The Bride, Groom, and Event Planner’s Q & A
We are balancing the needs of our customers with the needs of our musicians and our company during a difficult time. We are happy to play for events where the local laws of the state or city are obeyed, with regard to the number of people allowed and indoor/outdoor restrictions.
Musicians must be allowed to wear masks, although they may choose not to wear them if they are socially distanced and if there is no local or state mandate. If you prefer your musicians to wear masks, we will comply.
Musicians must be socially distanced (six feet from others).
Deposits will be carried over to a new date if the event is rescheduled due to the national health situation, but there are no refunds for cancellations. We will refund your deposit if we are not available for your new date.
If you have booked us with the understanding that your event will be outdoors no matter the weather, please understand that changing the location of your event to indoors is a significant change in today’s situation. It may mean that your musician can no longer play for your event, and we will need to place an alternate musician, which may result in an additional fee. If your event may change from outdoors to indoors, please let us know as soon as possible.
We’ll bring soul, life, and the warm sound of real players to your important day. We’ll feel the moment with you as you walk down the aisle or have your special dance. A live performance is always unique!
We recommend booking six months in advance. Wedding weekends are a hot commodity! But, we will play for your wedding on short notice if we are available.
It varies by instrument. For soloists, duos, and certain trios, Sweet Harmony has a repertoire of thousands of classical pieces, love songs, Broadway music, jazz standards, pop and rock from the 1950s through today, Christian songs and church music, Jewish music, and cultural selections such as Irish, Italian, and Bollywood. The Sweet Harmony String Trio and Quartet have separate lists. Please visit our “Songs” link on the navigation bar to see the lists… and if you have specific requests, please ask!
You are welcome to choose up to 10 pieces of music for your prelude, ceremony, and postlude. You can arrange these how you like. If you need help, please ask! You can also use one of our pre-built Wedding Music Programs in various styles. Please note that there are limits to how much music you can program, due to the time it takes to prepare and also the coordination for cues. Additionally, many song changes in your ceremony will require the musicians to be present at your rehearsal, which will be billed as an extra booking as long as the musicians are available.
These portions of your event are about ambience and general party feel. Your musicians will create a great mix of music based on your taste. They’ll rely on their knowledge and experience to “read the crowd” and play music we do best. This is one of the advantages of having live musicians entertaining your guests, rather than recorded tracks.
We want to help you create your individual style for the event! Would you like to hear modern pop hits (Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Coldplay)? Classical composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart)? Classic pop/rock (Elton John, Beatles, Temptations)? Broadway or jazz? Please give us general guidance. And we’ll take up to three specific song requests per hour for your cocktail hour or reception.
Yes, each new song will cost between $30 and $150 depending on the availability of sheet music, and whether we need to commission a special arrangement.
What instruments you choose depends on four things…
1) your taste. Do you like the melodic sound of the violin and cello together, or do you prefer the chordal sound of the violin with a guitar or piano? Do a little bit of listening research and see what sounds good to you!
2) your budget. Some instruments carry extra fees due to the heavy lifting and additional time for setup and breakdown.
3) which specific pieces of music you would like to hear. The violin and cello together do very well with classical composers such as Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi, although they can also play contemporary songs in a classical style. The violin and guitar or violin and piano are more versatile. The violin and harp will play mellow, beautiful, flowing music. The violin and piano can sound more upbeat.
4) the weather. Are you having your wedding outdoors in cooler weather, or on the beach? Some instruments are sensitive to temperature and water. Please see our question below on weather considerations!
We love to play music that you love, although it is important to consider your instrumentation when choosing music. For example, some modern R&B or rock songs do not translate well to solo violin. We are happy to help you choose songs that will sound great on the instruments you have booked! If you have a special song in mind, please ask before booking, and we can guide you to a good set of instruments for your song.
