Top Tips For Booking A Band For Your Wedding

Some people seem really scared about booking a band for their wedding, so we’ve compiled these handy hints to show you all you need to know to choose and book the perfect band for your wedding

Making Your Big Day Extra Special

You want your special day to be remembered, you want to round off with a great party and some great music, you want everyone to have a good time and be talking about your special night for many years to come.

So what’s the best entertainment to round off your big day and complete your evening in style?

Are you looking to hire a DJ, Band, Duo or Solo Singer with backing tracks?

So many people panic over this, “But I don’t know any bands/musicians/DJs and have no idea how to go about booking one”.

The Internet

These days, with the internet, it’s easier than you think to book acts directly and get exactly what you want and it may not be as expensive as you think. You can search, review, listen to and watch hundreds of potential bands all from the comfort of your living room.

Consider the type of music that you and your guests would like, then search for bands that might cover the relevant genres, do you want Soul, Disco, Funk, Rock, Blues, R&B, Rock & Roll, Latin, dance, tribute band or a mixture. There are acts out there to cover all tastes.

Work out how much you want to spend.

Set your budget, work out the most you want to be spending as your ceiling that you aren’t willing to go above.

If you find an act you like is too expensive, then go back to them and let them know your top budget and see if there’s any room for negotiation. It’s possible that their price involves many hours of waiting time, in which they are expected to set up and sound check their equipment in the morning, and have to wait around all day before playing on the night time. You may be able to arrange for them to arrive after your reception and set up in a couple of hour window before the evening begins.

Wedding Venue Considerations

When selecting your wedding venue, you’ll need to consider the following:

How big is the function room?

Is it quite small and can only handle a solo singer with backing tracks or a duo?

Does the venue have a suitable music performance license and does it cover a live band?

Choosing Your Band

Once you have searched the internet for possible bands, pull together a short list (a spreadsheet is great for making a checklist for comparisons) and use the following criteria (and any other you can think of) to rank the acts:

Website

Do they have a professional looking website?

Image

What kind of image do they have e.g. what do they wear when they play their shows? Do they make a special effort, or do they just wear jeans and T-shirts?

Demo

Do they have demos you can listen to? Most bands should have at least a couple of studio quality tracks you can either listen to from their website or download.

Cost

How much do they charge? Make sure everything is covered in the price – waiting time (especially if an early set-up is required), travel costs, overnight stays, food, congestion charges, tolls, VAT, parking costs. As you don’t want to be faced with any hidden extras.

Location

Where will they be travelling from? This will give you an idea of the potential for negotiation on price, if it’s a long distance it may be unlikely.

Availability

Are they free on the date you want?

Will they ‘pencil you in’ to their diary and do they require a deposit to hold that date (which is probably non-refundable). There are so many people who enquire about a date and don’t make a firm booking, then come back later to find the date has been filled. Bear in mind that the very next phone call a band gets may be to book for the same date as you.

Special Requests

Are they willing/able to play any requests (e.g. your chosen first dance) and how much notice do they require to learn your chosen song(s), and is there a cost for doing that.

Live Footage

The most important thing I would suggest you check out is, do they have any live footage you can watch? You Tube is a great source. Studio demos are fine, but in this digital auto-tune age they can be altered to make the band sound better than they actually are.

Set List

Do they have a Sample set list? This is handy so you can really see if they play the songs you want to hear

Show Length

How long will they play? Normally you can expect a band to play 2 x 45 minutes or 2 x 60 minutes plus maybe a 10 minute encore and allow for a break after the first set. I would also assume that they would start playing after 9pm. Which works you towards a probable finish of 11.30pm as most wedding venues like to be clearing up after midnight, plus you may end up paying more for the band if you expect them to play after midnight, even if the venue is agreeable.

Background Music

It’s probably best that a full band would not be playing while people are eating. If you could have some incidental background music, or you hire an acoustic act, classical guitarist, harpist to play during the meal. The very nature of a full band (especially with drums) makes it difficult to play very softly while your guests are making polite conversation.

Disco

If you want to save money on also having to pay a DJ, the band will probably have a laptop with suitable party songs that could be playing through their PA while they are not performing, or they may allow you to provide an ipod of songs you have chosen to play through the PA. There may be an extra charge for this service, but it will probably work out cheaper than hiring a DJ.

Equipment

Do they have quality equipment? Do they have full PA and lighting rig? Is the equipment PAT tested for electrical safety (the wedding venue will probably need to know this).

Insurance

Are they insured for public liability?

Soundcheck

Allow enough time for the band to load in and sound check – 2 hours is about average,

Address

Provide the band with full address of the venue, times and a venue contact name and phone number.

What You Need To Provide for the Band

It is good practise to get the best out of the performers to provide some kind of meal/sandwiches, soft drinks, a room for them to get changed in (how would you feel if you had to change into your glad-rags in a public toilet?), arrange parking as close to the venue as possible to aid their loading in (they will have lots of heavy equipment they’ll need to carry), and times they can access the venue.

Also, provide a person in your party who will act as contact for the band, as you will be busy, it’s often either the best man or the wedding planner/organiser if you have one. Swap mobile numbers beforehand in case of any last minute hitches. This is also probably the best person to arrange to pay the band

Itinery

Provide running time list of how you expect the evening to go, weddings are notorious for running late, so when you first draft the list it’s best to try and work back from the end of the night starting with the time the venue expects you to vacate.

Payment

Always pay the band prior to playing, this saves any uncomfortable issues at the end of the night, when the guy who has the money in his pocket has disappeared off to his room and the band are chasing around for their payment.

 Hope that helps

Nick Da Bass
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