Welcome to A Harpist's Wedding Planning Tips! This is a new series on my blog that will hopefully help clarify any confusion you might have when looking for a musician (or multiple musicians) for one of the biggest days of your life! I though I would start with the very beginning : how to find and hire a wedding musician.
I would recommend booking wedding musicians about 6 months prior to your wedding day. Sometimes they are booked years in advance, and while they might be available a month before your wedding, you don't want to risk it. Though there are many ways to find a musician for your wedding, I think the best way to discover one is by word of mouth, from people that you trust. Ask your wedding planner, friends who have recently been hitched (and had a GREAT experience with their wedding vendors of the musical variety), church musicians (you may not want an organ, but they may know of a great string quartet).
Aside from these 'in real life' options, there is always the Internet. This might help you if you are looking for something unique or extremely specific (for example, bagpipes, or brazilian accordion .... ?) I would highly recommend Gig Salad to start your digital search, or the wonderful Google of course!
I will write an entry on things to look for in a wedding vendor soon, but make sure they are serious about playing music for weddings. That's probably the biggest tip - if they love playing for weddings, they will love playing for yours.
Once you have a few musicians lined up that you like, I would encourage you to go see them perform live. Sometimes they have a calendar on their website, but if not, you can always email and ask when their next live performance is. Alternatively, you could ask to meet them in person for a free consultation/meet and greet. Professionally speaking, most vendors require some type of deposit and a contract (red flags should pop up if your vendor doesn't)!
I hope these tips help you get started in planning your dream wedding!