String Quartet Booking Guide – How to hire

Are you curious about hiring a string quartet for a wedding or private event but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top string quartets. To discuss booking a quartet with our team, simply email [email protected].

Hummingbird String Quartet

The Hummingbird String Quartet
 

  1. The Basics
  2. Equipment & Setup
  3. Repertoire
  4. Booking

The Basics

Which instruments are in a string quartet?

Two violins, a viola, and a cello.

Why choose a quartet over a trio?

Quartets have a much more resonant sound than a trio. The fourth instrument allows for richer harmonies – especially important if you want to be able to hear the ensemble over background noise. Most classical music (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) and pop arrangements are for string quartet, not trio. However, some ensembles do offer a trio option, which typically costs 25% less. Ideal if you have restricted space or a tight budget!

Which parts of the wedding ceremony will the quartet play at?

Quartets will usually play at the following parts of the ceremony: seating of the guests, bridal procession, signing of the registry, and the walk out. Quartets often play at the reception as well, for example during the cocktail hour and/or during dinner.

Giardino Strings play Viva La Vida

Equipment & Setup

How much space does a string quartet need?

Approximately 2 x 3 meters – imagine a Volkswagen Beetle with half of the bonnet missing. The musicians’ bows will be moving, so guests shouldn’t stand/be seated too close. Instruments are very fragile and expensive so it’s best to keep children and exuberant dancers at a safe distance! If guests are curious, many musicians will be happy to talk about their instruments, so feel free to ask.

Crystal Palace String Quartet

What equipment do I need to provide?

Four chairs with no arms. String quartets will generally bring their own music stands.

Do I need to provide food?

Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though not required.

Can a string quartet play outside?

It is possible to play outside during the warmer months, but quartets will need shelter from rain and sun, which can damage the wood of the instruments. Quartets generally don’t play outside in the colder months, as low temperatures can damage the instruments, but it’s worth asking as they may have backup instruments they can use. No matter the season, always tell the quartet if your event is outside.

What dress code can I expect?

All black is the standard dress code. However, quartets can often provide alternative dress, e.g. for a summer wedding or particular theme. As always, ask the group!

Crystal Palace String QuartetCrystal Palace String Quartet

The Crystal Palace String Quartet demonstrates different dress options.

Do I need a PA system?

Not usually – string quartets are acoustic instruments with a mellow sound that both blends and projects. If you think you will need extremely loud instruments, you could consider an electric string quartet.

The Crystal Palace Quartet demonstrates its classical repertoire.

Repertoire

What is the most popular classical wedding repertoire?

Seating of the guests
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart
Queen of Sheba – Handel

Bridal procession
Canon – Pachelbel
Air on a G string – Bach

Signing of the registry
Ave Maria – Gounod
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

Walk out
Bridal March from ‘Lohengrin’ – Wagner
Wedding March – Mendelssohn
Ode to Joy – Beethoven
Air and Hornpipe from Water Music – Handel

Camilli String Quartet

The London-based Camilli String Quartet

What are the top pop songs for weddings?

All You Need Is love – The Beatles
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Elton John
Come Away with Me – Norah Jones
Misty – Eroll Garner
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

Niche – The London String Quartet plays All Of Me

Can the quartet play my favourite song?

Absolutely! Quartets love adding new pieces to their repertoire, and if they can’t find an arrangement, will often tailor one themselves for your event. This may add an additional fee to your booking, but is well worth the extra expense to hear your favourite song played in a new and exciting

Firebird String Quartet

“I love getting to travel to new and beautiful locations around Scotland to play at weddings.Campbell Parker, the Firebird String Quartet

What is the most popular party/event repertoire?

Depends on the style of your event! It can be classical, pop, or a combination. All of the pieces listed above will work well as background music for a party.

I’m not sure what type of music I want – where can I go for ideas?

Go to Encore’s string quartet page and listen to different groups’ audio/video clips and get ideas of which styles you like. You can even filter the quartets by location to find groups near you!

Can the quartet play with a singer?

Absolutely! A singer is the perfect addition to a string quartet, allowing you to have the soaring beauty of the voice combined with the richness of the string quartet.

Jennifer Coleman specialises in singing with string quartets.

Booking

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests, but we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find a string quartet at short notice.

What’s the typical price for a quartet?

Each group will set its own rates, but a fee of around £150/person or £600 total for three hours of playing is a roughly standard amount. Some groups have a set fee for an event while some will charge hourly.

Do I have to pay travel fees?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the quartet is not local. Most groups have a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and charge extra for any travel outside that area.

The standard rate is 47p/mile per person so if the quartet needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47 per person for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide – each quartet will set their own fees, depending on whether they can travel together or separately.

How do I handle contracts and payment?

The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your chosen quartet, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system. To discuss booking a string quartet, please email [email protected].

Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about string quartets, email us at [email protected] and we’d be more than happy to help.

 
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