It’s one of our most frequently asked questions........
“Which ensemble is best?”
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this one! Yes - the string quartet is the classic wedding ensemble. Two violins, a viola, and a cello. It's the quintessential wedding ensemble. And yes - if you want classic traditional elegance - the string quartet is the way to go. But - there are many other wonderful options! Since we’re on the subject of the string quartet, let’s start there…..
The String Quartet
Four instruments is a lot of volume - usually enough volume for 200+ guests at an outdoor ceremony (if it’s not windy).
It’s a beautiful aesthetic. Four string instruments set up in that classic configuration that we recognize from so many wedding movies. It’s pretty!
Another advantage to the string quartet is that lots of music is arranged for string quartet. So, if you’re wanting some new modern music, you have the best chance of finding it for a string quartet.
*Our string quartet performing at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
The string quartet is versatile. Guests swoon when they hear Canon in D on string quartet for the bridal entrance. And they cheer when the ensemble surprises the crowd with an exciting rendition of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for the recessional. It can be classical and modern… all at the same wedding!
The one drawback: budget. Four musicians can put some clients over budget. If so, check out these other options…..
The String Trio
*A photo of our string trio at Pinehurst Resort, in Pinehurst, NC
The string trio is basically a string quartet without the viola…. two violins and a cello. Still decent volume and still beautiful. And a little more budget-friendly than a quartet.
There are slightly fewer modern songs arranged for trio, so if you’re into modern day music, ask about the song list for the trio before booking! Still lots of modern options here though.
We find that the trio pulls off the same elegance as the quartet without the price tag, so if you want to cut corners a little but still convince your guests that you splurged for strings - the string trio is a great option!
But what if 3 or 4 instruments is out of my budget but I still want top 40 music?
If you want to stick to two musicians but still play some killer covers of pop songs, I recommend pairing a violin with an accompanying instrument! The violin is a melody instrument which plays the vocals. If you pair it with a guitar, a piano, or a harp, then you still have all the melody and the accompaniment. That's all you need to pull off pop music successfully (well... as long as you have two really skilled players who have a lot of experience playing modern music on strings! Pop music is generally not easy to pull off on strings, so make sure you hear video samples first and hire professionals).
Here’s an example of a violin and guitar duet playing "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles:
This is a video from a wedding we played at The Farm at Brusharbor. It’s plenty of sound! The violin pulls off the melody. The guitar fills in everything else.
What if you want a little more depth of sound? You can add a violin or cello to make it a trio! Here’s an example of that:
North Corner Haven is located in Lancaster, South Carolina, not far from Charlotte! The space feels untouched and like it can be transformed easily into the couple's vision for their day.
We provided a string quartet for the wedding ceremony music. We worked with Split Second Sound on this wedding too, and they provided sound for us to amplify the string quartet during the ceremony.
Both are large areas and have a capacity for a small event or a large wedding of 200+ people.
At this particular wedding, we played violin guitar duets for the wedding ceremony!
We worked directly with the owners of the venue, and they were so friendly and accommodating! Even though the venue is in Concord, it's very close to Charlotte center city- as well as the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Concord Mills Mall.
The main structure is a modern barn with ample space for a large reception. The large barn doors open to a grassy area which is shaded during prime wedding times, making it a perfect space for the ceremony. There is a backdrop of arbor. Even though you're right in Cornelius, it feels secluded and quiet.
This is a venue that seems unassuming when you drive up. All of the beauty is hidden! We played here in November, and it is a treat that this wedding venue is located in the Huntersville and Cornelius areas, so close to Lake Norman and uptown Charlotte.
The leaves were a beautiful backdrop for the day!
There was plenty of parking in a nice lot, as well as updated furnishing and lots of space. Even with a large group, nothing about this day felt crowded, and guests were able to move about easily.
We played ceremony music only, and then Split Second Sound took over for the cocktail hour and the reception.
author: guest blogger Eryn Jones Fuson
the openness and fresh air and nature all around to set the tone for this incredibly
special day in your life, whether it is up on a mountain, down by a quiet river in your
backyard, or in a spectacular garden venue.
before the wedding you see that there will be bad weather? Sure, your planner has
made sure that you have a backup venue or at least a covered alternative of some
sort, but is it really worth considering moving to plan B? I am here to say that, if you
have hired live musicians to be a part of your big day, the answer is a resounding,
musician for 14 years now, but also from the experience of fellow wedding
musicians with whom I network and who I interviewed for the sake of this article. So
many of our couples and even planners we work with don’t realize the effect
weather has on instruments, not only for potential damage, but at the very least
causing the instruments to fall out of tune. And believe me, you do NOT want to be
walking down the aisle to out of tune music! Wedding musicians have in our contracts
our policies regarding weather, and we all notice that they can tend to be
overlooked by our clients.
