Your Guide to Booking Bands and Musicians Abroad

Published by Claire Gould on

It’s never been easier to have the wedding YOU want – be that a festival-inspired party, a woodland celebration, an farm or barn wedding – traditional venues are almost a thing of the past! And over the years our appetite for sunny weddings abroad has become more and more apparent. Perhaps our unpredictable English weather plays a large part in that, but for others it could be the sometimes misconceived notion that a wedding abroad is less expensive that a wedding in the UK.

Destination wedding photography Mexico Benjamin Toms (11)

Photo credit: Kent photographer Benjamin Toms – see full feature here

Whilst a wedding abroad can often work out cheaper, many couples do still choose to fly out their favourite wedding suppliers in order to achieve their dream wedding day. As the owner of a live music agency, I’ve had the pleasure of organising a number of live bands and musicians for clients getting married abroad; at first it can seem fairly overwhelming for the couple, but the process needn’t be stressful if you know what to expect in advance.

How does it work?

There are generally two ways that a band will work when performing at events abroad and it really does just depend on the travelling distance.

For weddings in Northern France, Belgium and even Switzerland and Northern Italy, it is sometimes feasible for the band to drive to the venue, the same as they would with a UK wedding – this is the ideal option for you, as it minimises organisation your end and leaves you with just one company to liaise with. The band will send you an all-in quote and this will cover absolutely everything including travel, sound equipment and accommodation – easy-peasy!

If the location of your wedding is a little further away, or even outside of Europe, then it will most likely be a case of flying the musicians and their instruments out and hiring in sound equipment separately.

My advice would be to speak to your venue or a local wedding planner about PA hire as they should have contacts for reputable companies they can call upon in the area. Along with the PA system and lighting, you’ll also be expected to hire in ‘backline’ if it’s a full-on party band that you’re going for – this refers to guitar amps that are too heavy to transport, and also a full drum kit.

You don’t need to get too caught up in the technical side of things, simply ask your band for a full ‘Technical specification’ and forward on to your PA hire company abroad to get a quote. Aside from the Double Bass, most instruments such as guitars can be taken on board as hand luggage although there may be oversized luggage expenses for larger keyboards to bear in mind.

Along with flights, airport transfers and airport parking, there is also the question of accommodation; depending on whether you’re organising daytime or evening music, the musicians will either need to stay over the night before or on the day of the wedding – or both, if performing sets throughout the day. The main thing is to ensure that both you and the band/agency agree on exactly who’s booking what and what the total costs will be.

How much will it cost?

I’ve found that band prices vary drastically for events abroad, and it often seems to come down to the band’s current position. Some younger bands are very keen to travel and so will offer extremely good prices for the opportunity to travel abroad, perhaps even turning it into a short holiday of their own. However, musicians with families and other commitments may take the opposing view and equate for their time when quoting, this will usually be at least two days out of their schedule and that could mean double or even triple their regular fees.

Do the band need Visas and permits to work abroad?

It goes without saying that all musicians will require a valid passport to travel so that’s something to double check in advance. With the UK’s current position as a member of the EU, musicians are allowed to perform throughout Europe without a permit, however, this may well change in the future.

If your wedding is outside Europe then your musicians will need a permit to work, this will be down to the band to organise and they can find out more information on the Musicians Union website at

To sum up

If you’re organising a wedding abroad, then hiring a British band may not be as difficult as you might think, but it will undoubtedly prove to be more expensive than finding a local band.

Always be sure to work with a reputable band or agency, do your research to find out if any bands are willing to offer an all-inclusive price, work out the cost of any equipment hire and expenses before booking, and finally, make sure your musicians have up-to-date passports!

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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