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String Quartet Booking Guide – 2019 Prices, Hiring Advice and FAQs

Are you curious about hiring a string quartet for a wedding, private event, or corporate function, but don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled answers to the questions we hear most often, complete with tips and inside knowledge from some of our top string quartets to make things as easy as possible!

If you’ve already decided to hire a quartet and you’re looking for options, you can either:

  1. Browse and compare over 165 wonderful string quartets available in the UK
  2. Contact us to discuss your requirements: [email protected]

The Accordi String Quartet

The Accordi String Quartet

  1. The Basics
  2. Equipment & Setup
  3. Repertoire
  4. Booking

The Basics

Which instruments are in a string quartet?

A string quartet is comprised of two violins, a viola, and a cello. The lead violinist will play the melody supported by the second violinist. The viola provides mid-range harmonies, and the cello provides a deep bass line, with occasional melodies.

Why choose a string quartet over a string trio?

Due to their larger size, string quartets naturally have a more resonant and fuller sound than a string trio. The fourth instrument allows for richer harmonies—especially important if you want to be able to hear the ensemble over background noise at a busy event or wedding.

Most classical music (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) and pop arrangements are written for string quartet, but can easily be arranged for a trio.

String quartets who regularly perform at functions and weddings will usually provide string duo and string trio options for events in smaller spaces or with lower budgets. A duo costs half the price of a quartet, and a trio costs 3/4, so it’s worth considering these smaller line-ups if your budget doesn’t stretch to the full quartet.

Looking for information on the differences between string ensembles? Find out more here: Duo, Trio, or Quartet? — A Beginner’s Guide to String Ensembles

Which parts of the wedding ceremony will a string quartet play at?

When hiring a string quartet for your wedding ceremony, you’ll receive music during the following parts of the ceremony:

  • Music as guests arrive, usually for 15-25 minutes.
  • Music for the bridal procession
  • Music during the signing of the register
  • Music as you and your partner leave the ceremony

String quartets will often play at the reception as well, for example during the cocktail hour and/or during dinner. String quartets are perfect for background music—they are loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that they’ll drown out conversation.

Giardino Strings play Viva La Vida

Equipment & Setup

How much space does a string quartet need?

Roughly 2 x 3 meters. The image below shows a 2 x 3 meter gazebo that would be big enough for a string quartet.

2m x 3m gazebo big enough for a string quartet

What equipment do I need to provide for a string quartet?

String quartets will require four chairs with no arms, so that they can perform freely without knocking their arms against the chair. They will bring their own music stands.

Do I need to provide food?

Musicians will appreciate bottled water and tea/coffee/biscuits upon arrival. Meals are always welcome, though not required.

What dress code can I expect from a string quartet?

All black is the standard dress code for string quartets providing wedding entertainment. However, quartets can often provide alternative dress e.g. colourful dresses to match a summer wedding or a particular theme.

Many string quartets are able to provide traditional dress for Asian or Jewish weddings. As always, ask the group!

Crystal Palace String Quartet, Bollywood wedding attire

Crystal Palace String Quartet, wedding attire

The Crystal Palace String Quartet demonstrate different dress options

Do I need a PA system?

Not usually – string quartets are acoustic instruments with a mellow sound that both blends and projects. If you think you will need extremely loud instruments, perhaps if you’re hosting an event in a large space or a noisy public place, you could consider an electric string quartet, or asking the quartet to bring microphones and amplification at additional cost.

The Element String Quartet with a stunning rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon

Repertoire

What is the most popular classical wedding repertoire for string quartets?

Seating of the guests
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart
Queen of Sheba – Handel

Bridal procession
Canon in D – Pachelbel
Air on a G string – Bach

Signing of the registry
Ave Maria – Gounod
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

Walk out
Bridal March from ‘Lohengrin’ – Wagner
Wedding March – Mendelssohn
Ode to Joy – Beethoven
Air and Hornpipe from Water Music – Handel

London-based string ensemble, Stretto Quartet

What are the most popular pop songs for string quartets at wedding?

All You Need Is love – The Beatles
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion
Can You Feel the Love Tonight – Elton John
Come Away with Me – Norah Jones
Misty – Erroll Garner
Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

The Accordi String Quartet, performing an excellent version of ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ out in the sunshine!

Can the quartet play my favourite song?

Yes! Quartets can use existing arrangements of popular songs, or can even create one themselves exclusively for your event. In some cases this will slightly increase the fee for your booking, but nothing beats hearing your favourite tune played in a fresh new way!

Firebird String Quartet

“I love getting to travel to new and beautiful locations around Scotland to play at weddings.” – Campbell Parker, the Firebird String Quartet

What is the most popular party/event repertoire?

Depends on the style of your event! It can be classical, pop, or a combination. All of the pieces listed above will work well as background music for a party. Also, we have dedicated pages for our string quartets based on the occasion, so you can find an experienced quartet used to the type of event you’re organising music for. We have wedding string quartets, as well as experienced quartets for corporate events.

I’m not sure what type of music I want. Where can I go for ideas?

Go to Encore’s string quartet page and listen to different groups’ audio/video clips and get ideas of which styles you like. You can even filter the quartets by location to find groups near you!

Can the quartet play with a singer?

Absolutely! A singer is the perfect addition to a string quartet, allowing you to have the soaring beauty of the voice combined with the richness of the string quartet.

Jennifer Coleman specialises in singing with string quartets

Booking a String Quartet

How far in advance should I book?

We advise booking as soon as possible, especially if you have special musical requests. String quartets are particularly busy during wedding season (May to October), so if you would like a string quartet to perform at your wedding, we recommend booking as soon as you have your venue arranged.

That being said, we regularly handle last-minute bookings at Encore and string quartet hire is easy for us to arrange for you at short notice.

If you’re looking for a string quartet for an event within the next few weeks, get in touch with our team at [email protected]!

What’s the typical price for a string quartet?

String quartets will set their own rates, but a fee of about £200 per person is the norm. Approximately £800 total is the standard quote for string quartets that have been asked to perform for two hours, keeping in mind that some groups will stick to a set fee for an event, while others will charge hourly. When you submit your Encore enquiry, we’ll show you a graph of expected rates to guide your budget selection.

Typical string quartet prices:

Up to 1 hour £700
1 to 2 hours £850
2 to 3 hours £950

Do I have to pay travel fees?

You may have to factor in travel costs if the quartet is not local. Most groups will travel for free within a set radius from their home (generally 15-20 miles) and will charge extra for any travel outside that area.

The standard rate is 47p/mile per person, so if the quartet needs to travel 50 miles each way, that’s an additional £47 per person for 100 miles of travel. This amount is included as a rough guide – each quartet will set their own fees, depending on whether they can travel together or separately.

We recommend booking a string quartet local to your venue to save on travel costs—remember, on Encore, you can always filter by location when searching for string quartets.


Hopefully this guide answers all of your questions! If you have any further questions about string quartets, or would just like to go ahead and begin your search for the perfect string quartet, you can:


Cover image courtesy of City String Ensemble

James McAulay

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

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