While many couples would like to have a music band at their wedding, finding and booking live music is completely new territory for many people. Not surprisingly, one of the first questions they ask is “How much does a wedding band cost?”
We have invited Gemma Jane from Alive Network to answer this question for our readers. Alive Network is an entertainment booking agency operating since 1999. They have a thorough knowledge of music bands available in the UK. So we have asked them to give us an idea of prices, and offer our readers some tips for finding and choosing a live music band for a wedding.
Q. What is the average cost of a live music band? And what influences the price?
A. There are three major factors that influence the price: (1) the size of the band you are hiring, (2) whether they are performing during the day or in the evening and (3) for how long you would like them to perform.
Solo musicians can start from as little as £180, while a large function band can cost as much as £30,000 per assignment.
Daytime musicians tend to be lower in price, as they don’t have as much equipment (large PA systems, lighting etc.) and the hours are more sociable. Also, in daytime, the musical performance is more of a background entertainment than the main focus. For all these reasons, daytime groups (e.g. jazz bands or string quartets) tend to average at around £500-£800.
Evening party bands, on the other hand, bring more equipment and are often required to finish at midnight or even later. Their performance requires more effort, as they are expected to get the party going and provide a real burst of energy. Party bands typically start from £800, with the average cost between £1200-£1400 for a 4 piece band. Larger bands (including multiple vocalists and brass) tend to start at £1200 and go up to £3000 and over.
If the budget is tight, you can opt for a solo or duo who work with backing tracks. This will give you the full band sound, but at a lower cost. These tend to average at £400-£600.
There are other factors that influence the price, including: the location of the band, how much money they have invested in their equipment, how much experience they have and how high their demand is.
This combination of many factors can make the task of selecting a band a little daunting, but there is help at hand. The Wedding Bands page on the Alive Network's website has a handy tool for exploring music bands based on multiple criteria including price, band size, vocal type and repertoire. So if you’re wondering what’s available for your budget, go to this page, select your preferences and see what comes up.
Q . How much of your wedding music will a band cover?
A. Typically, a music band will take care of the evening entertainment, from about 7 or 8 pm till midnight. Most bands will give 2 live performances (sets) of 60 minutes each. Additionally, there will be either mixed iPod music around the 2 sets, or the option of a DJ service. Most bands will start with iPod or DJ music to build the atmosphere and get the guests warmed up for their first set, then come on and perform at around 8 or 8:30pm. Then they will have a break, during which they will run iPod or DJ music again (this is a good time for any evening food to be served), perform their second set and then run iPod or DJ music until midnight.
For an additional fee, some bands can offer longer performance options such as 3 sets of 45 minutes each, or 3 sets of 60 minutes each, or stay on later into the night.
The band can cover the whole night of music if required, but they are also happy to work alongside an independent DJ. This can work well if you are looking for the DJ music to be mixed live, if you want to allow guests to make requests and if you would like the music to span a longer period of time.
Many bands also offer extra performances for the daytime, such as acoustic or jazz style sets. This can work well during the drinks reception or the meal.
Some bands can offer full day packages specifically for weddings - from the ceremony right through to the end of the night. Often, having one band cover everything can work out financially better than hiring multiple acts. So, it’s definitely worth seeing what different bands can offer, if you are looking for music all day.
Q. Is there anything else included in the price?
A. The band you hire will bring all their own equipment (instruments, PA/speaker system and lighting) so you will just need to ensure adequate space for them to set up, and access to enough plug sockets.
They will also be happy to spend some time discussing with you their repertoire of music before your wedding day, to get a good idea of what you like and don’t like. They will then use their experience and flair to react to the dance floor on the night and play songs that keep a good energy and flow while tailoring them to your taste as much as possible.
Q. As with any purchase, looking at a good range of options increases your chances of finding a good deal. Could you please tell our readers how to find wedding bands?
A. Most performing musicians and bands will market themselves through an agent. So the place to find them is the website of a booking agency. An agency will have tens or even hundreds of bands on their books, so you will be able to see lots of options on one website, with videos showcasing each band’s performance.
Alive Network for example, represents over 600 music bands. Their team of specialists recruit the best acts available in the UK today. This means that the hard work is already done for you, so you won’t have to spend hours or days trawling the internet, looking for musicians. You can find them all in one place, together with guide prices for various locations and the package options they offer. There is a range of additional services to help you screen and select your musicians. Besides the filtering options we have already mentioned, you will be able to read customer reviews and instantly check a band’s availability on the date of your wedding (their calendar is kept up to date by the agency). And if you need to talk to a specialist, Alive Network has a team of event coordinators who are on hand to help with suggestions, chat through questions and generally be here to support clients with anything they need. They will also be there to deal with unforeseen events. What if your musicians can’t make it on the very day of your wedding? The agency has an emergency telephone number on their website and will find alternatives and solutions to any issues that crop up.
Q. How much can you save by hiring a local band as opposed to looking further afield?
A. A local band will, more often than not, work out lower in price than a band further afield. When a band travels a great distance, they not only have to factor in the fuel costs but also wear and tear on the vehicles, the extra time involved and, depending on the finish time, sometimes accommodation expenses as well.
A local band will rarely incur more than the basic fuel costs, so it will be more cost effective. But there are exceptions. Some bands keep their overall costs lower in order to generate more work, build their reputation and their demand. So it is possible to get a great deal by looking further afield.
If you have specific requirements in terms of the music or band you want, then you might find that a band further afield is a better fit. Price is important, but it’s never the only consideration. Music is such an important part of a special occasion that we would always recommend looking at as many options as you can within your budget, rather than focussing on where the band is based. When you have found several options that appeal to you, then booking the most local of those bands will probably give you the best value for money.
Q. Can you offer any other tips and advice to couples looking to hire a wedding band?
A. Looking for a band for your wedding is exciting, but it can also be a daunting task, with so many options to choose from.
Start by listening to a handful of different bands to get an idea of what you do and don’t like. You might find that you are drawn towards male lead, guitar based, Indie/Rock/Pop bands or you are swaying more towards female lead, or Pop/Soul/Funk bands for example.
Also, look around at different price ranges. Seeing and hearing the difference between a £1000 band and £2000 band might help you determine how much you are willing to spend and help you set a budget that you are comfortable with.
Check with your venue if there are any space or volume limitations, as this might also determine the size or line up of the band you can have.
Once you have a few key factors in mind, you can use the Alive Network's website to filter by these details and hopefully find some bands you like.
If you become torn between a few bands, try getting some friends or family involved. Blindly play them songs by each band and see who they like the sound of, or who makes them want to get up and dance the most. You could also send them the band’s repertoire lists and see who, overall, appeals the most. You want your guests to enjoy the night as much as you, so getting their input can be invaluable.
If you are looking for the best deal, here are a few things you can do:
Avoid waiting times where possible (i.e. setting up in the morning if they are not needed until the evening)
Look at bands who are based closer to your venue location
Use the band’s own iPod music or DJ service around their sets
If you want music throughout the day, then look for bands who offer daytime sets.
If you’d like some expert advice early or at any point during your search, you can always get in touch with Alive Network.