Booking a Musician for Your Wedding or Event
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Finding the Right CT Wedding Ceremony Musician
Congratulations - you’re getting married! You’ve chosen your date, venue and are imagining the day itself. In your mind’s eye you can see the wonderful flower bearers, the splendid maids and matrons of honor, the handsome groom and his best man all walking down the aisle and you hear - nothing. Now your walk, THE WALK, and as all your guests turn in their seats to see you in your gorgeous gown, you hear - the furniture creaking, your footsteps clomping and- nothing! The rings are exchanged, the ceremony is duly completed, your soul mate kisses you, and glowing you both turn and walk back down the aisle to great applause and cheers for an eternal 15 seconds. Then the guests gather themselves and file out and they hear - a lot of shuffling, otherwise - nothing!
That in itself is an unwanted note of grimness on a wonderfully happy day. Live music is a wonderful way to make your special day uniquely warm and memorable. Like live flowers instead of silk, there is a presence to a live performance which cannot be replaced or duplicated.
Aside from filling an awkward silence, a CT wedding musician can cover up unwanted sounds as well - like the college roommate who is overcome with both joy and hiccups from the champagne toasts at breakfast, the howls of your truly adorable nephew as he gets lost with the rings on his way amidst all those tall grownups, or your wonderfully supportive father grumbling in a basso profundo that, darn it, the groom is on the wrong side of the altar!
Music gracefully fills these otherwise silent and awkward moments by speaking to us without words and it is truly a magical way to let your family and friends know how you feel about them and your special day. And besides, it is a very elegant touch for the occasion.
So go ahead, enhance the experience and embrace excellence as only a live performance can offer! So what’s next? The answer is it all depends on you! If the setting is traditional, say, a church or synagogue, often you will be offered an organist or pianist with the venue. In fact some places include a wedding musician, with a fairly standard repertoire of wedding music as part of the booking fee. Or, if you want more control and choices to create the exact mood you have in mind, hire your own wedding musician.
Searching Your Artiste
Between the internet and the phonebook you can probably find several reputable musician booking agencies. Agencies tack on a fee but the good ones have great experience at finding the talented talent for your needs. The downside is that sometimes your contact with the performers themselves and your discussion with them before the day may be limited, and often if there is a reception band they will just single out one of the band members to fill the ceremony spot.
Working direct with musicians provides you with a better opportunity to get to know the person who will be sharing your moment in the spotlight and the internet is a great place to find them. An added benefit of an online search is that on some sites that aggregate individual musicians and allow you to search by specialty (guitar, flute, tuba) also have customer feedback and reviews which are very helpful in providing confidence in your selection.
Beware! Many venues will want to assign you a musician with their own pre-assigned and pre-approved repertoire, which is a pretty stiff trade-off on a day which is meant to be customized to your dreams. I call this “venue tyranny” and it is amazing how often this happens!
If you’re undecided as to what instruments and how many, you might start out with something like “Fairfield County wedding musicians.” Once you’ve looked over what’s available, refine your search to “string quart,” “flute and violin duet,” and the ever so elegant “classical guitarist,” (self-serving promotion added here!).
Once you’ve found someone who fits your vision of a perfect wedding day investigate further with an inquiry online or by phone. The musician should respond promptly, politely and be sincerely interested in you and what they can add to your wedding.
Most successful wedding musicians will have a web presence, either via a booking site or a link to a site of their own. Audio samples, client reviews and perhaps even videos will help can get a better feel for what they do and for the special memory they can create for your ceremony.
What About Budget?
All things considered, a live musician for your ceremony is probably one of the biggest bangs for the buck. The more musicians hired, the greater the expense (bigger bang = bigger bucks). Good string quartets for the ceremony (alone) start at around $500, with an additional $100-200 for a cocktail reception. For a soloist expect to pay a base fee of around $250 for the ceremony and about the same $100-$200 for a cocktail hour. If there is a complicated break down and set up there may an additional consideration.
Remember, some of the best musicians may not be living near your venue, so don’t be put off by a small travel fee to land a top notch player who may be available but slightly out of range.
Should We Blow A Horn? Which Instrument Is Best?
In a church an organ or piano is often available. When the setting is less formal or outdoors, you’ll want an instrument which is a little more portable than a grand piano.
Quality amplification can be critical and can make all the difference. No matter how fine the musician it doesn’t matter if they can’t be heard (without ears, music is worthless). Make sure to consult with your musician about the setting, amplification and power requirements.
Guitar, harp, flute, obo, violin are all exceptional at delivering elegance and sophistication to a ceremonial event and each has it’s own unique sound and style. It really comes down to preference, however fringe instruments like kazoos are usually best left out of ceremony considerations.
How Do I Choose The Music?
This can get tricky but a professional musician can guide you based on the style and mood you envision for a perfect wedding! Knowing the name of a specific piece of music you want is best, but in a pinch a hum the tune over the phone (key in the musician with a reference like “remember that movie scene where they meet on the beach and the guitar plays…”).
Or avoid the hassle and leave crafting a custom playlist for the ceremony or cocktail hour to the professional (after all, you probably have plenty on your plate already). Review the selection a few weeks before the event to make changes if needed.
They are the experts and guaranteed, they have been to more weddings than you. Some wedding professionals will even customize the play list for the reception at the event itself by watching and responding to the mood of your guests as the cocktail hour unfolds. How do they do that? They work within parameters already set by you--and they are pros!
Some tried-and-true ceremony favorites (Pachebel’s Canon in D, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Fanfare, the Wedding March…) or venture into wonderful less-played music suggested by your musician. It could be anything from pastoral Elizabethan music, Italian sonatas from the Romantic period, suave impressionistic compositions from the Europe of the early 1900’s, dazzling cosmopolitan works by sophisticated Latin American master composers of the twentieth century. Remember your musician should be an expert not only on their instrument but in finding exactly the music that will fit your ceremony like a glove.
The Hiring Process
Once you’ve decided on a musician there should be a standard contract which both parties sign, agreeing to the date, times location, amounts and other details. Make sure to exchange contact numbers for all parties involved (artist manager, event planner and venue).
A deposit of 50% up front is customary to hold the date, with the balance being due on the day itself. Usually this is non-refundable, but if unforeseen disaster should strike a make-good rain date should be honored by the musician. Some prefer to pay the full amount up front so that they do not have to be bothered with paying the balance at the ceremony.
Attire for the Musician
That’s right! What should they wear? The most usual attire for musicians is concert black, which can range from semi-formal to casual, but be sure to specify which! Formal black tie (tuxedos for men and designer pantsuits or gowns for ladies) is classic, but more casual is certainly fine too. But again – it’s your day so just let your musician know what you would like to see.
Relax, breathe deeply…and enjoy. Live in the perfect moment that you have created to celebrate the journey that the two of you have chosen to take together.
Annalisa Ewald is a professional classical guitarist, theorboist, writer, concert musician and highly acclaimed wedding ceremony performer. Visit her website at www.annalisaewald.net