For those interested in the how and why of things, there is a reason that a solo violinist or cellist works better for yesterday’s hits than today’s hits. In a popular song, there is the lead singer, and usually there are also guitars, bass, keyboard, and drums (or electronic sounds) supporting the singer. The part that they sing is called the melody. All of the other instruments play rhythm and harmony.
What part does the violin or cello play? The melody only, like the singer, but without the words.
Without rhythm, harmony, or words, the melody needs to be strong and varied and interesting enough to stand on its own. But in the last 10-20 years, popular song melodies have become greatly simplified. An entire song may have just three or four melody notes! And often the same note is repeated many times in a row. One example is the chorus of “Never Really Over” by Katy Perry. “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden is another.
So for these types of songs, when a solo violinist or cellist plays the unaccompanied melody, it doesn’t sound like the song. The melody doesn’t carry enough of the “song” in it. You’ll need to hire at least one other musician to make it work.
The ukulele is a small guitar-shaped instrument of Hawaiian origin with 4 nylon strings. Almost any song can be performed on a ukulele, although some songs lend themselves better to the uke’s special sound. Check the “Hawaiian Lokelani” Wedding Music Program for song suggestions! The ukulele will sound beautiful on its own or with a vocalist. For many songs, the ukulele can be paired beautifully with a piano or violin. Whether the ukulele is amplified depends on the situation. In a medium or large venue, the uke will probably be connected to an amp or speaker system. In a more intimate setting, the uke will sound beautiful live and without amplification. If the ukulele player is also singing, the uke will most likely be amplified along with his or her voice. With the popularity of songs performed by artists like Jason Mraz, Eddie Vedder, Train, and Israel Kamakamawiwo’ole, many couples love the natural, gentle sound of the ukulele for their wedding music.
It may be possible for a fee, depending on our schedules. You might also be able to catch one of us at a public performance with an orchestra, or at a restaurant.
When you book Sweet Harmony, we will choose the musicians for you depending on who is available in your area, on your date. We offer a guarantee of professional sound and service.
If the venue has a piano, we will be happy to use it. Some considerations are the location of the piano (is it in the room where your event will be held?) and the tuning. Most venues keep their pianos regularly tuned, but it is a good idea to double-check. If a piano is not available for your event, we will bring an electric keyboard that will have a beautiful piano sound. There is an extra fee for keyboard cartage.
Different instruments have different needs with regard to weather and temperature. String instruments (violin, viola, cello, harp, and guitar) are the most sensitive. They need the temperature to be 60 degrees or higher, because the cooler air affects the wood and strings. They also need shelter from direct sunlight because the sun will affect the instrument if it is exposed for a period of time. And, they cannot be outside in any rain, even tiny droplets of rain, or ocean mist.
The electric keyboard does not need shade or certain temperatures, but it must be protected from any water. The flute and saxophone also do not require shade or certain temperatures, although some musicians will not play outdoors in winter weather.
The good news is that there are ways for us to play outside in cooler weather and sun, because we know you may be dreaming of an outdoor event with live music! Depending on the location of your event, we may be able to bring a patio umbrella for a fee. Your venue or a local rental company may have umbrellas or small tents available.
Space heaters also make it possible for string players to play outside in 50-degree temps. We will need you to provide the space heaters.
A note regarding the harp: This instrument needs to set up on a hard, flat surface, not grass or sand. That is so the harpist can work the pedals. If you would like to book a harpist to play on grass, in some cases we may need you to provide a piece of plywood.
And finally, in order for us to be amplified, or to play an electric instrument such as the keyboard, we will need a source of electricity. Please note that we do not own generators. Some of our string players own battery-powered amps, so that can be arranged in advance!
Beach wedding music is lovely, although there are some precautions to take. Amplification is almost always required, which means there must either be electricity available or we will need to book one of our musicians who own battery-powered amps. (Make sure your officiant is also amplified!) And, string instruments need shelter from direct sunlight, such as an umbrella or gazebo with a solid roof. Harpists cannot play on sand and will need to set up on a flat hard surface.
