The Bride, Groom, and Event Planner’s Q & A

Questions To Ask Before You Book

What is your covid policy?

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, and if Sweet Harmony is notified of the reschedule by seven days prior to the event. There are no refunds for cancellations. We will refund your deposit if we are not available for your new date.

Please note that we are unable to provide vaccination records or test results.

Why should we book live musicians?
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!
How early should we book?
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.
Do you have packages or seasonal specials?
In the northern regions of the U.S., discounts are given for weddings in January (except New Year’s Day, February (except Valentine’s Day and Valentine’s weekend), and March. In Florida, the discounted season is June, July, and August (not including the Fourth of July). Please note that the seasonal discounts only apply to weddings.
What songs do you play?
It varies by instrument. For 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. There are separate lists for Solo Violin and Solo Cello, the Sweet Harmony String Trio, and the Sweet Harmony String Quartet. Please visit our “Choosing Songs” link on the navigation bar to see the lists… and if you have specific requests, please ask!
Can I choose all of the music for my ceremony?
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 check out our Wedding Music Guide! 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.
What songs will you play for my cocktail hour or dinner?
Real musicians playing for your big day will bring their knowledge and experience from playing for hundreds of events. They use this experience to create a mix that works for your unique party! What song is just right for a particular moment? There is a real connection between the musicians and your guests as the celebration goes on. This connection helps to guide song choices.

Please let us know your preferred styles — would you like your guests to hear modern pop? Sinatra and jazz standards? Classical composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart? Classic pop and rock? R&B? Broadway hits? Movie themes?

We’ll take up to three specific song requests per hour for your cocktail hour or reception.

Is there a charge for learning music that is not on your song list?
Yes, each new song will cost between $30 and $125 depending on the availability of sheet music, and whether we need to commission a special arrangement.
What instruments should I choose?
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!

Will my song sound good on the violin or cello?
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.

Can you tell me about the ukulele as a wedding instrument?
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.
Will you give me a live sample performance?
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.
Can I choose the musicians who will come to play for my event?
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.
Do you play the piano or an electric keyboard?
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. There is an extra fee for keyboard cartage.
What are the considerations for an outdoor event?
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.

Now, the good news is that we have options to make it possible for us to play outside in cooler weather and sun, because we know you may be dreaming of an outdoor event with live music! Sweet Harmony currently owns two white patio umbrellas, a 10×10 white canopy tent, and a 10×10 white three-sided tent. Depending on the location of your event, we may be able to bring one of these for an extra fee.

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.

What about a beach wedding?
Beach wedding music is lovely, although there are some precautions to take. Amplification is required, which means there must be electricity available, although some of our musicians 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 need to set up on a flat hard surface (not sand).
How much space do you need?
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 fell in love with this recording on YouTube. Can you play it exactly like that?
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.
Will you come to the rehearsal?
It may be possible, and it will be treated as an additional booking. 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.
Someone in our wedding is going to sing a song and we would like you to accompany.
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.
After I have booked certain instruments, can I change them?
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 commitments or opportunities for that day and time.
Are you insured?
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.
Are there extra charges for travel/parking?
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.
When will I be charged for overtime?
At a wedding, you will be billed for overtime if your wedding starts 20 minutes late or more, or if the duration is 20 minutes extra 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!

Questions To Ask After You Book

Do you have a microphone that our officiant can use?
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.
When do I need to send you my song choices?
By two weeks prior to your wedding, using your Wedding Music Planner online form (the link is in your welcome email).
Should I tip you?
If you are pleased with our service, a tip is appreciated, but there is no obligation.
Where should we expect you to set up for the ceremony / reception?
For the ceremony, we need to be where we can see what is going on at the front. At least one of us should be able to clearly see the altar or podium even when everyone is standing. To the side is optimal, since it allows for sightline of the processional entrances and of the altar. If we set up in the front, right or left doesn’t matter — although it is not a good idea to place us directly behind a line of bridesmaids or groomsmen. If we must set up in the back, we will need to be close to the aisle in order to look down between the rows of standing guests. When we arrive at the ceremony site, we will work with your venue to choose the best place.

The location of shade and of electrical outlets will also be our considerations.

For the 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. The venue will be able to help with this. Of course, if we are using the piano owned by the venue, we will set up where the piano is. It is generally not a good idea to plan on moving the piano — it can affect the sound, or the piano may not fit through the doors.

Will you bring speakers or amplification?
Sometimes. For the ceremony, it depends on how many guests you will have, and whether the event is indoors or outdoors. We will 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.
What time will you arrive?
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.
We would like to shorten our contracted booking time or cancel a part of the time.
There will be cancellation fees for shortening of booking time.
Should I provide a meal for you?
We may request one meal per performer depending on the timing of the event.