Modern wedding string quartet for hire in London and UK

Palatine String Quartet – frequently asked questions

Q: What instruments make up a string quartet?
A : A string quartet is comprised of 2 violins, a viola and a cello.

Q: What makes up a trio?
A: Usually a violin, viola and cello, but sometimes 2 violins and cello format.

Q: How far in advance should we book?
A: For summer weddings we would recommend 1 year ahead to be assured of getting us for the date you want.

Q: What is your definition of a booking?
A: A booking is based on time spent at a venue. We need to take breaks for each 45 mins of playing. A wedding ceremony  is not considered a break.

Q: Can I have a special piece of music arranged?
A: Yes. If it isn`t in our repertoire or already written for string quartet then we can write this for you, fees start from £50 per song. We do not generally write R ‘n B.

Q: How far do you travel?
A: We have travelled all over the UK but we are mainly based in London. We can perform at any location but the further away it is, the more it will obviously cost.

Q: We really like the look of your quartet, will we get the same players in the photos?
A: Usually, but it is not always possible due to sudden cases of illness and last minute family commitments and holidays etc. We will occasionally need to draw from our small collective group of top professional musicians who we work with regularly to ensure a consistently high standard of performance. All our musicians work for London orchestras and know our music well.

Q: Can you play outside?
A: Only between late May-late August. The temperature should be above 19 degrees in order for us to play comfortably. We should not be expected to play outside if it is remotely cold,  we have to play in the shade plus we are performing in a sedentary manner so will feel the cold much more than your guests. We are not able to wrap up to keep warm (usually having to wear nice dresses) and our fingers need to be warm enough to play properly. Cover is always required, 2 parasols or a gazebo is fine. Trees are not considered adequate cover if it has been raining. Shade from buildings doesn’t necessarily provide cover when we need to be in it, so please talk to the venue and ensure something can be provided.

Q: How much space do you need?
A: 2m x 3m is ideal. We will require a lot more space for platforms or stages.

Q: Can we choose the music for our event?
A: Yes you can choose up to 10 songs and we will fill in with similar music, otherwise there is a charge for customised playlists. For weddings you will need to choose music for your bridal entrance, signing of the register and exit. You will need to send your choices no later than 2 weeks before your event.

Q: Can you help me choose music for our wedding?
A: Yes. We have plenty of experience in knowing what works and what doesn`t, from the processional through to the wedding breakfast. Weddings are changing and not everyone wants a traditional wedding these days, so we have an extensive repertoire to reflect the changing needs of our clients. If it`s not on the list and you would like tus write new music, ask us which song you want and we will do our best to arrange it for you (fees vary). We are also available as a trio or duo, but the repertoire is significantly reduced and makes playing for longer periods harder. Booking a string quartet is ideal as it gives a fabulous “rounded” sound.

Q: Do we need to meet you beforehand?
A: No. Unless you are looking for something more unusual then we would normally arrive on the day in good time to set up and just play. We have played at hundreds of weddings so are very familiar with the format. Regarding the bridal entrance music, we know exactly when to start and when to tail things off so all you need to do is relax and enter in your own time, we will follow you, not the other way around. We also talk to the vicar/priest or registrar beforehand to get an idea of what will be happening during the ceremony.

Q: How many times can you move rooms?
A: Ideally only the once but we do realise you may need us to move twice. We ask that armless chairs are ready for us to use in each area and adequate space is set aside to avoid us having to do this in between sets. Help to move equipment (except for our instruments) is always much appreciated. We strongly recommend trying to limit the amount of times to move rooms so that you can benefit from hearing us play but will try and accommodate your requirements where possible.

Q: What will you wear?
A: We will wear elegant smart black but can wear long coloured dresses too. We frequently wear trousers due to impracticalities of travelling in concert dresses or where no adequate changing facilities can be provided. If you specifically require us to dress in long concert dresses we kindly ask for a proper clean changing area to be provided with a full length mirror. We are also happy to dress to any theme you may have, within reason!

Q: Can you liaise with the wedding coordinator to ensure things run smoothly?
A: Yes. We can sort out practicalities with the person in charge. Ideally we prefer speaking directly with the client at some point to ensure any vital information has been passed on correctly. Please see our requirements below. Please remember that our contract is with you and not the person in charge at the venue, they will need to be reminded when we are contractually due to start and finish.

