Create an elegant and calm atmosphere by having some live classical music performed at your wedding. Vaughn Jones from Manor House Music talks about how to make the most of hiring professional musicians for your celebration.

Setting the scene

Try to imagine when and how you’d like music to be part of your day. Many couples opt for music to be performed during the ceremony and to entertain guests during the wedding breakfast.

When you’re thinking about booking musicians, consider the volume of their instruments – for example, a brass quintet could be a little overpowering for an intimate occasion, but a harpist or string duo would be ideal. Similarly, if you have 150 guests chatting and enjoying themselves, it might be hard to hear a solo musician, but a string quartet will be easily heard above the sound of conversation.

Professional costs

Music students, amateur groups and recent graduates may charge less, but as the saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’.

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It’s often worth budgeting a bit more to hire a professional group. This will give you peace of mind that they will turn up as agreed (as professional groups usually have back-up musicians available in case of emergencies) and you’ll know that your wedding music will be ‘just right’.

How long should they play?

Although it might seem economical to only book a group for an hour, surprisingly this can be the most expensive way of doing things.

Once musicians have taken on a wedding, it usually means they will be unavailable for any other work during that day, so many groups have a minimum booking time of three hours, especially on peak days over the summer. Try to think of other times in the day that might require music and make the most of what you’ve got.

Agency bookings

This can be a tricky one. On one hand, booking through an agency means that they’ll handle the contractual agreement between you and the musicians, and they’ll be responsible for sourcing a replacement if there is any problem on the day. However, it does means that you’ll pay a higher fee because the agent takes a cut of the overall amount.

By booking directly, you will almost certainly save money and you’ll be dealing directly with the musicians themselves. Any professional group will exchange a simple contract that protects both parties, outlining timings, costs, insurance and so on, plus pro players will know plenty of colleagues who they can call on to replace themselves in case of illness.


These days, many classical groups specialise in a wide range contemporary pieces, so it’s often possible to request your favourite song to be played at the wedding.

In many cases, popular musicians will have a wide repertoire to choose from, so you don’t need to just have classical music on your big day. Having a string quartet perform surprise rock and pop numbers during a drinks reception can delight and entertain guests of all ages!

About Manor House String Quartet

Vaughan Jones is the violinist and arranger with the Manor House String Quartet, who are based in Buckinghamshire. The quartet have been performing at weddings since 2005 and play at approximately 100 weddings and functions every year. Visit their website at or email [email protected] to find out more.