wedding musicians

Wedding Musicians:  Which instruments should I choose for my wedding?

This post is Part 1 in the series titled, “How to Hire Classical Musicians for Your Wedding.”

Getting married is a wonderful event. Hopefully, you feel like you have met the person of your dreams, and now is the time to celebrate your love for each other. Many times, however, the drawback to organizing and planning a wedding is the fact that you may be dealing with unfamiliar territory. For most people, the idea of hiring live wedding musicians is very appealing, but many people have no idea where to start. Because hiring and negotiating with musicians is something that the average person does not do very often, this series of posts is designed to equip the average person with the necessary knowledge to have the type of music they desire on their special day.


Step 1: Decide what kind of ensemble you will want.

Instrumentation matters, and unless you have experience performing music, this concept could be completely foreign to you. The word “instrumentation” simply means what mix of instruments that you have performing music. In order to get the right mix of instruments, you will need to think about the environment and “tone” of the wedding. If you are using several wedding musicians, it is generally best to group instruments of the same family together (brass, woodwind, or strings, for example). Below is a list of the most common types of instrumentation for a wedding and a brief description of their pros and cons.


String Quartet

A typical string quartet consists of two violins, viola, and cello, and sometimes, you can add a double bass to create a quintet. A string quartet is a wonderful group for a wedding because of their ability to play soft and expressive music. The typical times that you would have a string quartet perform would be for preservice music, dinner music, or any expressive piece that you may include in the ceremony (this is common for unity candles). String quartets sound great outdoors, but you need to make sure that they have shelter in case of rain.

A string group is not ideal for triumphant music. String quartets can be awkward for the entrance of the bride or the recessional simply because they create softer sonorities. However, you can make it work if you are on a budget.


Brass Quintet

Brass quintets consist of two trumpet players, a horn, a trombone, and either a tuba or bass trombone. The brass quintet adds a different style to the music in your wedding, because they are ideal for creating lots of sound and specialize in triumphant or exciting music. However, this type of group can play lyrical songs very well.

The brass quintet thrives in large churches with “live” acoustics (an echo), because they can fill up the space with sound. However, if the group is outdoors, there can be a “dead” sound to the group. You will want to use a brass quintet for preservice music, dinner music, and any part of the service with triumphant music (processional and recessional).

The disadvantage to the brass quintet comes when the setting is more intimate. If you are getting married in a smaller space, the group’s sound can get overwhelming fast (it’s best to talk to someone in the group about how small is too small). The other disadvantage is the fact that brass musicians can only play so long before they get tired. Therefore, it would be impossible to have a brass quintet play for a couple of hours or more.


Organists and Pianists

Having a church organ or a piano for your wedding music is a very popular option for people, because just about every church has an organ and a piano. There is an extremely wide variety of pieces and styles that keyboard instruments can play, and these instruments can typically fit into both big spaces and intimate settings nicely.

There are two main disadvantages to having a keyboard player for your wedding. The first is the instrument itself. If there is no organ in the space where the ceremony is taking place, it will be impossible to get an organ installed in time. You can use an electronic piano to synthesize the sounds, but you will only get something that sounds “close to” what you want. Also, pianos are difficult to move around, and they are impossible to get moving on grass. Make sure that you are aware of these logistics! The other disadvantage is the fact that a keyboard instrument cannot vary their sound very much. Pianos have no ability to change their sound, but organs can change registers to manipulate tonal colors. Keep in mind that an organ will always sound like an organ no matter which pipes the sound comes out of.



You always have the option of hiring a soloist on any instrument to play at your wedding. Popular soloists include vocalists, violinists, cellists, trumpeters, harpists, flute players, and many others. This option can work well for your wedding, because they can create a wonderful atmosphere of intimacy. Also, it is an economical option, because you would only be paying one performer rather than many wedding musicians.

The disadvantage to having a soloist is the fact that most solo instruments need an accompaniment to really sound right. So, you would need to make sure that there is a pianist or organist to play with them. On the up side, having a soloist could cure the lack of variety from just a pianist or organist. Lastly, it is exhausting for a soloist to do a lot of playing, so you will be limited to how much music you can have in your service.



Photo by Used under Creative Commons License.


If you have any questions or concerns about which wedding musicians you should use, feel free to send us a question (Contact Us).

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