Here are the approximate space requirements for various ensembles:
Solo string player: three-foot square
Solo keyboardist: three by five
Duo: five-foot square
Trio: six-foot square
Quartet: 12 by four
We’ll do our best to play in the style of your favorite recordings. Please remember that the magic of a live performance is the musicians’ individual styles and interpretations of music. Also, musicians often overdub themselves when they make videos — meaning, you are hearing two, three, or four performances at the same time, even if you see only one musician on the screen. (The Piano Guys love to do this!) If you want the music to sound exactly like a certain recording, then it’s best to play that recording through a speaker.
From our perspective, it isn’t necessary for us to come to the rehearsal if your ceremony will proceed in the traditional order. We rely on our years of experience playing hundreds of weddings, as well as detailed communications with your officiant and wedding planner, to keep the ceremony moving smoothly. But, if it’s important to you that we attend your rehearsal, please ask. It may be possible, and it will be treated as an additional booking.
We would love to accompany your singer. This will require a rehearsal, and you will be billed for extra time. Generally the musicians rehearse with the singer 30 minutes before the prelude starts.
Please note that there will be cancellation fees for any change of instruments. Your musicians have been holding the date for your wedding, and have not accepted other work opportunities for that day and time.
Yes, Sweet Harmony carries an annual general liability insurance policy. We will be happy to name your venue as additional insured and provide them with a certificate.
Any travel considerations will be covered in our initial quote to you. If you are validating the parking for your event, we would appreciate it if you would include us.
At a wedding, you will be billed for overtime if your wedding goes over by 20 minutes or more. Please note that it is not always possible for the musicians to approach you or your family at your wedding and ask if they should stay. If your ceremony starts late and is not finished at the planned time, the musicians will stay to the end, and you will be responsible for the overtime that accrues. This is included in our contract. The only possible exception is if the musicians have a booking immediately after yours and must leave at the original contracted end time. But they will do all that they can to cover you with music. If you like, you can instruct us to leave at the planned time no matter what (although we would prefer to stay and make sure you have music!).
No one likes to pay additional charges after the wedding is over. If you think your wedding might start a little late, it’s best to contract us at the outset for extra time.
For events other than weddings, if you would like your musicians to stay longer than the contracted end time, overtime will start immediately after everyone has agreed!
No, I am sorry, we do not provide microphones or speakers for officiants. They can be rented from music stores such as Sam Ash or Guitar Center.
By two weeks prior to your wedding, in your customer portal on our site.
If you are pleased with our service, a tip is appreciated, but there is no obligation.
For an outdoor event, the location of shade and of electrical outlets will be important considerations. Another important factor for a wedding ceremony is the musicians’ sightline — they need to be where they can see what is going on at the front. When we arrive at the ceremony site, we will work with your venue to choose the best place.
For a reception, it depends on how many rooms will be used and where the food is being served. The goal is to set up in a place that will allow the music to flow throughout the reception space. Again, the venue will be able to help!
Sometimes. For the ceremony, it depends on how many guests you will have and whether the event is indoors or outdoors. We will usually need to use amplification for your cocktail hour, so the music will carry nicely among the conversation. In most cases, we can bring our own amplification. Occasionally, it may make sense to use your DJ’s equipment if they are agreeable.
Our standard arrival time is 30 minutes before the music is scheduled to start. So, if your ceremony starts at 5:00, and prelude music (for the guests) is scheduled to start at 4:30, the musicians will arrive by 4:00. Some musicians (harpists and keyboardists) need more time to set up, and will arrive 45 minutes to one hour before start time. If you would like your musicians to arrive earlier than our standard arrival time, you will need to pay for the extra time.
There will be cancellation fees for shortening of booking time.
We may request one meal per performer depending on the timing of the event. We won’t request meals for a wedding ceremony and/or cocktail hour.