Frequently Asked Questions (NEEDS EDITING)
What’s the difference between a string trio and string quartet?
This is our most common FAQ. Traditionally, the String Trio and Quartet are the most commonly requested accompaniments for weddings and functions.
A string quartet has 4 musicians - 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola and cello. The string quartet produces a well-balanced and dynamic volume suitable for small and large venues, and functions with many guests. The quartet is also more visually impacting with more musicians than the trio. The String quartet is usually recommended for outdoor events and feature performances. All music is written for string quartet.
The string trio is a versatile ensemble of 2 violins and 1 cello, performing at all types of venues, and because of its smaller size, it is particularly suited to intimate or restricted spaces. Playing as a trio, the viola part is taken out, with the most noticeable difference usually being a slight loss of volume. Most types of contemporary and classical pieces are suitable being played as a trio. The string trio is also a more affordable option.
If my wedding runs overtime will your musicians stay until the end?
We know from our extensive experience that weddings do commonly run overtime due to traffic, late starting, guests still arriving, long sermons, and other unexpected events. That’s why our booking is 75 minutes long rather than 60 minutes, and nuptial mass bookings are 90 minutes. This longer time allows for unexpected delays. Guests are entertained by our music as they arrive to the venue & wait for the ceremony to begin. If the wedding finishes before the booked time we will continue playing as guests exit the church and photos are being taken.
For weddings the overtime option on your booking is is set by default to requested, where all available musicians will remain until the recessional music has been performed. If the recessional music has not been performed within the booked time you will be charged an overtime rate. Musicians leaving before the wedding has ended is very awkward and unprofessional.
Overtime charges are set out on the booking agreement and Booking Info page here.
We recommend booking extra time if there is any chance of the event/wedding running overtime. Imagine how unfortunate it would be if your event runs over by 15 minutes, which could result in you having no music for the signing of the register and the recessional.
What are your overtime rates?
Do you play for ceremonies and receptions?
Yes! We play for all kinds ceremonies, including civil ceremonies, garden ceremonies, and all religious services including Catholic Nuptial and Orthodox services.
We also love to play for guests after the service as the bridal party is having photos taken. We can play for guests as they mingle after the ceremony, for pre-dinner drinks, canapés, and of course the reception venue. At the reception you may like to have us play for the arrival of guests up until the bridal couple arrive, the bridal party entry, first dance and throughout the entire evening.
Do you play for nuptial mass weddings?
Yes, we enjoy having the opportunity to play for the different parts of this type of wedding. Nuptial mass wedding bookings should be 90 minutes to allow extra time for the communion, readings, etc. In a nuptial mass we play for the following key moments:
Processional (party and bride)
Lighting of the family candle (once for parents, once for the couple)
Signing of the register
Are you available on our wedding date?
What kind of music do you play?
We love to perform the soundtrack to the most beautiful moments in your life. We are highly trained, versatile and experienced classical musicians. Styles of music we can perform include: classical, pop, rock, ballad, contemporary, jazz, world, and folk. See our complete Repertoire List here.
We ask that you keep non-classical requests that aren’t on our standard repertoire list to a limit of 3 pieces. Our ability to perform your requests depends on: suitability for strings, availability of sheet music and ample notice (3 weeks). If a particular request is not possible we will work with you to find a similar alternative. We will only perform requests that we believe will reflect highly on our ensemble.
Where do your musicians travel to for weddings and receptions?
We have musicians based in Sydney and Newcastle/Maitland.
Sydney Ensemble travels to many destinations beyond Sydney including Northern Beaches including Palm Beach & Whale Beach, The Blue Mountains, South Coast and Southern Highlands. Bookings beyond Terrey Hills (north) / Castle Hill (north west) / Parramatta (west) / Cronulla (south) may incur additional fees for travel.
Hunter Valley Strings travels all destinations in Newcastle, Maitland, and Hunter Valley / Pokolbin and the surrounding winery region at no extra cost. We also travel to Port Stephens, Singleton & the Central Coast which may incur additional fees for travel.
Do you cancel your bookings with clients?
We never cancel bookings with clients. If any unforeseen event occurs on the day of your booking we will do our utmost best to find a replacement so that there is no need to worry on your special day. If you have to change time or venue we will always try to accommodate these changes.
How experienced are you at performing at weddings?
We have performed at over 1000 weddings! That definitely makes us one of the most experienced and professional established wedding string ensembles.
How long does it take you to set up?
Musicians allocate 15 minutes to arrive and set up ready to play. During this time we will also liaise with priest / celebrant / event organiser as to where to set up, and cues for playing for the key moments. The setup time is not charged.
Where do you set up?
As every venue is different where we set up will depend on the layout of the event. We will choose a location based on adequate space needed, proximity to the ceremony, volume required, discretion, visual impact and guest access. If you have a preference this can be detailed in the booking agreement.
Is set up time part of the charge?
No, we do not charge a fee for the time it takes us to set up. Our arrival time, set up time and start time are clearly stated on your booking agreement.
