FAQ's: Where to Begin Planning Your Wedding Band
— By Luke Ellery
02 March 2017
Booking a live band or DJ for your wedding reception?make sure you read this article first to familiarise yourself with how it all works.
Choosing the right type of band
Most bands fall into one of the following categories, so consider which of these best suits your style and the atmosphere you are seeking for your wedding:
The most popular by far, playing the hits from every decade since the 1960s. Some bands will focus more on modern music while some will be geared more towards 60s/70s/80s.
Perfect for relaxed afternoon canapes or early evening cocktails.
Popular for boho style weddings, an acoustic trio featuring guitar, double bass and drums can create a cool contemporary party atmosphere.
A lovely traditional touch for ceremonies and afternoon music.
Once you know what you’re looking for, generally speaking, you’ll need to decide how large the band should be. Duos can work well, but for dancing, I would recommend at least 3 - 4 band members.
1/ How many hours does a band play? When is best to book? What about a DJ?
Our bands will typically perform three sets of 45 minutes each, with 15-minute breaks between sets. The rest of the night’s music is best to play via iPod or similarly played through the venue’s sound system, or small speakers. The rest of the reception will either be dining (with guests chatting to one another, so minimal atmospheric music is required) or speeches (which means silence apart from the person speaking).
It is unusual to hire both a band and DJ, and I would not recommend it. They are both good options for different reasons. I would recommend going back to iPod after the band/ DJ has finished, and having a good playlist of party music for this part of the day.
Image by Cole Hutson
2/ How much does a band cost? What additional costs are there?
Band prices vary based on how many band members there are, and how much demand there is for the band.
Below is a price indication:
DJ: $1000 - $2000
Solo artist: $750 - $1500
Duo: $2000 - $3000
Trio: $2500 - $3500
Four or more band members: $3000 - $4000+
Travel varies a lot from band to band but you can expect to pay more if the round trip to and from the venue exceeds 90 minutes. Typically we would charge around $200 per hour of travel required for a band, which covers two or more vehicles loaded up with equipment and band members.
Waiheke Island incurs a significant extra cost, with car ferries and overnight accommodation being required. Expect to pay around $600 more for Waiheke travel expenses for a 3 - 4 person band.
Image by Findaband
3/ Do I feed the band on the night?
Feeding the band not compulsory most of the time but is always really appreciated by the band. If you need them to be on site for a long time (say, setting up at 7 pm and then playing 9 pm till midnight) in a relatively isolated location, we will usually ask the client to supply meals as a condition of the booking.
4/ Can I request certain songs for the band to learn, or do they stick to their set list?
This varies from band to band - there is no rule. A band will often be open to learning a song for the first dance or having one of their members perform acoustically for your ceremony. This does take preparation time so some bands will charge extra for this, though some are happy to learn multiple songs as part of their service. It can also depend on how challenging the song will be to perform.
Image by Findaband
5/ How do I organise my MC and band to work together flawlessly on the night?
It’s good to have a run-sheet for everyone to be on the same page, but things often shift around due to some part of the day falling behind schedule. On the night, it’s no big deal for the MC to have a chat with the band about what the couple want and they can change gears accordingly. A good band will have played dozens of weddings and will know the drill. They will go out of their way to accommodate you on your big day, and nothing will be too hard.
6/ Are there any live gigs that I can check out before I book my band?
Clients often request this, but generally, our artists don’t play public gigs in bars and pubs. The reason for this is bar owners are unwilling to pay a fee that is worthwhile for any bands except those who are just starting out. Our roster consists of professional, experienced bands only, none of whom perform live outside of corporate events and weddings. Most of our artists now offer videos on their profiles, which allow you to get a good feel for how the band look and sound.
7/ If my wedding runs late, can I pay extra on the night for you to stay longer?
This is dependant on how busy the band are - if they’ve performed the night before and have another booking the next day, they may not want to stick around for an additional set. If this is their only gig for the week, then they might be happy to do an extra set for you.
Image by Sweet Ice Cream Photography
8/ What happens when the band are on break?
The band will have an iPod loaded with good music, or you can play your music via iPod, iPad, phone, laptop through the band’s system.
9/ How much space does the band need?
Solo: 2m x 2m
2 - 3 piece band: 3m x 3m
4 - 5 piece band: 4m x 3m
Bands will typically work with what is available, but these measurements are good standard spaces for a band to feel comfortable and be able to do their job well.
Image by Findaband
10/ Do they need a stage?
This is not required though the band will love you for providing one if you do like the idea of a stage - it ensures audience members are much less likely to bump into band members and microphones.
11/ Do I need to pay for a PA system or is it included?
All of our artists own their own PA system, so there are no extra costs to worry about regarding that.
12/ Can we use the band’s mics for speeches?
Image by Kane Reinholdsten
Yes, this is always fine so long as the band are set up in time for the speeches.