10 Things To Know Before Booking A Band For Your Wedding Reception

So, you just got engaged!  Congrats!  After you’ve taken some time to bask in the excitement, it’s time to get your thinking cap on.  Because you are now being called upon to be the planner for the biggest day of your life, and to ensure that it goes seamlessly!  That is- unless you have a wedding planner waiting in the wings to make your day magical. For the majority of gals that is simply not the case.  And for those ladies who are on the DIY track, I’m here to help you figure out how to select the best band for your special day.  I have laid out a list of things you will DEFINITELY want to know before you start contacting bands. 


1. What is your budget?

This is going to be huge in weeding out some of your choices. The price of the band is going to depend on a LOT of factors.  Some of the factors that determine a band’s price include: region, size of the band, amount of experience, and also the demand for their time.  Chances are, you are going to get married during prime time wedding season.  Let me guess- a weekend sometime in June through August on a beautiful summer’s day?  Well, there are only so many weekends that a band can play during this stretch of time.  Bands might charge more during prime months because they are in high demand. If you are getting married during those sacred summer months, you are going to want to get your ducks in a row FAST! Some of the best talent will be booked way in advance.  If you are getting married in an off season, you might be able to get a better rate, or negotiate your price a little more. 


2. What size of venue will your reception be in?

Typically the band you choose will depend on whether you are in ballroom or an intimate venue.  In a ballroom, you want to bring in a band that can fill the space and provide a show.  I’m sure there are some solo guitarists who are up to the task, but if you want to get your dance floor hoppin’, you’ll want to consider a full dance band.  With a smaller venue, you can get away with a soloist or duo act to provide some light dinner music to set your ambience. 


3. What mood/vibe you want to create?

Your vision for how your reception will go is very important.  Are you looking to keep it classy and formal with jazz standards?  Maybe you want the night to be fun and casual with some bluegrass and folk music.  Is your desired reception going to be a full on party that gets all of your guests on the dance floor?  Establishing this detail will help you refine your search.  The more specific you can be, the better.


4. How formal will the night be?

If you are going throwing a black tie affair, you should discuss that with the band that you hire. Your band needs to match the image that you are trying to create. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to hire a band who sports flannel shirts and blue jeans if you are asking your guests to wear evening gowns, obviously. If you have established a dress code, make sure you discuss it with the band during the booking process. The band is going to do everything that they can to meet your needs.


5. Are you looking for ceremony music or reception music?

Keep in mind that reception music and ceremony music are two different items. So make sure to get a quote on both!


6. What are your special requests?

Every event is going to be different, and as such, every bride will have a special request.  Before you contact the band, know what yours is.  Do you want to have special music for the first dance?  If so, you need to clarify whether or not the band will add these songs to their repertoire. If that is not a service they offer, ask if they will consider playing a recording of the song through their P.A so you can still capture your special moment.  There are lots of ways to solve problems, just make sure that you discuss your needs with the band and know what they are before you reach out to them.  It saves a lot of hassle later on!


7. What contracts will you need to sign, and is there a downpayment?

Each band will likely have a contract for you to sign to clarify the details of the day ask for you to pay a down payment.  The downpayment for your band is usually non-refundable.  This may seem unfair, especially if it is a large amount, but keep in mind that they are earmarking that day for you and will turn other opportunities down. That is a huge part of that deposit. There may be a clause in the contract that says if the band should have to cancel for any reason, they will refund your deposit in full. I would make sure to ask about that before you sign anything.


8. What hours will the musicians be required to be there?

It is always nice to know the specific amount of hours that you are expected to play as a band. When an event is listed as TBA, it feels like business purgatory. I typically don’t like to book something unless I have as many details as possible. 2-5 hours of music for a private event is pretty standard, so that gives you a good reference when you are negotiating the details. Anything above and beyond that will probably cost extra. 


9. Does the band have a P.A System?

You are going to need a P.A system at your wedding in general so you can make announcements, speeches, toasts, etc.  Most professional bands will have a sound system of their own.  However, If you fly in a friend to perform music for you, they may not what to schlep a whole sound system across the country with them.  P.A systems are easy to come by through a rental agency if your musician isn’t providing their own.  Also, make sure to ask your reception venue if they have one, as it could save the task of hauling one in. 


10. Will food and drinks and lodging be reimbursed or provided? 

It is pretty standard to offer to feed the band. They are going to be working for you (most likely) before and during dinner hours and play well into the night. Not to mention it takes on average 1-2 hours to set up their gear and then 1-2 hours to tear it down and load it out. If the band is traveling from anywhere, make sure you know whether or not they have arrangements for the night or offer to make some for them. It makes a BIG difference to the band to have this settled. In my personal opinion it is a way to thank your band memorably, and in business that is everything.

There is no question about whether or not it is worth it to have a band. The right band will bring the energy you want and can transform a roomful of people into a party. I hope that this has given you some insight into what information you should know before you start reaching out to bands. Let me know if you have any other questions regarding booking a band and your big day.  Make sure to subscribe to get more content like this and check out our music on the home page!