How Much Does It Cost To Have a Pianist at Your Wedding?

piano in the parlor at the Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo, NY
Photo by Lauren Page Wadsworth

Having live music at your wedding is a great addition that adds a great ambiance to the ceremony. A live pianist can be very expensive if you hire a professional, but if you hire an amateur player, your big day could end up marred by mistakes. So, how much does it cost to have a pianist at your wedding?

It costs anywhere from three hundred fifty to one thousand dollars to have a pianist at your wedding. Some pianists will charge over seven hundred dollars, but the average cost to have a pianist at your wedding is around five hundred dollars.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain how much pianists charge for weddings, why pianists charge different rates, how to choose the right type of pianist for your wedding, and alternatives to a professional pianist.

How Much Pianists Charge for Weddings

Pianists generally charge less than one thousand dollars to play at a wedding. Most will charge at least a three hundred dollar minimum, though. The price you pay to hire a particular pianist will depend on many factors.

Each pianist will have their own unique rate they charge per event or hour. There’s no set rate for how much it costs, and the price is subjective and will vary from musician to musician, so it’s best to shop around and cast a wide net in terms of hiring a pianist.

Why Each Pianist Charges Different Rates

The amount of money a pianist charges to play at your wedding may not be the same as what they charge to play at other weddings. Musicians generally charge for the time they’ll be at the venue, not the amount of time actually spent playing. 

The time spent at the venue will include: 

  • Soundchecks
  • Set-up
  • Takedown
  • Any rehearsals the pianist will need to attend

Any time they’re obligated to be at your wedding venue is time that they’ll charge for. 

This is only one factor that can affect the price. If the pianist has to travel a great distance to get to your wedding, they may also charge you a flat fee for travel. This is something all musicians will charge for weddings, including violinists, as it will go towards their fuel and any other travel expenses.

Read more about how much it costs to have a violinist at your wedding here.

black and white photo of a man playing a grand piano outside

If the pianist has to stay in a hotel to be at your wedding, they’ll likely ask you to pay for the night in the hotel. Additionally, booking a pianist from a different city or state is more expensive.

You should also expect pianists to charge more based on skill and experience. You’ll have to pay a premium if you want a very poised and skilled piano player at your wedding. The old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” This rings true when choosing a pianist for your wedding.

If you want the live music element of your big day to go off without a hitch, you’ll likely have to pay a little more to book the most professional and experienced pianist in your area. Staying within your area is on the way to keeping costs down.

My Experience Hiring a Pianist to Play at My Wedding

For my own wedding, I hired a professional pianist to play at my cocktail hour. It was one of my favorite special touches that made the wedding day special. Our cocktail hour was held in an 18th century estate both indoors and outdoors. Inside there was a beautiful piano and I was so glad we could put it to use.

I grew up taking piano lessons so I’ve always appreciated the art and mastery of a professional piano player. We found a local musician who came just for the hour and added a festive element in between our ceremony and reception.

If you’d like the full list of DJ alternatives to consider for your big day, take a look at this article my sister wrote after planning her wedding.

For only a few hundred dollars, we got to add some live music to our event. Much less than the cost of a full band. If you’re not sure if you can afford that little something extra, you need a good budgeting tool.

You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.

How To Choose the Right Pianist for Your Wedding

There are many different types of pianists out there. They range from orchestral concert pianists to rock karaoke to jazz pianists. Different pianists are best for different types of ceremonies, so choosing the best fit can help you stay within your budget.

You really need to know your ceremony’s schedule before you book a piano player for the event. Suppose you decide you’ll only need a piano player for twenty to thirty minutes. In that case, there’s no need to book a professional concert pianist, which will be very expensive.

If you have the pianist playing for a long time, you must book a piano player with plenty of experience and stamina. This will probably cost more money, but it’ll be worth it when your guests enjoy the ambient live music.

The same concept applies to the size of your wedding. If you’re having a small intimate gathering of close friends and immediate family, you don’t need the most expensive pianist you can find. 

You can choose a cheaper option to save a lot of money. When you go with a cheaper pianist, you’re making your ceremony vulnerable to mistakes by the pianist, but that’s the trade-off of saving money in this area of your budget.

Choosing the correct type of pianist for your wedding is a great way to keep yourself within your budget. Picking the right performer also allows you to customize the feel and ambiance of your wedding.

close up of piano keys from the side

Alternatives to a Professional Pianist

If your budget is incredibly tight and you can’t afford to hire a professional pianist, you can still have a skilled pianist play at your wedding for a fraction of the price. This will take some searching and networking, but it’s possible.

  • Attend a local church service and ask the person playing piano there if they would feel comfortable playing at your wedding. Most people would be happy to help and may even do it for free.
  • Go to a local high school and ask if the music teacher plays piano. If they do, ask them if they will play at your wedding. They are much less likely to do it for free, but they would probably also be glad to help.
  • If the music teacher can’t help you themselves, ask them if they have any students that are talented enough to play a few songs at your wedding. This will be an excellent opportunity for the student, and they won’t charge you much money.

When you choose this route of having an amateur pianist play at your wedding, you open yourself up to the prospect of mistakes with the music, but you’ll save a lot of money.

When Can a Pianist Play at A Wedding

There are several opportunities to inject a little live music into your wedding. You can make a truly special statement with just a short performance or include piano as a major moment in the wedding. Here are some ideas:

  • Have the pianist play the processional at the ceremony for a show-stopping entrance
  • Hire a pianist to play at cocktail hour for a fun vibe
  • Use a pianist to play your first dance song for added drama
  • Serenade your new spouse with a surprise long song accompanied on the piano
  • Hire a piano band to play your reception
  • Transform your reception into a jazz lounge for the after party by switching up the music
  • Include a pianist in other wedding events such as the rehearsal dinner or the farewell brunch

There are many more places you can dream up to include live music throughout your event. It adds a level of class and grace to the big day. If you’re looking for other ways to make your wedding day more memorable, check out this article.


The cost of having a pianist play at your wedding will vary widely based on many different factors. The pianist’s skill, the amount of time they have to spend at the venue, and whether or not they have to travel all influence the price of booking a pianist for your wedding.

The average cost of having a pianist at your wedding is five hundred dollars, but it can cost as little as three hundred and up to seven hundred and fifty dollars. Most professional pianists will charge a three hundred dollar minimum.

Need additional tips from other like-minded brides? Whether you’re planning a wedding at the last minute or on a budget, check out our free, exclusive Facebook group – Wedding Planning Club


Jaime is the owner of Loud Bride and Coast Designs LLC. She got married in 2017 in Geneseo, NY and designed her own wedding invitations and programs for the occasion. Now, she designs bespoke wedding stationery and affordable templates for other couples. She lives in New York city with her husband and two children.

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