We were so excited to work with Colleen and Michael for their October wedding! This was our first time at historic Boxwood Estate, and it was simply gorgeous!
The bride and groom chose solo guitar for this intimate affair, so our Charlotte guitarist, Drew, was on hand to perform several classic melodies for their guests during the ceremony.
The couple opted for a small gathering of just their closest friends and family, so as you can see below, they were able to create the most lovely dinner set up featuring a twinkling light drape. Enjoy the beautiful images below from Charlotte photographer Amy Kolo Photo.
Check out our vendor friends below that made this lovely day come to life!
Photography: Amy Kolo Photo
Planner: A Touch of Southern
Venue: Boxwood Estate
Florals: Taylored Blooms
Beauty: Mae's Makeovers
Musicians: Dean's Duets
Stationery: Art by Addie McElwee
Catering: Family Catering Service
Bridal Boutique: Ladies of Lineage
Gown Designer: Amsale
Menswear: The Black Tux
Shoes: Vince Camuto
Rings: Diamonds Direct
Officiant: Gorden Fleming
Hiring a violinist for your wedding sets the stage for elegant and timeless music to accompany you down the aisle and wow your guests! It also offers your guests an opportunity to experience a style of music they may not have heard and that they will remember for a long time to come.
A wedding violinist isn’t your only option for strings on your wedding day. You could hire a cello, viola, guitar, harp, piano… there are many beautiful options! If you would like to have more than one musician, the violin pairs perfectly with any of these instruments.
1. Google “wedding violinist” in your area. Several options are sure to pop up. If you are in North or South Carolina, or you want us to travel to you, we would love to be your wedding violinist! But, if you are in another location, Google is a good place to start.
2. If you are working with a wedding coordinator or a wedding planner, they can likely recommend a violinist they enjoy working with and who they already know will do a great job.
3. Does the violinist have a website or are they willing to send you videos or audio samples of their playing? This one is important. You want a seasoned performer… Not just someone who has performed for a couple weddings.
Many things happen at weddings. There are distractions, delays, changes at the last minute, and you need a violinist who can look up from their music and be aware of what is going on around them. If your violinist is less seasoned, they may be glued to their music and not aware of what is going on around them, which makes for awkward entrances and less than impressive melodies for your guests to enjoy. It can actually turn into a stressful situation for everyone if they see that the violinist is struggling. When performing, it’s important to communicate a sense of “I’ve got this” which becomes evident to guests. This allows guests to sit back, relax, and enjoy the music instead of feeling like they are sitting through a painful student violin recital where they are not sure the performer is comfortable.
4. Does the wedding violinist have reviews? The reviews don’t have to be on Wedding Wire, The Knot, or another popular website, but you need to be able to see that they have positive reviews and that the reviews seem genuine from actual clients. We have gotten many last-minute phone calls from brides two days before their wedding wanting to hire us instead because their hired violinist is not returning calls and may not show up on their wedding day. There is also the added stress of having already paid that violinist a deposit that they may or may not get back. Working with a violinist with a good reputation is so important just because of the peace of mind it will give you leading up to your wedding day. We actually know several performers who are not allowed to advertise on certain websites anymore because they did not show for events. It does happen, and you really don’t want it to happen to you on one of the most important days of your life. Always hire a professional!
5. Does the violinist have a song list? It’s important that your violinist has some ideas to offer you about what they can play. It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive list, but at least some suggestions of tunes they have played in the past and enjoy performing. Be sure to ask them if they are willing to learn any new music as well, as you may have a specific song in mind that you want to make sure is played. If this song is already in their repertoire then great, but if not they may need to learn it for your wedding.
7. Here are some other questions you may want to ask, depending on your specific situation…
Do they need power nearby? Do they play with a PA or amplification system? Do they ever play with backing tracks? Do they play different styles of music or only classical music? Will there be any additional fees added, such as travel fees, fees for new music, overtime fees, taxes?
Does the violinist require a vendor meal? At what time do they typically arrive? Do they need to talk with your officiant or planner before the wedding day?
Of course, every violinist will do things a little bit differently, and you want to make sure that whoever you hire is someone who fits you and your vision for your wedding music. For example, here at Deans' Duets, if you are getting married in Asheville, and you want mainly classical music, we will prioritize a classical violinist who is also an Asheville violinist. But if you are getting married in Charlotte and want a classical violinist we would probably use one of our Charlotte violinists so that you did not have to pay travel fees from Asheville. That’s just the way that we do things… You want to ask these questions to make sure that the person or group you are hiring works for you.
