Wedding Band FAQs – the Ultimate List

Published by Claire Gould on

An article by English Wedding member Bands for Hire. Header image Tiree Dawson (wedding coming soon!)

We all want our wedding to be the happiest day of our lives, and most of us know how strenuous they can be to organise. There are bound to be all kinds of things you’ve never had to sort out before, and even more you didn’t realise you’d have to – such as booking yourself a wedding band. Most people don’t have to book bands often, and if you’re one of them, you’re naturally going to have many questions about how to do it right.

This is where we come in – allow us to present to you our ultimate list of wedding band FAQs. And don’t worry – with any luck, you’ll only have to do this once!

How much does hiring a wedding band cost?

A wedding band’s fee is very much on a sliding scale – there are many variable factors that affect it, including the length of time you want them to play for, the type of band it is, and the number of members in the band. You can expect to pay a few hundred for a soloist, approaching £500-£600 for a duo and upwards of that for an evening function band with three or more members. After all, there are more pockets to fill.

What size of wedding band do I book?

This is down to how much you want to spend on a wedding band, how may guests you’re planning on entertaining, and what size venue you’re using. Just as a small band risks being too quiet for a large hall, so too does a large band risk being too loud for a smaller function room. For a large number of guests – many of whom wanting to dance – you’re better off going for a larger than life band and a wide open dance floor; for a more intimate celebration with chatting and cocktails, a soloist or duo will provide ample background entertainment.

What time will the wedding band arrive?

Daytime wedding musicians will generally arrive at least one hour before they’re due to begin. This allows plenty of set up time, gives the band a bit of breathing room if they have any issues getting to your venue, and also enables them to strike up as soon you need them. The time they arrive is therefore dependent on how you want to schedule your wedding day.

Evening wedding bands generally quote to arrive at around 5:30pm/6pm. If the band are setting up in a different room to the wedding breakfast and speeches, they’ll be all set for when your evening guests arrive at around 7pm. If the band are performing in the same room, you’ll need to allow sufficient time for set up whilst the room is being turned around for the evening.

How long does it take for the wedding band to set up?

Most wedding bands set an hour aside to prepare their equipment. This does of course depend on numerous factors, including the size of the band, the type of band you’ve hired (any band featuring drums will need the maximum amount of set up time) and the accessibility of your venue, whether that’s defined by its location or its design. If your venue has a lift or stairs for example, then it’ll take longer to unload the equipment. If you really want to speed things along, you could always ask your ushers to lend a hand!

What time will the wedding band start?

This is again for you to decide – it depends when you’ve scheduled everything else to happen. For a typical evening reception, we’d recommend kicking off at around 8:30pm/9pm – that allows for a couple of hour-long sets followed by an hour DJ set to finish off the evening. The main thing to bear in mind is not to start too early – a band should be the highlight of the evening so you won’t want them playing before guests are ready to dance.

How long does a wedding band play for?

Typically, a wedding band will play two sets, roughly an hour each in length. This works well in many different situations, and strikes a healthy balance between giving your guests some consistency and not being too physically demanding for your musicians. Of course, if you want to distribute the band’s sets a little differently – say, three 40 minute sets with other events taking place between them – then make this known to your band well before the big day.

How long are the intervals?

It’s tiring work putting your heart and soul into every song, so your band members are going to need about 20 minutes to recuperate after doing this for an hour – just enough time to have a sit down and a cool off. This is negotiable – if you want to serve your evening food during the break, then just let your band know that they’ll be back on a bit later.

Will the band learn a song for the first dance?

It’s common practice for a wedding band to learn at least one special song for the happy couple, whether it’s for your first dance or something to finish the night on. Remember that it could take a good few attempts for your wedding band to get the song down, so let them or the agency you’ve booked them with know a couple of months in advance.

Can we choose the set list?

While most wedding bands will have displayed an example set list on their web page, they will still appreciate your desire to make your dream wedding a reality, and will do their best to honour these desires by taking song requests. If you send a list of your favourite songs to your chosen wedding band far enough in advance, they will do their best to include as many of them as possible for you. Wedding bands who don’t do this will have valid reasons, and will make this known to you from the get-go. Remember as well that you’re dealing with experience professional entertainers, so a lot of careful consideration will have gone into every song choice.

What will the wedding band wear?

The norm is suits or shirts and trousers – smart formalwear to reflect the gravity of the occasion. Ties are often foregone, as it gets mighty hot up there on the stage. However, some more specialist bands will wear outfits in keeping with their musical style, such as traditional mariachi bands sporting sombreros, and of course tribute bands (it’s hard to imagine Freddie Mercury in something as plain as a suit). Rest assured that your wedding band will do whatever they can to look the part.

Will the wedding band require refreshments?

Most musicians do politely request soft drinks and a meal prior to performing, usually after they’ve set up. Spare them a thought, as they will have loaded up all their equipment and set off for your venue mid-afternoon, then unloaded and set up the gear, then played and played with as much energy as they can muster, then will have to pack down and load up again at the end. If that doesn’t work up an appetite we don’t know what does!

Can I view the wedding band before booking?

As wedding bands often only play at private functions, the only way you’ll usually get to see your band perform live is if you attend such a function and they’re the hired entertainment – you probably won’t catch them playing down the local pub. That being said, wedding bands tend to have tons of promotional material. You’ll find plenty of live videos, promo videos, recordings and photos online.

What if a band member can’t make it on the day?

There’s always a small chance that a band member could become injured or fall ill prior to your big day and so all musicians have a number of replacements on call should they be required. In the world of wedding bands, a replacement is referred to as a ‘Dep’ – short for ‘Deputy’.

Do we need to provide any equipment?

Generally, wedding bands come as a self-contained unit. They’ll at the very least have their own backline (which includes the amps etc), and will have their own full PA system and lighting rig. In some rare cases, your wedding band may be required to use the built-in sound system at the venue – this is often due to sound restrictions and will usually limit the volume of the band – much to the disappointment of your guests!

Do we need a copy of the wedding band’s Insurance and PAT certificates?

Your band should have evidence of both of these – just ask, and they’ll send it over to you. PLI, which stands for Public Liability Insurance, is something that every wedding band will have. This protects them from possible injury claims made against them when they perform to people. PAT, which stands for Portable Appliance Testing, is not required by law, but many venues will request a copy. This proves that an appliance, such as a PA system or amplifier, has been proven to be safe for use, so the set they play will be electrifying, but the equipment won’t be.

Discover more & get in touch!

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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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