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CostHelper > Weddings  > Live Ceremony Music

Live Ceremony Music Cost

How Much Does Live Ceremony Music Cost?

low costLow: $100-$425average costMedium: $300-$770high costHigh: $800-$1,250+

Of all the elements involved in a wedding, music can have the biggest impact in setting the overall mood and emotion of the day. Live music is particularly compelling since it can be custom-tailored to the couple's desires. However, because it is typically more expensive than recorded music (or DJ services), many couples opt to hire musicians only for the wedding ceremony and cocktails preceding the reception. Most have a repertoire of classical (ceremony and cocktails), jazz or world music.

Typical costs:

  • The cost of hiring a live musician will depend on the type of instrument, number of musicians and length of performance. Soloists naturally charge less than duos, trios or quartets. Many musicians who routinely perform at weddings will charge a higher fee for the first hour of performance, often considered a "ceremony" charge.
  • Costs for a solo guitarist range from $100 - $425 for a 2-hour performance, covering the ceremony and cocktails. Solo pianists charge roughly $300 - $400 while violinists cost between $300 - $770.
  • Duos, whether two guitars, pianos, violins or harps, range from $800 - $1,250.
  • Trios and quartets (strings are most popular for weddings), average around $1,000.
Related articles: Wedding Music Band, Wedding DJ, Wedding Chapel or Site