As another example of how we work, if our Asheville violinist were to get sick on your wedding day, and we would need to bring in a Charlotte violinist, we would not charge that travel fee since it was an emergency situation. We would be able to bring in a violinist from out of town in order to still play your wedding with a fantastic classical violinist, even if an emergency situation were to arise.
These are just a few examples of the culture of Dean's Duets, and how it’s important to ask many questions of the professional you are hiring, so that you feel comfortable and confident that they will do a great job with your wedding music.
We are happy to answer any questions for you and point you in the right direction when searching for your wedding violinist in North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond! Feel free to reach out to us at any time. Happy planning!
Wedding coordinators and planners have been asking us to blog about this for a while. Coordinators are literal super heroes. They save the day MANY times throughout the day, on wedding day! They’re amazing, and we love them! They make our jobs easier, and they make the jobs of all of the other vendors easier! Coordinators hold vendors accountable. They fix their mistakes. They keep them on time and on task. They tie up loose ends. And they do about a million other things. You'll find that we often make shameless plugs for coordinators and beg our clients to hire them, because... it's worth it!
Some wedding coordinators have a musical background and some don't. Some coordinators have planned 10 weddings, and others have planned hundreds. Many coordinators have asked us, "What can we do to make the ceremony processionals run even more smoothly?" We hope to answer that in this blog!
We often have "after action reviews" at the conclusion of our weddings. We talk about what went well and how we can improve. This blog focuses on understanding when music is important, and how wedding planners can help it all work perfectly.
WHEN DO I NEED MUSIC PLAYED?
There are several different parts of a wedding where music is important.
The ceremony music
This is the typical lay-out of wedding ceremony music:
Prelude (sometimes called pre-ceremony) music:
30 minutes of background music as your guests arrive and find their seats
Seating family (mothers, grandmothers, etc... whomever you decided to seat)
Bridal party (officiant, groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls, ring bearers, etc.)
Recessional (music at the conclusion of the ceremony)
Cocktail Hour Music
Background music as guests mingle and bridal party takes photos.
More background music
More music, usually for dancing
We at Deans’ Duets focus on the ceremony music, but we often provide cocktail hour and dinner music. And we sometimes play for the reception too. But in this blog, we focus on ceremony music, because it’s the most tedious, and it’s also the music that can get messed up if musicians are inexperienced or nervous.
Some coordinators are musicians or at least know music, and they love the music part of the ceremony! Others - not so much - and they often ask how they can help this part to go more smoothly. It’s sometimes intimidating to cue music or to work so closely with the music when your background isn’t in music!
So have no fear…. we have some tried and true tips to help this go really well. Not just ok… but to make sure all of your guests have chills as the bride walks down the aisle!
HERE ARE THE THINGS YOUR MUSICIANS + PLANNER SHOULD DISCUSS:
List every single person that is walking for each song, and make sure musicians & coordinator agree :)
Simple Gifts - family
- grandma #1
- grandma #2
- grandma #3
- mother #1
- mother #2
Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring - bridal party
- 5 groomsmen
- 5 bridesmaids
- 1 ring bearer
- 2 flower girls
Canon in D - bride
- bride + her father
This ensures that everything is clear and that no one is forgotten!
Where will these entrances be starting? For example, sometimes groomsmen will enter from a side entrance while bridesmaids enter from another door. And then sometimes the bride appears in a horse-drawn carriage! These things are important for musicians to know during ceremony music.
Agree on cues! We recommend that the coordinator hold up a ONE for family seating, a TWO for bridal party, and a THREE for bride. Thumbs up works too, but numbers are just another double check for us to all be on the same page. Another alternative is for coordinator to text musicians. But this requires reliable cell service (which isn't always the case), so we usually just go with hand signals. Hold those numbers high to make sure there’s no doubt we see them!
Once we see your ONE, we’ll bring our prelude song to a close. We’ll pause for about 3 seconds of silence. And then we’ll start the family seating song. Make sure you wait for the silence before you start sending family down the aisle! We’ll make it really obvious. Sometimes it takes 5 seconds or so for us to end a song beautifully, so give us time to end it, and THEN people start walking.
