First of all, it should be noted that I (Jenni) am a HUGE music fanatic! I love all types of music (heavy metal and the like may be excluded in the “love” category). But, I am a music fan. And as one, I am really picky when it comes to live music. Especially cover bands, which wedding bands generally are. So here are some tips on what to look for when hiring your band, as well as some things you might not have thought about.
- How many people are in the band? Typically bands are at least five piece: keys, guitar, bass, drums and lead singer. Some bands have a female vocalist standard and some do not. Watch for this, because it could be upwards of 1000 extra just for that female voice, if that matter to you. Horn sections and any other extra components also run about 500+ per person to add on. So make sure you know exactly what your instrumentation is when you hire the band. This comes into play when you are picking out songs that are important to you, and also when you have to feed the group!
- Has this band played weddings before? And I am not talking like once or twice, I am talking do they know what they are doing when it comes to a wedding reception. Unlike concerts or club gigs, weddings have very specific events that play out during the dinner reception. The band is responsible for emceeing these events and playing these songs (first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-song dance, etc.). So knowing that the band is VERY familiar with weddings will ensure that they are able to transition nicely from one event to another. Nothing is worse than awkward silence in my book. And that includes guest confusion when the band is not properly announcing what is going to happen next. We run into this a lot when a couple loves a particular band that they saw play at (fill in the blank) but they don’t know necessarily how to move through an event timeline. They are great at playing their sets, but the interaction with the audience could use some major improvement. So watch for this.
- How many hours do you need the band to play? Typically weddings run on a six hour rule. The majority of your guests will stay for around six hours. That being the case, the band needs to play for at least four of these. Keep in mind, unless the band is really large, they will typically require two breaks. We break the band during dinner and usually at cake cutting so the flow is not interrupted. But this does not get taken out of your contract hours. So make sure you have enough time to party after the dinner portion is over. In my opinion, the whole reason you have a live band is because you want a great party vibe. So allow for this time so your guests can enjoy it! If you are looking for extra time, you can always inquire if the band has the ability to play an iPod during dinner, and you can just pay a smaller overtime fee.
- How much do I expect to pay a band? We have good bands in a couple of price points. But in our experience, you will pay an average of $5000-$6000 for a good five piece band. Be aware though, most of the larger bands (horns and multiple vocalists) are around $7500-$8500. And don’t forget to tip your live musicians. We suggest $25.00 an hour for each member.
- What is a band rider? Some bands will come with a rider, or specific requirements for them to play your event. Make sure you read this. Some times they will place funny things in there like, “The green room must come with a monkey that can dance and count backwards from 100.” They put these things in there so they make sure read them. Mostly, they want you to know what size band stage they need, that they will need water throughout the night (most venues do not allow the musicians to drink at an event they are hired to be at) and what time the meals are required. If your venue is not able to accommodate the rider for any reason, please reach out to the band. Often times they can be flexible. Side note: not all bands bring stage lighting. So please remember to ask about this. Otherwise it might be a dark party.
I have been to many weddings as a guest and planner, and I am telling you that there is certainly nothing like a live band at a great party. An amazing band is worth every penny!!