All The Questions to Ask a Wedding Ceremony Musician Before Hiring Them

Make sure your dream wedding ceremony musicians check all of these boxes.
11 Questions to Ask Wedding Ceremony Musicians to Plan Ahead
Photo: Bek & Addison
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
by
Jessica Estrada
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
Jessica Estrada
The Knot Contributor
  • Jessica contributes wedding planning, wedding etiquette and relationship content to The Knot.
  • She also covers lifestyle and wellness topics for print and digital publications such Refinery29, Bustle, Well + Good, Cosmopolitan, Byrdie, The Zoe Report, The Cut and more.
  • Jessica has a journalism degree from Cal State University, Northridge and is certified as a life and success coach.
Updated May 08, 2023

The right music sets the scene for the wedding ceremony, which is why ensuring you hire the best wedding ceremony musician is so key. So how do you know if the string quartet, violinist, harpist, or pianist will be the one? Ask the right questions. From confirming they have availability on your wedding date to song selection and equipment consideration, below, learn the most important questions to ask a musician before hiring them for your wedding ceremony. Then head to The Knot Marketplace to find wedding ceremony musicians you love and check them off your vendor checklist.

In this story:

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Logistics

Before diving into the juicier questions, start the conversation with the important logistical questions below.

1. Do you have availability on my wedding date?

First things first, ensure that the wedding ceremony musician is available on your wedding date and time. As this can be a deal breaker, it will make the wedding planning process easier if you start off with this question at the beginning before spending time asking more questions. Also, be sure to factor in setup time they may need before the ceremony and if they will have to rush off to another engagement after.

2. What are your fees?

Next up on the list of questions is the wedding ceremony musicians cost. You must ensure that they fit your wedding budget before taking the next steps. And be sure to not just skim over this question. Ask follow up questions if needed. For instance, Ken Arlen, owner of Arlen Music Productions in Chicago, recommends ensuring that the wedding ceremony musician quotes you a rate that includes any added expenses such as travel and parking so there are no surprises down the road. This is also a good opportunity to chat about sick days or cancellation policies.

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Experience

Ensuring the wedding ceremony musician has ample experience is very important. Here are some questions to ask about their background.

3. How long have you been a wedding ceremony musician?

"It's a fair question to ask your musicians to speak to their level of experience," Arlen says. "You definitely do not want to hire musicians that have not had adequate experience performing a wedding ceremony. You only have one chance to get it right and you don't want musicians learning at your expense."

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4. Do you have testimonials you can share?

That said, don't just take their word for it. Arlen recommends asking musicians if they can share testimonials, reviews or references from previous clients. You can also do this on your own by reading reviews on websites like The Knot. He adds that you can also ask if they can connect you with other wedding professionals such as wedding planners who can vouch for their experience and recommend them as a wedding ceremony musician. And, of course, ask if you can hear a private or public performance to hear for yourself.

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Music

In addition to ensuring that their experience aligns with your needs, you also want to know if they'll be able to deliver on the songs of your choosing. Here are some questions to ask about song selection.

5. What songs do you typically play at a wedding ceremony?

"You should ask for a list of selections they have available to play at a wedding ceremony," Arlen advises. This can give you a jumping off point to see what types of songs they typically play.

6. Are you willing to learn additional songs for my ceremony?

If you have other songs in mind for your wedding ceremony beyond the list of instrumental wedding songs they shared, be sure to ask if they are willing to arrange special requests for songs to walk down the aisle to, as well as the processional and recessional. For instance, Arlen says these days it's popular to do classical arrangements of contemporary pop songs. And if so, Arlen emphasizes that it's important that the wedding ceremony musician allows you to approve all the final selections, so ask about that as well.

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Their Ensemble

Ask questions about the musicians themselves as well to cover all your bases.

7. How many wedding ceremony performers are included?

"You want to know the exact instrumentation of the group that you are hiring," Arlen

says. "For example, a string quartet should be two violins, cello and violin, not a trio of two violins and cello. There's nothing wrong with hiring a trio. You just want to know that you're getting what you're paying for." Furthermore, he says it's also a good idea to ask if one of them serves as a leader directing the musical transitions as people walk down the aisle.

8. Have you performed with the same musicians before?

For musician groups, Arlen says it's very important that they are accustomed to performing together and do so regularly. "That is much better than having them call pick up musicians they've never performed with before," he says.

9. What will the wedding ceremony musicians be wearing?

A wedding musician's attire can either blend in beautifully to the wedding's style and aesthetic or stick out like a sore thumb. To prevent the latter from happening, Arlen advises asking the wedding ceremony musicians what wardrobe they'll be performing in.

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Equipment And Weather Considerations

Wedding ceremony musicians often travel with a lot of equipment necessary for their performance. Be sure to go over questions about all their equipment needs and any weather considerations to keep in mind.

10. What equipment will you bring? Do I need to provide anything additional?

"Many ceremonies in larger spaces require amplification," Arlen says. Some wedding ceremony musicians will provide a sound system for amplification but others may not and you will need to plan accordingly. So be sure to ask this question so you're prepared.

On that note, Arlen also recommends asking if they're comfortable storing their cases and extra equipment in a secure area. "It's a much better look than having cases sitting next to the chair during the performance," he says.

11. Are you willing to perform outside? If so, are there any restrictions?

This question is particularly important if you're having your wedding ceremony outside. Ask about requirements or restrictions for doing so. "For example, some string groups will not play in direct sunlight or cold weather due to the harm it would inflict on their instrument," Arlen says. With all these questions to ask a wedding ceremony musician, by the end of the conversation, you'll be better informed to make the best decision for your wedding ceremony.

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