Frequently asked questions
Q: My wedding venue doesn’t have a piano. Can you still play?
Of course – please see the no piano page
Q: What times throughout the day can you play?
Any one or all of the following: The Ceremony, The Drinks Reception, The Wedding Breakfast.
Q: What styles of music can/do you play?
Mainly classical, jazz and popular music. These styles can of course be tailored to your request.
There are many pianists (and musicians) who claim to be versatile and this really isn’t always the case. I am an experienced and qualified performer and teacher of music with many years of experience of playing many different styles. I’ve performed all over the world, for tv, signed artists and for many other occasions (see my biography). Have a look/listen to the ‘listen to me play’ pages of the website and judge for yourself!
Q: Can I choose the music?
Yes. For the ceremony I’ll play your choice of entrance and exit music along with the music you would like for the signing of the register. If you do make requests on the day and I know the piece/s I’ll be more than happy to play them! Of course it’s also possible to let me know about other requests before the day, just let me know when you contact me.
In terms of the ceremony please be advised that if this is to be a Civil Service there are strict rules regarding your choice of music. Please refer to my ‘Wedding Entertainment Page’ and/or contact me for more information and advice.
Q: Can I meet you before I book?
I have found that by far the best way of approaching this is to hold regular days at my own studio where you can come along and meet me and discuss requirements should you wish to do so (usually 20-30 minute slots on a specific day – please call for details).
Q: What happens if you’re ill on the day?
In this very unlikely event I have many contacts in the music industry and would have no problem sourcing a very competent pianist.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
There is no typical time limit. I often have last minute bookings as well as bookings a year or so in advance.
Q: How much does it cost?
Every wedding is different and this is sometimes reflected in the price but approximate costs for a wedding within 25 miles of Brentwood/Essex would be:
Ceremony only: £250
Playing for up-to 30 minutes for your guests arrival. Your choice of music for the entrance, exit and signing of the register. Approximate time for ceremony usually 30 minutes (1 hour with the additional 30 minutes of playing for guests arrival).
Drinks reception only: £250 (approx time 1.5 hours)
Wedding Breakfast only: £325 (approx time 2/2.5 hours)
For all three (i.e. the ceremony, the drinks reception and the wedding breakfast) total cost £395. This includes the cost of my professional digital stage piano and compact amplifier should you need it. Please note that London engagements will be more due to the conjestion charge and parking charges. Other additional charges maybe included for accompanying friends/relatives & costs for rehearsals etc. Certain times of the year/dates (i.e. Holiday Periods /New Year’s Eve) etc will also include an additional charge.
Baby Grand Piano – additional £75
Word of advice: please do be aware of wedding pianists that are working for agencies/for someone else. As you would expect, you will be charged more money for this, the ‘middle man’ will be making a profit. In addition, there are many mediocre pianists/musicians working for agencies and themselves charging a lot of money!
Be sure that you have heard and ideally seen the specific pianist you are booking play.
If in doubt please do come and chat to me and listen for yourself.
Q. How far do you travel?
All over the UK. Additional charges are listed below
Additional charges from Brentwood/Essex:
Within 25 miles: £0
25- 50 miles: £15
50- 75 miles: £20
75 – 100 miles: £25
100+ miles: approx £30
Q: What qualifications and experience do you have?
I am a qualified and practicing teacher of music with many years experience of performing. Please see my biography page for further details.
Q: Will you need a break and/or be fed on the day?
I play for extended periods of time without a break and as long as you provide some water that is more than adequate.
Q: Can you play outside?
Yes (weather permitting of course)!
Q: Can you accompany someone for my wedding ceremony?
Yes. Just let me know what you would like prior to booking and I’d be happy to discuss these arrangements at the time of asking for a quote.
Choosing your wedding pianist-the important things you need to look out for.
Ideally, your pianist will be based near to you so that you can meet with them if you need to.
Book a time to meet with me at my home studio in Brentwood Essex, listen to me play live, see the equipment that I use and chat about your requirements.
I specialise in performing the piano at weddings in Essex and the surrounding areas (see below).
A great wedding pianist will be versatile and able to play a range of styles that cater for you and your guests so that there is something for everyone on your big day. They’ll be able to play for a long time without making mistakes and repeating songs. That’s why not only will they need to be a fantastic performer but have a lot of experience playing at important occasions. They’ll also need to be good at liaising with you and your wedding co-ordinator and any other personnel as required.
I specialise in playing the piano at weddings in Essex but I also perform in the following surrounding areas: Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Cambridge, Dorset, Hampshire, Hereford, Hertford, Hunts, Kent, London, Norfolk, Northants, Oxford, Peterborough, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwick, Wiltshire, Worcester. If your area is not listed please still get in touch.
Professional Freelance Wedding Pianist
A pianist who has many years of experience performing for weddings and will work with you directly on a 1-2-1 basis from your initial contact all the way through every planning stage, including speaking directly with your venue/wedding co-ordinator. As you contact them directly you’ll benefit from not paying higher (often much higher) costs if you go through an agent and in addition the process will be much quicker and easier for you to manage. Freelance wedding pianists are often well networked musicians as they know and work with lots of different professional musicians. Most will also recommend other freelance pianists who they know well and work with on a regular basis, if they are not available on your wedding date. I am a freelance professional wedding pianist and I often meet with clients at my home music studio in Brentwood Essex. Most freelance and agency pianists will not be able to offer this service, instead offering to meet you at a wedding fair where you won’t necessarily be able to get the 1-2-1 time you may want. If you’ve ever been to a wedding fair there’s often a lot going on!
