Choosing an ensemble: String Quartet, String Trio, or Violin & Cello Duo?

A common question I get from brides is which string ensemble to go with for their ceremony music.   Here are the basics:

String Quartet = 2 Violins, 1 Viola, 1 Cello

String Trio = 1 Violin, 1 Viola, 1 Cello or 2 Violins, 1 Cello

String Duo = 1 Violin, 1 Cello

Audio Samples:

Pachelbel Canon in D Major – String Quartet

Pachelbel Canon in D Major – String Trio

Pachelbel Canon in D Major – String Duo

A string trio will have an additional line of harmony to add to the bass and melody of the violin and cello duo.  A string quartet will be richer yet in harmony and countermelody.  Larger ensembles allow for more creative musical arrangements, and they are, of course, louder.  Keep in mind that different ensembles may not share the same repertoire.

When choosing a string ensemble, plan for the performance space.  Go with a larger ensemble if your event is taking place outdoors, because sound disperses quickly in open outdoor spaces.  Another consideration is the size of your wedding.  If you’re expecting more than 150 guests, booking a string trio or a string quartet is advisable.