Wait for the silence again before sending the other groups.
Pace people slowly. We love for clients to really get to hear 1-2 minutes of the songs they chose. Sometimes, if walking is paced too quickly, people only get to hear 20-30 seconds of the songs.
When it’s time for the grand walk down the aisle, give the musicians a clear cue to start while the bride is still hidden. This gives time for the song to crescendo and for the guests to recognize which song it is before they see the bride.
You want this sequence:
1. cue the musicians
2. previous song stops. bride’s song begins
3. guests are overcome with the beauty of the song and recognize it
4. doors open & bride appears
5. bride walks toward the aisle as music continues to build
6. bride stops before the aisle to have dress fluffed & to take a moment to enjoy
7. music crescendos into a climax as bride nears the aisle
8. music concludes in an epic final chord as bride arrives at the front
When this sequence happens perfectly, almost everyone is overcome with emotion, and many guests describe this entrance as the most powerful moment of the entire day. When the coordinator and musicians are in sync, this happens flawlessly!
We love making this happen! It’s our favorite part of the entire wedding day.
Talk about any music which will be played during the ceremony.
- When will it happen?
- What will be the musicians’ cue to begin and end the music?
What is the cue for the recessional? Sometimes it’s “You may kiss the bride.” Sometimes it’s “I present to you for the first time…..” Sometimes it’s "Mazel Tov!” Sometimes it’s jumping the broom! It’s very important that the wedding coordinator, the officiant, and wedding musicians know the cue for the recessional. When the recessional music begins at exactly the right time, it’s another magical moment! When it’s even a second or two off, it can be awkward and lacking excitement.
So there you have it….. seven important details to help your ceremony music flow perfectly! Are there tips we missed? Comment with them below! Can we help answer any questions about your ceremony music? If so, send us an email! DeansDuets@yahoo.com
Coordinators…. are there things WE can do to make your jobs easier on wedding day? We’d love to know!
P.S. Read a couple stories below to understand what can happen when these steps don't happen!
Check out a few of our favorite bridal processional songs below....
Lately, with all of the changes of shifting to smaller weddings, there are more do- it-yourself weddings (aka DIY weddings) where there is not a designated planner. If there is a planner, he or she is often faced with increased responsibilities due to the small size of the wedding and all the complications that have come with COVID weddings.
One would think that a small wedding would make it easier on the coordinator and all involved, but often the opposite is the case. The coordinator is faced with last-minute decorating, pushing play on a playlist, floral arranging, giving instructions to more people….lots of responsibilities that would typically be the responsibility of a different vendor at a larger wedding.
We have also seen weddings with no coordinator at all in this COVID-era wedding climate.
The question we get from brides and coordinators alike is… How can I avoid potential hiccups with my music and ensure that everything goes according to plan?
Even in earlier years when Covid was not an issue, there were a few key things that we always recommend to help your ceremony music to go smoothly on wedding day. Here are our suggestions...........
Venue: Sweet Magnolia Estate
If you don’t have a day of coordinator, book one! We have never heard a bride regret booking a planner. As long as the planner is a professional and well-vetted one, DO IT! It's pretty much always a good decision. A full service or month-of planner is even better, but at least having a day-of planner is a good idea.
If you do not want to hire a planner, designate someone who is not immediate family to at least line people up and send them down the aisle at the appropriate time.
This is important because, without someone designated, time gets away from you on wedding day! There are boutonnieres to pin, bouquets to organize, grandparents to locate, petals to find for flower girls, pillows to remember for ring bearers..... all the things!! Most weddings start very late without someone in charge.
This person should ideally have a printed day-of schedule and a to-do list at certain times of day. They should also plan time to chat with the musicians and with your officiant sometime before pre-ceremony music begins.
Have a rehearsal. Even if it’s a small wedding of 20 people, just walking through the motions helps a lot. Who walks down first? Who is on which side? Do groomsmen put their hands in their pockets or in front of them? What do you do with your bouquet when it’s time to exchange rings? All these things will flow better on wedding day if you have a quick walk-through.
*Actually, a coordinator has a list of these things, and they'll take care of all of them, but again, if you don’t have a coordinator, a rehearsal will help!*
Venue: Champagne Manor
Communicate. What time should everyone arrive? What are your expectations of people on wedding day? Who brings all the things? A well-crafted email to everyone, or a schedule - or both - goes a long way. (Also copy your venue on this if they’re involved!)