What should be included:
  • Price quotes from wedding musicians should include the length of the actual performance, including their own set up and break down time, as well as all necessary equipment (such as sheet music, music stands, etc.). Most live performers require a 5 to 15 minute break between sets, roughly once per hour.
Additional costs:
  • Depending on the location of the wedding ceremony and reception, a travel fee or second-location fee may be added. Travel fees typically range from $50 - $100, or $0.50 per mile. Musicians from out of the area may also require one night's lodging.
  • Some musicians also require meals, particularly for longer performances.
  • A per-hour cost is usually added for wedding rehearsals or planning/consultation sessions.
  • Many musicians offer discounted prices for performances on days other than Saturday, which is the busiest day of the week.
Shopping for live ceremony music:
  • GigMasters[1] offers a searchable database of musicians who offer wedding services. The site allows users to contact a number of musicians with just a few clicks of the mouse. Musicians will then e-mail bids. Each musician pays a 5% fee to GigMasters for each performed booked through the website.
  • The American Federation of Musicians[2] offers an online database of its professional musicians unions. Each chapter's website provides a "hire musicians" feature, which allows you to search for a soloist, group or ensemble in your area.
  •[3] provides state-by-state lists of professional musicians who specialize in wedding music.
  • Check local music schools for talented students whose rates will be cheaper than a professional. Many schools have bulletin boards where students post information about their services and skills.
  • Always try to audition a musician or group in person if possible. Recordings may be enhanced and may not give you the true sound of a live performance.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
solo cello
Amount: $850.00 total
Posted by: Armonde in birmingham, AL.Posted: April 8th, 2023 11:04AM
Number of Hours: 1Type:
Hired a professional cellist to play for our small rehearsal luncheon. He was awesome, professional and very talented. He brought an acoustic amp for our outdoor event and played several classical and popular songs we requested then filled in the rest with music that he thought we would like and we did! He even gave us 3 more songs as an extra treat! it is so unusual to hear a classical instrument up close. We loved it!
On another note most of the fees listed on this site are out of date!
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Violin solo
Amount: $650.00 total
Posted by: Felicia Brooks in Birmingham, AL.Posted: March 10th, 2020 02:03PM
Number of Hours: 20 min Prelude and ceremonyType: Ceremony
My son got married 5 years ago and I used the same violinist for my daughter’s wedding. 5 years ago I paid her $475. 5 years ago I paid a wedding planner $500 and today the planners are charging $1200 or more than double. The violinist was a
dream to work with and she helped me select songs and put the order together for me. I paid 100$ extra for a music consultation where we met up and she played thru her recommendations based on my daughter’s likes and dislikes. I was very pleased I hired Karen McDowell. It’s well worth your time to hire an experienced pro for a ceremony
musician. My band 5 years ago charged $1500. My daughter’s wedding the fee was $3000. I think the band, dress, tux rentals and wedding planner and flowers went up
Significantly more than the solo violin. Musicians set the mood. Hire a pro!
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Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Amount: $1,100.00 total
Posted by: Michelle (bride) in Los Angeles, CA.Posted: April 15th, 2019 02:04AM
Number of Hours: 1Type: Piano & Violin Duo
High-end studio/touring musicians who performed before and during the ceremony. At first were hesitant because of pricing, but after consulting my professional musician friend (maid of honor), are so happy to have chosen them! They were better than any duo I’ve seen or heard and well worth their fees, setting the perfect ambiance for my trip down the aisle and for our guests
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Teenage Musicians
Amount: $200.00 total
Posted by: Kai Padilla-Smith in Denver, CO.Posted: September 12th, 2017 05:09PM
Number of Hours: 2Type: Wedding
I go to Denver School of the Arts, and have performed for my school multiple times, my first payed gig being at a art (painting) sale. My most recent gig was for a wedding in which myself and three others played as a string quartet at a wedding. We were each payed 50 dollars and unexpectedly each of us was given a 10 dollar tip. Every gig I've been given has been in someway through my arts school. Hiring teenagers to perform at an event is rarely ever going to be an issue as long as the logistics of where, when, how much the pay will be, and what kids of music is wanted, is all clear. If need be, specify that their family is not allowed and that they are expected to be professionals, even though the vast majority of teen musicians will already know this through the experiences they've had. As long as you're sure they can handle themselves, hiring teen musicians is no different, except that it is practically always cheaper, than adults.
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Musicians and pay for weddings
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: AG in Anywhere, CA.Posted: August 2nd, 2017 11:08AM
Number of Hours: 0Type: Irrelevant
Rates vary as does level of musicianship and experience performing at events.
Rates also differ by region.
I see comments in various discussion threads coming mostly from brides who innocently have no idea what it costs to produce the music they desire.
The price a musician must charge depends on how many guests the event is anticipated to have (this tells the musician how much sound reinforcement is needed [read: speakers, stands, cables]), how much sheet music is required to play the repertoire, the cost of sufficiently nice clothing, a website, insurance (for both theft and liability (required by most wedding venues), recording equipment to make audio samples, video shooting and editing, photography of musicians for website, advertising, microphones, mixers, speakers, stands, cables, cases, instrument and equipment repair, maintenance, or replacement, consumables like strings, drum heads, and reeds, extra microphones requested by clients, backing tracks if using, and more.
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Wedding Entertainment
Amount: $1,000.00 total
Posted by: Ace Suggs in Orlando, FL.Posted: April 22nd, 2017 05:04AM
Number of Hours: 2Type: Ac. Gtr /singer
1000 would be for the ceremony and cocktail hour. Just remember you get what you pay for. The last thing you should bargain on is entertainment at your wedding.
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Violinist and Pianist
Amount: $200.00 total
Posted by: Warisha Iqbal in Hartford, CT.Posted: April 19th, 2017 08:04PM
Number of Hours: 4Type: wedding
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Special music requests for a violinist
Amount: $500.00 total
Posted by: Laurel Thomsen in Monterey, CA.Posted: April 10th, 2017 10:04AM
Number of Hours: 2Type: Solo violin
I've been performing for weddings, cocktail hours, and other events since 1996. I've noticed that it's becoming increasingly rare in recent years to play any traditional Classical music selections. Though I'm hired as a Classical musician, as we get closer to wedding day, more and more brides request modern pop songs for all points of the ceremony, prelude, etc. Brides need to realize that it's rare for us to find violin sheet music for these songs, or any music at all. Most of the time I need to arrange a violin part from a piano score, or frequently, transcribe music from a recording or YouTube video. This can take hours of additional time, especially when the song doesn't have a strong melody and I must compose additional fills and harmonies perhaps to flesh out a version that will sound like something representative without the lyrics, rhythm, and chordal backing present in the original recording (violin guitar duo helps take this load off some). All this must factor into a quote.