An Agency offering wedding pianists (and/or other musicians).
A ‘middle man’. You contact them and they choose one of the pianists on their books to play for you. You will not deal directly with your chosen pianist on a regular basis as most of the communication will go through the agent who will then pass it onto the pianist they have chosen for you. You may not even meet the chosen pianist until the day of your wedding even if you meet the agent for example at a wedding fair. You will be charged more money for this service as the middle man will be making a profit despite claims that they can bring the costs down due to the volume of weddings they secure. Even equipment will be charged at more expensive rates (i.e. a piano/baby grand piano shell) than through going direct to a professional freelance specialist wedding pianist. Pianists who are starting out sometimes use agencies as they don’t have the resources and experience to branch out on their own.
Need more info?
Over the years I’ve often been asked for information on choosing a great wedding pianist. I’m only too happy to see couples have their dream wedding regarding this area, it’s a subject I’m passionate about! So if you would like more detailed information just see below.
You can easily pay far too much for a pianist wedding service-particularly from some agencies offering pianists and charging in excess of £650 – £750 just for a performance covering ceremony, drinks and wedding breakfast i.e. approx 5 hours (and in addition this excludes any unnecessary high additional charges to hire anything more than a keyboard). All of this means you could be in for a bill of anywhere between £700-£1000+ just for the pianist! Some will claim that you need to pay this in order to secure a professional pianist & service for a few hours at your wedding as this is the industry standard etc. This simply isn’t true just because someone writes on a website that it is. Others even advise that they have the best pianists in the UK at these prices only to offer you lower prices for other apparently fantastic pianists who command a lower rate – all very confusing! I’ve even seen agents offering the same baby grand piano shell as mine for several hundred pounds. . . my one costs just £75 for the exactly the same piece of equipment (The Dutch Grand portable baby grand piano-shell).
What is true is that weddings for some are unfortunately a great way of being able to charge more money for a service – which is often mediocre. Many genuinely fantastic professional players, performing in West End Shows, for TV, well known artists, and recording as session musicians don’t charge anywhere near this much (but would be happy to get it)! They supplement their income by teaching etc particularly as they won’t be performing every single day & evening of the week. This isn’t new, in fact some of the most successful performers have done/do this, despite being in demand.
This is the way the industry works and some of the very best performing musicians earn their money in a number of different ways through music as well as often specialising in one area.
Check it out for yourself
Always do your own research- it wouldn’t take long to discover that this is in fact the case!
Find out what the industry average rate is by contacting a recognised, professional and independent music association/body such as the Musicians Union.
Don’t take someone’s word for it.
It’s all too easy to make false claims and charge a lot more money for weddings as the un-expecting bride & groom often feel more money equals a better service for their big day, whether it’s for the pianist’s performance or simply hiring a piece of equipment like the piano itself. Remember an agency charging a considerable amount more for a service will pull out all the stops to try and justify additional (and often excessive) costs. The easiest way is through an often detailed and very wordy website, with sometimes misleading information.
There are even videos of pianists performing on beaches, forests and other chosen locations! This is where your hard-earned cash will be going. Remember, a flashy website is just that and most agents will invest a lot of money in this area.
Of course, it is true that there are some pianists offering themselves as highly skilled with experience to match even though they are not, and able to build impressive websites-but that certainly doesn’t mean that you have to pay large sums of money for a professional wedding pianist to play for your wedding, unless of course you want to!
Some agents claim that they can secure lower prices for ‘brilliant’ pianists by offering them a lot of weddings – remember it’s very simple: if you’re quoted something in the region of £650 – £700 for a performance only covering the ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast that’s way too much and above the industry standard rates.
See for yourself
If in doubt, do your research and come and see for yourself. Book a time to meet with me at my home studio in Brentwood Essex. The reality is that you’ll get much more attention from an individual professional wedding pianist working directly for you.
Far from the contrary, many agents in particular can’t guarantee some of the most important things you will be looking for but might have overlooked- for example, meeting the specific pianist playing for your wedding and hearing them play, what digital stage piano your pianist will be using and really importantly – what colour it will be. Bright red might not work so well and your guests will be far from impressed-not quite what you were going for!
There are lots of average pianists working for agents and themselves (no matter what you read and see on websites about offering only the best musicians in the U.K. who have gone through a painstaking recruitment process with often a panel of unbiased and highly skilled, qualified musicians as the assessors). Again, this takes relatively little time to put on a website but that doesn’t make it true because they said so, no matter how valid and impressive the claims are and the images look).
And it goes without saying. . .after personal experience working for agencies in the past (and receiving regular ongoing requests to play for them now, even though I work alone) be sure that you have heard, ideally seen and met the specific pianist you are booking play, no matter what you’re told. This isn’t always possible at a wedding fair.
Did you know?
Many highly skilled freelance, professional performing musicians teach as they have skills in this area to demonstrate to advanced level students how to become even more sophisticated in their performance studies and to accompany experienced students at often short notice who are attending university interviews, auditions and performing at concerts/recitals. Furthermore students in this category are often trying to get a foothold in the industry at a higher level and seeking professional advice & contacts. It goes without saying that it is imperative a musician of this calibre is able to get it right first time and be able to play under a lot of pressure. Prestigious educational establishments will always demand ‘outstanding’ pianist performance skills-have a look for yourself and see. Not all professional performers make good teachers but many do teach as they are able to instruct advanced level players in this way.