Example of a 75 minute booking:
Arrive 1pm, play 1.15pm (booking start), wedding 1.30pm, finish 2.30pm
How much space does a string trio or quartet need?
A string trio requires approximately 3 x 1.5 metre space, and a string quartet 4 x 1.5 metre space.
What other requirements do the musicians have?
Musicians require armless chairs (we can bring our own foldup black at your request), sufficient light, and adequate shelter from sun, rain and wind. All professional musicians perform on very expensive instruments, which need to be protected from all elements. Musicians will stop playing if their instruments and music are at risk of being damaged.
Do you provide your own chairs?
Please ask your venue or wedding decorator first to provide chairs. If this is not available we can bring our own black fold up chairs at your request.
What are your payment options?
All bookings require a deposit by EFT to secure your date and time. The remainder of the fee can be paid on the day in cash before the event begins (the name of person should be stated on booking agreement). To keep costs down we do not use credit card or BPay facilities.
When do we need to let you know of the music we would like you to play?
We appreciate notification of all music requests 3 weeks before your wedding/event. However we will always try to accommodate your requests at any time.
Do you have a complete repertoire list we can choose music from?
Do we need to provide drinks and meals for musicians?
For bookings over 3 hours it is a requirement musicians are provided crew meals. Non-alcoholic drinks are appreciated during long/warm weather bookings.
Do you need to take breaks during your booking?
For bookings 2 hours or longer musicians take 5-10 minute breaks after the first 90 minutes. This can be timed with the DJ, during speeches or changes of location.
Do you play outdoor weddings?
Yes. Around 50% of our wedding bookings are outdoors. Please ensure adequate protection from the elements is available.
What happens if it rains and my wedding is outside?
All outdoor weddings should have a plan B for wet weather. 2 hours notice must be given for any venue / time changes. If your event changes venue and/or time we will do our our accommodate your request, but cannot guarantee availability of all or any of the booked musicians. If any of the originally booked musicians cannot attend the Plan B time/venue, efforts will be made to replace them if time permits. If it rains during your outdoor ceremony and adequate shelter is not provided we will stop playing.
What are the main parts for music in a wedding ceremony or reception?
The main parts for music in your ceremony are:
Prelude: we will play a selection of pieces for the arrival of guests up until you are ready for the ceremony to commence
Processional: when the bridesmaids and the bride enter and the ceremony begins- choose 1 piece for both entrances of bridesmaids and bride or one piece for bridesmaids and one piece for the bride
Signing of the Register: choose one or two pieces as you sign the register
Recessional: when you are pronounced husband and wife, you walk down the aisle together and the ceremony concludes- choose one piece
Post-Ceremony: We continue playing until the end of the booking as you mingle with guests and have photos taken. We can move to a different location at your request.
Other parts may include: candle lighting, offertory processional, communion, and reflection.
Reception: Reception bridal party entrance, first dance and cake cutting
I’ve always dreamt of walking down the aisle to a particular song. Can I request you play it for my wedding?
Yes! We are able to play most songs our clients request. If the song you are thinking of is not suitable for us to perform, we will endeavour to find a comparable alternative.
How many special requests are included in our booking?
We include up to 3 special request pieces for your booking at no extra charge (think 1 for processional, 1 for signing of the register and 1 for the recessional). Performing special request music involves sourcing and paying for sheet music, arranging each piece for string trio / quartet and learning and rehearsing the piece as an ensemble. Please visit the Booking Info page for current pricing..
How do you know when to start and stop playing for my wedding processional entrance?
When we arrive we will liaise with the priest / celebrant, event organiser as to when to begin playing. We often organise a cue for when to start if it is difficult for us to see when to begin. To end our wedding processional music we may take 5-20 seconds to finish off at a suitable part in the music so that it is not an abrupt halt. This time can be used to position the bridal train, arrange the bridal party and take a breath. Please remember there is no need to rush your processional! Take your time and enjoy the moment and the music!
Do you play amplified?
Amplification of string instruments for small events such as weddings is not usually necessary. If you would like louder sound a string quartet over a trio is recommended. We can play amplified using a portable battery-powered PA system (Roland BA-330). Refer to the Booking Info page for current pricing.
Do you play at wedding expos?
Yes. We try to perform at one Sydney wedding expo and one Newcastle/Hunter wedding expo per year. As we generally don’t do meetings for bookings, expos give couples the opportunity to meet us in person, discuss ideas and watch us perform before you make a final decision. Please get in touch as to which expos we recommend and perform at. A list is also on our Links page.
Do you have public liability insurance?
Yes, our public liability and professional indemnity insurance details will be provided on your booking agreement. A certificate of currency (required by some councils and venues) is available by request
Do you work with event organizers and venues?
If I need to postpone my booking, will I lose my deposit?
A deposit is required to secure your date and time, so that no one else is able to book that time with us. If you need to change your date your deposit will be honoured only if we are available on your new date.