Read our more detailed blog to coordinators next week to see what we recommend to make music go PERFECTLY. We are pretty good at making things work well and flow, even if things are late.... even if we don’t get the cues we need... even if people walk out of order, etc. But… there is something about a perfectly timed entrance that is MAGICAL. So, read next week to get more specific tips about the music portion and how it can go as planned.
Venue: Vesuvius Vineyards
Deans’ Duets is a full-service music planning team who provides ceremony music, cocktail hour music, dinner music, and reception music for clients throughout the southeastern United States and beyond. We currently provide music for many luxury weddings, but we started out many years ago playing mostly small church weddings and DIY low-budget weddings, so we’ve seen it all! Let us know if we can help.
Carrie-Grace and Hunter reached out to us last year about providing a solo violinist for their wedding in Dothan, Alabama. We loved getting to know them and hearing about their vision for their wedding.
With all of the uncertainty that came with weddings last year and this year, they decided to go ahead with a plan to have their wedding ceremony and reception in the bride's parents' backyard in Dothan Alabama. It was the perfect location for their elegant outdoor ceremony in southern Alabama. The violin music was just perfect for the ceremony. It was very simple, elegant, and sweet.
Madilyn is our violinist from Pensacola, Florida, and she was in the perfect location to play this wedding. Madilyn played for us for several years in North Carolina and has since moved to Pensacola, so we love when we can book weddings for her in Florida and Alabama! Madilyn and her husband traveled from Pensacola to southern Alabama and enjoyed their time exploring a new place and playing for such a lovely day.
Shea Wilson was the wedding planner, and she was fantastic! She reached out to us a week before the wedding to talk through song selections, logistics, and itinerary. We love when we get to talk to the planner the week before the wedding to make sure we are all on the same page. She was so helpful at the wedding as well and cued us perfectly for everyone’s walk down the aisle.
The photographer, Sarah Blaze, was amazing as well! If you are ever in need of a photographer in southern Alabama or the panhandle, she is so great!
Myers Park Country Club is incredibly elegant. This entrance was just stunning
Our violinist was waiting in an adjoining ballroom to begin playing as soon as guests begin to make their way into cocktail hour, and Casey started playing solo violin while Amanda moved over from the ceremony and joined him to play violin and cello duets for the cocktail hour. The cocktail hour was filled with beautiful classic selections like Arioso and excerpts from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
Libby with Details Wedding Planning coordinated this wedding flawlessly, and the Blossom Shop Florist provided these gorgeous florals.
Also - in the age of COVID, we’re always interested to see how the sanitizer and masks are displayed, and we really loved how even the “safety” table looked beautiful!
Congratulations to the bride and groom! This was another fantastic wedding that we are so grateful to be a part of!
On December 5, we played at Lindsey Plantation in Taylors, South Carolina, for the first time! It is so exciting when we can play at new venues. We love to see how different they can be and how each couple can personalize a place to make it look like a new place!
This remote venue is very peaceful. They have a lovely outdoor ceremony space with lots of indoor options as well. This was a bright and sunny December day, and it was so bright that we needed to move around a bit to make sure that our iPads did not overheat in the direct sunlight. It’s always so nice when December weddings have beautiful weather. We’ve played several December weddings with snow on the ground, so this was quite a treat!
At this particular wedding, we played violin and guitar duets for the ceremony outside and then moved inside for the cocktail hour. We played for the cocktail hour as well and then even played the theme from Beauty and the Beast for the couple's first dance. It's so sweet when brides can put a song from their childhood into their own weddings! After that, we handed it over to a folk music group to take over for the rest of the reception.
If you’re looking for a lovely "off the beaten path" venue near Greenville, South Carolina, this is a great one to check out! It’s still close enough to Greenville that there are plenty of hotel options for your wedding guests, but this venue definitely feels like you are out in the country.
There is plenty of space everywhere you go so your guests won't feel overcrowded. There is lots of room to walk around outside and inside so the people won't get stir crazy. The venue is also flexible, it seems, and they were very easy to work with when we were there.
Thank you to the bride and groom for inviting us to play violin and guitar duets for your wedding in South Carolina! We loved being a part of a new location and glad we could provide the music for your special day! Looking forward to playing at this venue again.
