Whether it's for the processional or the reception, no instrument says "wedding" like a harp. GigMasters’ harpist Jessica Frost (Winchester, VA) explains, “The harp itself naturally adds elegance and sophistication to an event." We asked some of our top harpists for important tips and advice to guide you through the process of hiring a harpist for your wedding, or any event.
Choosing the Right Harpist
Communicate your expectations and special requests to any prospective harpists. It is necessary to know if your needs can be met to promise an enjoyable music experience. “By all means, talk with the prospective harpist to determine whether you feel comfortable with them and get the sense that you will enjoy working with them. Ask about their experience playing for weddings and events, whether they have played at your venue and if they have any required insurance. Ask about their repertoire, especially if you have a particular favorite that you want to use,” advises Margaret Sanzo Sneddon (Tarrytown, NY)
Communicate your Ideas
Harpists notice that their most satisfied clients are those that clearly communicate their expectations. That's why you should give your harpist the best idea of what you’d like to hear and the mood you’d like to set. Make sure to let the harpist know songs that you want to hear and more importantly the songs you DO NOT want to hear!
It is also extremely important to know what kind of atmosphere and mood you are hoping to set for your event. This will help with choosing what type of harp is appropriate for the event. For example, a Celtic harp is better for a more intimate engagement while an electric harp is better for outdoor events because it will ensure that all your guests will be able to hear the performance. “It is very important that I know what kind of ambiance clients want for an event. For example, if a client is having a very traditional wedding ceremony, some of the popular and jazz repertoire may not be appropriate,” explains Anastasia Pike (Fort George G Meade, MD). When a client clearly explains the type of event and role of the harpist , it helps the performer make decisions on things such as attire and the selection of music. Every event is unique so it’s important for the harpist to know whether they will be the main act or playing softly in the background.
One very imperative thing to consider is the venue you have chosen and whether it can accommodate a harp. Harps typically weigh around 80 pounds which makes them difficult to move. Lara Garner's (San Francisco, CA) suggestion to clients is, “Since the harp is a very large and heavy instrument, harpists need to have a detailed idea of the load-in; how many stairs, if there is an elevator. Also, covering must always be provided for outdoor events. Harps are very delicate and valuable instruments and cannot take any sun or moisture.” It’s very helpful when the client is aware of all the details of the venue to ensure a smooth set-up and a great performance.
“A good reputation, a skilled player, and an amicable personality are three important traits in any musician,” states GigMasters’ harpist Nina Marshall (Bethany, IL).
GigMasters’ harpists also suggest asking these types of questions prior to hiring your performer:
- Has the performer booked gigs at similar events?
- How often does he or she perform?
- What music does the performer specialize in and does it match your taste?
- Has he or she studied music at a conservatory?
- Will the event need amplification and can this performer provide it?
- How far is the performer willing to travel?
- Do they take requests?
- Will the performer work to individualize your event?
- Can they provide past client testimonials or referrals?
- Are you pleased with past GigMasters’ client’s reviews on this harpist?
- Does their music express the feeling or mood you are looking for?
- Do you think you will enjoy working with this person?
- And most importantly, do you like their music?
The more questions you ask the better. It will not only help you get a better sense of the harpist, but also ensure that you feel confident with them as well.
A versoin of this post originally appeared on our sister blog, Life of the Party.