How to Book a Live Band for Your Reception
Most couples-to-be probably won’t be able to splurge to the tune of $500,000 to $800,000 on having Maroon 5 perform at their wedding, as one couple recently did in Russia. But couples note that music is still one of the biggest expenses when it comes to planning a wedding reception, especially if the couple-to-be insist on ponying up for a band instead of a disc jockey.
So, industry experts encourage their clients to invest a little research in the decision-making process which can go a long way in minimizing frustration and maximizing satisfaction.
First and foremost, says Monica Richard, owner of Mon Amie Events in Indianapolis, is determining your dream sound for the big event. Are you looking for a disco funk theme à la the Commodores or some ‘80s nostalgia with help from Michael Jackson? Either way, consider that your wedding may span multiple ages. Would Grandma want to dance to “Wild Thing” by Tone-Loc?
“So much depends on what kind of atmosphere you want,” Richard says. “Young couples may want a college band feel or a bar band. But, that may not work for all of your guests.”
As you plan both the wedding ceremony and reception, think about your sound requirements. Would you like a soloist at your ceremony? Are you hoping for a string trio during cocktail hour? Maybe you can have it all for a price. Know that basic dance bands usually begin with a keyboard, bass and percussion. More instruments up the cost of the band, which averaged $3,357 in 2015, according to WeddingStats.org.
“There’s a way to get overall value, especially if you have multiple music needs,” says Richard. “A keyboardist can play the piano or a guitarist can play a classic guitar at your wedding ceremony.”
One mistake to avoid is hiring a band that doesn’t mesh with the venue. Low ceilings and a 15-piece orchestra can induce headaches and overwhelm your bash. Similarly, whether you’re having your wedding and ceremony in a church or outdoor gazebo or on the shores of Waikiki, get a handle on what equipment requirements a band may need. Find out if the electrical power is sufficient for the band or if there are specific staging and lighting concerns.
“Make sure that your venue can accommodate their power needs before signing the contract,” says Carmen Mesa, owner of her eponymous wedding consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “An older or historic venue may not have updated electrical and you may need to rent a generator which will increase costs.”
Another no-no is selecting a band sight unseen. It’s tricky to see a band perform live (it’s impolite and unwelcome to crash other weddings to scout your favorite band), but there are ways to hear them. You can request videos or research online. The group may have its own YouTube page with performance clips to showcase the band’s musical repertoire or even the members’ personalities.
“Do you want a band that will interact with the guests and keep the dance floor packed, or do you want a band that will just play the music you’ve pre-selected?” says Mesa.
When it comes to your hallowed playlist for the ceremony, keep in mind that bands don’t offer as a large a selection of music as a DJ who has access to music galore on a computer. Requested songs may sound different live compared to the music you hear in your car blasting from your favorite radio station.
But, it’s hard to beat the entertainment value of a live band, say experts, even if it’s not a Grammy Award-winning group like Maroon 5.
“Even if the older guests don’t get on the dance floor, they can still enjoy watching the musicians,” Mesa says. “There is so much more emotion seeing and hearing a live performance.