Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where the f*ck do I get wedding musicians?

Jen emailed me with this question:

I am living in the UK with my husband to be. We are already legally married, they wouldn't let me move to the UK if we didn't get hitched (he is a Brit). We are having the wedding outside here this coming summer. I cannot figure out wedding music. There is no electricity outside and since you can't legally get married outside in the UK (I know, the English are sometimes bizarre) the venue people aren't much help, this is there first outdoor wedding ever. Because he and I are already legal we are sidestepping this whole outside rule.

So I looked into booking a string quartet, WAY out of the budget. Also looked into the local universities for musicians, but as the wedding is in the summer they aren't sure if they could find students who could commit. Also, not even sure if I am thrilled by a string quartet. But I know I can't walk down the aisle in silence, it would be sad.


I agree, it would be sad to walk down the aisle with no music. But maybe you're setting the bar too high.

At our wedding, H-town's 13-year-old niece warmed up the crowd with Dvorak on the flute. Then two of our good friends did an unplugged version of a Pixies song for the "processional."

It doesn't matter if the musicians are professionals. It doesn't even matter what instruments they play. It was the most amazing feeling to walk down the aisle with my friends singing my favorite song to me. (I am srsly tearing up right now just thinking about it.)

Does anyone else have advice? Please weigh in.

(Image courtesy of Olivia Bee)


  1. same with us, a close family friend sang a special [to us] tom waits song & played his acoustic while we walked down the aisle.

    look for something that does thrill you. we chose to have the type of music that matters in our life on a daily basis on our wedding day, ie no string quartets.

    if you don't know any musicians, friends or acquaintances, maybe try the local music scene? go to some open mics or contact some local but small musicians who would be happy to have any kind of gig....

  2. i totally agree. the more people contribute, the more personal the wedding. Somebody in England must have a guitar, no?

  3. I have a great band for you. Google Bob Ludlam and you'll get his page. I saw them at a friend's wedding last year (near Sheffield, but I'm sure they would travel) and they were great. Really lighthearted, and set the tone for a fun afternoon of drinking and laughing in the sun. They do something called a 'Happy Jazz Walkaround' - 3 guys with accordians, banjos and singing. And they all seemed to have a pint in their other hand.
    There are a couple of clips on youtube but they don't do them justice. Seriously great.

  4. We had old family friends in an Appalachian folk band. Because they were friends, they offered their service as a gift. I had searched all of the traditional routes, which lead to dead ends. I recommend searching through networks and in dusty corners... you never know what you will find!

  5. Two ideas: 1) Have someone close to you play/sing, as suggested; 2) iPod travel speakers that run on batteries. (I have some from JBL, they were around $100 and get quite loud --- maybe someone coming to the wedding already has something you can borrow?)

  6. oh yeah. look at


    she used some portable amplifier that she recommended for ceremony music. in case you want to use recorded music.

  7. Man, I'm really wishing I went to an artsy school or something now, none of our family or friends have a musical bone in their bodies!

    One tip I heard when booking a live musician to play a ceremony was to avoid quartets/trios/groups. A single harp or acoustic guitar player can be loud enough, but it's only one person to pay instead of several!

    I think the portable iPod player might be a decent alternative, but it was really cheesy at a wedding we attended this past summer. The iPod simply can't time the ceremony like a live human.

  8. I am Jen, the question-asker. Since this post has gone up I have asked almost every person that we have invited if they are in any way musical. The ONLY person so far who has said yes is the minister! He is a close family friend and I would love for him to do it (he plays guitar) but I would like to use that option as a last resort because it would mean him having to do the ceremony and play and get the guitar from LAX to the English countryside. Though I do feel like this would be the most sentimental/special option. Is that asking the minister too much to do both?

    I am, on the other hand, looking into all of the other options suggested and am finding some good options. So far, a single violinist, a harpist and a classical guitarist (which I am leaning towards) - following the suggestion of only one performer. I am thinking about the iPod option too - I KNEW there had to be a way to get music outside without electricity!

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for the fab suggestions.

  9. Other thoughts: if you don't have musically talented family and friends, you could consider having the minister teach the guests a simple tune or song to sing, and have everyone sing it as you walk down the aisle (teary just thinking of this!!)

    Also, I echo B,IP in searching in networks and dusty corners... It's looking like that's how we might have found some musicians for our wedding... some luck, some trade, some persistence, and NO looking at traditional harps and such. And yes... some money. But... I love paying musicians, man. I've hung out with too many of them to not love that :)

  10. And if the minister offered, take him up!! One thing about wedddings is they make you say "yes, yes, yes" to offers of help!

  11. Use a generator to provide the electricity which is what we (and almost every other wedding which involves a marquee/music festival/outside event) will do to power the band, the lights and so on.