Wedding gig rates in the U.S. and abroad

Posted In: Performing

  • Keymaster
    Alison Reese on #188320

    Harp Column’s latest Instagram photo post is generating a lot of discussion. $278 was the average wedding rate harpists charged in our 2005 gig rates survey. In 2013 our survey found the average rate had only risen to $320. So what do you charge for a wedding? What’s the going rate in your neck of the woods? How about harpists playing abroad? What are you charging in other parts of the world?

    Participant
    laurastokesharp on #188321

    I this this will be very interesting!

    I live in Baltimore MD and currently charge $400 for a wedding ceremony and an additional $100 for cocktail hour for any weddings within 50 miles.

    Participant
    Emily Granger on #188325

    I charge $425 for a wedding ceremony in Chicago add $100 for outdoor or difficult load in/out. I think most harpists in my area charge right around $350.

    Participant
    Candace Lark-Masucci on #188335

    I live in Montgomery County PA but perform in the tri state area.
    I Charge $300 for the first hour and $150 Each additional hour and $75 for an additional half hour.
    I require the client to cover all additional fees beyond playing (parking, valet, etc).
    I also have a weather/temperature clause in my contract.
    I require a $100 non refundable deposit.

    Keymaster
    Kimberly Rowe on #188365

    Since this thread was veering in two different directions, we’ve created a separate thread where you can discuss the Professional Ethics of What to Charge. Some posts that originally appeared here have been moved to the new thread. As a resource for harpists, we ask that you keep this original thread limited to discussion of what you charge to play professionally in your area. Be sure to tell us where you live when you post your rates. (Give a geographic region if you don’t want to be specific about your exact location.)

    We welcome discussion about ethics (volunteering, undercutting, students playing for free, etc.) in the other thread. We’ve made both of these threads “sticky” in this forum so you can find them both easily!

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #188370

    In our part of Florida, 100 miles north of Palm Beach, the solo harp rate for a wedding ceremony is in the $250-400 range. There are a couple harpists who regularly come from Orlando, and I do not know their rates. They are the ones who will play a beach wedding or outdoors near the ocean. (You could not pay me enough to expose my new concert grand harp to salt air).

    Participant
    sarah-ward on #188376

    I’m a student harpist in semi-rural Virginia with almost 4 years of wedding experience. My ceremony rate is $500. Don’t have a heart-attack.

    I charge this amount at my experience level because I make it part of my policy to attend the rehearsal the night before, which barely anyone does anymore. Sometimes I regret doing this because it can be a very vexing, sometimes 2 hour affair. However, I find it to be very helpful for me personally to get a lay of the land and see who I’m dealing with and give room for sudden changes in program order, etc.

    This rate also includes unlimited music for the ceremony, 1-3 special request pieces if desired, and for an optional 30 minutes of both prelude and postlude music. If I’m requested for the cocktail hour or reception, I go by my hourly rate of $75 (which is the same rate I give for parties and other events). I have a travel fee for places of 25 or more miles away.

    If I did NOT attend the rehearsal (which is an option, but no couple has ever asked me to skip it) my rate would be between $300-350 for a ceremony.

    If I have a duo or quartet, they usually charge $150-300 depending on their instrument, and distance from the venue.

    Participant
    kathleen-hartshorne on #188378

    Hello. San Diego here. I am not sure what everyone charges in this area, but I charge $350 for the wedding. It includes a brides preview where she can meet with me and I will play songs for her to help her decide what she wants. (usually an hour, although I just had one go 3 hours!!)

    It includes 1/2 hour prelude, all the music for the wedding, and usually a shorter postlude. Attending the rehearsal is usually an extra $100 although sometimes if I haven’t been to the venue before, I attend at my own cost just to be sure of what I’ll encounter.

    If they want me to continue for the cocktails/dinner I charge $100 per hour. If there’s a major relocation of venue &/or sound system I charge $250 for the first hour and $100 for each hour after that.

    If they just want cocktails/dinner and not the wedding I charge $250 for the first hour and $100 for each additional hour.

    I charge $.50 per mile beyond my immediate community.
    I require protection from the elements for my harp.

    I bring my own sound when required at no additional cost. Often, a church will set up their own sound or in many cases, we don’t need it. I have a small battery operated sound system for parks and places where there’s no electricity available. I will provide the microphone for the couple when requested.

