Wedding music options - Buffalo, NY
May 28, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I are planning our wedding up in Buffalo, NY, for this October - yay! We've got most things covered at this point, but one thing we're both feeling clueless about is arranging to have music for the ceremony and reception. Can you help? General advice and Buffalo-specific recommendations would be gratefully welcomed!

Neither of us have a very precise "vision" for what we want, beyond knowing that we're having a fairly casual wedding and need music options on a budget (ideally, under $400 USD - the further under, the better). We'd like a live musician for the ceremony but a playlist/MP3 player for the reception. Our venue doesn't have their own sound system so we're on our own, but have no idea as to what we need to get, or where to get it from. So I guess my questions are as follows:
  1. Can we get a live musician to play just the (brief) ceremony? I don't want to offend or be unreasonable - is there a typical amount of time we need to hire a musician for? I think we'd like an acoustic guitar player or two (though we're not definite on that yet), and we have specific songs in mind for the entrance and exit, but unfortunately we're not from the area so we can't just go check out performers ... what are the best resources for finding a musician? For the Buffalo region, is there anything more specific than Craigslist we should be checking out? What kind of rates should we expect to pay?
  2. For the reception, again we'd like to just do an MP3 player, but we don't have speakers. The reception space is fairly small - think park lodge room with space for ~50 people. Assuming we want mostly ambient background music and maybe some dancing, what kind of sound setup should we be looking for? Where can we get it from? Would it be inappropriate to ask our musician (once we found one!) if we can rent his/her/their sound system for the reception? Other than renting a sound system, is there some other approach I'm not thinking of?
Right now I'm feeling like I don't really know where to even start, so any advice or recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
posted by DingoMutt to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is definitely not weird to hire a musician for only a brief ceremony. This happens all the time (especially for weddings when most people would want something more classical for a ceremony and then a rockin' DJ or a band for a reception).

Check out Gigmasters for a list of possible performers in the Buffalo region. While you mention you won't be able to visit and hear them perform live, many will have video or audio recordings of their work.

It will be easier than you think - promise!
posted by elkerette at 2:01 PM on May 28, 2013

Have you asked your caterer and/or venue coordinator? We got hitched in Buffalo (yay!) and our caterer connected us with the string quartet that played during our ceremony.
posted by kat518 at 2:45 PM on May 28, 2013

Try contacting the department of music at SUNY Buffalo - they will have an office that connects student musicians to jobs like this.
posted by blu_stocking at 7:56 PM on May 28, 2013

Absolutely head to the Music Department at your nearest university. The musicians are struggling financially and appreciate every gig they can get. They can set up any number of musicians you want and do whatever music you choose, and they'll appreciate the chance to make some money.

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials.
posted by aryma at 10:38 PM on May 28, 2013

Definitely check music departments - UB, Buff State, Canisius, and Fredonia are the big ones, I think.

The Greycliffe String Quartet has a pretty large repertoire [pdf].
posted by troika at 12:09 AM on May 29, 2013

My partner is a musician in Buffalo who plays solo (keys, quitar, vocal, ukelele...) for weddings, and works with several bands, very experienced and totally enjoyable. If you'd like to memail me, I'll gladly put you in touch.

If you have your reception at Babeville (Asbury Hall, Ani DiFranco's church), they have sound built in and a sound guy to run it.

I know rather a lot about this. Write me.
posted by Riverine at 1:23 PM on May 29, 2013

Thanks so much for the replies, everyone! I'm still in the process of getting this sorted (my partner is vastly better than I am at Getting Things Done, I'm afraid) but it's so helpful to have actual leads so I can stop flailing around aimlessly on the internet.

I'll follow up later in case anyone is interested in who we ended up going with, but for now I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for your help - it's very much appreciated!
posted by DingoMutt at 12:34 PM on June 18, 2013

Just wanted to close the loop on this one, as our wedding took place two Sundays ago and was absolutely the Best Thing Ever. All of the advice upthread was incredibly helpful but emailing the local universities was what ended up getting us our muscian - we ended up with someone from the University of Buffalo, who played guitar at our ceremony at a very reasonable price, and he was wonderfully responsive throughout and good at taking care of what he needed so we didn't have another thing to "manage" on the day of the wedding. He did a great job in particular on the three songs we especially wanted in the ceremony (the Princess Bride theme as our attendants walked in, David Bowie's As the World Falls Down as our processional, and The Way You Make Me Feel when we were walking off ... aah, it was so good).

Anyway, for the reception we ended up renting a speaker system, um, thing from a local music store for about $50 and plugging it into one of our tablets. That also went off without a hitch, although it was helpful to have one of our friends' dad there to do the setup for us (we could have done it ourselves but again, it was nice to not have to).

I would wholeheartedly recommend both the musician we used for our ceremony and the music shop we rented our speakers from, so if anybody reading this is looking for either, feel free to MeMail me. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:12 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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