality audio and video samples (not just recorded in their living rooms), do they have professional quality photos, do they have a well-written contract, etc.
- Musicianship – If you’re not a trained musician, we suggest to consult your more musically trained friends or family members to lend an ear and opinion to the quality of the playing of the musicians you’re considering. To an untrained ear, average musicians can seem fine, but if you want an ensemble that will impress the ears of your most refined listeners, you’ll need top-notch musicians. There are lots of musicians you can hire, but just like with catering, there is a wide range of quality as well!
We hope these steps will help you book musicians that will really enhance your wedding and make it the day you have always dreamed of and will never forget.