Many couples for their special day want the excitement, energy and spontaneity of a live band. In most cases a live band will be more expensive than a DJ, but after all, your wedding day memories should last a lifetime.
Nothing compares to a live band.
Once you’ve decided to book a band for your reception instead of a DJ, it’s time to find the right band for you. Your music sets tone for your entire event, so it’s important to choose carefully. After you set the date, the planning begins. “As soon as the couple gets engaged, the band is one of the very first things they should try to lock in, our dates in many cases are booked one or two years in advance.” “Especially in spring and fall” says Jamie Scheitel, co leader of the very popular-award winning Big Toe and the Jam, based in Minneapolis.
Selecting a venue is as equally as important as selecting your band. Since you have decided on live music, you are a music lover (like us!) and know how special live music can be. Choose your venue carefully keeping the live music in mind. If the venue does not have a stage, can they put one in? Is there enough room for the head table to be set up in front of the stage? For most bands, a minimum stage size of 16 feet deep and 24 feet wide is large enough to allow band members to be able to move about freely on the stage.
You have been to events with memorable music and have your favorite bands. But many times your favorite band is not the best band to perform for your wedding reception. Other times they’re perfect! While this is your day, keep in mind the varied age ranges and musical tastes of your guests. Just as younger people would not want to listen to Benny Goodman all night, there will be older guests who may like to hear something they know and can dance to. A good band will have a few ‘oldies’ they’ll play to the delight of grandma and grandpa and Aunt Ella, who just turned 89, etc.
For many, working with an entertainment agency simplifies the online search process. An agent with an established company will help you decide on the right band. In most cases, an agency with an established track record has booked hundreds of wedding receptions. They are happy to discuss with you what your wants and needs are for your special day. Also, if the band has to cancel because they broke up, key members sick/hurt, etc. the agent is in your corner to find you another band. Their reputation is on the line. It’s crucial that the agency you work with is well-respected. TMW, established in 1987, is the perfect place to start!
Many bands that perform at wedding receptions can be flexible to your needs, and in some cases, actually perform songs live that have special meaning, etc. However, many professionally produced songs you hear on the radio cannot be duplicated. Normally, a band will perform three-sixty minute sets and take two-thirty minute breaks. Ask the band leader if they can perform the song adequately. If not, make a 30 minute playlist on your iPhone, iPad, MP3 player, etc. This way you can hear the songs you want to hear most, and in the order you want to hear them when the band is on break. They can plug your unit into the PA for a professional sound. Try not to dictate the exact song list. The musicians you have hired are professionals and have experience performing at many wedding receptions. They know what works.
Generally, the band and/or the crew who set up will require a meal. In most cases, the band will need to be set up, sound checked and ready to go before you or your guests enter the reception area. Sometimes this can be as early as 3 or 4PM but they do not start until 8PM. Then they perform for four hours, tear down and drive home. A meal during their downtime is always appreciated.
Budgeting for a live band always is a consideration. In most cases, experienced, talented, professional bands range anywhere from $1500 to $10,000, but most are in the $2000-$5000 range. Be prepared to sign a contract and place a deposit down once you have agreed to hire the group, usually they are due within 30 days or less.
When you pay your talent the night of the reception depends on what’s delineated in your contract. Usually after set up and before their performance payment in full, less any deposit, is due. But what about tips? While they’re appreciated, they’re not expected or required. If you feel like the band went above and beyond to make sure that your wedding reception was everything that you hoped for and more, by all means, feel free to show that appreciation monetarily. However, in the long run, a better way to express that is to write a note or send an email afterwards that the band can use as a testimonial.