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Logistics and details

Do we need to meet with you in person?

An in-person meeting is generally not necessary.  With the vast majority of our clients, all the booking, organizing, planning, and music selection ends up happening via email or phone.  If you’re more comfortable working out details in person, then we can certainly accommodate.

When will the musicians arrive on the day?

We always arrive 30 minutes before we are contracted to start.  This allows us time to find your coordinator if you have one, and talk through the ceremony with your officiant, set up our instruments and music stands, and tune.

As a rule, we do not charge for this time; we charge from when we start playing to when we stop playing.  In very rare cases where we must arrive and set up more than 30 minutes before we are to start, we will charge a set-up fee.  This is extremely unusual though.

If we are accompanying a singer of your choosing, we arrive 30 minutes before we are scheduled to start rehearsing with your singer. Read more about accompanying singers here.

What will the musicians wear?

Our customary attire is formal black for women and dark suits with ties for men.

If you’d like us to match, we can all dress in orchestra black (this means black slacks and black button up shirts and women in formal black).  Men can also wear tuxedos if your event is black-tie.  This has become increasingly rare in Portland, though, so please give us advance notice if this is required.

If your event would be better served by Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, we’ll certainly do what we can. We are always more than happy to work with you on matters of fashion and style.

Do you attend the rehearsal?

Because we rely on visual cues, watching while we’re playing,  it won’t make any difference to us whether we’re there at the rehearsal or not.   Because of inevitable scheduling challenges on Thursday and Friday evenings, we are not able to offer rehearsal attendance as a matter of course.

We are more than happy to discuss further over the phone and/or email, and in some rare cases where it’s absolutely critical, we may make an exception, for a fee.

Will you play outdoors?

Absolutely!  As long as our instruments are out of the elements.  The rule of thumb is you gotta treat ‘em like they’re made of sugar.  No precipitation and no direct sun.

The client bears responsibility for providing adequate shelter from rain and sun.  This is extremely important and must be addressed in advance.  Our instruments are our livelihood, and they stay in their cases unless adequate shelter is provided for them.

Extremes in temperature, the presence of insects, and strong winds are additional concerns for us when performing outdoors.  For the most part, these adversities are manageable, but they’ll cause our transitions between songs to take longer, and/or we’ll need to tune our instruments more often.  If it’s colder than about 65 degrees, we may have to play slower because our fingers don’t work as well.

The main thing is that when performing outdoors, it’s simply more difficult to produce a performance that is up to par with our professional standards.  We will always do our best, and we hope you can understand and bear with us as we valiantly battle the elements.  It’s worth it.

Will you relocate after the ceremony for cocktail hour?

More often than not, it will be necessary for us to pack up and move after the ceremony to another location for the cocktail hour, and possibly even a second time for the remainder of the reception.

We’re accustomed to relocating ourselves and we do not charge an extra fee for this.  Please understand that the more equipment we have, the longer it will take us to move, so to maximize playing time and minimize equipment hauling time, it’s best to keep it to only one reset.

If we do need to move, you can help us expedite the process immensely by having chairs set up for us already in the new location.

When do you take breaks? Can you play an iPod during breaks?

Typically, we require one 10-minute break after each hour of playing.

  • If we are playing for ceremony only, we require no break.
  • If we are playing for ceremony and cocktail hour, we require no break but we may need to relocate, which can take a while if we have to make multiple trips and negotiate around crowds.
  • If we are playing live music for your reception, we can coordinate breaks to coincide with toasts and/or other events to achieve a smooth flow of events; this may mean we play a longer or shorter set.

We are flexible about breaks but we also want to ensure that we are able to perform at our best at all times, and in order to do so, we do need to rest our ears, fingers, and minds.  Music performance is athletically and mentally demanding, and we need to be in top shape to give you our best show!

Recorded music on band breaks

If your selected group is using an amplifier or PA, we can plug in your music player or ours.  Please let us know ahead of time if you’d like us to do this so we make sure we have an appropriate playlist that fits your style.

Will you accompany my friend/sister/cousin/etc for a song?

Lots of folks ask if we can accompany a singer for a song during the ceremony,  so here’s our take on this potentially awesome and potentially perilous endeavor (made exponentially more perilous when it’s a singer who lives in another state, which somehow is always the case)…

First, the answer to the question is generally yes, we can totally accompany a singer of your choice.

What a singer needs from us is for us to make them sound good.

What we need from a singer (and possibly from our client) is a few tools to make that happen.

Here’s a list of the elements at play:

  • Amplification and Sound System — every singer deserves a good mic that they can easily use.  It’s extremely rare that a singer will be able to fill a room without a mic, especially if they’re singing a pop song that requires some subtlety.
  • Arrangement – it’s actually unusual to perform a song in its original entire version at a wedding ceremony.  Almost every time, we will end up making some adjustment to the length or form of the song.
  • Key – about half the time, we will end up changing the key of the song to something other than the original key.  Determining the appropriate key can be tricky if the singer isn’t sure.
  • Sheet Music — every time, without exception, we will have to make special sheet music for ourselves.  Even if you or your singer kindly provides us with a piano/vocal/guitar arrangement from musicnotes.com (and please do – it will save us some time), we will still need to adapt that arrangement to suit the particular ensemble that will play it, and the singer, and any adjustments we’ve made to the song form.
  • Rehearsal – Somehow, somewhere, we all have to learn the song.

Here’s the part where we cannot resist making mention of the fact that all the lessons we’ve learned about accompanying singers have been learned the hard way.  Hooray for experience!

And now is probably a good time to mention that, yes, of course, we do charge extra for all of this.  Not a zillion dollars, but enough to cover the time and cost of dealing with all of the above.

Here’s our fee breakdown:

1. We charge an extra $50 or $100 for the arrangement and the special sheet music even if you provide us with sheet music.  Because as I noted above, in 100% of cases we will have to take extra time to make customized sheet music for ourselves.  $50 if guitar is in your ensemble; $100 if you have no guitar.

2. We require that you book us for an extra 30 minutes to allocate time for rehearsal on the day of the wedding.  This 30 minutes needs to be immediately before our normal start time.  And of course we need the singer to be there for this time.  This time is not billed at our hourly rate; instead, we require a flat fee of $50 per musician for this rehearsal.

And, depending on the ensemble you have booked,

3. We may have to charge an additional $50 flat fee for providing sound for your singer.  This will depend entirely on your ensemble.  It may be wise to see if there are other resources, such as your DJ, who can provide sound for your singer.

So, if we would normally have a day-of timeline like this (this is a hypothetical one-hour ceremony booking for a ceremony happening at 4 pm):

  • 3:10 musicians arrive for set-up (we always arrive 30 minutes prior to start time and we don’t charge for this time)
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony start time
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

With a singer, we’d do it like this:

  • 2:40 musicians arrive for set-up
  • 3:10 singer meets musicians to rehearse song
  • 3:40 prelude music start time
  • 4:00 ceremony starts and somewhere in here, we execute the song brilliantly with your awesome singer!
  • 4:30 ceremony ends; recessional and post-lude starts
  • 4:40 musicians stop

So what would have normally been a one-hour booking needs to be booked for 90 minutes.  Make sense? It’s just an extra half-hour right before prelude music.