The Manor House String Quartet and String Duo occasionally get email enquiries from clients wishing to hire a string quartet for a wedding asking for a list of our ‘wedding packages’. As each event is different, we don’t really think of bookings as packages but more as periods of playing time which can be quite flexible….but some of the most popular requests would be as follows:
1. Hiring a wedding string quartet to play for a wedding ceremony. This will usually include 20-30 minutes of music as guests arrived and are seated, playing for the entrance of the bride, some music during the signing of the register, then for the exit of the married couple. Overall, if this is a civil service, the whole thing will take about an hour. If it’s a Church wedding (the string quartet may be asked to also accompany the hymns), then that can be a fair bit longer. As we have a minimum booking time of 2 hours, couples then usually ask us to play on for another 30-60 minutes outside during photographs, or for the beginning of the drinks reception. This can sometimes involve a quick drive to the reception venue to beat the guests to it and be set up, already playing for when they arrive!
2: Another popular choice is to hire a wedding string quartet to play for the drinks reception only – just providing background music for a couple of hours as photographs are taken, guests socialise and everyone enjoys champagne before going through to the wedding breakfast.
3. Occasionally, we are asked to play only during the wedding breakfast, performing music during the meal and finishing just before the speeches, but most commonly this is when clients have hired us for the drinks reception as well and want to continue with live music for the first half of the meal as people wait to be served.
Like most groups, the cost of the first couple of hours of playing is the most expensive, with the hourly rate reducing dramatically thereafter, as once we have exclusively reserved that wedding date in our diary and travelled to the venue, we are usually unable to accept any other work that day.
Of course, not every client wishes to hire a string quartet to play continuously and we very often recommend building in short breaks between periods of performance which keeps the music fresh and interesting and can keep the costs down. As an example, if you have booked the quartet for a 3 hour slot and know that guests are all going to take 30 minutes to arrive at the reception after the ceremony elsewhere, we would not charge this as playing (working) time, but rather ask for a nominal fee of ¬£10 per hour per musician to cover the waiting time.