I understand that this is easy to do since ours is not the only contract you are having to look through and sign; all the agreements with all your vendors can definitely get overwhelming, and keeping up with everyone’s provisions is a task unto itself. Be sure to ask your planner to keep track of these things if she is not already and remind you to consider them closer to the big day.
After gathering info from my fellow musicians, the general consensus on safe
playing temperature is nothing above 90° and nothing below 55° (though there is a
slight variance depending on the individual or group), and absolutely no inclement weather. Rain, drizzle, or even heavy fog have the potential to seriously damage wooden instruments. We make these policies not only to protect our instruments, but to provide our clients with the best quality music that we can play. Drastic changes in humidity and extreme temperatures, if nothing else, cause wooden instruments to fall out of tune, which believe me, nobody wants in the middle of their wedding!
A fellow professional harpist friend of mine Michelle Cobley brought up a good point regarding colder weather; not only can it cause damage to our instruments, but it also causes our fingers to stiffen and not have the dexterity they need to play smoothly and at peak performance. Hot weather with or without humidity can cause equally as damaging conditions to the wood and tuning, even having the potential to melt the glue that holds the wood together. This can even be the case in comfortable temperatures 70-85 degrees if we are in the direct sunlight, as the sunlight puts an even more concentrated heat source into the mix.
With inclement weather, a tent, gazebo, or other shelter around the site is also a possibility as long as the wind is not going to be so strong as to blow the rain underneath. Some musicians including myself also offer alternative instruments in case of undesirable weather. For example, harps, violins, and cellos are more affected by extreme temperatures than guitars, and electric pianos, and carbon fiber instruments are not affected at all!
Recently I had a couple who had hired me to play the harp for their ceremony, but when the weekend came and the temperature was going to be in the low 50s and windy they made the choice to still hold the wedding outside rather than in their indoor alternative, and I was still able to play all of the songs we had chosen on my electric piano since it didn’t mind the cold, then I played the harp inside for the reception. Deans' Duets is a collaborative event musician group serving North Carolina, and when they have gigs that move forward despite cold or mist, their guitarists or carbon fiber instruments can sometimes still perform if some of the other instruments can’t.
Those of us who have envisioned our ideal wedding day all our lives may find it hard to consider our plan B when and if that decision needs to be made, and that difficulty is absolutely valid. But you can still have a stunning and perfect wedding in the comfort and safety of a secondary site if the weather decides to misbehave. Keep in mind that when you hire professional wedding vendors, you procure the help of those who have majored in Plan A, B, C, and beyond when it comes to experience, and they will do everything within their power to make this special day one you and your guests will remember forever.
Eryn Jones Fuson is a professional event musician, recording artist, singer/songwriter, and music teacher out of Pinehurst, NC. www.erynjones.com
We’ve highlighted the five venues where we perform ceremony music most often in the Asheville area. This barely scratches the surface, but hopefully it helps get you pointed in the right direction.
The Champagne Cellar at the Biltmore House Deerpark Restaurant
So, if you would love for your guests to drive onto the property of the Biltmore for your wedding, it’s a great option with lots of different price points.
#2 The Omni Grove Park Inn
Just like the Biltmore, the Omni GPI is a destination in and of itself, and guests are thrilled by the opulence of the venue, the mountain views, the beautiful stone work, the history of the hotel. It’s iconic to the mountains of North Carolina. It’s also a perfect place to revisit for anniversaries and to remember your wedding day!
#3 Chestnut Ridge
Chestnut Ridge is just outside of Asheville in Canton, NC. It’s lovely! Lots of scenic open fields and mountain views. The main structure is a luxurious white barn which is designed with weddings in mind! This venue is all about weddings, and they even have their own planning team on-site. Clients have several options for indoor or outdoor ceremonies here. It’s far enough outside of Asheville that it feels like you’re really in the mountains - but near enough that there are great hotel and transportation options for you and your guests.
#4 The Grand Bohemian Hotel
Love this venue! It’s romantic, regal, and luxurious! We love the Bosendorfer piano which is available for guests to enjoy during cocktail hour. There is an outdoor covered terrace for partially outdoor weddings, but it’s a great space, because, even in cold winter months, it can sometimes be heated enough to still hold ceremonies outside.
