• Ariana Strings

Answering The Knot's Top 14 Questions to Ask Wedding Ceremony Musicians

We LOVE The Knot! We are so grateful that they've been such an incredible resource for engaged couples and vendors alike. We've been so lucky to have so many of our couples have taken the time to review us on The Knot and we've won The Knot Best of Weddings Award enough times to be in the Hall of Fame!

I especially like this particular article from The Knot called "Questions to Ask Your Wedding Ceremony Musicians" I'd like to help take the work out of your planning and answer those questions for you!

1. Do you have a set ceremony repertoire or will we work with you to choose one?

Why you want to know: You should have a solid idea of how you'll come up with a song list for the ceremony before you book. Some musicians may be more hands on, while others will ask you to drive the selections.

You will work with us to select your ceremony set list that way it's completely customized to you. Occasionally, some couples ask us to surprise them, so we play our favorites that are appropriately matched to their ceremony, of course! For cocktail hour, we have our favorite set lists, but then we incorporate your "Must Plays" and "Do Not Plays".

2. Can you play the nontraditional songs we've chosen?

Why you want to know: If you have your mind set on a particular tune, you want to make sure your musician is able to play it or learn it. Some musicians or vocalists may charge an extra fee to learn it in time for your wedding. It's better if you know ahead of time if they'll be able to perform your songs.

Yes, absolutely! We don't charge for rehearsals or practice time, but we do charge for the acquisition of the sheet music. Sheet music orders are usually anywhere from $6-30. If your song doesn't have sheet music, we can create an arrangement by ear for an additional fee.

3. Have you performed at a wedding before?

Why you want to know: Playing a wedding ceremony requires a specific set of skills. Your musicians should know when to change the volume to set the right mood as well as help transition guests from their arrival, to the ceremony and then to a celebratory vibe. It's also a good idea if there's a defined leader (if you're working with a music group) who will be your main point of contact for communication and to make any changes during the ceremony.

Absolutely! We have a very particular set of skills (I couldn't help myself! 😆). We perform for about 60 weddings a year together, so we not only have experience with weddings, but we also know many of Connecticut's wedding venues, planners, and officiants, to make help your day run smoothly.

4. Will you need sound amplification? What's the alternative if my ceremony space doesn't allow amplified sound?

Why you want to know: It's a good idea to have a sense of what equipment your ceremony musicians will need in order to have the best sound quality. But if you're getting married outdoors without access to power, or your ceremony venue doesn't allow amplified sound, you want to be certain they have a plan to give you great sound even without speakers. You'll also want to know if getting the sound you need will require extra instruments or vocalists, which could end up adding on to the price tag.

For acoustic ensembles like the string quartet, you definitely do not need sound amplification for a standard ceremony and cocktail hour. (Of course, not every event is the same. We've performed for every large events, a reception with over 300 guests, where the DJ amplified us. It worked out beautifully!) Some of our ensembles come with with amplification, like the violin and guitar duet. In that case, we use battery-operated equipment (with a power source for back-up, just in case.) Our amplified sound is certainly not as loud as a rock concert, so we've never had a venue turn us away (or even tell us to turn down our volume, come to think of it!) There are so many options, so reach out to Ariana with questions and I'll be happy to answer them.

5. What combination of instruments would you recommend for my ceremony space and vibe?

Why you want to know: You may have always imagined a string quartet, but you'll want to know what the right instruments are to play the songs you have in mind. While you may like the sound of a certain instrument, including it isn't as easy as just adding it to your ensemble. A musician will have a good idea of the right combination you'll need so one instrument doesn't stand out awkwardly above the rest.

I have a great guide which I send to all new inquiries. Submit your inquiry using our contact page for our PDF.

6. What's the minimum amount of time we can hire you for?

Why you want to know: A two- to four-hour minimum is typical, so whether or not they'll require you to book them for a set amount of time that's longer than your ceremony may be something you want to consider when deciding whether to use the same musicians for your cocktail hour.

Our minimum booking is 1 hour, which perfect for most 20-30 minute wedding ceremonies. If you have something in particular that you'd like which is under one hour, simply contact Ariana with details.

7. Can you also play during cocktail hour?

Why you want to know: Most importantly, you'll want to be sure they're available for the cocktail hour if you're thinking of hiring them for both wedding events. This likely won't apply if you're hiring an organist for the ceremony, but a string quartet is perfect for both the ceremony and cocktails (if they're available).

Absolutely! We love performing for cocktail hours. It's such a unique opportunity to add more of your favorite music to the wedding day and guests love it.

8. Do you have experience performing in a ceremony venue like mine?

Why you want to know: You want to be sure your musicians will have no problem troubleshooting some of the issues that come with your venue. Things like acoustics and volume can change drastically if you're in a space with super-high ceilings or on the beach.

We've performed everywhere: rustic barns, mansions, beaches, gardens, fields, you name it! Of course, we'll be happy to tell you more about our experience at your venue and which ensembles we'd recommend for you.

9. What songs would you recommend we play during my ceremony traditions (lighting of the unity candle, ketubah signing, jumping the broom)?

Why you want to know: Your musicians can play the traditional songs that accompany your cultural or religious tradition or they may have suggestions for what to play if there's not a set song to use.

We have a huge library for every ensemble with plenty of options for every portion of your ceremony. If you ever need help selecting music, you can always reach out to me for advice.

10. Can we hear you perform, either privately or at a public performance? Can we get a sample of your work?

Why you want to know: Hearing musicians live will give you the best idea of what they'll actually sound and feel like.

We have lots of samples of our work on our website, Instagram, Facebook, and our Knot storefront. Since we perform for private events, we do not currently have a public performance option. However, we have had some clients hire us for a private meeting prior to booking to hear us, so that is always an option.

11. How much setup time do you need and who will do the setup?

Why you want to know: If it’s just one or a few musicians with instruments, they’ll probably be able to manage setup themselves, but ask about the plan just in case. 

The only thing we ask for is that you provide one chair per musician. After that, it's up to us! We usually arrive on site about an hour prior to our performance start time.

12. What's your sick-day policy?

Why you want to know: If a key member of the ensemble comes down with the flu the morning of your wedding, they should have a reliable replacement (and have you meet them too).

We have a great core team of players and a huge network. If one of our players is unable to play, we'll go straight to another one of our team members and they'll gladly step in and save the day.

13. What's your cancellation policy?

Why you want to know: What are the repercussions if you change your date or change your mind on your music?

This is detailed clearly in our contract. The first payment is a non-refundable retainer, but you have a grace period for the final balance.

14. What's your fee for a wedding ceremony (probably about two hours of work)? Do we need to pay travel expenses too?

Why you want to know: Get a sense of the all the costs up front—cost per hour, travel expenses, overtime fees, cancellation fees and so on.

When I was a bride, I was so overwhelmed with budget and had no idea what I would need for my wedding. I was always grateful for every vendor who took the time to explain what I was most likely to need and all the details. As a business owner, I aim to be like the vendors who gave me a great experience: Everything is customized, so you're never paying for anything extra that you don't want or need. The only extra cost you may come across are fees for sheet music and arrangements. Our sheet music library is listed online for your reference and I will gladly price out arrangements prior to your booking, so you always have the full cost up front. Regarding travel, it's based on the distance to the venue and most times the fee is waived, as we're so close to many of Connecticut's most popular venues.

Are there any questions that I missed? Comment below!

Happy wedding planning!