Our violin harp duet played ceremony music at Vesuvius Vineyards wedding venue in Iron Station, North Carolina, in November. This bride and groom contacted us at the last minute about providing ceremony music. Due to Covid restrictions, they had changed so many things and were finally able to have a gorgeous ceremony at Vesuvius Vineyards, which is a quite a grand sight!
They have a covered pavilion area for a semi outdoor ceremony. We have also played on the lawn outside here for a previous ceremony. The house is a beautiful backdrop as is the pretty countryside. It has such a peaceful setting about it, which sets the mood for a wedding!
The violin harp duet seemed to fit this setting nicely. It was a very elegant ceremony. Violin harp duet is so beautiful and unique that it adds a very special touch to weddings that are sleek and elegant. Several of the guests commented that it was like the icing on the cake. When the ceremony was over, other vendors took over for the rest of the music.
The actual playing part of the ceremony probably only lasted about 45 minutes, but with the load in, the warm-up, the tuning, the talking to coordinators and vendors, and then the packing up and loading out at the end, we are usually on site for a minimum of four hours. So even if we are playing for a very short period of time, we still take a large portion of our day to arrive early and leave late to make sure that we have covered all of the important details! It is always a must for us to make our clients feel like our first priority! If they have any last minute requests for music, we are happy to make them!
We were so happy to be a part of another beautiful wedding in Iron Station, North Carolina! Looking forward to many more in the future.
During the months after Tara and Eric booked us as their ceremony musicians, many weddings started canceling and postponing due to Covid concerns, But we were hopeful their wedding would still be able to happen. We moved into phase 3 in North Carolina just in time for this wonderful couple to have the wedding day they had planned!
The bride and groom chose a mixture of our most popular string quartet music for their prelude as their guests arrived. Tara had a very specific plan for her walk down the aisle, and it was executed magically! We played A Thousand Years by Christina Perri on string quartet for her walk down the aisle. When it was time for Tara to appear, the doors of the venue closed, and we began playing the iconic introduction to A Thousand Years. We then played the verse with the doors still closed. Then during the crescendo to the chorus, Tara‘s coordinator began to open the doors, and she walked out when we started playing the part that says…"I have died every day waiting for you…"
It was a magical moment, and these epic bridal entrances still give us chills every time they happen. It takes a lot of planning to execute a bridal entry perfectly, but this challenge always excites us, and we are so careful to do lots of communication to ensure that the walk down the aisle happens just as it should. This walk is one that people plan and dream about for years. It’s very special when a bride has specific instructions about how she wants to enter, and we are able to visualize it and help her make it reality.
Tara and Eric hired some spectacular vendors for their wedding day. Reverend Rebecca Nagy was the officiant, and she is a pro in all senses of the word. She’s fantastic.
Sweet magnolia estate is an impressive venue because of the options they have for indoor and outdoor space.
Thanks, Tara and Eric, for entrusting our string quartet with your wedding music in Cornelius, NC! It was an honor to provide music for your wedding day.
Sunday was our first time at High Grove Estate in Fuquay-Varina, NC. Apparently this is a big up and coming event venue in the Raleigh area, and it seems like they’re doing a ton of weddings. It’s a gorgeous venue with a lot of versatility.
In the COVID wedding era, we stayed masked and set up away from guests, but with the string trio for the wedding ceremony music, it was plenty of sound and carried beautifully.
High Grove Estate in Fuquay-Varina is this beautiful mansion tucked away with gorgeous landscaping and lots of room to turn this space into your dream venue. There are so many fantastic venue options in the Raleigh area, and this one is a great one!
Bride Kate and Groom John contacted us first a few months ago to book a classical string trio. These days, most of our weddings are crossover styles, like modern and popular music, so it’s really rare for us to play a fully classical wedding. So we were excited to dive into these traditional classical wedding songs.
During the prelude, our string trio (which consisted of two violins and a cello) played Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi. It’s so nice using an iPad for these, because the page turns in classical music can be really tricky. The iPad makes it go so much more seamlessly.
The recessional was La Rejouissance by Handel, on string trio.
John and Kate were fantastic clients, and we loved working with them! Thanks for asking us to play for your wedding in Fuquay-Varina!
April is a professional violinist and the music coordinator for Dean's Duets.