Weddings and Music


There is something very special about having live music at a Wedding and Reception. It can transport an already special day to an entirely new plane.

There are few rules about what kind of music should be played and when. The most important thing is to have the music you enjoy. However, there are traditions, and kinds of music that through experience, we know fit well at the different stages of the wedding day. Normally function bands, jazz bands and barn dance bands are for the evening, with string quartets for the ceremony and reception; but people have sometimes  broken these traditions, often to good effect. Below, we will give you some indication of the kinds of music that we know from experience fits well during different parts of the Wedding day, with links to examples of the groups and their music.

The rules that are set, are set by the Registrar for music during a Civil Ceremony, and sometimes by the Minister during a Church Ceremony. Civil Ceremony Laws forbid the playing of music during the Ceremony that has any religious connotations. (We can help advise on what is likely to be acceptable by the Registrar). With Church Ceremonies, the Minister is the arbiter of what can and can not be played. Fortunately, the vast majority of Ministers view music as an important part of the church and its activities, and positively encourage music during the ceremony.

Below is brief information about music the different parts of the day. However, we would discuss this with you before and after you booked our musicians, to ensure that the day and the music were as you wished.

<ceremony> ~ <reception> ~ <meal> ~ <evening> ~ <practical considerations> ~ <all the other things>


We play regularly for both Church and Civil Ceremonies. The most popular music for this stage  is a Classical Music group, such as a String Quartet, Classical Duo, Harp, Pianist or Soprano. For a Civil Ceremony, this is usually the only music played. For a Church Ceremony, we some times play with one of our music groups instead of or as well as the Church Organ and Choir.

Typically, we would play for half an hour beforehand, as guests arrive. Then for the entrance of the Bride, again during the Signing of the Register, and then as the Couple make their exit.

We have occasionally provided Folk or Jazz for the Ceremony, but would need discussion regarding appropriate music and the logistics of the situation.

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We would usually play during the drinks reception, with the same music group that played for the Ceremony. If it is a Civil Ceremony at the same venue as the reception, we would quickly move to the new location, and continue playing. If it is a Church Ceremony, the musicians would leave the church as photographs were being taken and move to the reception venue to greet you and your guests as you arrive.

If the weather is good, we can play outdoors in the gardens. Often, we will change the repertoire during the reception towards lighter music.

We have also played during the Reception with our Jazz and Folk Bands, where the venue and taste of the Bride & Groom make this appropriate.

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We often continue during the meal with the same music group that played during the Reception, although this is also an appropriate point to introduce the musicians who will be playing in the evening. Having set the atmosphere with music, earlier in the day, it can be rather nice to continue this throughout the meal.

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Do you want to dance, or have music to listen to? Do you have a wide age range and range of tastes amongst your guests? Do your guests want to hold conversations, without being drowned out by the music? Do you want a wild disco?

These are just a few of the questions you need to consider in choosing the music for the evening. Here are some options we can offer:-

Ceilidh or Barn Dance

This is a very popular option, as it can be enjoyed by all age groups from 5 to 95, gets both sides of the family and friends mixed together, and doesn't drown out the conversation of those who want to just listen and chat. No experience is needed, as we have a 'Caller' who teaches the dances, and selects dances to fit the energy and experience of the dancers.

People often wonder what the difference between is between a Ceilidh and a Barn Dance. None really. The former is the Celtic name and the latter, the English & American name. We offer  Irish, Scottish, English or a mixture of everything, Ceilidhs. We usually alternate between dances, and music to listen to [while people are getting their breath back}.


Jazz is a broad subject encompassing many styles from the 1920s to the present day. Ideal for listening to and some dancing. Groups vary in size from duos, through quartets to 10 piece bands and more. The best way to decide is to imagine the kind of atmosphere you would like to create, listen to some of our Jazz Groups on the web site, and contact us with your thoughts. This jazz timeline will help you understand the different kinds of jazz.


If you are wanting to create a 'civilised' atmosphere for your evening entertainment, then a String Quartet, with its broad repertoire ranging through classical to music from the shows, film music and more, may fit the bill.

Function Band & Disco

You may a Function Ban or Disco for  your total evening entertainment, but  often it would follow on from one of our above music groups, earlier in the evening, playing from 10.30 or 11.00 until midnight or 1.00am. We don't offer either of these genres, but are well used to working in conjunction with such groups.

