Photo Source: God Made Me Funky
Written by: CEO of Fusion Events, Arthur Kerekes, WPICC
Face it you’ve probably never hired a band in your life…and chances are you never will again after the wedding. So what makes a good wedding band? It might be very different from what makes your favourite bands like U2 and Arcade Fire good. When hiring a wedding band remember that if you want a truly successful event with a packed dance floor all night you need a band that is versatile! Just because you love the Rolling Stones doesn’t mean that a tribute band is the answer. Of course you will want a band that can play some of your favourite songs and artists but you also want to entertain your guests…..don’t forget about the other 100-150ppl in attendance. They don’t all have the same tastes as you.
The first step to hiring the right band is sourcing out your best options. Wedding planners and your venue can be a good place to start as they have experience working with all kinds of vendors. The next logical choice is to ask around and see who your friends have been using. Keep in mind though that you maybe don’t want the same band as all of your friends. Will there be a lot of the same guests at your wedding? The next place to look is the internet. In 2011 90% of brides will book all of their wedding vendors using the web. If a band does not have audio and video samples on their website, or even worse, don’t have a website that raises serious red flags. Any good professional wedding band should have a website with audio and video. If they don’t even have a myspace page which is free and easy to set up they are not worth wasting your time and money on. I would suggest searching google and youtube and watching videos of bands on their websites and compiling your top 5 choices.
The next step is contacting the bands. First send an email inquiry and see what their initial responses are. Do they respond right away, the next day, 3 days later? This may give you some indication as to their level of professionalism. Do they call you on the phone? If they email you what information did they provide? How the potential bands respond might give you some idea as to who is right for you. But before you make your decision make sure you do 2 things. First speak to the agent, manager, or band leader (depending on who handles their bookings) in person on the phone and make sure the band is available for your date. If they are have them hold the date and give you the right of first refusal. Do they sound like they know what they are talking about? Are they familiar with bands repertoire, band members, set up etc? Second, find out when they are playing and ask to see the band live before you book. If the band has no upcoming gigs for the next 3months are you sure you want to hire them? Most professional bands work 12months a year however keep in mind that January through to March can be slower than the rest of the year.
Here are some helpful questions to ask your potential wedding band whether it be a duo or full orchestra:
1. Is our date and time available?
2. How many events did you do last year?
3. Will you book any other events on the same date as our wedding?
4. Have you worked at our venue before?
5. Can we see a video of you playing at a wedding?
6. Can you provide references?
7. Can we see you perform live at an upcoming wedding?
8. Will you be our musician on the day of?
9. What is the instrumentation of the group?
10. Do you have any additional people with you that are not in the band?
11. What do you normally wear to a wedding?
12. Will you wear attire specified by us?
13. What is your fee structure?
14. Do you have any package options and if so what are they?
15. How many hours does your price include?
16. When does the time start (when you arrive, set up, or start)?
17. Do you charge for Travel.
18. Can we extend the hours on the day of?
19. What are your overtime fees?
20. How many breaks do you require?
21. Do you provide recorded music during breaks?
22. What type of music do you specialize in?
23. Can you provide your complete songlist?
24. Do you take special requests that are not on your songlist?
24. Do you bring everything you need to perform and is it included in the price?
25. Do you provide lighting?
26. Will you act as emcee?
27. How do you motivate the crowd?
28. How many years have you been in business?
29. What insurance and permits do you have?
30. Do you have references we can contact?
31. Do you use a contract?
32.What is your cancellation Policy?
There isn’t one right answer for any particular question but at least now you have some idea as to the kind of questions you should be asking. Ask the right questions. Be informed. Most importantly feel confident in the person you are dealing with (as they may not be in the band themselves) and feel totally confident in the band as a unit. You will have seen them in action and loved them before handing over a deposit. This could be one of the single most important decisions you make about your wedding reception. If everything is perfect from decor to food but the entertainment is bad everything else that was good will be instantly forgotten. So do your homework and good luck!!!