Encore Blog

Bagpiper Booking Guide – 2019 Prices, Hiring Advice and FAQs

Bagpiper in kilt

Are you curious about hiring a bagpiper for a wedding or private event but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips from some of our top bagpipers.

To discuss booking a bagpiper with our team, email Alexandra at [email protected].

  1. The Basics
  2. Tunes
  3. Booking

1. The Basics

In which parts of the wedding ceremony can a bagpiper play?

Bagpipers will normally play outside the church or registry office as the guests and bride arrive, and then again outside after the ceremony. They can also play at the reception – generally for about twenty minutes to get the crowd dancing and then a DJ will take over.

What can the bagpiper do at a Burns’ Night?

A bagpiper will make your Burns Night an affair to remember! The piper can play your guests in and pipe the haggis in and out of the dining room. Some pipers can also address the haggis. (Non-Scots click here to find out what’s involved in a Burns supper!)

Can a bagpiper play outside?

Bagpipers can play outside, but weather can make a big difference to the quality of the sound. A good piper will be able to tune their pipes correctly even in poor weather, but constantly changing conditions can make this a difficult task for even the most experienced pipers.

In rainy conditions, pipers will wear a cape over their uniform to protect it; however, this will cover up the tartan.

A good guideline for weather is that if you wouldn’t want to stand in it, neither would your piper.

Bagpiper at wedding

“To be a piper is to uphold the history and traditions of being a Scotsman.”
-Encore piper Harvey Kane

What will the bagpiper wear?

There are two traditional uniforms that a piper can wear: No. 1 and No. 2 dress.

No. 1 dress is the traditional highland dress normally reserved for weddings, funerals, and other formal ceremonies. The client can request No. 1 dress, but it is important to note that not every piper will own this attire as it’s quite expensive.

All pipers will own No. 2 dress, which can be used for any occasion. Pipers will look just as smart as those in No. 1 dress, with some clients preferring it to the full regalia. No. 2 dress comprises a kilt with a jacket, tie, socks, gillie brogues, and a glengarry (hat).

Some pipers list a few different tartans on their profiles so the clients can pick a specific tartan for their piper to wear. However, this tends to be limited to No. 2 dress as very few pipers will have more than one plaid (the length of tartan that wraps around the body and drapes over the left shoulder).

Some pipers may also be willing to hire a specific tartan when requested by the client – however the cost of this would be charged to the client.

“Being a piper opens up so many unique experiences.” Encore piper Calum Carslaw performing the lament at the Menin Gate with the National Air Cadet Pipes and Drums.

Can the bagpiper play with a snare drummer?

Absolutely! A drummer will add an even more special flavour to your event. Another option is to hire a mini band which usually consists of several pipers, 1-2 snare drummers and a bass drummer all in the same kilts. This will look and sound spectacular.

2. Tunes and Bagpipe Repertoire

What are the most popular tunes?

Bagpipers can play both Scottish and Irish tunes. Some of the most popular are:

  • Scotland the Brave
  • Highland Cathedral
  • Amazing Grace
  • Flower of Scotland
  • The Skye Boat Song

Where can I listen to bagpipers?

Go to Encore’s bagpiper page and listen to different pipers’ audio/video clips. You can even filter by location to find bagpipers near you!

Encore bagpiper Ross McCrindle plays Amazing Grace.

3. Booking a Bagpiper

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests, but we handle last-minute bookings all the time at Encore and can easily find a bagpiper at short notice.

What’s the typical price for a bagpiper?

Between £160 – £250 for an hour of playing, depending on a number of factors (experience, distance, duration of performance, time of year). Each bagpiper will tailor a quote individually to your event.

Remember that a cheaper quote doesn’t necessarily mean a better deal for you. Make sure to listen to each bagpiper, look for reviews and testimonials and find out their level of experience. It’s worth paying for a good bagpiper who will create a haunting, unforgettable atmosphere.

Stephen Dewar, Encore Bagpiper

Stephen Dewar of Scotia Pipers

How do I handle contracts and payment?

The easiest way to handle contracts and payment is to book through Encore. Our bookings process is extremely straightforward, and once you have confirmed a booking with your bagpiper, contracts and payments will be handled painlessly and effortlessly by our secure payments system. To discuss booking a bagpiper, please email Alexandra at [email protected].

Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have more questions about bagpipers, email us at [email protected] and we’d be more than happy to help.

With thanks to Encore pipers Keith Andrew, Rex Benson, Calum Carslaw, Harvey Kane, Colin Murphy, and Andy Piper.
Click below to find the perfect bagpiper for your event:

Are you a musician? Join now for free atencoremusicians.com

James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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