As a gigging musician with a vast experience in the wedding ceremony scene, I am often required to source string quartets to accompany me for couples at their weddings. I only seek to employ and recommend the most talented and well – trained musicians for my clients.
Many brides and grooms, especially with the economy being as it is, have to face reality and keep the wedding within a budget. Many decide to economise on the music for the wedding ceremony itself and don’t quite understand the value of the service that they are paying for. I hope to explain as a professional musician, just what it is we provide.
Currently the average spend in Ireland for ceremony music is between €400 and €450 and the entire wedding and honeymoon coming in around the €25,000 mark. The average quartet is coming in around €700 - €1,000. So divide that by four people and you begin to understand it’s about €150 – €250 per person for the whole days work.
These are musicians who have trained for decades, most began at the age of 5 and many of these musicians have completed degrees in the Schools of music in Ireland and abroad.
The payment is for far more than just the hour and half they play at the ceremony. Many hours of practice must be invested in each piece on an individual basis as well as in a group. New pieces are often requested which need to be transposed and broken into parts which takes years of experience and expertise. Also they have no conductor and need to know one another well in order to end pieces or continue seamlessly for your ceremony.
High quality quartets meet once or twice a week to learn new up to date pieces. One person is usually in charge of working out the parts for the different instruments. They arrive one hour before the ceremony and play till the end, so the entire time at the ceremony venue is usually three hours.
The instruments themselves must be maintained and indeed purchased in the beginning. New equipment such as pick up microphones must also be bought. Transportation for cellos is not as simple as a violin and often requires its own transport.
If you are thinking of hiring students to save a few quid? Remember that you DO get what you pay for. Experience is a huge factor and when you are a professional and do it to put bread on the table you will take your job a lot more seriously.
Don’t for a second think that musicians are all dodging the taxman! If a quartet or any ensemble is good and in demand, they can’t dodge the taxman, it is a simple as that. Most musicians who are in demand are very much tax compliant.
Remember that your wedding ceremony music will set the mood for the entire day. It is the sound track to the day.