1. Choose the Right Style of Wedding Band
First things first, you need to think about what type of wedding band you want to hire. There are several factors to consider here, and not just whether you’re a fan of a particular band’s style of music (though that is important). Before you begin your search there’s a few questions you should ask yourself, the answers to which will steer you in the direction of your ideal wedding band for hire:
“What is my favorite musical genre?”
It’s your big day, so make sure you book a band that reflects your personality as a couple. If you have your heart set on a specific type of band, then you should go ahead and book that type of band! But, a word of warning before you do, think about…
“Who will be attending my wedding reception?”
While it’s important to book a wedding band who play the music you love, don’t forget about your guests! If nobody else shares your tastes, you’ll be faced with the horror of an empty dance floor. Think about the ages and tastes of your loved ones and choose a band who’ll play something for everyone.
“What is the theme of my wedding?”
There’s a multitude of function bands around, in pretty much every style and genre you can imagine, so if you have a particular theme planned for your wedding, rustic, it might be a good idea to book a band who fit that theme. Also be wary of booking a band who are the complete antithesis of your theme – for example, booking a retro tribute band at your ultra-modern wedding reception.
“Where is my wedding taking place?”
Related to the theme, it’s a good idea to pick a band whose image and style is suited to your chosen venue. There’s plenty more to think about when it comes to booking a suitable band for your venue (more on which later).
2. Work Within Your Budget
The price of live wedding bands can vary wildly, so make sure to keep your budget in mind at all times! The cost of hiring a wedding band depends on a range of factors:
The band’s popularity
A busy band is an expensive band! The best bands are often booked up years in advance, so can afford to charge a premium. If you’re going after a popular band, booking them out of the peak wedding season or on a less popular day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday) is a good way of saving some cash.
The size of the band
Each member of a band needs to earn a wage, so with each additional member, the cost of hiring a band increases. If you can’t live without a full horn section but your budget won’t stretch that far, many smaller band line-ups perform along with professionally recorded backing tracks to give you a huge sound for a fraction of the price.
How far the band have to travel
The farther away the band are from your venue, the more you’ll have to cover in travel expenses, so it’s a good idea to go for a band who are relatively local to your venue if you’re looking for the best deal.
How long the band spend at your wedding
If you want to book a band to be with you for the whole day, or to stay later than their standard curfew (which tends to be midnight) expect to pay a little more to cover the extended duration.
3. Get To Know Your Band
You’re going to be sharing the biggest day of your life with these guys, so make sure to get to know their character first. How you discover your chosen band will have a bearing on how you get to know what they’re all about. If the band have been personally recommended by a friend, then you’re all good, but if you’ve found your band online or through advertising, it’s a good idea to do some digging.
Band websites and agency websites will have plenty of information for you to take in, so make sure to watch every video, listen to every audio sample and read every blog post featuring the band you can get your hands on.
It’s all well and good reading what a band wants you to read about them, but how about some unbiased testimony? Check the big review sites like TrustPilot and Yelp, as well as social media for unvarnished reviews of your band. Any glaring problems will show up here and help you avert the disaster of booking an unreliable band for your wedding.
If you can, try to chat with your band before you hire them, even if it’s over email, and ask any burning questions that are concerning you about booking them to be a part of your wedding. Here’s a few key questions you should ALWAYS ask before you hire any band:
“What time will you arrive and how long will it take you to set up?”
It’s important to know these details in advance. You don’t want to be panicking on the day of the wedding about what time the band are due to arrive when you should be enjoying every precious moment. Knowing how long a band takes to set up means you can schedule it around everything else that’s due to take place, especially if your reception is taking place in the same room as your wedding breakfast – nobody wants to hear the drummer crashing about when they’re trying to enjoy their food!
“How long are your sets, and how many do you play?”
Different bands play for different amounts of time. Standard bookings tend to be either 2 x45 minute sets, 2 x 60 minute sets or 3 x 40 minute sets. Establish how much live music you’re getting for your money.
“What is your latest finishing time?”
Want to party on into the early hours? Make sure to discuss this with your band and avoid the disappointment of the party wrapping up early on the day itself.
“Do you provide a DJ?”
Bands are made up of humans who get tired and need refreshment breaks – check whether the band provides music to fill these gaps, and for after their performance has finished so you’re not left with any awkward lulls on the dance floor.
“Do you supply sound and lighting?”
Not all bands supply this equipment and your venue may not have adequate sound equipment for a live band to sound at their best, so make sure you check before you spend money on a band who won’t sound any better than a transistor radio!
“Are you insured?”
Depending upon where in the world your wedding is taking place, bands require differing levels of insurance to perform live. Make sure to check whether they have the necessary documentation. Most venues will insist on seeing this before they allow a band to perform.
“Will you learn a special request?”
Got a special song you’d like performed for your first dance? Be sure to check whether your wedding band are happy to learn it and whether they’ll do it free of charge or for an additional fee. Don’t leave this to the last minute and miss out on a magical moment.
4. Check Whether Your Band Has Any Limitations On Live Music
Many venues impose certain restrictions on live music. It’s essential you check with your venue whether they have any limitations and get the details in writing BEFORE you book a wedding band. Key limitations to be on the lookout for include:
Limited performance space
If you’ve booked a huge 13-piece band, but there’s no room for their equipment, the band aren’t going to be able to put on the show you’ve paid for. Find out your venue’s space for performance and relay this to your band.
Curfews on live music
Some venues have a cut-off point for how late live music can be performed, some as early as 9 or 10pm! Don’t fall foul of this and be left with a truncated evening party.
This is the big one. Some venues don’t allow music to be played above a certain decibel level, and have the equipment to ensure this can’t happen. Sound limiters monitor the band’s levels and in some cases cut off power to the band if they exceed the stated decibel limit. It’s vital you relay any sound limitations to your band well in advance so they can bring appropriate equipment. Most bands can work around these restrictions with the use of acoustic instruments and electric drum kits, though if you want that authentic live band sound, you may have to reconsider your choice of venue!
5. Book Safely and Securely
Make sure you sign a contract with your band that guarantees they turn up on time and can’t pull out without a very good reason. There’s nothing worse than booking a band well in advance only for them to cancel at the last minute. Booking through a reputable wedding entertainment agency is a good way to make sure you are covered in any eventuality. If the worst were to occur and your band canceled, a good agency would do everything in their power to find you a good replacement.
Happy Wedding Planning
Armed with these tips, you should be able to find your dream wedding band and book them without any hassle. The wedding planning experience can be hectic, not to mention stressful, but you (hopefully) only do it once, so enjoy it!