A: Typically, a wedding ceremony finds us arriving early (before your first guests) to set up, and then playing prelude music so that your guests arrive to the sound of music filling the air. We then play the processional for the bridal party and the bride. Very often we play a selection during the ceremony--either for the lighting of the Unity Candle, or for a special interlude. We then play the recessional, and finish with music for your guests to exit by. Generally, we expect a wedding ceremony to last from 1 to 1 ½ hours, including the prelude, ceremony, and postlude. A wedding ceremony that has a long dismissal planned at the end (such as the bride and groom dismissing the pews themselves and using that as the receiving line) stretches the time of the event and may result in either our playing a shorter prelude or in charging slightly more if it becomes more than a 1 ½ hour engagement. Additionally, for purposes of definition: a ceremony consists of the time spent playing in one location. Once the ceremony has ended, and we are asked to move to another location, our reception (hourly) rates go into effect.
A: The answer to this is that you can have as much or as little to do with the decision making process as you like. Some purchasers of our services tell us, "You are the experts, I trust in your talent and experience. Please make the musical decisions for me." Others wish to give us certain guidelines, such as telling us to include (or to be sure NOT to include!) certain songs at certain points and then leave the rest to us. Still others are very sure of exactly what they want, and tell us what they would like played and when. If you need help deciding on your music selections, see our guide to selecting wedding ceremony music.
A: Musicians are a little different from other wedding and commercial services. Your wedding dress, your party caterer, or your hall often require bookings in advance of at least a year. Very often we as musicians cannot safely assure you of our services more than a year in advance. We are often contracted members of a Symphony whose rehearsal schedule is announced for the upcoming season in the late spring. Therefore, we tend not to want to book too far in advance, to protect our integrity. Another thing to realize is that we are capable of playing at a moment's notice. We have been called in as last minute replacements when another group became unable to fulfill its commitment. So, with us it is sometimes too early but never too late to book our services! Please contact us to reserve your date.
A: When someone calls or e-mails with an inquiry about our services, the date is put on hold for them and is labeled 'under consideration'. The date will be held for two weeks. If the contract and deposit are not returned within the two weeks, that date will again be open for the consideration of others.
A: No we do not. On occasion we have been asked to play a ceremonial waltz for a bride and groom before the dance band or DJ arrived for the dancing. That we can do, but we are not a dance band.
A: A wedding rehearsal involves assembling a group of people and organizing the way they make their entrances, the way they stand, and the way they make their exits. Because of our extensive experience with wedding ceremonies, we do not need to attend the wedding rehearsal. With the answers to some well-placed questions, we gain all of the information we need in order to successfully plan our timing. There are times when a bride or an officiant would feel better if a representative of the group would attend the rehearsal. Certainly that can be arranged, and there would be an additional fee for the rehearsal.
A: The answer to this question involves different variables. For a wedding ceremony, the 'carrying power' of the string instruments is not called into question at all. We need no amplification even in the largest of ceremonies.
At receptions, there is more competition for us. People are conversing freely, which creates a low level of sound over which we need to try to project. If the room is large, carpeted, and if the number of guests is approaching 300, then honestly we cannot project over the crowd. We become an "oasis" of sound that those closest to us hear perfectly and those furthest away hear faintly. An event like this works best if we are positioned near the entrance or near the hors d'oeuvre table--in other words, if we are positioned near a place where everyone has a reason to go. At smaller receptions we have good projection.
We do not amplify our sound, as that is not how our instruments were meant to be played.
A: Yes, deposit is required with the return of the contract. The balance is due on or before the date of services. Some people prefer to mail the check ahead of time so as not to worry about having to remember it on the date of services, while others give it to us at the event. Whatever is most convenient for you is fine with us. We just don't like to have to 'hunt down' our check once we have finished playing. We ask that this detail be cared for when we first arrive, or at least at some point before we are finished playing.
