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Booking a wedding band

ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
So my fiancée and I are in the process of booking a wedding venue in Portland, ME. Paperwork still needs to be signed but it looks like we have our venue for the last weekend of August 2014, with some flexibility to move it to weekends earlier in the month if need be because the venue only does one buy-out a month. Very exciting!

Our venue has amazing acoustics for live performers and we've decided that it would be criminal for us to not do a wedding band. A band & DJ combo would be OK, but we really want a band at this point. And because good music is important to me, I've volunteered to take the lead on this one.

Of course, I have limited event planning experience and no wedding planning experience. I figured that others on this board may have booked a band for an event, wedding or otherwise, or may BE in a band, so any advice would be appreciated. In particular:

- What's the typical price point for this kind of gig? What's "affordable" and what's "expensive?"
- What are some good questions to ask the band during the solicitation process? Common pitfalls to be avoided?
- What questions should I ask the venue, if any?
- Are there any good websites for discovering bands serving New England? Any recommendations from personal experience? I know about theknot and wedding wire, but I figure there may be other resources available.

3DS code: 3007-8077-4055

Posts

  • McVikingMcViking Registered User regular
    I play lots of wedding gigs (mostly in VA). When I give someone a quote for a wedding (or any other event), what I'm trying to figure out is how many musicians I'm bringing, and how long we'll be working. I work with pros, and my usual rule of thumb is fifty bucks per hour per musician. (The economics may be different in your area.) I ask the following questions:
    • Do you want a band for the reception, or just a couple of musicians for the ceremony/cocktail hour? (This is me trying to figure out how many people I'm bringing/hiring.)
    • Do we need to set up and sound check before the ceremony? (If the wedding and reception are at the same venue, the answer is usually yes.) What time do we set up, and what time do we tear down? (This is me trying to figure out how many hours we'll be on-site. For most weddings, the answer is around eight.)
    • Does the venue have its own sound system and someone to run it? (Usually no. This figures into both setup time and whether I might need to bring an extra person.)
    • What is the location? (This is me trying to calculate travel time.)
    • Are there special requests for songs? (If yes, that means additional practice time to learn them.)

    That's usually enough for me to give a price quote. For most weddings, I'm usually bringing five people and putting in 8-10 hours, depending on travel. Around here, that typically puts it in the $2000-2500 range. (YMMV in ME.) I never haggle on price, and I always show clients the math. I will charge less if I can get by with fewer people or have them work a shorter day. There's a perception that bands price-gouge for weddings, but the fact is that your two-hour reception may be 50 total man-hours that I have to pay my band and sound person.
    - What's the typical price point for this kind of gig? What's "affordable" and what's "expensive?"
    - What are some good questions to ask the band during the solicitation process? Common pitfalls to be avoided?
    - What questions should I ask the venue, if any?
    - Are there any good websites for discovering bands serving New England? Any recommendations from personal experience? I know about theknot and wedding wire, but I figure there may be other resources available.

    If it's a venue that does a lot of weddings, they probably have a contact list for bands, caterers, etc. Know what genre of music you want, and the venue may be able to give you pointers. If you happen to be looking for something in an Americana genre, PM me and I can send you some contacts.

    DarkewolfeIrukaChopperDaveMichaelLCGnome-InterruptusTofystedeth
  • garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    McViking gives a pretty solid rundown of it. I would say the prices he is quoting lean more toward the "affordable" scale than the "expensive" side. Playing as a side musician, $50 per hour is about the lowest I'd be willing to accept, personally speaking.

    For reference, one of the bandleaders I've worked for starts rates at $2500 per hour (but that's likely a bigger band and more comprehensive show than what you're looking for).

  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice so far!

    A little by of extra information: the venue is a restaurant with its own sound system and built-in speakers throughout the area. As I mentioned earlier, the building is designed in such a way that the acoustics from the "stage" area will be pretty great even without amplification.

    Is a typical restaurant sound system workable from the band's perspective, or do you find you usually need to bring in your own amps anyway?

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • McVikingMcViking Registered User regular
    I live in rural VA, so yep - rates are cheaper down here than in most places.

    As for the sound, unless the venue has a dedicated sound person, I absolutely always bring all my own gear and someone who knows how to run it. Messing with somebody else's sound system - which may or may not have all the pieces I need to do my job - is way more trouble than it's worth.

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