If you've seen The Wedding Singer, then you know how important it is to make the correct choice when deciding on a band for your wedding reception. To cut down on some of your leg work, we've put together 10 tips for hiring a great wedding reception band:
Decide what type of music you'd like. You could go with a cover band if you're feeling a bit adventurous. You can pick a certain genre: jazz, country, blues, etc. Or you could go more traditional and use a combination of music starting from the 1930's to present day. You not only want to pick music you will enjoy, but consider the tastes of your guests as well.
Ask any friends and family members who have recently planned a wedding for suggestions. Keep in mind that you may not want to use the same band if many of the same guests will be attending. Then again, it may not matter if you'll be choosing different music.
Ask your wedding planner (if you have one) and the person in charge of the venue you have chosen if they have any suggestions. Both parties have dealt with many wedding vendors, including bands. They could at least put you in touch with an entertainment agency who could recommend bands within your price range and desired style of music.
It's time to hit the internet. Take your list of recommendations and do your own research. Google 'wedding bands' and see where it leads you. A reputable band will have a website with at least audio if not also video examples of their performances. Search for those on your suggested list and find a few of your own to check out.
Create a top 5 list and make contact with the bands. Set up meetings with the person responsible for bookings. Take note of their professionalism, or lack thereof. Make sure they have your time and date available. Ask to see their song list. If you have special songs in mind that are not on their list, ask if they would be willing to learn them. If you're having a theme wedding, inquire if they would be willing to dress for the occasion.
Other questions you should ask:
- How long has the band been together?
- How long have you been performing at weddings? How many weddings did you do last year?
- Have you worked at our chosen venue before?
- Do you have any package options? Do you have an hourly fee? When does the meter start?
- Can we request more time? Is there an overtime charge?
- Do you take special requests, and if so is there a charge?
- Do you have liability insurance?
Even though you've seen and heard them online, it's a good idea to ask for a second sampling. Ask if you may attend the next venue they're playing. If there isn't one soon enough (should you be worried?), ask if they have a video of their most recent wedding performance. If not, as a last resort ask if they have a CD you can listen to.
Always get a list of references, and be sure to check them. Ask specific and direct questions so you're properly informed about their experience and overall assessment of the band. Would they hire this band again?
Once you've made your choice, it's time to nail down the details specific to your wedding. You'll need to decide if the band will emcee: introduce the wedding party, make announcements for speeches, cake cutting, etc. If so, they'll need a written timeline and the correct pronunciation of each person's name. Would you like them to play music for the guests prior to the ceremony as they are arriving? If they are going to dress for your theme, you need to either show them exactly what you would like them to wear or give them guidelines. Renting formal wear for the band is one quick and simple solution.
8. The Music
You'll need to put together the song list. Decide what you would like for the two big ones: your first dance as a married couple and the father/daughter dance. When the list is made, decide if you want to create a playlist or let the band set the pace.
9. Breaks & Pacing
The band helps set the pace of the celebration. They can motivate the crowd to get busy dancing or slow it down for a more romantic tone. To keep them fresh you'll need to specify a certain number of breaks for them to take. If you want continuous music, you should discuss if there will be extra band members so they can rotate for breaks or if they'll play recorded music through the scheduled time off the stage.
10. The Contract
Now it's tie to put everything in writing. The price, length of play, music selections, special music requests, breaks, wardrobe, and any little detail you can think of, including a cancellation clause and a back-up plan. What happens if one of the band members gets sick and can't perform? You need to be ready for anything.
Ideally, you should begin your search at least eight months before your big day. The best bands get booked far in advance, so the sooner the better. Not only will you have a band secured for your wedding, but you'll have one more item checked off your to-do list.