Playing time for wedding musicians

One question that I get a lot from my clients is “..for how long should I hire the musicians… an hour, two..” Obviously, the price will change with the duration of playing. Here is a little lesson from one of the jobs our string trio did this summer. You read it and decide for yourself.
One of our string trios(violin, viola and a cello) was hired to play at the wedding in Pittsburgh for an hour and a half, from 2-3:30. Beforehand, bride was not sure if she should hire us for one hour, or for 1.5 hours: her ceremony was very short, with guests going to a different location for the dinner. Finally, she was set on 1.5 hours, and stated so in the contract. Our string trio started playing at 2:00, fully expecting to start the music for the ceremony at 2:30, after 30 minutes of prelude music. As it turned out – we didn’t start the ceremony music until 3:05, 35 minutes later than was scheduled: bride’s father fell ill right before, and had to be attended to. The lesson? If she booked us only for one hour, from 2-3, we would have had two choices: either walk out without playing for the wedding ceremony at all, or stay and charge the family overtime (which is more than a regular fee)… Again, I am not attempting to scare clients  and force them to book us for longer than needed. However, unexpected circumstance do happen, and it might be prudent to keep them in mind, especially for such events as weddings, where you have so many people involved that you don’t know much about. During another wedding, we had a minister coming 45 minutes late, almost giving a bride a nervous breakdown. Again, this bride did book our quartet for two hours, leaving enough time for the unexpected…