Booking a wedding band or entertainer can be a daunting task, but don't always believe what you read until you know the facts. Some non-musician websites (with all best intentions I'm sure) will unfortunately provide you with 'information' that just isn't true.
Don't let The Facts Get In The Way Of A 'Story'
The internet is FULL to the brim of companies, bands and websites doing their best to write 'articles' on how to book a wedding band. Sure, they're full of good intentions, but some are just plain and simple fluff pieces, used to get Google ranking on search phrases, and unfortunately are factually incorrect and not at all helpful.
I unfortunately read an article recently, written by someone with NO music industry background, and who happened to be from a rather large non-musician specific wedding website.
The article not only insulted wedding bands and Artist Representatives (Agents), but it also insulted the intelligence of the very couples who need that help.
This fiction based 'article' claimed that:
Fiction: Hiring a wedding band is more complicated than it sounds, especially when you are dealing with an agency rather than the band direct.
Fact: Using an agency is one of the most fuss free, easiest and painless way to book / hire a wedding band (besides us of course ;)).
Fact: Using an agency to source wedding band quotes is fast, and a very reliable method of finding and securing a band, DJ or performer for your wedding. They have a very large pool of various talent at their fingertips (just like us) and can make a call out to all of them on your behalf, a lot quicker than you could contact them individually.
Fact: An Agency knows how to get you the best value for your budget. They know the questions to ask and what the factors are that will influence the costs.
Fact: They can provide you with a tailored solution so you can concentrate on organising other aspects of your day.
Fiction: If you are booking through an agency they might not have fixed groups, but individual musicians that they mix into bands. If you are determined to have the musicians you saw performing, get their names written into your contract.
Fact: Bands offer their services to Agencies as a 'complete package', they've rehearsed and played together for some time, and have a synergy that works to make your event a success. They have set players for each role, but also have musicians they can use as a backup if a member is unavailable for your day. Rarely do Agencies put wedding bands together themselves as the players just won't gel and be able to create the magic in their music that you're looking for.
Fact: Unless you're an aficionado of a particular instrument, it's usually the vocalist that you're most interested in having perform at your wedding - what wedding band is the same if the vocalist is different?! Never have I heard a couple request a specific musician based on their instrument.
Fiction: Imagine your disappointment if the demo you heard or the performance you saw featured six musicians, but on the day you only have three. Alternatively, if you are only expecting a band of four, eight musicians will come as a shock both financially and spatially.
Fact: No band will take along less than or extra players for your wedding - ever! And if you honestly think they will, then sorry, you're looking at some pretty unprofessional bands!
Fact: Musicians have a 'per person' fee. If the fee they've agreed to is for four band members, there's absolutely no way they'd take along another four, just so they can end up with half the money per person than they originally accepted. Pfft!
Fact: If you have your heart set on working with a band that is less than professional, the simple inclusion of the number of band members in your contract will suffice e.g. XYZ Band (4 piece).
Fiction: While most are quite happy to learn new material as long as they have sufficient notice and it’s just one song, others will ask you to choose a song from their repertoire instead.
Fact: Yes, a band needs enough time to rehearse and learn your song, BUT, they're not ogres and are quite often more than willing to learn a few songs given enough time. Some may ask for a small additional fee (to cover rehearsal costs), but more often than not they are very willing to help you create the perfect soundtrack for your day with an extra song or two.
Fact: If you're asking a band to learn 5 songs or more, then consider what it is specifically that you like about the band. It's better to choose a band because you like their repertoire rather than liking the band and asking them to do something different than what they're already brilliant at.
Fact: Specific songs for special moments are easily taken care of by communicating.
Fiction: The average length of time a band is hired for is four hours, and in that time they should take a maximum of three 15 minute breaks.
Fact: 3 x 45 minute sets are common for a public performance. Weddings are completely different!
You have speeches, dances and other formalities that the bands will work around with you. It's not uncommon for wedding bands to do 1 hour sets without a break and I've even known some to play for longer as they don't want to break the party atmosphere they created for you.
Fact: Talking with the band about your needs and what they're able to do is the best option.
Fiction: Remember to check that they will provide music to cover these breaks, and see if you like their choice. Also remember to arrange additional music for later in the evening or the cocktail hour if your reception will last longer than four hours.
Fact: Yes, a band can and will provide break music if you need them to, or you can usually provide your own if you prefer.
Fact: Your reception is usually what finishes off your celebration, not a cocktail hour.... (enough said)
Fiction: Few bands actually require dinner in their contract, but most do appreciate it if you can cater for them.
Fact: Expecting your wedding band to leave your celebration to find a meal is a risk you just don't need, especially if your wedding is in a remote area or not located close to an eatery of some description.
Fact: Bands need to eat and keep hydrated so they can perform at their peak - for you!
The professionals who work within the wedding music industry have honed their skills and networks, and are very good at what they do. Don't always believe a 'fluff' piece on a non-wedding music website, and if you do - ask yourself who wrote it and what their intention might be.
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