There are a few classic things that set the tone for any wedding in the Washington DC area and make it memorable. One of those special and iconic memory creators is a beautiful sounding and well-placed ensemble of string musicians setting just the right tone at your wedding ceremony and maybe at your cocktail hour before the band or DJ get the party started! Whether it is a violin, a viola, a cello, or a combination, I can just hear the dramatic moment as you walk down the aisle and the sweet sounds as your wedding guests arrive and then begin to mingle during the cocktail hour with a carefully crafted signature cocktail in hand!
There are a few little pieces of wedding planning advice to keep in mind if you are thinking about having string musicians at your wedding in the Washington DC area. String musicians are not like other wedding vendors that you might be meeting with throughout your wedding planning process. We are here today with Elizabeth who is the coordinator and a violist with Chesapeake Strings, a Washington DC area wedding music group providing classical string soloists, duos and trios. (She is also a wedding planner at East Made Event Company!) Elizabeth is providing insight on having string musicians at your wedding, the little things that you need to know, but you don’t know that you need to know! Take it away, Elizabeth…
Photo Credit: Stephanie Yonce Photography
We Don’t Have A “Typical” Song List
Gone are the days of “Here Comes the Bride” and Pachelbel’s “Canon.” Well, sort of! String music groups still play traditional wedding favorites at almost every wedding, but now engaged couples are requesting modern pop songs for their wedding ceremony, too! Recently for a wedding in the DC area, we had “Ave Maria” by Schubert, “Chandelier” by Sia, and the “Game of Thrones” theme song all on the same wedding ceremony playlist – and it was awesome!
How To Choose Songs?
With the added repertoire of pop songs that many string groups now offer to a couple planing a wedding ceremony, choosing exact songs for your wedding can quickly become overwhelming. So, make it fun! Plan a stay-at-home, music date night where you sit down with your drink of choice, a computer, your music string group’s song list, and a pen and paper. Start listening to wedding ceremony songs on Youtube and iTunes! Youtube is a great wedding music planning resource, especially in searching for all of those classical wedding ceremony songs that you can hear or maybe hum, but you don’t know the titles of. Write down anything that you like or that stands out to you, then start building your wedding ceremony song list that way. If you can narrow down your ceremony song list down to about one or two songs that you enjoy, your string music coordinator will be able to guide you and make suggestions from there. This will give them something to start with!
We’re Different From Your Other Wedding Vendors
When planning your wedding, you will likely meet face-to-face with almost all of your other wedding vendors, such as your caterer and your wedding planning, but not your string music group. Because song decisions come down to personal opinion, we can easily iron out all of your details over e-mails and phone calls. We also do not attend wedding ceremony rehearsals, because we are very experienced in communicating with each other in the moment using visual cues to signal the beginnings and endings of songs.
During your wedding ceremony processional, you also don’t need to time out exactly how many seconds it takes each person to walk down the aisle. We can adjust to the pace and flow of a processional in real time by repeating sections of a song or finishing early, but in a lovely, not-abrupt spot in the song!
We Can Play Outside, But…
Our instruments are delicate, sensitive to the elements, and expensive to own and maintain. I would compare a stringed instrument to a car, but even more personally loved! We are happy to perform outside for a wedding in pleasant temperatures, but cannot perform in any kind of precipitation, or extremely cold (below 60) or hot (above 95) temperatures. We also require a shaded area to protect the varnish on our instruments from direct sunlight. Each string music group may have a slightly different weather policy, so be sure you are aware of this caveat before you sign any contract and have a suitable back-up plan.
Finding a Trustworthy Wedding Vendor
I know that hiring string music for your wedding may seem daunting, since I just told you that string coordinators don’t typically meet with engaged clients in person! When selecting a string ensemble, there are a few other elements to consider: correspondence, reputation, resume, and experience. Is the coordinator timely and friendly in responding to e-mails? Are they willing to talk more on the phone? Can they present online reviews or provide references? Do they have biographies of their individual musicians and did these musicians obtain college and/or graduate degrees in music performance? I always recommend music groups with full-time, professional working musicians in their constant roster and who also have advanced degrees in music performance from quality schools. Due to professional musicians’ constant busy schedules, most groups cannot guarantee the exact same musicians at every single event; however, as long as the musicians are experienced professionals you won’t have anything to worry about!
Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for providing such great advice about having string musicians at your wedding! I can hear the special wedding memories coming together! If you are looking for a wedding planner in the Washington DC area, check out East Made Event Company. And, if you are looking for a string ensemble for your wedding in DC, Maryland and/or Virginia, check out Chesapeake Strings