The indoor space is decorated opulently, with crystal chandeliers. It feels very fancy. We have seen small intimate weddings here, which are almost like elopements, and also some larger weddings. The hotel is almost across the street from the Biltmore Estate, so it’s a good location for your guests to feel like they’re right in the middle of the energy of Asheville as well.
#5 The North Carolina Arboretum
If you love gardens and flowers, this is the place for you!
Asheville boasts mountain venues and garden venues. It’s full of history, romance, and luxury. Tourists flock to Asheville for good reason, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations in the country, for good reason. Asheville is very popular for destination weddings, so vendors here are accustomed to doing a large amount of the planning with clients via phone if needed.
Just five venues barely scratches the surface of the incredible options that are available to couples wanting to get married in the North Carolina mountains, but this is a good start!
If we can help point you in the right direction of finding the best fit for you, let us know! Asheville wedding venues have very unique personalities, so most people fall in love with a specific one and know it’s for them!
Just touring these gorgeous places is a treat, so you’re sure to enjoy the journey along the way!
For the ceremony music, we played all traditional classical music, and the bride walked down the aisle to Canon in D. Then we switched to popular and modern music for the cocktail hour.
Beckon Events was fantastic at coordinating the day, as always. This classic luxurious day
We will be back in Highlands soon with more beautiful wedding music!
The bride's father made these doors!
Thank you to the bride and groom for allowing us to be a part of your perfect day!
Choosing the music for your wedding day can make or break an event. Having an ensemble that doesn’t fit your vision of the day, the mood of the event and venue, or literally hits the wrong note can affect the mood of the whole wedding day.
This is what sets us apart from other musicians:
Professionalism. We take our events seriously. We are professional musicians, not hobbyists trying to make an extra buck here and there. Our musicians wear all black to keep the focus on the event and the wonderful music, keep their materials organized and out of the way, and go above and beyond to ensure that the event runs smoothly by working with all other teams involved at the event.
Customization. We realize that each event we play is unique, so we provide endless options to make our part in your big day exactly what you want it to be. Our clients are able to choose many different ensemble possibilities and can choose each song played (we’ll even learn new songs). We are also experienced at performing at many different types of venues, so we can adapt to pretty much any situation.
High expectations. From ending processionals at just the right time and double checking every detail so you have a cohesive sound throughout our teams, we have high expectations for ourselves which we hope exceed the high expectations of our clients.
Being part of your special day is an honor for us - one that we take very seriously. We would love to talk to you about what we can provide for your event. Contact Dean’s Duets to get started.
We packed up the family and turned the trip into a vacation.
Hannah and Jorge had the most lovely ceremony under this huge tree overlooking the ocean.
The violin cello harp trio was the perfect ensemble for this occasion. We loved that Hannah requested we learn "I See the Light" from Tangled. Here's a video clip.
Here are some of our tips for selecting the perfect wedding venue:
- Know Your Guest List. A quick way to narrow down which venue would work for your big day is by knowing how many guests you plan on inviting. (Typically, ⅔ of the guests invited will attend; slightly less than that if it’s a destination wedding) This can also help with budgeting, as most wedding costs depend on the headcount.
- Plan A Budget. Setting a budget early will help steer you in the right direction when it comes to all the other decisions needing to be made. Think about which areas you would like to budget more for and where you may be willing to cut costs. You don’t want to spend more than 50% of the total wedding budget on a venue. One way to reduce spending on wedding decor is by choosing a venue with an abundance of natural landscape that will not require as much extra decorating.
- Set A Date. Dates tend to book up very quickly at popular event venues, so it’s important to check if your date is available before getting too far into the planning process. If you are willing to be flexible with the date, you will have a better chance of scoring the perfect venue and may even get a lower rate. Friday and Sunday weddings usually lead to more discounts and to more availability with vendors and venues.
- Have A Vision. In the early stages of planning, you should have a good idea of what style of wedding you would like. Indoor or outdoor…mountains or beach…church or farm. This will influence which venue you choose as it plays a huge part in shaping the ambiance for your special day.
While wedding planning can be overwhelming, don’t forget to embrace this time and enjoy the process. After all, your wedding day is a true celebration of love and if you are with the one you love, it will be perfect! We find that couples who relax and let their vendors do their jobs are the happiest – and their wedding days go the most smoothly too! At Deans’ Duets, we complete your wedding day with the perfect music. Contact us for more information.
April is a violinist and music coordinator for Dean's Duets.