A: We are always touched at the consideration of someone who asks us that question, but the answer is, "No, thank you!" We are not your guests, so do not concern yourself with entertaining us.
However, if it is an engagement which spans through two meals, and we have no opportunity to leave and refresh ourselves, then it would be quite considerate to make provision for us.
Finally, if the event is a buffet and you have mentioned ahead of time that we should feel welcome to partake, then we will do so on one of our breaks.
A: We can play with your vocalist, however, there are several important things you must know. First, the fee for the wedding will have to be amended, because our playing for a vocalist will require a special musical arrangement to be made, and will also require rehearsal time between us and the vocalist. Every situation is different, so this issue is considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q: How many custom arrangements are you willing to do for my event and why is there a fee for this service?
A: We love doing custom arrangements, but due to a very high demand as well as very specific needs of some clients, we have had to set some boundaries for this service. If piano music or other sheet music for your request is readily available, we can usually pull off an arrangement in a relatively small amount of time. For this situation, we will charge a small flat rate per song. In many cases, especially for more modern popular music, sheet music is unavailable and we must work from only an audio recording, which dramatically increases the amount of time involved. Another situation that may result in a great deal of time is if you have a very specific sound in mind (like a specific recording of a string tribute to a certain song). You must understand that as a string trio, we are unable to exactly emulate the sound of a string quartet, especially a studio recording, where hours and hours of many professionals' time have gone into producing a near-perfect track and the performers may well have recorded several tracks of each instrument, enabling them to create sounds and effects that we as three live performers could never reproduce. Arrangements of these two types that go above and beyond the normal amount of time to produce will be charged at an hourly rate based on the arranging time as well as time required for rehearsing the song. A separate contract and deposit will be required for this service.
A: Anyone who has attended an event where amateur, sub-standard, or even student musicians were hired (because the price was 'right') can tell you it really is true-you do get what you pay for. There is no substitute for the years of experience and the high level of performance expertise our musicians provide. We have worked long and hard to get where we are today, sacrificing long hours to practicing and schooling in order to become very good at what we do.
Anyone can play a CD...fewer people can play an instrument, and fewer still play well. When you hire us, you are getting something unique and special. Music is too important an aspect of your event to be trusted to just anyone--leave it to talented professionals to make it just right!
Q: Should I provide corsages for the musicians?
A: While we definitely appreciate the warm gesture of wanting to include the musicians in your number of honorees, the addition of a corsage to our standard black dress can become a distraction, both to the congregation as well as to us. Performance with our instruments requires free, unencumbered movement of the arms and shoulders, and a corsage can inhibit this free motion, so while we appreciate your thoughtfulness in this area, we encourage you to save your money!
Q: What is the trio policy about outdoor weddings?
A: We know that weather can be unpredictable, and we do our best to work with you to make your event everything you dream it can be. That being said, we cannot and will not expose our instruments to inclement weather (rain, extreme heat or cold, sleet, etc) or direct sunlight for an extended period of time. Most venues have some options for cover (gazebos, shade trees, porches, etc), although sometimes this is not always the case. If your wedding is planned at a time when the trio would potentially be exposed to extended direct sunlight or the weather threatens rain, etc, and your venue has no options for cover, you may want to consider providing a tent or covering in case it's needed. We will always do our best to provide you with the beautiful, professional music that you expect from us, but if it begins raining during an event and we are not under a shelter, we will immediately cease playing and seek shelter. Our goal is to provide you with the highest quality of professional live music available, and when asked to perform in extreme heat or cold, our ability to provide that quality is significantly diminished. Our instruments are sensitive to temperature and humidity and will often go out of tune in extreme weather, not to mention the physical difficulties of performing with numb fingers or sweaty hands! In order for us to do our best at your event, we need you to make preparations that include provisions for weather related difficulties. Thank you for understanding!
Thanks to Stringsound of Chicago for allowing us to adapt their excellent FAQ page to our use.