4 Ways to Find an Affordable Live band for Your wedding or Event
by Shelly Wade
Have you been looking all over the internet for a professional live wedding band that actually fits your budget?
Are you ready to give up and hire a DJ, even though it’s your DREAM to dance your first dance with a live band on stage and show your guests the time of their lives?
Professional wedding bands can run from $5,000 up to $25,000 or more for a ceremony and reception.
If that’s not in your budget, here are some ways you may be able to make it affordable.
1. Know How and Where to Look
Wedding band booking websites can be a great help, but they’re not the only resources for finding talented and professional bands.
Be sure to check out local music venues, restaurants, and even bars to see what bands are playing in the area. Look them up on youtube or social media and often times, you will find the most talented musicians around. (We all know musicians aren’t the best at business, so it’s not always wise to assume the most talented and professional ones are on all the popular wedding sites.).
Also, don’t forget word of mouth! Ask around or make some posts on social media to see who others have hired. Make sure you ask to see reviews and even better if you can go see them live in person! This is much easier in a music town, but there is live music everywhere. You can even call music and outreach departments of local universities and ask if they have musicians who would be right for you. Often times, the best professional musicians will be working on a Masters Degree or working as professors.
If you can’t see a band in person, make sure their videos are not pre-recorded. Unfortunately, big name entertainment companies do this often. Their sample videos are basically ‘professional music videos’, with band members lip syncing and miming along to pre-recorded tracks made in professional studios with their best musicians, expensive vocal condensers, and auto-tune.
Often times, these companies can send completely different musicians to play for your event, many of whom, have never played together before. Make sure you get in writing, a list of the singers and band members you’re hiring.
If a band or company’s videos are in fact pre-recorded, which many are, make sure you ask for LIVE clips of full songs in several styles (if they don’t offer a live demo).
2. Know Your Audience
If you have a guest list of mainly older guests, (or younger) you won’t need a band who covers EVERYTHING. You can likely find a band that specializes in one or two genres or decades. For instance, a band that specializes in either jazz, 70s Rock, or Top 40, etc. This will narrow down the set list and require fewer singers and instrumentalists; in turn, significantly reducing the cost.
3. Hire Smaller
If you’re unable to afford a full band, consider a trio with only vocal / guitar, keyboard and drums. Or a duo with two guitarists. Two talented guitarists can make a great party without a drummer…. if you can find them. You can even get by with a solo singer / guitarist if they are talented enough. You have to make sure they know enough repertoire and can carry an audience. Make sure they have enough upbeat songs and a big enough selection to be able to please any and all of your guests with various decades and genres.
If you’re only hiring one or two musicians, they can often play for the ceremony and reception, as well as a cocktail party before dinner. Since most of a musicians expenses lies in getting to the gig and getting set up, they will often be able to include everything as a package for a good price. Professional musicians know how to choose the right, easy-listening repertoire for cocktail parties and then sound like a completely different artist or band for receptions and dancing.
Cutting the band down to a duo or solo act may allow you to cover music during more parts of your event.
If it’s more ideal, you can have more musicians, who play only for the reception and one musician who plays for a cocktail hour or the ceremony.
Please, do make sure that whoever you hire, has video of themselves interacting with an audience.
4. Know your priorities
If this is a once in a lifetime event for you, do you have a list of your ‘top priorities’? The things that matter most? The things that will make the most lasting memories?
Music can make a very big difference in the energy and vibe of your event. It can make or break you if your guests are uninspired to dance and stuck in the corner verses busting at the seams. It can turn your event into an unforgettable lifetime memory. But so can your dress… and the venue… and the dinner.
Where does music fall on this list in comparison to…
Your wedding dress – Could you sacrifice with a more simple dress to have a live band to dance with instead of a DJ?
Catering options – Could you sacrifice with a less fancy menu to have those horn players you really wanted?
Alcohol – Is alcohol really important to your guests or could it be with as fun without a full bar?
Venue – Could you sacrifice with a smaller space or less appealing aesthetics in order to have a more ideal dance floor or stage plus put more towards live entertainment?
If music is at the bottom of your list and you are fine with having a DJ, that is fantastic! But just make sure you think it through and create a priority list you’ll be very happy with in the future.