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There are a lot of practical considerations when considering the integration of music groups into the day's schedule. We are happy to discuss this with you when you are enquiring, and will go through it with you in detail when you book us, but here are just some considerations:-

String Quartets

  • Wide repertoire ranging from baroque, through classical to music from the shows and light jazz

  • Can move quickly between locations [ceremony, drinks, outdoors etc.]

  • Can play in small & large venues to small & large audiences.

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  • Beautiful and unusual instrument

  • Can NOT be moved quickly between locations, and are rarely taken outdoors.

  • Suitable for small to medium sized gatherings [being a solo instrument]

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Classical Guitar & Lute

  • Intimate music

  • Easily portable between locations

  • Suitable for small to medium gatherings, where there are reasonable acoustics [solo instrument, or duo] é back to top


  • A soprano generally needs an accompanist. In a church this can be the organ [if it is tuned to the correct pitch], or a piano.

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Venue Style

  • The acoustics of the venue and number of guests influence the kind of music group that is appropriate, and the location of the musicians who are playing un-amplified instruments [string quartets, harpists, etc]. Jazz & Folk bands are normally amplified, and can artificially compensate for bad acoustics to a certain extent.

  • Large, old venues normally have good acoustics, and are normally excellent for live music

  • Modern hotels vary. Some are good, but those with low ceilings and acoustic absorbing ceiling tiles can need careful consideration. Discuss with us if in doubt.

  • Marquees absorb a lot of sound. Music in a Marquee can sound very good, but location and other factors must be taken into account. Discus with us.

  • Playing outdoors is often very satisfactory for groups with un-amplified instruments. Again, location of the players relative to features such as buildings, wall, bushes, landscaping, can be important. Discuss with us.

  • Playing outdoors requires shelter from rain, wind, sun, extreme heat and cold. Guests will brave a few drops of rain and their hair being blown about. For a string quartet, rain and direct hot sun can destroy a valuable instrument's varnish and wind can blow the music stands over. For a Jazz or Folk Band, it may take 45 minutes to disassemble the PA system, so can not set up unsheltered if there is the slightest sniff of rain [and in the UK!!]. Consider the options the venue has to offer in the case of less than ideal weather.

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Jazz & Folk Band, setup

  • A String Quartet, classical guitarist or the like takes about 10-15 minutes to set up. They can move to another location within 5 minutes [provided that chairs are provided at the new location].

  • A harp is transported on a special trolley. Consideration for access must be given, and moving to new locations means loading onto and off  the trolley. Not all harpists will take their instruments outdoors.

  • A Jazz or Ceilidh Band, with their PA take about 45 minutes to set up. Unless playing un-amplified, they can not move to another location rapidly [normally 20 to 45 minutes to move].

  • Chairs are needed by most instrumentalists. Tables are needed to put PA mixers on. A group can waste a lot of time finding these, and start late, unless the venue has chairs and tables organised in advance.

  • To be able to start at the specified time, musicians need clear access to their performance location. Consider this in your planning. Keeping musicians waiting outside while speeches finish, or because the venue hasn't finished clearing tables, means that the performance will start late, and will  cost you extra if they are asked to continue beyond the contracted finishing time.

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We have sometimes been asked to play at christenings by couples whose wedding we had played for some time  earlier. This is always a great pleasure for us. 

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What a lot to think about, and what's more, you quite possibly don't know a lot about the whole subject of live music in it's various genres and what is involved from the point of view of the musicians. There's also the whole history of the kind of music, be it Jazz, String Quartet or Ceilidh, all of which has a bearing on the music as you perceive it now. Then, what about the history of Marriage itself? It's by no means a new fad or invention, and people have been getting married for hundreds if not thousands of years, and the whole Wedding thing is steeped in superstition and ritual from the distant past. So if you fancy some bedtime reading around the subject, have a look at these articles on everything from Jazz to how or string quartets coped with the results of global warming to make sure that brides and grooms got their wedding ceremony and wedding reception entertainment, despite the weather. Have a mooch through some musical musings  about what it is like to be a string quartet or barn dance band musician and find out about the history of the thing you're about to commit your life to, your wedding. Then there is some light reading in the fantasies section that was all written late at night after a drink or two (hence title), but covers anything under the sun, from what is music about, the instruments of the orchestra, the on about the concepts of ceilidh and barn dance entertainment, the range of string quartet music, and how jazz has developed. Just about anything to do with music, parties and weddings that came to mind in the wee small hours. You can see what a strange mind I have! Then lastly, it struck me that it might be interesting for people to see the sort of events that our music groups have been hired for over the past few years. Remember, this is just a small random selection to give you an idea of the counties, towns where people hire live music for their important events.

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