Most harpists are self-contained in that they provide all of their own equipment when performing for your event. All you need to provide is a place for them to set up. For a full sized pedal harp, you need at least 4 feet by 5 feet of space to have room for the harpist’s bench, music stand, and harp. The harp should be placed on a flat, dry surface away from water (fountains, splashing, etc.), excessive heat, or other dangerous weather conditions. If you are having an outdoor event, be sure to check with the harpist and see if they have a platform they can put down for the harp or if they need you to provide something.
Harps can be taken up steps, but it is difficult, and many harpists charge extra for this. If your event is outdoors in a location that is far from the parking lot, it may be difficult for the harpist to get the harp and accessories to the location. A full-sized harp can weigh 100 pounds and be over 6 feet tall. Your harpist may bring a smaller harp, such as a lever harp (also called a Celtic harp or folk harp) if your location is likely to be difficult or dangerous for the larger harp.
Some harpists have their own amplification system. Others may have a pickup installed in their harp but need to plug it into your sound system. Other harpists may not have a way to amplify the harp, unless you are providing the whole system, including a microphone on a stand that can be placed near the harp. For most events, amplification is not needed. The harp can project well on its own, especially in buildings with good acoustics, such as chapels. If you think you may need amplification, speak to the harpist prior to booking to see if they think it is needed and if they can provide it or if you or your venue will need to do so.
When choosing where to have the harpist set up, try to pick a place where people will not be bumping into the harp. High-traffic areas can be dangerous, and the last thing you want is for a guest to knock over that expensive harp! For weddings, it is best if the harpist is placed such that they will be able to see the front of the aisle, even once the bridesmaids are all at the front. When the harpist cannot see the front of the aisle, it becomes guesswork as to when to end the bridal processional, hoping the bride has reached the front.
For outdoor events, always have a backup plan if the weather is bad. No harpist will risk damage to a $20,000-$30,000 wooden instrument by playing when it looks like it could start raining at any moment. If it did start to sprinkle, by the time the harpist ran back to the car to get the weather proof covers and dolly to move the harp, the water damage would be done. We all hope for the perfect day for our events, but must be prepared just in case.
Are you a harpist? What additional things would you want your potential clients to know about what you will need to perform? Comment below!