Weddings and music go so well together. Whether it is a string band playing during your vows, or a rock band whiling the night away, music is great for matrimonial occasions. But, when you plan to book a band, you need to work out how long you need them for.
Do you want the band to be the main entertainment? How long will they take to set up? Can the same band play at both your ceremony and your reception?
What time will they start?
This depends on what you want them for! Of course, a band playing for your wedding ceremony will have to turn up much earlier than one just playing for your evening reception. Decide whether you want live music for both, if you want different acts, or if some speakers will suffice.
A band will typically take about an hour to set up. Therefore, make sure you have the venue for enough time. Also, they can try to set up quietly but sound checks are bound to make some noise. If you can, have your guests in another room while the band performs their sound check.
For your ceremony, the start time entirely depends on when it takes place. There are typical points during the ceremony when the band often plays, for example on arrival, when the bride enters, and when the couple sign the register. If a band is experienced, they will know best when they need to arrive and start playing.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a band to play at your reception, they may turn up between 5:30pm and 6pm. They will quietly set up and have time to sit down before they perform.
Don’t let them start too early. You may be wasting your money if you go straight from speeches into dancing as many of your guests may still be full of food! Arrange for the band to start at about 9pm to get the most out of your money.
How long will they play for?
The typical performance time for a wedding band is a total of two hours of live music within a three or four hour period. The musicians will split this two hour playing time into sets with breaks in between. Work with them to arrange these however you wish depending on your requirements. Most bands will offer three 40-minute sets of live music, but two 1-hour sets or four sets of 30-minutes are also fairly common. Two hours of live music is usually more than enough to provide a fantastic main event for the evening reception.
In between the live sets, most musicians will have pre-made playlists in keeping with the musical theme of the reception. These will be played through the band’s PA system in order to ensure the atmosphere is maintained throughout the evening. Or, it is perfectly acceptable to create your own playlist, or hire a DJ to play during the breaks. Some party bands even offer a DJ as an additional option.
If you are looking for a band that can play your whole wedding day, you may find that a different setup is more appropriate. Talk with them to find out what works best. If you are having a band to play at your wedding ceremony, they will probably still offer to provide two hours of live performance. This might include a set while your guests gather, specially chosen songs during the ceremony and then a further set directly afterwards to entertain at the drinks reception. Your wedding breakfast is the perfect time for them to get some downtime. Remember, they will arrive earlier than you and leave later, so they will need to take plenty of breaks.
What time should they finish?
Work out if your chosen venue has any noise restrictions. These could be all-day, or only start at a certain time. Some places even have a sound limiter, which means power is cut if the noise goes over a certain volume. It would be awful to book a big rock band, only to discover that you can’t play loud music.
Work out what time you have your venue until and work backwards. You can’t arrange for the band to play their last song at five minutes to midnight if you are expected to all be gone by the hour; the band will need time to pack up and leave. However, the band announcing the last dance is a great way to subtly tell your guests it’s time to go.
If you have a strict finishing time by your venue, pass this information on to the band. They will be able to tell you how long they will need to pack up so that you can be safely out in time.
How much will it cost?
Because most bands are used to playing for two hours over three or four hours, you are unlikely to get a discount if you want them for less time. Factor in their setting up and travel times and you can see why they may refuse to play for less. Most bands and musicians will book an entire day for one wedding.
However, certain bands playing specific musical styles might offer a shorter performance for a reduced price. For example, steel bands will commonly offer two 40-minute sets of live music within a two-hour period; it is possible that some other musicians may be willing to do something similar.
Remember to factor in food for the band. While they don’t have to join you for your three-course banquet, they will need sustenance if they’re going to be rocking the night away. If you hire them for longer, they’ll need more food. This is important to factor in when you are looking at how much a wedding band will cost.
The exact duration of time that musicians will perform at your wedding tends to vary slightly from band to band. Some bands will offer different options for performances at specific times of day, but if you have any unusual requirements you should communicate with the musicians. They will often be fairly flexible and do all they can to make your wedding day as special as possible…