The No-Nonsense Guide to Hiring a Wedding Band

The No-Nonsense Guide to Hiring a Wedding Band

Looking for a wedding band but not sure where to start? I've spent the past decade searching for the best bands in the business - and I can assure you that it’s no easy task.

One of the first issues couples tend to have is that there seems to be an absolutely overwhelming number of bands on offer at every turn, from agencies and directories to social media - and not forgetting the friend of a friend’s cousin’s band who once supported Scouting for Girls in 2006.

Luckily for you, agencies like Bands For Hire have already done the hard work for you - so while you’re here, why not make a start?

Plan ahead

Although there may appear to be an abundance of wedding bands on the net, by the time you’ve whittled down your requirements, settled on a budget and focussed in on your local region, you may find just a handful make it to the shortlist.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to plan well ahead to ensure you get the pick of the bunch. At Bands For Hire, we receive enquiries over two years in advance, and whilst that may seem over-zealous for your average bride and groom, we do recommend booking at least 9-12 months in advance if possible.

Outline your must-haves

Much like buying a house, every couple will have their own wants and wishes when it comes to planning a wedding - and the evening band is no exception.

Would you prefer a rocking male vocalist, a soulful diva or perhaps a bit of both? Are you after a contemporary pop sound with all the latest and greatest chart songs or are you more 80s cheese and outrageous hairdos for the ultimate stadium rock experience? Whatever it is you’re after, you’ll find plenty to choose from.

How to hire the best wedding bands

How do I know if a band is any good?

With wedding bands primarily performing at private events, it can be frustrating for couples to not have the opportunity to watch their prospective bands live before booking – so how do you decide?

Bands go to great lengths to showcase their talent through their promotional videos, so this is usually the best indication of their live sound. In my experience, it’s easy to tell the quality of a band from their recordings – yes, a good engineer can tune up vocals and add a little bit of magic to spruce things up, but in general the quality of a recording usually reflects the level that the band are at… in many cases, you’ll find they sound even better live.

By using an agency such as Bands For Hire, you can have absolute confidence that every band has been chosen by professionals and meets the required standard. After all, it’s our reputation on the line!

Set an approximate budget

When searching for a wedding band, it’s a good idea to get a feel for the costs involved before settling on your entertainment budget. You’ll no doubt come across pub bands on Facebook who are willing to travel across the country for beer money and a pat on the back, but if you’re after a band that exudes quality, charisma and professionalism, you’ll need to come up with a sensible budget that will cover exactly what you’re after.

TIPAs a general rule, you might say that the average cost per musician lies somewhere between £250-£350, which amounts to anything from £750 - £1050 and above for a trio and upwards of £1000 - £1400 for a 4-piece band in their home town.

Why do prices vary so much?

As you start to browse the web and the quotes come flooding in, it soon becomes apparent that prices can vary massively, so what actually affects the price of a wedding band?

There are so many factors that come into play but the main five differentials tend to be as follows:

  • The number of band members: The more musicians in a band, the more mouths to feed.
  • Travelling distance from venue: Always start your search locally before searching further afield in order to get the best deal.
  • Popularity of the band: The more popular the band, the higher their rates become. A professional function band is a business and it’s only natural that they will increase their fees as demand goes up.
  • Time of the year: With peak summer Saturdays being the most popular in the year, bands will often be inundated with requests for the same dates and so some bands may alter fees to account for this, often offering more competitive rates out of season.
  • Quality: Some musicians are just better than others!

What else should I take into account before budgeting?

Function bands will always quote inclusive of any travel expenses and usually come fully self-contained with PA system (sound system) and lighting. If the band need to stay over they’ll either include accommodation in their fees or outline the requirement on their quote.

One thing to note is that the band will always require parking at the venue - so if this isn’t available, you may be required to cover parking costs if specified on the contract.

Wedding music budget

What should I expect to be included in the quote?

All bands work in their own particular way, but as a guide you can expect most bands to include the following in their quote as standard:

  • 5:30pm/6pm arrival and set-up
  • 2 hours of live music – either 2 x 60 or 3 x 40 minute sets
  • Playlists to fill the gaps
  • High quality PA system and lighting
  • Midnight finish
  • Travel expense
  • Public Liability Insurance and PAT test certificates

Other optional add-ons may also include:

  • 1am finish time
  • Early arrival to set up before guests arrive
  • Manned DJ sets
  • Afternoon acoustic sets

Meals for the band?! Yes please.

Whilst many wedding suppliers may not request meals in their contracts, it is generally considered the industry standard for function and wedding bands. Having played in a band for many years myself, I can attest to the fact that eating (healthily) on the road is a tough nut to crack, and so bar meals and refreshments on the night are always hugely appreciated. After all, it’s never much fun to tuck into the remnants of the cheeseboard after all of the crackers have already been polished off. In fact, you may have even come across the popular satirical hashtag #bandwiches yourself.

Guide to book a band

Check band and venue requirements

Now that you’ve chosen your band, you’ll need to double check they’re compatible with your venue. Does your venue have any specific sound requirements? Do they have enough space? Do they have a sound limiter, built in sound system or indeed a license to have live music at all? There are a whole list of questions to ask your venue before making a booking and you’ll then need to run these past the band or agency before doing so.

Top 10 Questions to ask your Venue Before Hiring a Wedding Band

What’s this PLI and PAT all about?

If you’ve had quotes in already, you may have seen the term ‘PLI’ floating about, but what’s it all about?

Every self-respecting wedding band should be able to provide a Public Liability Insurance Certificate (PLI Certificate) on request; should the band then be held responsible for an accident, they’ll have the appropriate insurance to cover themselves. Some venues, especially listed buildings of historical value, may even insist that the band have a minimum level of insurance; if the band don’t already meet this requirement, there is the option to look into single day insurance instead.

Similarly, PAT tests aren’t a legal requirement, but are generally requested by venues to ensure that any equipment older than a year old is safe and acceptable to use.

Is there anything else I need to know?

You’re bound to have lots of queries specific to your wedding. Whether they be about dress code, logistical obstacles or otherwise, feel free to email a list of queries to your chosen agency and they’ll be sure to offer answers and advice. In the meantime, you may find our FAQs page is a great place to start.

Hire a Wedding Band Guide

Should I book through an agency?

Booking via an agency certainly adds a layer of reassurance to the process. By picking from a hand-selected roster of wedding bands, you’ll have absolute confidence that the band will be professional, high quality and reliable. You’ll also find a well established agency such as Bands For Hire to be highly responsive and organised, which always helps to smooth out the planning process.

What happens if I want to cancel the band later down the line?

If you decide to cancel your band, there will unfortunately be cancellation fees involved. Ouch! You’ll find all bands and agencies have their own set of terms, but in short you’ll usually lose your deposit and will then have to pay a percentage of the balance, depending on how far ahead in the future your event is.

To use our contracts as an example, if cancelling within 2 months of the wedding, the band are very unlikely to secure another booking and so the full fee would still be due. That’s why we always recommend taking out wedding insurance to cover yourselves from any unforeseen illness in the family.

Ok, let’s get started...

Now that you know what you’re doing, select your location and category here, add your favourite bands to your enquiry list and drop us an email with your details - we’ll see you on the other side!