How to Hire Musicians For Your Wedding Ceremony

Live music can set the tone for your "I dos".
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by
Jenn Sinrich
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenn writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in planning advice and travel.
  • Jenn also writes for a myriad of other large-scale publications, including SELF, Women's Health, and more
  • Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Jenn worked as an on-staff editor at WhatToExpect.com, American Baby, Fit Pregnancy and FreshDirect.
Updated Apr 17, 2023

As you check off to-dos on your long list of tasks ahead of your wedding day, you are sure to stumble upon one that you know is important, but may not realize just how big of a role it will play. We're talking about the music aspect of your wedding, which is sure to have a big impact, especially if you opt to hire live musicians to perform during your ceremony.

Hiring musicians for your wedding ceremony or your wedding reception (or both!) brings a certain element of excitement and a personalized touch that guests can truly appreciate. "Live musicians tailor their performance to fit your unique preferences, offering a much more intimate experience compared to pre-recorded music that reflects the couple's unique love story," Matt Dendy, musician and soloist in the Sarasota area and founder of SRQ Violinist. "As a contemporary electric violinist, I can offer a modern twist to traditional wedding music, captivating guests with a dynamic stage presence and unique playing style."

In this article:

What to Consider When Hiring Wedding Ceremony Musicians

Ceremony music can be an excellent choice, but be sure you know what to look for. Here are some tips to help you narrow down the musicians for your wedding.

Find out whether your ceremony site has any restrictions.

Some ceremony venues, especially synagogues and churches, have certain rules about whether music is allowed and some provide musicians for this purpose and do not allow outside performers to be hired, explains Alexandra Partow, owner of Alexandra Partow Events in New York City. This is also true for outdoor ceremonies, as the area may have certain noise restrictions. "Be sure to ask your site about electrical outlets and how many musicians are usually hired to fill the space with music," Partow adds.

Meet and preview the band.

As with any vendor, it can be helpful to meet with your band prior to hiring them to make sure they're cordial and have the vibe that you're looking for. "Large music agencies tend to host showcases where you can hear their bands and most performers also have music and video clips on their websites," she says. "If you attend a wedding with musicians you love, get their names and contact information."

Check their references.

Also, as you would with any vendor, it can be a good idea to find some references to be sure that the musicians you are looking to hire are easy to work with. "We have found some bands have a great reputation in keeping the dance floor full, but do not listen to client requests or are not easy to work with on wedding day," says Laura Maddox, owner of Magnolia Celebrates.

How to Hire a String Quartet for a Wedding

A string quartet is a group of four musicians that play stringed instruments: two violins, a viola and a cello. While string quartets played very traditional music back in the day, now you can find string quartets that can play all sorts of music varieties and artists, from Elvis Presely and Johnny Cash to Bruno Mars and even Beyonce (here are some of the best string quartet wedding songs). Here's what to consider when hiring this vendor.

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Start the search process early on.

When considering hiring a string quartet for your wedding, Dendy recommends starting your search early in the planning process. "String quartets can be in high demand, so it's recommended to book your preferred vendor well in advance," he says. "You can start by asking for recommendations or searching online for local vendors."

Consult with each potential musician.

During your search, Dendy recommends scheduling consultations with each vendor to discuss your vision for the music at your wedding and to hear samples of their work. "Factors such as experience, reputation, availability and pricing should also be considered when evaluating different vendors," he says.

Gage their level of experience.

It's important to find out how much experience the musicians have prior to hiring them, notes Katherine Hunter, Pennsylvania wedding officiant and founder of Katherine Hunter Celebrant. "However talented they are individually, if they haven't worked together before or regularly, they may sound rough," she says. "If a string quartet musician has extensive experience playing with other musicians, it may not be crucial that they've worked with the particular musicians in the quartet."

Wedding String Quartet Cost

In general, the average cost of hiring a wedding string quartet is anywhere between $600 and $1,200 for an hour of performance. This can vary significantly depending on your location as well as any additional services you opt into when hiring this type of vendor.

How to Hire a Violinist for a Wedding

If you're looking for soft, beautiful, high-pitched sounds as part of your musical experience for your wedding, you may want to hire a violinist. These skilled musicians are a popular choice for a wedding ceremony due to their ability to create a romantic and emotional atmosphere with their music, notes Dendy. Here are some tips for hiring the right violinist for your wedding who can create some of the best violin wedding songs.

Start your search early.

To ensure you're able to secure a top-notch violinist for your wedding, it's smart to begin your search early. Dendy suggests asking for recommendations from friends or family or searching online for local vendors. "Schedule consultations with each vendor to discuss your vision for the music at your wedding and hear samples of their work," he adds.

Know which type to hire.

Violinists are not one-size-fits all. In fact, there are different types of solo violinists to choose from. "Classical violinists are trained in classical music and are perfect for formal weddings or traditional ceremonies, whereas a lot of contemporary violinists are also trained classically, but have diversified their skills to appeal to a wider range of clients," Dendy says. "They are more versatile and can play a range of styles, including pop, rock and jazz and can add a modern twist to your wedding music and keep your guests entertained throughout the night."

Consider the varying costs.

The cost of hiring a solo violinist can vary significantly depending on a few factors, notes Dendy, including their experience, reputation, education, location and length of the performance. "The type of violinist you choose can also affect the price, as some may be more expensive due to their extensive training and experience, which is why it's essential to research thoroughly and not just go with the cheapest option," he adds.

Wedding Violinist Cost

In general, the average cost of hiring a wedding violinist is typically between $150 and $500 per hour.

How to Hire a Harpist for a Wedding

A harpist is a professional musician who plays the harp, a stringed musical instrument that has strings that run at an angle, creating a gentle and soothing sound that's very romantic. Here are some tips for hiring the right harpist for your wedding and some of the best harp songs for your wedding.

Consider their experience.

The harp is not an easy instrument to pick up, so when hiring a harpist, it's important to consider their experience, as well as their reputation and style of music to ensure that they fit your vision for the event. "You can start your search by asking for recommendations from friends or family members or by searching online for local harpists," says Dendy.

Schedule a consultation with your desired vendors.

Dendy suggests scheduling consultations with potential harpists to discuss the musical vision you have for your big day. During the consultation, ask to hear samples of their work and take the time to inquire about their pricing structure, including any additional fees for travel or equipment rental. "Keeping these things in mind can help you find the perfect harpist for your event and create a truly magical experience," he adds.

Wedding Harp Cost

In general, the average cost of hiring a harpist for your wedding is between $300 and $500 per hour.

How to Hire a Pianist for a Wedding

Pianists are a popular wedding musician to hire, mainly because of the fact that they can play pretty much any time of music, including classical, jazz, pop and folk. These are the best songs for a pianist to play at your wedding.

Decide on the type of pianist.

Pianos can be electric or acoustic. "Acoustic pianos can be either grand (ranging in size from five to nine feet long) or upright, about two feet long (but with the same size keyboard)," says Partow. Electric pianos are more modern sounding, so they may be a better choice for someone who is looking for a pianist to play some newer, less traditional music.

Make sure your venue has a piano.

Piano movers are costly, so Partow recommends checking that your venue already has a grand piano in good condition that has been tuned within the past week. It's also a smart idea to make sure that your venue has the right electrical access for this musician, especially if you're hiring an eclectic pianist, as they will need this to play during your event.

Wedding Pianist Cost

In general, the average cost of hiring a wedding pianist is between $200 and $500 per hour.

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