Can a harpist play at my wedding venue?
Compared to many other classical instruments that you’ll see performing at weddings and events, the harp has one downside – it’s portability. (There’s a reason why many venues supply their own pianos!) When looking to hire a harpist for your wedding or upcoming event, it’s always important to take into consideration a few venue factors.
1. Terrain to the Venue
The first box to tick when thinking about hiring a harpist is how they’ll get to your venue, and how complicated it will be for them to set up in the ceremony space. Uneven terrain, flights of stairs, and steep hills are all things to be avoided wherever possible. It’s not impossible to get the harp through one of these obstacles, however it’s important to know beforehand. Venues that are listed as wheelchair accessible will pretty much check every box for transporting the harp.
2. Playing Space
The harp doesn’t need a ton of room, however there should be a good few square feet of room for your harpist to set up, with a good enough vantage point to be able to see what’s going on wherever they need to be queued from. Since the harp is placed on the right shoulder, I find it most practical to be to the right of the altar (or wherever your ceremony is) – that way I can see everyone clearly walking down the aisle. I also connect with your officiant beforehand to see if there’s anything in particular about your ceremony that I should be prepped for.
3. Weather Conditions
Harps are temperamental instruments, and cannot stand extreme temperatures, high or low humidity, or any sort of precipitation. If your venue is outdoors, ensure there’s a shady spot for your harpist to set up, or underneath a tent to protect from the elements. An inclement weather plan should be in place for when the weather calls for precipitation, as many harpists’ contracts include a clause about not playing if the weather could cause damage to their instrument. A general rule of thumb for most harpists is that the weather must be between approximately 12°C and 32°C, although keep in mind that this is just a general number, and will depend on your city’s usual climate.
When in doubt, think of your grandma
A benchmark I use for any venue is the Grandma Rule. If your grandma would have a hard time getting around the venue, be uncomfortable with the weather conditions, or otherwise be impaired, it’s not a great venue for harps. While some harpists do play on carbon fibre instruments, they’re harder to come by in Canada and a harpist who plays one may not be available in your area.
If you’re considering a harpist for your wedding, but aren’t sure of whether they’ll be able to play or not, reach out! They may have performed at your venue before and know the tricks, or at least be able to give more information specific to your wedding.