Such a great question! We get asked this question ALL THE TIME and it does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. For this post, we are going to focus on wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours. Receptions are an entirely different can of worms that we'll save for a separate post!
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the ensemble configuration for your wedding or event. Lets start with some basics: What size is your venue? How many guests are you anticipating? Is your wedding a cool and casual clambake on the beach or a black-tie affair in a swanky hotel? And of course, what portion of your budget do you want to allocate for your music? While this is not a comprehensive list of every consideration, its a good start!
Venue Size & Guest Count: This is simply a logistical consideration. If you are tying the knot in your favorite, charming, yet tiny restaurant (think half the size of your first studio apartment) in front of your 15 closest friends and family members, you may not be able to squeeze in the 20-piece chamber orchestra you've been dreaming of. However, a string trio can easily fit into even the smallest of spaces (even if it doesn't look like we will fit - its easy to come up with creative seating arrangements and we do it all the time!) and provide exactly the right balance of sound for your event - not too overpowering, yet still heard. Likewise, if you are estimating a guest count of 500 people in your church cathedral with soaring 140-foot ceilings, you may want to rethink just having a violin soloist.
Location Location Location: This is a combination of logistics and vibe. To use our beach example, if you are having a casual ceremony and cocktail hour on the beach, maybe a guitar and violin duo would provide the perfect ambiance for your day! However, if you are envisioning a harpist or pianist on the beach, it may be difficult/impossible to get those instruments to your ceremony site, or you may incur a significant cartage fee above and beyond the standard charges to account for transporting those instruments to your site. In these instances, its always best to check with your musicians to see what is and is not possible and what the extra fees will be. Pro tip: always remember to read the details in your contract (or ask your musicians directly) regarding their outdoor wedding policies. Most professional ensembles require an area that is completely or mostly shaded from the sun. In the case of rain, a completely covered spot to play is generally always required.
Budget: The least exciting topic when it comes to wedding planning, but don't let this deter you from hiring the musicians of your dreams for your big day! While live musicians may seem out of the budget at first, there is almost always a way to make it work! Perhaps you think you need a string quartet, but actually a trio or duo would be absolutely perfect for your event. Maybe you're thinking that you need 40 minutes of live music prior to your ceremony while your guests are getting seated, but actually, guests don't really start to gather for the ceremony until about 15-20 minutes prior. Are you getting married on a Sunday or during the week? Perhaps your ensemble has special pricing for non-peak days or times of the year. There are many options for making your ceremony and cocktail hour music fit within a budget you are comfortable with, and most professional ensembles will help you work within that budget. The best approach is to be straightforward with your wedding or event musicians about your budget from the beginning, so they can deliver exactly what you've be envisioning, while staying within a price range that is perfect for you.
The best advice we could give, would be to talk through each of your ideas, questions, and concerns with your professional ensemble and book early! They will be able to guide you in the right direction and make sure the music for your ceremony and/or cocktail hour is flawless. Hopefully this has been a helpful intro to get you started with your music planning! We wish everyone happy planning and of course, beautiful music always!
Talk to you soon!
AVIVA Strings provides elegant, live strings for weddings, events and special occasions throughout all of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, the Poconos, Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Binghamton, and beyond!