Band Rates - How Much Should I Pay?
As with most things, you really do get what you pay for when choosing a wedding band. There are many factors that will affect how much a band has to charge:-
Many musicians will be highly sought after and often working on a number of different projects and studio recordings. The difference between a professional musician and an amateur will have a huge impact on the quality of sound they will be able to produce at your wedding.
To play at your wedding the musicians will have to load up their equipment early in the day, travel several miles to get to your wedding venue, unload heavy equipment, set it all up at the venue, test the sound levels, wait around during the wedding breakfast and speeches, perform, break down all of the equipment, load it in the van, drive several miles back to their base, unload all of the equipment and finally arrive home in the early hours of the morning. A professional musician will understandably need to be paid for all of the time that this entails. As you can see, the actual performance is just a very small part of all the work that needs to go into to making your wedding an enjoyable and hassle-free event.
Seeing the Band in Action
It is not always possible to see a band playing live before you book them. Most professional band will have their diary full of private functions and most of their clients are not happy to have strangers at their wedding. Some bands do occasionally perform public events or showcases but unless the date of their public performance is imminent there is a strong possibility that the band you want will be booked up by someone else before you have had the chance to see them perform
.Many professional function bands will have a video of their performance either on DVD or on their website. A video will give you a good idea of how the band will look and sound at your wedding. Audio recordings can be helpful but do be aware that these may have been “tweaked” in a studio and may not even have the same musicians and singers on the recording that will be performing at your wedding.
Size of band
Obviously, the larger the band the more they will charge. While booking a smaller band may seem like a good way to economise, do also consider whether a smaller band will be able to produce the same quality of sound without using pre-recorded backing tracks .
The distance from the band’s base and your wedding venue will have a big impact on the price the band will charge. In particular, if the band need to travel 3 hours or more to reach your venue they will probably include the cost of fuel, overnight accommodation and the travelling time required for the journey. If you are working on a limited budget try to look for bands that are based close to your venue.
The more time a band has to spend waiting around at your venue the more they will have to charge you. It may therefore save you a considerable sum if the band is able to setup and perform in a different room from where your guests will be eating. If that’s not practical then consider whether your guests can leave the room for a short while the band sets sup.
If at all possible try to book directly with a band rather than through an agency. Not only will this make communication more efficient but it will also save you 15%-20% commission that an agency normally charges to the client.
A professional function band should have at least £5m of Public Liability insurance. This is necessary in the event of any unfortunate accidents or damage that may be caused by the band or their equipment. If your band does not have adequate insurance your wedding venue may refuse to let them play. Check this before booking!
By law, every professional function band must have their electrical equipment PAT tested to ensure that it is safe and in good order (much like an MOT test for a car). If your band does not have a valid PAT certificate your wedding venue or the local authorities may refuse to let them play. Check this before booking!
A professional band will usually hire an experienced sound engineer to control the mixing desk and ensure that the sound of all instruments is clear and well-balanced without any nasty feedback. Experienced sound engineers don’t come cheap and this cost will normally be included in the total fee that the band has quoted.
If your reception is due to finish later than Midnight or is located more than a 3 hour drive from their home base, many bands will include the cost of overnight accommodation in a local hotel. The cost of any overnight accommodation (if required) will usually be included in the rate quoted by the band.
Factors such as your budget and the amount of space at the venue will often determine the size of band you are able to have.
As a general rule, the larger the band the richer and more dynamic the sound they will produce. A band with just one lead singer may be a little monotonous to watch and listen to. Bands with a number of vocalists who all share the lead will offer a lot more variety and put on more of a show.
There are few more effective ways to ruin the atmosphere of any wedding reception than by hiring a band who are inexperienced and do not have a proven track record of performing at weddings and private parties. There are countless disaster stories of people who booked an inexperienced band because a friend or relative agreed to perform at a preferential rate.
If your budget is so tight that you cannot afford to pay for an experienced function band, I recommend that you to hire a professional DJ instead. They are likely to be much less expensive and much less likely to turn your wedding reception into an occasion where all of the guests leave early to avoid the noise.
Testimonials & References
Any experienced function band should be able to supply you with a selection of testimonials and positive references from past clients. In particular, try to look for testimonials where the client’s name is shown. Also look out for positive comments from known and independent sources such as press reviews or well-known companies.
Most bands should be happy to supply you with a list of names and contact details so that you can speak to their past clients and hear how they felt about the band’s performance at their wedding.
Admin and Communication
A professional function band should have at least one person responsible for handling all of the administration and planning of your wedding. There are many bands with excellent musicians and singers but disorganised and slapdash when it comes to making the arrangements necessary to make your big day run without a hitch. Speak to the band manager and try to get a sense of whether they act in a professional and organised manner.
Set Duration and Timings
Most bands will perform for either 2 sets of 60-70 minutes or 3 shorter sets of 40-45 minutes for a typical wedding. Although many clients think that it would be better to have the band performing continuously for the entire duration of the evening this is not recommended or practical. Performing live music requires a huge amount of physical and mental energy from the musicians and singers. Hours of energetic live music can be too much for people to listen to without a break. A band that performs in shorter sessions will not only give a better performance but will also have more impact on your guests.