11 Questions You Should Ask Cocktail Hour Musicians

11 Questions You Should Ask Cocktail Hour Musicians

11 Questions You Should Ask Cocktail Hour Musicians 1200 675 adam Michaels

The right music sets the scene for the wedding ceremony, which is why ensuring you hire the best wedding ceremony musician is so key. So how do you know if the string quartet, violinist, harpist, or pianist will be the one? Ask the right questions. From confirming they have availability on your wedding date to song selection and equipment consideration, below, learn the most important questions to ask a musician before hiring them for your wedding ceremony.

How long have you been a wedding cocktail musician?

It’s a fair question to ask your musicians to speak to their level of experience. You do not want to hire musicians that have not had adequate experience performing a wedding ceremony. You only have one chance to get it right and you don’t want musicians learning at your expense.

Do you have testimonials you can share?

That said, don’t just take their word for it. We recommend asking musicians if they can share testimonials, reviews, or references from previous clients. You can also do this on your own by reading reviews on websites like WeddingWire. He adds that you can also ask if they can connect you with other wedding professionals such as wedding planners who can vouch for their experience and recommend them as a wedding ceremony musician. And, of course, ask if you can hear a private or public performance to hear for yourself.

What songs do you typically play at a wedding ceremony?

You should ask for a list of selections they have available to play at a wedding ceremony, This can give you a jumping-off point to see what types of songs they typically play.

Are you willing to learn additional songs for my ceremony?

If you have other songs in mind for your wedding ceremony beyond the list of instrumental wedding songs they shared, be sure to ask if they are willing to arrange special requests for songs to walk down the aisle to, as well as the processional and recessional. For instance, we see  that these days it’s popular to do classical arrangements of contemporary pop songs. And if so, we emphasize that it’s important that the wedding ceremony musician allows you to approve all the final selections, so ask about that as well.

For example, a string quartet should be two violins, cello, and violin, not a trio of two violins and cello. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a trio. You just want to know that you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Have you performed with the same musicians before?

For musician groups, it’s very important that they are accustomed to performing together and do so regularly. That is much better than having them call pick-up musicians they’ve never performed with before.

What will the wedding ceremony musicians be wearing?

A wedding musician’s attire can either blend in beautifully with the wedding’s style and aesthetic or stick out like a sore thumb. To prevent the latter from happening, We advise asking the wedding ceremony musicians what wardrobe they’ll be performing in.

Wedding Ceremony Musician Questions About Equipment And Weather Considerations

Wedding ceremony musicians often travel with a lot of equipment necessary for their performance. Be sure to go over questions about all their equipment needs and any weather considerations to keep in mind.


What equipment will you bring? Do I need to provide anything additional?

Many ceremonies in larger spaces require amplification. Some wedding ceremony musicians will provide a sound system for amplification but others may not and you will need to plan accordingly. So be sure to ask this question so you’re prepared.

Are you willing to perform outside? If so, are there any restrictions?

This question is particularly important if you’re having your wedding ceremony outside. Ask about requirements or restrictions for doing so. For example, some string groups will not play in direct sunlight or cold weather due to the harm it would inflict on their instrument. With all these questions to ask a wedding ceremony musician, by the end of the conversation, you’ll be better informed to make the best decision for your wedding ceremony.

How do you work with couples to come up with a playlist?

Ask your wedding band how they can help you put together a great list of songs that will reflect your taste in music and get your guests out on that dance floor! Do they have a strategy for determining which songs will be best for your event? Will they allow you to choose some “must play” songs and some “do NOT play” songs? Will they take requests from you or your guests on the wedding day?


Have you worked at my wedding venue or with my other wedding vendors in the past?

While it’s certainly not a deal breaker if the answer is “no,” experience with your venue is always a plus! If your wedding  band isn’t familiar with the space, we recommend scheduling a walkthrough together. Even a quick site visit will help them get acquainted with the layout, acoustics, and any idiosyncrasies they may want to be aware of ahead of time.

What are some of your favorite first dance songs?

The answer to this question can give you a great sense of whether their music preferences and overall style align with what you’re looking for. If you’re envisioning a night filled with old classics and your wedding band suggests a bunch of Top 10 hits, for example, that may be an indication that it’s not the best match. This may not be a deal breaker, though—just because a wedding band specializes in a particular type of music, they can likely be flexible and work with your tastes, too. 

How many breaks do you require, and for how long?

Live bands will generally require at least one break during the night. It’s best to know when, and for how long, they plan to be off the floor so you can mix in some other entertainment (like a fun late-night snack) to keep the party going.

Do you have liability insurance?

This may seem like an inside baseball question, but it’s an important one. Liability insurance protects both your music pro and your venue in case of a mishap, such as damage to the property or an injury caused by your band’s equipment. Many venues require vendors to have insurance to work within their space, so don’t forget to ask this one! 

What is your rate?

Before diving into more specific questions, you’ll want to ensure they’re in your price range. You’ll want to find out if they charge by the hour or if they want a flat fee. We recommend you to be specific. Be sure to be clear on their hours; meaning if they play for both your ceremony and cocktail hour, will they need a break where you’ll need to source additional music?