Music plays a huge part of your wedding day, and if you think about it, of any well-orchestrated event (did you see what I did there?). The style of music and the song selections really do set the tone and the atmosphere for the event.
I’ll discuss DJs versus musicians in another post, and I’ll include a vendor post on DJ’s another time as well. But for today’s post, I wanted to discuss the logistics of hiring a ceremony musician - specifically, anyone providing live music.
As a musician myself (and one that has performed for weddings), I have a good understanding of how musicians should be involved, and what consideration they should be given when hired. It takes a lot of work for musicians to prepare music, rehearse, and provide this service, and it’s not something that should be quickly thumbed over.
Once you’ve decided that you want to hire a musician (and selected the right one!) to provide live music, you need to consider their instrument and their set-up needs. Is it possible for them to even provide you with the service you’re requesting? If you’re having an outdoor ceremony and want a pianist to perform, you will need to discuss their equipment needs (is there a designated stage area? where can power be run to the location? are you okay with them playing a keyboard and not a piano (for me, the grand piano was a must-have), what happens in inclement weather - if the ceremony still takes place, it’s possible the musician may not be able to use their equipment). Musicians will be able to help in figuring out these options, but at the end of the day, they aren’t going to be the ones in contact with the venue to determine set-up and day-of logistics, so you will need to figure this out with them.
Not all musicians can provide their own instrument, and in some cases (like it was in ours) a piano or organ might be available. It’s your responsibility (not the musician’s) to determine what rules the venue has about using the instrument. Sometimes there is an additional fee - and sometimes it’s included in the site fee. Sometimes it can be moved, sometimes it has to stay where it is.
Basically, the musician needs to know what set-up will be included, and what they may have to provide. Basic equipment, such as stands or microphones, may be something the musician can easily provide, whereas a sound system and instruments (I’m thinking a piano or very large stationary instrument here) might not be.
These are really important things to consider that will really help your day run smoothly. I’d also like to touch on what it takes to be a wedding musician. I’ve sung for a ceremony, a first dance song, and I’ve played an instrumental piece for a first dance. Each of these performances required 3 things:
Purchasing the music in the right key (or arranging it)
Practicing until perfection
Knowing the logistics for the day of (if possible, include your musician at the rehearsal!)
Obviously we already discussed the logistics, but the first two take just as much time. If you’re working with a professional wedding musician (someone who does this for a living, or at least more than just as a favor) then they likely will already have the music available and won’t need to purchase it. If they are a friend doing this as a gift, you should be at least offering to pay for the music they need for the performance. Either way, being aware of what’s needed for the musician to rehearse can only help you! It also ensures that the correct version of the music will be performed - you'd be surprised at how many variations there are!
Practicing until perfection takes a lot of time. It may seem like you’re paying a musician a lot of money to only do a couple songs here or there (or whatever it is they’re providing) but it is so much more than that. Rehearsing takes scheduled time leading up to the wedding, and can be very involved if the musician is learning a new song or even arranging a piece especially for you. This varies for each musician, but do take into account how the preparation and rehearsal time is a big part of the musician's performance on your wedding day!
I hope this gives you some insight into what it takes to be a ceremony musician and what you should consider when you hire one. So much goes into a great performance, and knowing this information will help you in your planning process!