    I also have a band / ensemble that can offer Celtic, folk, classical, renaissance, sacred, classic oldies, torch songs, etc. If they are hired, I ask $150 to $100 per hour per musician for their services (depending on where they are performing in the event) I have several musicians to draw from: guitar, flute, violin, bodhran, banjo, mandolin, etc.

    I also have a classic rock band for the reception. The band gets the same as the wedding musicians listed above. (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, all four are vocalists) I don’t play harp with them!!!! 🙂

    And I am connected with Irish dancing troupes if they want dancers or a ceili for the reception. The dancers usually dance for $100 for two 10 minute sets. (although I have a gig coming up next year where they are paying $1000 to get the dancers to drive 3 hours into the mountains on the same day as the big parade that no one wants to miss)

    Spectator
    mary-keller–2 on #188389

    I live on Nantucket Island, which is a pretty popular place for destination weddings the last few years. i charge $400 for a wedding, which includes an hour, starting when I play my first notes. My hourly rate after the first hour is $200. i always offer a free consultation prior to the wedding date, that rarely lasts more than 30 minutes, and I never ever attend rehearsals. Most classical musicians around here charge very close to my rates; while flutists and cellists can waltz in a few minutes before the prelude music is due to start, I am always the first person to arrive, and the last to leave.

    Participant
    Victoria on #188401

    I hope this belongs here, but how about orchestral jobs? I don’t mean the full time position pay, but those occassions when your local orchestra suddenly realised there is a harp part in the repertoire. How much is the normal ratw per performance and for rehearsals? And do you charge more if you have to bring your own harp?

    Participant
    Tacye on #188412

    For interest with professional orchestras: http://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Casual-Orchestral-Concert-Rates-Non-ABO-2014-2015.pdf

    Note harp porterage is by negotiation.

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #188434

    A FASCINATING THREAD, this! Thanks to everyone who has participated in it. Sylvia, come to think of it, I have never been asked to play for a wedding shower, either–I guess I will just leave that up to the female harpists, ha, ha!

    In western North Carolina, the “going rate” for a wedding, without attending the rehearsal, seems to be around $350. I tack on an extra fee for the rehearsal, accompanying other musicians/soloists, etc., and also add $100 dollars to the fee if it is an outdoor wedding. Our experiences playing/singing for outdoor weddings have been just unbelievable, trust me!

    I do advise putting an inclement weather clause in every outdoor wedding contract, so that we do not endanger our expensive harps or ourselves. Once, when I was playing for an outdoor wedding with a violinist, the bride and groom had “no Plan B,” and we had to wait an hour for the rain to clear up before the wedding prelude could begin. Never again! At least be able to add a “starting late fee” if you do decide to wait out a storm.

    I look forward to this thread continuing! Wishing you all the best,

    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #188467

    Okay, here goes–wedding rates for harpists in western North Carolina seem to be around $350, not including the rehearsal. Most of us add $100 or more for an outdoor wedding, and add mileage charges if the destination is more than 20 miles from where we live. I charge for music I have to purchase for special requests, and like Sylvia, perform from memory unless there is not enough time to prepare before the wedding (short notice on the bride & groom’s part!) Also, there is an “inclement weather” policy in my contract.

    It is so good to have this forum, Kim! Thanks!

    Participant
    Elizabeth Webb on #188557

    I’m in Tucson, Arizona. I charge $300 for a basic wedding ceremony, including music consultation in my studio or over Skype if needed. I have extra charges for travel over 25 miles away, for outdoor ceremonies, difficult locations, stairs, etc. I don’t attend rehearsals unless they pay my regular hourly rate ($200) like a separate gig.
    I concur about the weather clause. I ALWAYS bring it up with the client before signing the contract. Many couples are happy I did, as they had not thought about it, and as a result they did create a Plan B.
    I also include a start and end time to the contract so that if I need to stay later for any reason at all there is an overtime fee. Can be weather, wedding party wardrobe malfunction, even an accident on the freeway that delays guests, or speeches went forever so ceremony lasted super long. I put in a cushion of extra time in the contract (if a 5:00 wedding is expected to be done by 5:30/5:40, I put 6:00 as the end time), so I don’t feel bad when it starts at 5:45 and goes til 6:30 and I need to enforce the half hour of overtime, because at that point we are significantly overtime.

    Participant
    meredith-kohn-bocek on #188713

    Do people charge differently for a lever harp and a pedal harp?

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