Encore Blog

String Quartet Booking Guide – Hiring tips and FAQs

Hummingbird String Quartet

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.

If you’ve already decided to hire a quartet and you’re looking for options, you can either:

  1. Browse and compare over 150 String Quartets available in the UK,
  2. Request fast quotes from our quartets here, or
  3. Contact us to discuss your requirements: [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?

A string quartet is comprised of two violins, a viola, and a cello. The lead violinist will play the melody supported by the second violinist. The viola provides mid-range harmonies, and the cello provides a deep bass line, with occasional melodies.

Why choose a string quartet over a string trio?

Due to their larger size, string quartets naturally have a more resonant and fuller sound than a string trio. The fourth instrument allows for richer harmonies – especially important if you want to be able to hear the ensemble over background noise at a busy event or wedding.

Most classical music (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) and pop arrangements are written for string quartet, but can easily be arranged for a trio.

String Quartets who regularly perform at functions and weddings will usually provide String Duo and String Trio options for events in smaller spaces or with lower budgets. A duo costs half the price of a quartet, and a trio costs 3/4, so it’s worth considering these smaller line-ups if your budget doesn’t stretch to the full quartet.

Looking for information on the differences between string ensembles? Find out more here: Duo, Trio, or Quartet? — A Beginner’s Guide to String Ensembles

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

When hiring a String Quartet for your wedding ceremony, you’ll receive music during the following parts of the ceremony:

  • Music as guests arrive, usually for 15-25 minutes.
  • Music for the bridal procession
  • Music during the signing of the register
  • Music as you and your partner leave the ceremony

String quartets will often play at the reception as well, for example during the cocktail hour and/or during dinner. String quartet are perfect for background music – they are loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that they’ll drown out conversation.

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 it’s important that guests aren’t standing or 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.

The image below shows a 2mx3m gazebo that would be big enough for a string quartet.

2m x 3m gazebo big enough for a string quartet

What equipment do I need to provide for a string quartet?

String quartets will require four chairs with no arms, so that they can perform freely without knocking their arms against the chair. They will 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 and make sure that you can provide cover. Check with your venue if you think this might be a problem.

What dress code can I expect from a string quartet?

All black is the standard dress code. However, quartets can often provide alternative dress e.g. colourful dresses to match a summer wedding or a particular theme.

Many string quartets are able to provide traditional dress for Asian or Jewish weddings.

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, perhaps if you’re hosting an event in a large space or a noisy public place, you could consider an electric string quartet, or asking the quartet to bring microphones and amplification at additional cost.

The Crystal Palace Quartet demonstrates its classical repertoire.

Repertoire

What is the most popular classical wedding repertoire for string quartets?

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, they 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 way.

If you are going to ask for a new song, make sure you ask for this as early as possible. A quartet would ideally have a few weeks to get the song arranged and rehearsed properly, though they may be able to do this at short notice if they are particularly experienced.

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 a String Quartet

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests. String Quartets are particularly busy during wedding season (May to October), so if you would like a string quartet to perform at your wedding, we recommend booking as soon as you have your venue arranged.

That being said, we regularly handle last-minute bookings at Encore and can easily find a string quartet for you at short notice.

If you’re looking for a string quartet for an event within the next few weeks, get in touch with our team! [email protected]

How much does a string quartet cost?

There are various factors that can influence the price of a string quartet, but the average price is around £700 for up to two hours of playing.

Prices vary by geography, with String Quartets in London costing more than String Quartets based in Scotland or the North of England.

Prices will also vary depending on how experienced the string quartet are and how in-demand they are.

  • A student or amateur string quartet will generally cost £600 to £800
  • A professional string quartet will generally cost £800 to £1200
  • A high-end quartet specialising in luxury events or bespoke performances will cost £1200+

If these prices are outside of your budget, remember that a String Duo costs half the price! If budget is really limited, you could also consider a Solo Violinist, which usually costs £180 to £250. Find out more in our guide here: Violinist Booking Guide; How to Hire

Do I have to pay travel fees?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the quartet is not local. Most groups will travel for free within a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and will 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.

We recommend booking a string quartet local to your venue to save on travel costs. You can search for string quartets near you on our search page.

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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James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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