How to make your choice when booking a live wedding band. Our official advice

With so many bands out there how do you choose?

If you are about to get married and have been to a wedding recently and enjoyed the live music then you have probably already got the business card of the band you saw perform. That’s likely a very safe option when booking as you can vouch first hand for the band. However, do shop around as there are a great many bands out there that may be more suited to your individual musical tastes. There are countless websites out there offering lists of live function bands. On our site you will find acts that have submitted their details and based on the quality of their demo and a profile check have been accepted on the site. Start by listening to the demos of the bands on their websites and based on what you hear make a list of your top three choices. Contact these bands and notice the quality of their communication with you as well as their website. Websites can on occasions be misleading and remember a glossy site does not guarantee quality performers. You’ll get a good feel for who you are dealing with based on the responses you get. Professional bands, worth dealing with will be quick to reply, it will be personalised to your event and friendly.

Am I safer booking through an agency than directly through the band?

Not really. Agents run a business and are looking to make a quick sale with their commission safely planted on top of the bands fee. At the end of the day the band, if you are booking through agencies dominating the web then be sure they work hard for you and don’t just lumber you with any old band to make the sale. You may as well find the bands directly and it takes very little effort. Remember it is the band you book that subsequently turn up on your big day making your evening extra special and not the agent. Over the years there have been countless stories of agencies setting up the performance with pre-selected bands made of long term friends, stand in musicians despite a huge list of bands on their sites. Ask yourself the following. Are these agencies monitoring the quality of the bands on their site? Are they pushing specific acts or are they allowing us freedom to select? Can agents really offer so many ‘great’ bands? If you would like to save a few quid or direct the commission you would have paid to the agent to the band then you’ll be best off booking directly. Direct booking means you have direct contact with the musicians actually performing rather than allowing the possibility of miscommunication via middle men. Some agents will tell you that they have public liability covered but this is simply not true. After an extensive search through insurance companies all bands require their own individual insurance. Thus you need to check with the band themselves. So when using an agent it would be wise to tread carefully and ask lots of questions. That said, there are some good agencies out there who care about your music and who work hard to provide a really good service

Should I expect to see the band perform before I book them?

You can always ask. The band may have public performances coming up but do not expect or insist on any good band inviting you to one of their wedding performances. Imagine how you would feel if a band turned up at your wedding with additional guests poking their heads around the corner. You may end up with only a demo to go by but this is quite normal. Meet the head band member where possible and get a feel for the character of who you are booking from. You could always ask the band the following question as a litmus test. If we book you, would you be bringing potential clients to my wedding?

How many sets of music should I expect a band to perform and for how long?

Typically a band will perform 2 sets of 45 minutes but you can ask for 2 x 1 hour sets or even 3 x 45 minute sets. Two sets nearly always worked much better than three. 2 hours of live music is plenty.

Should I also book a DJ? Do I really need one?

These days good bands will almost always offer to put on pre-recorded party music in between their sets and following the performance for a reasonable time. You therefore need not book a DJ unless you really feel that the 30 minutes in between the sets of the band necessitates it. If you are looking for a DJ them do check out our list available on our DJ and Mobile disco page.

What price should I pay?

Simply put, ‘If you want Monkeys then pay peanuts’. Good live entertainment does come at a price but it is well worth it for this one day of your life. Your wedding day, for many, is the most important single in your life and you want everything to be right. Rather than making a relatively small saving by booking your second choice, make sure you go with exactly what you want. The average total cost of a wedding can cost over £18,000 in the UK today and you’ll be best advised to allocate a reasonable sum to your entertainment. The live band is the biggest thing on show after the wedding dress and you’ll want them to look and sound great, be happy to be there and ready to entertain all of your guests. You can expect good bands from prices as low as £1000 but below this you’ll be taking more than a single risk. Think about it like this. Professional musicians (Those you actually want at your wedding) earn a living through making good music and must pay for quality equipment, PAT testing, public liability insurance, transport, rehearsal space and all the other things that go with running your own working band. Those bands offering a cheap service will likely not have modern, safe, reliable equipment and the well maintained gear associated with full time performers. If you are still set on booking a cheaper act then always check that their gear is PAT tested and they hold suitable insurance for your venue. In summary try to allocate between £1500-£3000 for a top wedding band of 5 musicians, and if paying the upper limit of this make sure you are going with one of the busiest and reputable bands such as ‘Poker face’ or ‘The Venue’. One way of saving a little cash is to go for a smaller outfit like ‘Big Sound’. Three piece bands are fantastic and raw but often lack the diversity of the bigger acts. Do check the set lists of these band to get an idea of what you can expect to hear.

What music to go for at the reception?

Generally speaking bands have fixed set lists and are happy to add a few songs for you on request. You’re probably booking the band of your choice because you like the look of their set. Again, the best bands out there are very diverse and may not work from a specific set list but instead work to your audiences reactions.

Should we have live music over our dinner too?

It is a great idea in principle but if you want live music during this time make sure it is light hearted. Perhaps an acoustic / classical guitarist or a jazz pianist. These ideas work very well and there are many good solo musicians out there. Again, ask the live band you are booking if they are able to provide this and what the cost will be. A nice additional touch to your wedding.

Presentation of the band

More often than not live bands dress in black. Why? I have no idea. It is perhaps a safe bet but other bands may prefer to make that extra effort with their own outfit or suits. Do check with the band in case they stick out like a sore thumb and you would not want that.

Do we need a stage when we hire a band?

Having a stage certainly adds something extra but is never required. Jut make sure there are plenty of power sockets available and a reasonable space for the band to perform behind that dance floor.

Customary when booking a band

Bands are often asked to arrive at the venue of your wedding many hours before the performance. They have probably travelled quite some distance, just like your guests. Although they are not guests at the wedding and are there to provide a service you are best advised to provide a small room for them to get changed in and to also provide them with soft drinks and a snack or basic meal. When enquiring for a booking bands mention you will provide these as it can be awkward for bands to bring up.

Good luck!



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