Really investing in the music for your wedding pays dividends: it sets the tone for your ceremony, provides the soundtrack to your drinks reception and wedding breakfast, before becoming the soul of your party. Whilst many people are after the timeless traditional atmosphere that a classical wedding string quartet provides, it’s increasingly common to see couples getting more creative. Iain Ward, Managing Director of bespoke agency Music For My Wedding, gives advice and tips for getting the most from your string quartet.
Music For My Wedding string quartets are drawn from a pool of the finest string players in the UK. They are equally at home playing in a West-End show or a recording session for a Hollywood blockbuster as they are playing you down the aisle to an arrangement of your favourite song.
1. Make it unique
Adding extra instruments to the standard set-up is a great way to customise the string quartet sound. Add a trumpet to your string quartet to invoke the regal splendor of the Royal Wedding, or even two more string players to form your very own string orchestra. At Music For My Wedding we absolutely love thinking up new possibilities with clients – it’s exciting for us and means that your wedding becomes truly unique.
2. Got a special song in mind?
We can make it happen… most of the time. Professional quartets are extremely versatile in their repertoire and ability to produce versions of the songs or pieces you’d like to hear (even when they don’t already exist for string quartet). It’s worth bearing in mind that not all genres of music will work when arranged for string quartet and you should consult your quartet as to whether what you want is possible before setting your heart on it.
3. Book early
When hiring a string quartet, booking early puts you in a strong position. Not only do you stand a better chance of working out a deal if you book well in advance, you’re also more likely to get the best players before they are booked up for the popular summer season. String quartets tend to book up between three to six months in advance of the peak spring and summer seasons.
Booking early also gives you more time to get to know your agent, ensuring that there is plenty of time to discuss the little musical touches you’ve always envisioned. It’s also a good idea if you are planning on having some music ‘arranged’ that you book as far in advance as you can.
4. Choose a reputable agency
Think of booking through an agency like an insurance policy. At Music For My Wedding we have an extensive list of artists who can be contacted easily, which means that if a quartet member becomes ill or indisposed last minute we can quickly contact a large number of potential replacements. Booking through an agency also means that your performers are covered by Public Liability Insurance, which offers you peace of mind should any of your guests have a mishap and injure themselves on your musician’s equipment. See and hear Music For My Wedding.
5. Talk to us about what you’d like played
Your quartet should be able to give you an up to date list of their repertoire. At Music For My Wedding we work with each client to develop a set list which is truly tailored to them. After all, you’re going to be off having your photographs taken when the quartet are playing so it’s a great way to stamp your personality onto the drinks reception whilst you’re away being photographed for posterity.
6. Good music isn’t cheap, cheap music isn’t good
The quality of players makes a huge difference to the atmosphere that the quartet creates: top professional players have an energy and polish that is irreplaceable. Forget your childhood friend who played a bit of violin in school and opt for a safe pair of hands. This isn’t a moment in which you want to feel rushed or embarrassed. So a word of warning: booking a cheap act, family, friend, or the local church organist for your ceremony might seem like a great way of saving money, but be careful not to land yourself in the next YouTube hit of wedding fails, like this one – a classic!
7. Size doesn’t matter
If your budget is tight and a full string quartet is just too much, consider booking a string trio, string duo, or solo cellist instead – these provide a similar feel to a string quartet but at a cheaper price, meaning you don’t have to compromise on quality.
8. It’s more economical to book us for longer
The first hour of a booking represents our minimum fee inclusive of rehearsal and travel time, with additional hours charged at a much lower rate.
“When and for how long does a string quartet normally play?” is a question we’re often asked. The answer is for as long you as you can afford! 😉 But on a serious note (pardon the pun), a typical booking for us is three hours. That usually covers your ceremony and drinks reception and any travelling between venues, and is an economical length of time to book your string quartet.
9. Musicians love to travel
Whilst paying to hire a string quartet from the UK to an overseas wedding adds to the cost of your booking, there is comfort in the knowledge that you’re taking a little bit of the ‘best of British’ abroad with you. You don’t want to rely on the locals to know British traditional hymns or pieces as one unlucky couple learnt in Normandy.