Confused by all the different wedding musician costs? This guide will help you understand how musicians work out their fees and help you to budget more effectively.
No matter your style of wedding, there's a pretty good chance it'll be enhanced with the sound of music. Whether it's played by a musician, live wedding band, a (dreaded) iPod or a wedding DJ. Each song will help create your chosen mood.
Many couples start out planning their wedding music with a list of songs they'd like their band to perform, but often aren't armed with all the 'must-consider' information to make that a reality.
If you've never booked a band before, you couldn't be expected to know how much you should pay them or what influences their costs. But not knowing any of them can be even more costly.
All musicians and bands charge different amounts for performing at weddings, so it’s almost impossible to narrow down an average cost, especially given each band's variables.
Here’s a little background infor on the world of wedding musicians and entertainers
A good rule of the thumb is this:
- Playing during the ceremony is the cheapest
- Cocktail time is a little pricier and
- A full reception set is the most expensive
If you’d like the musicians to perform at your ceremony and reception, it’s going to be a very long day and the price is likely to reflect it. It’s also pretty obvious that a solo act will always be cheaper than a full band.
Factors that influence the cost of wedding bands and entertainment
• Location: Unless you absolutely have your heart set on an entertainer from another State or Territory, it makes sense to hire a musician or wedding band close to your wedding venue. Entertainers will often ask for their travel time, petrol and accommodation expenses to be covered if they need to travel (usually) more than 2 hours from home.
*Please note: Entertainer travel expenses are very reasonable so don’t let this deter you from hiring a band that might be further afield if you absolutely love their sound!
• Size: It’s obvious, but the more musicians you have performing, the greater the cost. That’s not to say you should only consider a solo or duo for your wedding, because the atmosphere a 4 or 5 piece band can create is truly amazing and worth every cent! Some instruments can however, sound very ‘sad’ in solo mode such as a cello for a ceremony – it can just be too somber for such a joyous occasion.
• Performance duration: The longer the musicians play the more you pay. A self-explanatory point but it’s good to know that even though your entertainer won’t be playing during your speeches, this time is still included in their performance duration. Some couples unfortunately believe that entertainers will reduce their fee “because we’re having 30 minutes of speeches” which simply just isn’t the case.
• On-site duration: Entertainers need to set up their PA and equipment before your guests arrive as you don't want your musicians or band carrying their gear through your canapé service or hearing them sound checking during the middle of your ceremony. For couples who have their ceremony and reception in the same venue, let your your entertainer know your run schedule so they can set up prior to your guests arriving, ensuring you aren’t disturbed. There may be an additional cost for an earlier set-up time and this is something you should definitely discuss with the entertainer.
• Agent fees: A great Agent can be invaluable when organising your wedding band and they'll charge a percentage or fee for their services. Most entertainers use an agent at some point and if the act is exclusive to that agent, they'll include the agents fee into the price they quote you.
• Song requests: If the act you love doesn't have your favourite song in the repertoire, ask them if they'll learn it for you. Most are very willing to learn a new song as long as they have enough time. Some musicians will charge an additional fee, but most won't, so it’s best to ask during your initial contact with the band or specify it in your quote request form. Professional wedding bands and entertainers will usually have a vast repertoire so no additional fees may be necessary. Others may also be able to write you an original song for a fee.
For the most part, artists provide their own equipment but if your wedding is in a very large venue, the band may need to hire additional equipment to make sure they can provide you with the sound you fell in love with. This might include amplifiers, speakers, a mixing desk (that funny looking thing with all the knobs and slides on it), instruments, lights, microphones, etc. How much equipment they need will depend on how many musicians are in the band as well as the size of your venue and the number of your guests.
Some venues insist that entertainers only use their in-house equipment. To save any complications, it's helpful if you can find out this information when considering a venue to book.
Quality vs. Quantity
Quality – it’s subjective and greatly influenced by your own values and what you consider important for your day. The general belief is that the more expensive the entertainer, the better they’ll sound. And whilst this is certainly true in some instances – the opposite is also the case.
Consider this example: One of the most versatile solo wedding singers / guitarists I know also happens to have one of the most reasonable wedding prices around! This isn’t to say he doesn’t have years of experience – far from it. This guitarist has 20+ years of live performance experience and some 4,500 songs in his repertoire and has a brilliant vocal range. Now that’s pretty impressive!
(If you'd like to find out who it is, just drop us a message and we'll organise a quote for you)
So how does the ‘pay peanuts get monkeys’ adage ring true? It all comes down to what you value. E.g. if you value live entertainment and can appreciate the positive influence it will have on your wedding day and your future memories, you’ll pay a reasonable fee for the best musician’s you can afford.
If live entertainment isn’t your thing or high on your list of important wedding aspects (and it’s ok if it’s not), then you’ll consider paying less; and this is where ‘pay peanuts’ comes in.
As an example, if you’re being offered a large band for a ridiculously small fee, your alarm bells should be ringing. Sometimes those “it’s too good to be true” instances are exactly that.
There’s never a shortage of amazingly talented wedding musicians, bands and singers of all budgets and styles. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to find the best one to suit your plans and budget, and being armed with the right information and questions to ask to ensure you receive the best price. Being flexible in your entertainment budget and willing to compromise a little will also ensure you find the perfect wedding entertainer for your big day.
Are you ready to cross "book a wedding entertainer" off your to-do list?
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