Q: What are your requirements as a quartet?
A: We require four armless chairs in good condition and cover for playing outdoors (read above section regarding playing outdoors). Generally we would recommend 2 x 3 metres on ground level, much more if we are to be raised on a platform. We also need good lighting (candles are not sufficient or safe, side lamps are not always enough), a decent size room to change (not a toilet please!!) and a lockable room to store our instrument cases and handbags, ideally near to the performance area to avoid having to carry our instruments too far in high heels.

Q: Our wedding reception is in a different location to our ceremony. Are you able to play at both venues?
A: Yes. We will arrange our own transport. Fees may be incurred if significant distances are involved or if the venue is in a hard to reach area with limited public transport. We generally travel by car or train and our fees take into account distances from the London area.

Q: How do we make a booking?
A: We require a 50% deposit and returned signed contract to secure the date. Please go to our contact page or send an email to susannah@palatinestringquartet.co.uk, or susannahconwell@yahoo.co.uk with your full enquiry.

Q: I notice you also play electric instruments, what is the difference from acoustic instruments?
A: We provide several performance options here.The difference between acoustic and electric is mainly the amplified sound and contemporary look of the instruments, which can often enhance an event by creating a more contemporary image. We would recommend electric instruments for show rather the sound. We can also tailor our look to compliment the nature of event. Please read the “Electric String Quartet” page for more information. For events on a budget, our “background” electric string quartet would be a good option. We are not a choreographed act for this background option (ie. we do not dance or provide stage lighting, we do not play wirelessly or walk about, and we play using music stands as we would our acoustic set). We have a fantastic selection of pop songs to create a perfect atmosphere for any event, please see our repertoire and listen to the mp3 tracks by clicking on this link: broadway,pop, tv, film & latin. For the electric show option, we do offer fantastic choreography for the full wow factor and can provide a sound engineer and full PA (a tech spec can be provided if necessary). Alternatively please check out www.susannahross.co.uk if you would like to keep costs to a minimum by hiring an electric solo violinist instead. Fees from £275.

Q: Can we come and hear you play somewhere?
A: We generally play for private functions and cannot therefore invite you along to someone elses event. You can read our Blog to see if there are any public events coming up.

Q: Can we video your performance during our event?
A: We are more than happy for our group to be videoed as part of background music for your event, but ask videographers NOT to use audio devices (small recorders) to record our live sound. If they would like to add music as a soundtrack to a dvd then we are happy for them to use our audio clips from our website which we have taken time to record. Any audio devices used and placed down during our performance at any event without our authorisation will be removed – it is imperative to give your videographer notice of our terms.

Q: Will you sound as you do on the sound clips?
A: It will vary depending on the acoustics of the room at the venue. The recordings you hear on this website were recorded in my living room at home and not in a professional recording studio and most were only recorded in one take. We wanted the recording to be as natural as possible to get that “live” sound without too much enhancement, to give our clients a good idea of what they will really get for their event. There has been a little reverb added.

Q: Do you need to take breaks?
A: Yes we do. We take breaks for approx 10/15 mins for every 45 mins-1 hour of playing and longer breaks for longer bookings. From our experience, we find that working to a rigid schedule is often unrealistic and impractical. A brief guide to what is happening on the day is all we need. If you would like us to take a break at a specific point during your event, notice is required. We are often told when to start and stop playing by registrars, toastmasters, wedding organisers, hotel managers etc without due consideration of when we need to rest and we feel it would be helpful if our terms of performance are respected and explained to anyone in charge beforehand, as this saves for any awkwardness on the day.

Q: How flexible are you on the day if things over run? I assume you would be flexible as it is a wedding?
A: If the wedding is over running we will try and be flexible where possible to stay a little longer (needless to say, only if we can). We do not under any circumstances work for free and if your timings have gone awry this is not our fault. It should come as no surprise if we leave at the end of our contracted finish time. We strongly recommend considering the length of time to book us as more often than not weddings often run late. Our fees per each half hour are quite minimal, so I think it is worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind to cover any possibility of late running on the day. Please also remember to add 15 minutes playing time before the start of a ceremony when you send us your timings at the point of enquiry. We need to be quite clear about the timing aspect of our bookings because we often have other work commitments the same day, any changes to timings must be confirmed with us beforehand.

Q: Can we book you for just 1 hour or even less?
A: Yes you can, although our fee would not generally be any cheaper than booking us for 2 hours. It depends when and where really. Always let us know and we can give you a quote.

Please note all musician are registered members of the Musicians Union. They have public liability cover to the value of £10m and their PA system is PAT tested for safety. Certificates can be provided on request.