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.

Posted in: Ceremony Music, Logistics and details