Have you always envisioned a live band playing at your wedding reception? Do you have a specific kind of music in mind? Do you want a cover band, or traditional wedding band that plays a wide variety? Maybe you're looking for a Big Band sound, or music reflective of the culture of the place that you're getting married.
Live music can add an extra special boost to a wedding reception if you choose a good group. The rub is that bands (all kinds of bands) are expensive. How expensive depends on their popularity, their size, and whether they're locally based for your wedding reception.
What you have to keep in mind when you're pricing your live music options for your wedding reception is that there are frequently additional charges that you'll also have to accommodate, and they probably won't be mentioned when you ask how much the five or six hour performance will cost at your wedding reception.
Travel, Accommodations, and Meals
If the band isn't local, you'll be paying their travel, accommodations, and a per diem rate for meals. If they're coming from someplace far away, plan on paying for at least two nights and three days. In addition to what you're providing them for their meals, most contracts will also require you to arrange for staff meals at the wedding reception so that the entire band gets fed. Depending on the size of the band, and how many hotel rooms they require, and how they have to travel to get to your wedding, you could end up spending almost as much on this part of the deal as you are for their actual performance.
If your wedding is someplace too far for the band to drive, you can expect to pay for an equipment rental of things they're not able to bring along on the trip. This can add up quickly, especially if you're getting married in a remote location. Drum sets don't fly well for weekend excursions.
The band will need, and you'll be responsible for picking up the tab to have everything on their list provided at the wedding venue. This can cost a bundle. We recently brought in a major duo for a wedding ceremony, and we spent more than $1,000 on extra mixers and special things the artists requested in their contract, plus a sound guy to run it all. You can't negotiate those items because musicians are used to working with certain kinds of equipment and sound. The contract will be voided if they arrive and you don't have the number of speakers they requested, for example. That doesn't mean they'll walk out on you, but they could. And that's not a chance you should take at your wedding.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.