Guide to Ceremony Music Instruments

ceremony music instrumentsStrings, piano, guitar, harp and bagpipes are some of the more common ceremony music instruments.

Here are special considerations for working with each instrument type:


String instruments include violin, viola, cello and upright bass.

A string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) is one of the most traditional ceremony music options.

You can also have a string trio (two violins + cello), string duo (two violins or violin + cello) or solo string instruments.

You will generally pay more for a greater number of instruments, but also get a fuller sound.

Classical music is the most readily available for string instruments, but you can often find string covers of modern songs as well!

Special considerations for strings:

  • String instruments cannot get even a tiny bit wet. The glue that holds them together dissolves in water. For outdoor ceremonies, even a barely-there mist or rain will be dangerous for them.
  • Strings are relatively quiet instruments and will need to be amplified in large indoor venues or outdoors.
  • A string quartet will require more setup space than a solo instrument.


Piano music is a beautiful choice for either classical music or modern song covers.

You could have a solo pianist, or piano accompaniment to a singer or other instrument.

Many churches and other traditional wedding venue will have a piano in the ceremony space.

Special considerations for piano:

  • If your venue has a piano, double-check that you have permission to use it.
  • Ask whether the piano is used regularly – if not, it may need to be tuned.
  • If your venue does not have a piano, your performer will need to bring in an electric keyboard. The keyboard will need to be plugged in and amplified.


Guitar options range from classical acoustic guitar all the way to modern electric guitar.

For an even more offbeat feel, consider alternatives like ukulele or banjo!

Special considerations for guitar:

  • Electric guitars always need to be plugged into a sound system.
  • Acoustic guitars or ukulele will need to be amplified in a large venue or outdoors.
  • Some guitarists play purely instrumental versions, while others also sing. Ask your performer about their usual style.


Hiring a harpist for your ceremony is a beautiful traditional choice!

However, there are a few important thing to keep in mind when working with these large, heavy instruments.

Special considerations for harp:

  • Your harpist will need a lot of space in your ceremony setup.
  • Equally important, they will need a way in to your venue that does not require stairs and gives them plenty of room to maneuver.
  • The harp is best suited for indoor ceremonies. Outdoors, the sound will not carry very far, and the harp is difficult to amplify.

Ask your harpist whether they have performed at your venue before. They may be able to advise you on the best setup.


If you have Scottish heritage or just love the sound of bagpipes, they can make a lovely accompaniment to your ceremony!

Find bagpipers in your area by searching for your local pipe band or highland games.

Special considerations for bagpipes:

  • Bagpipes are extremely loud. They are really only appropriate for outdoor ceremonies, where they will be audible for a few blocks in every direction.
  • They do not pair well with other instruments, so your bagpiper will be a solo performer.
  • Bagpipers usually dress in traditional garb to perform. The clothing is made of wool and gets hot in the summer, so put them in the shade if you can!

There are as many ceremony instrument choices as there are instruments, but these are some of the most common. Enjoy planning your ceremony music!