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Ceremony music
Amount: $475.00 total
Posted by: Garden of Joy in Birmingham, AL.Posted: October 11th, 2016 07:10AM
Number of Hours: 1Type: Solo violin
I hired a solo violin for my ceremony and prelude music. My violinist had a masters degree in music and studied at Juilliard. She had over 20 years of experience and also had a beautiful antique violin that was well care for. The upkeep itself is not free as she told me a new set of strings can cost over $100. The fee - maybe $100 bucks or so over the average fee was well worth the hassle of having to worry about any details. She played beautifully with feeling and expression, not like I've heard at a recent wedding where a young violin teacher in her early 20s brought her son or student and not only were they not together but were terribly out of tune. I suspect they were cheaper but who wants to hear that? Everyone was talking about the wonderful music. I understand some moms or brides ask for referrals from Church organists but beware that many require to hire within the church from friends or congregation. Best to pay more and hire quality. It's your wedding.
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Spanish guitarist for wedding ceremony and cocktail hour
Amount: $375.00 total
Posted by: a user in Los Angeles, CA.Posted: June 24th, 2015 06:06PM
Number of Hours: 2-2Type: Solo Spanish guitar
My base price or starting price for local cities: Los Angeles, Orange county begin at $375 for Spanish guitar music for wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours. This covers up to 2 hours of services. For more information on my Spanish guitar services... visit
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30 years in the event planning industry experience
Amount: $100.00 total
Posted by: Brian Harrell (event planner 30+ years) in Minneapolis, MN.Posted: June 14th, 2015 07:06AM
Number of Hours: 1Type: soloist
General prices based on my 30+ years in the business.
Wedding Ceremony:
Soloists 1 to 3 songs $100-300
keyboard and soloist (2 people) with keyboard doing the prelude and recessional also $500-900
Harpist $400-800
String Quartet $1000-1500 per ceremony
Solo Trumpet Player $150-250 per ceremony
DJ $500 (not very good quality)
DJ $800-1500 (medium)
DJ $1500-2500 (pro quality)
Band 4 to 6 pc variety band $500-1000 (low quality)
$1500-2500 (medium)
$2500-4500 (pro quality groups)
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Pro bands are worth it!
Amount: $2,000.00 total
Posted by: Talon McKinney in Chicago, IL.Posted: January 27th, 2015 02:01PM
Number of Hours: 8Type: Instrumental Band
They played a total of about 8 songs but I required their time. Everything sounded great and they even tag teamed with the Dj. The name of the band was called StagePass. Awsome horn section!
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Gigmasters musicians
Amount: $800.00 total
Posted by: GraceH in Hudson, WI.Posted: March 14th, 2014 08:03PM
Number of Hours: 1.5Type: string quartet
We are a string quartet on Gigmasters, and wish to comment on the vast range of quality you will find amongst Gigmaster's offerings.
The Gigmaster's site will let ANYONE advertise there, whether they are professionals, or just claim to be pro.
What happens is, you'll find college or high school kids, or moonlighters, or others who just are not Full Time professionals, they do charge less money, but their instruments are not top notch, or they play out of tune or not together, etc. Or they act unprofessionally, during a Ceremony!
As usual, "you get what you pay for" is true, and especially for Gigmaster's. You can use their service to find the lowest price, but is that really what you want, at the most important day of your entire life?
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Amount: $750.00 total
Posted by: Leigh in san francisco, CA.Posted: July 27th, 2012 02:07PM
Number of Hours: 2Type: ceremony and reception
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Teenage musicians
Amount: $150.00 total
Posted by: Jordin in austin, TX.Posted: January 24th, 2011 08:01PM
Number of Hours: 2Type: guitar/piano
I am a teenage wedding singer and have never had an issue when performing and keeping it professional. I have been performing since the young age of 14 and know the etiquette and I keep it strictly professional so please don't let one persons experience dissuade you from hiring a teenager to perform at your wedding. I have always received rave reviews for all of my performances, and no, I do not take any of my family with me!
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Teenage musicians no bargain
Amount: $200.00 total
Posted by: a user in Seattle, WA.Posted: June 14th, 2010 01:06PM
Number of Hours: 1Type: 2 violinist
As for student musicians, please do not hire teenagers (under 18 or 19 in some states. Wedding musicians have to go with the flow and be able to adaptable under stressful situations. Would you hire a teenage caterer or officiant? You will have to deal with their parents and it can be a huge headache as well as legally since they are not old enough to sign a contract by themselves. If their entire family shows up (it could be as large as family of 10) you may have to feed these people as well for the reception. Young children cannot understand that it is not their food to eat and you will be assess additional charges per plate. Hire a professional and you will not have to serve a meal and not deal with extra people.
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Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: Bride/Wedding Musician in Birmingham, AL.Posted: June 12th, 2010 03:06PM
Number of Hours: 1Type: Ceremony
As a wedding musician and a bride, I find the advice to be very accurate. I recommend to all brides to have their venue, time settled upon before they call their ceremony musicians. We wedding musicians also take calls from grooms, parents of either bride or groom or a certified wedding planner. Brides should not have maids of honor/bridesmaids call us as we wedding musicians will not give them rates. Hiring wedding musicians is unlike buying a wii system and doing comparison shopping at walmart or costco. There are a lot of factors that determine pricing, such as the number of musicians, how much advance notice, which weekends (many musicians play in symphonies and perform for corporate events and are booked a year ahead). My business charges by the event and is limited to two weddings (one afternoon 12-2) or from 4-6 in the evening. Sometimes we can only accept one wedding if it out-of-town. I wish all brides the best of luck
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Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Musicians
Amount: $350.00 total
Posted by: a user in Tampa, FL.Posted: December 14th, 2009 11:12AM
Number of Hours: 2Type: 2- Violinists
Found 2 college students on Craigslist referred by a friend. Great experience.
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Wedding Ceremony Musicians
Amount: $900.00 total
Posted by: Natalie Di Marco in Miami, FL.Posted: January 9th, 2009 10:01AM
Number of Hours: 2Type: Flute, Violin, & Cello Trio
I had a great experience with Celebration Musicians. They created the perfect atmosphere for my arrival. Many of my friends and family complimented the live music and were thankful that we treated them to a great prelude. I wanted everyone to remember my ceremony and entrance. They will!
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