The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Wedding Pianist

So you’ve landed on this post on your search for the perfect wedding music. As a full disclosure, I will say from the onset that I’m a working wedding pianist who is more than happy to offer my services across Ireland but I’m here to offer you genuine advice from my years of experience performing at ceremonies, drinks receptions and meals. The aim of this post is to promote the piano as your ideal wedding instrument, inform you of your options if you’re considering having piano and how to go about hiring a pianist.

A wedding pianist is a great option for a number of reasons which I will get into shortly but you will want to consider the various types of piano player, what to look for in your wedding pianist, how to communicate your musical wishes, how to budget for a pianist and so forth. This is your ultimate guide to clear up all possible questions and concerns which you may have. Without further delay, let’s begin!

Why Choose a Wedding Pianist?

The late Jerry Lee Lewis once said ‘If I’m going to Hell, I’m going there playing the piano’. Let’s ignore the inconvenient fact that he was married no less than seven times! His point was that the piano is a king among instruments.

Without putting too fine a point on it, the piano stands on its own three feet. It provides a menagerie of beautiful music on your special day and serves as a performing ceremony instrument as well as an ideal musical backdrop to your drinks reception and wedding meal. It sets the perfect tone for the various parts of a wedding, giving your day a seamless feel.

Types of Wedding Pianists

Wedding pianists come in a few flavours but can be broken down into two categories: solo pianists and singer-piano players. Where you’re looking for vocals on your wedding day, a singer who accompanies themselves will be an obvious choice.

An instrumental pianist or solo pianist is one who doesn’t sing but instead will provide arrangements or covers. They will cover a variety of music, whether it be popular, film, jazzy, rock, soul or classical.

What to Look for in a Wedding Pianist

Your first question: are they good at what they do? This can be ascertained via a combination of reviews and the overall content on social sites like Google Reviews, Instagram, YouTube and the Pianist’s Own Website. You need to rely as well as your own good judgement based on musical samples; on this point, don’t hesitate to ask your pianist for specific recordings of music you’d like to hear even if they haven’t already uploaded these previously. This will give you a solid sense of comfort when hiring your musician.

You should furthermore look at your pianist’s experience, repertoire, communication patterns and how overall professional they seem. Once you’re satisfied that most or all of these prerequisites have been met, you can trust your instincts when deciding to pull the trigger.

Planning your Wedding Playlist

Once you’ve decided to lock in your pianist for your wedding, you will begin working with him on the playlist for your wedding. Your ceremony will dictate the amount of music (usually between four and six pieces of music) depending on the type. The most common ceremonies in Ireland are Church, Humanist, Spiritualist and Interfaith.

You should feel completely at liberty to take charge of your musical choices. You may change your mind multiple times in consultation with your pianist or you may opt to let your pianist choose some or all of your repertoire for you. Typically a couple will have a mix of music which they will choose, including nostalgic childhood anthems, cherished film music, songs which mark an important moment in their historical relationship or simply a favorite piece of classical music. At almost every turn, communicating your preferences will be accepted without complaint with a smile from your pianist.

For a list of wedding music suggestions, see here.

Budget Considerations

When it comes to music for your wedding day, you will no doubt have a budget in mind. Needless to say, it’s good to shop around to get a sense of prices. Once you get in touch with your details, your pianist should get back to you with a quote. You can ask for a standalone service or a package if you’re looking at ceremony and drinks for example.

Booking and Contracts

Booking should be straightforward and some piano players will offer contracts or invoices on request. You can expect to put down a small deposit, normally via bank transfer or Revolut. It’s a wonderful feeling once you’ve locked in and one item further has been ticked off your to-do list.

Communicating with Your Wedding Pianist

Communication is key to a smooth process. Some people are happy to arrange everything via email. Others like to add in a phone call and others still will prefer a meet with their pianist. All of these can and should be swiftly accommodated by a wedding pianist in order to give you full support on your music choices and all round peace of mind. Another important tip is to clarify your final music choices with your pianist in the final couple of weeks before your wedding.

The Big Day: What to Expect

Now your big day has arrived. What can you expect from your wedding pianist at this point? Your piano player will arrive around an hour or so before your ceremony is due to begin, in order to set up his gear and warm up. You can expect to have a little light music as your guests begin arriving in order to set the mood. This will add a touch of warmth to proceedings.

Celebrants and musicians will go over the running order, which you will have communicated in advance. Once you are set to walk up the aisle, your pianist will begin on your chosen entrance piece (or pieces if you’re musically splitting the bridesmaids from the bride). The rest will take care of itself and you should now focus on having a wonderful, memorable day on one of the most important occasions of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wedding Pianists

Here are a few questions which couples will have regarding hiring a wedding pianist to which I offer a few ideas:

What are couples’ previous experience of having piano at weddings?

Here, I give you my own reviews page which will answer this question better than I ever can. I encourage you to check out the reviews of other musicians in order to give you a nice rounded perspective before you decide on a piano player for your wedding.

Why Choose a Wedding Pianist Over Other Another Instrument or even Spotify?

The first approach to answering this question is to ask ‘live versus recorded music?’. There is no replacing the experience of a live musician which most people will vouch for. It’s personal, warm and elevates your wedding to a truly memorable experience. The second angle to consider is, why piano and not a singer, violin, cello, vocal quartet or guitarist? And the answer here is that this truly comes down to personal preference. A great advantage of piano however is that it works for both ceremonies and drinks receptions. Also, it’s a universally beloved and diverse instrument.

What Types of Events During the Wedding Can a Pianist Perform At?

A wedding pianist is typically available for ceremonies, pre-dinner or drinks receptions, wedding meals and after parties.

How Do We Select the Right Songs for Our Wedding?

The simple answer to this one is to select music which you want. It’s best to choose songs/pieces which have meaning or memories for you. If your wedding is themed, then there’s no issue mixing it up.

What Is the Booking Process for a Wedding Pianist?

Start with your enquiry firstly, discuss your needs with your pianist once you’ve checked dates and prices. After initial contact, a pianist will require a small deposit to secure the date.

Conclusion: Your Perfect Wedding Pianist

And there you have your perfect guide to hiring a wedding pianist. I’ve looked at why the piano is a great choice among instruments, the types of piano musicians out there, planning, communication and budgetary considerations, and choosing your music for your wedding. So make an enquiry and trust in your wedding pianist to bring the magic of the piano to your big day.

Paul is available as a pianist for weddings in all parts of Ireland. Find out today if he can assist with performing beautiful piano music at your wedding.

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