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4. Location, location, location! This may seem utterly obvious, but do visit the venue with the estate agent’s mantra in mind! Think about where you’ll have your players positioned so that they can be seen and heard. Raising a group up on a platform or small stage at one end of the room will always help the music to project more acoustically and keep antique instruments out of harm’s way. Ask the venue to keep a space clear in readiness for the entertainers. On a few awkward occasions our group has been booked to play during a meal and found there’s literally no room for us and we’ve ended up in a corridor outside the reception room. Occasionally, a hotel has positioned us right in the middle of a room, but quickly realised that we’re blocking the path of all the waiters and tripping everyone up – so we have spent 20 minutes of valuable playing time waiting for the hotel staff to move tables around and find us an alternative area . If you’re paying good money to have live musicians, you want to make sure your guests are able to hear and enjoy them. 5. Calling in the amateurs If you’re really on a budget, perhaps you’ve got friends or family members who might be happy to play something for your special

6. Longer bookings – better value Most of the time, musicians charge the largest part of their fee for the first couple of hours, just to make it financially viable to take the day off their paid orchestral work or cancel music teaching. The hourly fee then usually drops dramatically for further hours, so it’s better value to have them play longer once they’re there. Although it might be your dream to have an organist and brass quintet for the ceremony, then a flute/harp duo for the drinks reception, a string quartet during the meal and a live band at night, followed by a disco, you’ll end up paying significantly more than if you’ve got the same people playing throughout. If you can find a group with a really varied repertoire, you may be surprised that it can produce a totally different sound and change the atmosphere at different times throughout the day. As an example, you could have classical music for the ceremony, light music, jazz or show tunes during the drinks reception, and pop/rock covers during the meal... this will keep your guests interested and as you’ll be booking the same group of people to be there the whole day, it’ll work out much cheaper than hiring in (and co-ordinating!) three or four different sets of musicians. 7. Less can be more... Occasionally we’ve played for weddings where the couple seem to have had lots of inspired ideas, but booked every wedding entertainer to arrive at the same time – and this obviously costs a lot of money. Imagine a harpist playing in the hallway with a quartet in the room next door drowning her out, a table magician performing card tricks, a singing waiter

(Picture: NZ Gabriel at, CC-BY)

Musicians get lots of enquiries from couples asking for six or seven-hour bookings, whereas actually they don’t need constant music played throughout the day – just at certain periods. If you would like music as guests arrive, for the ceremony and drinks, but then you’ll be off having photographs for an hour before the wedding breakfast, find a group which is flexible about what it actually charges for. Although some groups charge from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, there are lots of musicians who are happy to charge a nominal fee for ‘waiting time’ between periods of playing. That way, you could hire a group to play for three hours, but with two half-hour breaks built in – stretching the time to a four-hour booking overall. This saves money and also means you can make the most of hiring live musicians; there’s no point in them playing in an empty room while all your guests are outside being photographed.

day? Obviously they’re unlikely to sound as polished as a professional, or to have such a wide selection of music, but it can add a very personal touch to the wedding and any small mistakes or wrong notes are more likely to raise a smile than ruin the day. We played at one wedding reception where the music for the ceremony earlier was performed by the bride’s nephew and his trumpet, with one of the ushers accompanying him on piano! Of course, you can also hire a professional group to entertain everyone later on if you need music for the reception, leaving your musical family members to relax and enjoy themselves with everyone else.

(Picture: Jon Day at, CC-BY)

3. Do you need them to play continuously?

who bursts into song, a toastmaster trying to make announcements and someone else twisting balloons into animal shapes at another table. Save money and have just one or two things going on at once so that your guests can fully appreciate and enjoy each diversion in its own right. Of course, when weighing up all the costs of a wedding, you may decide that you want to spend your budget elsewhere entirely and have recorded music. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that one of the things guests remember most about a wedding is the entertainment. Fantastic live music during a reception will delight your guests and keep them talking about your wedding for months. After all, the exquisite harp music as you walked up the aisle, or the string quartet which played a special request for your grandmother, stick in the mind more powerfully than those carefully coordinated chair covers that matched the floral arrangements. This article can be found on hitched., the UK’s leading online wedding guide. Its author is Vaughan Jones, violinist from the Manor House String Quartet, a group which plays at more than 100 weddings and functions every year.

WHITE Weddings

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13/11/09 11:39:13 am


Occasionally we’ve played for weddings where the couple seem to have had lots of inspired ideas, but booked every wedding entertainer to arr...