The Musical Soundtrack to Your Wedding

Written By: kalyn bradford

photo: melanie mauer photography

When it comes to your wedding there are so many things that you can choose to affect the ambiance and atmosphere of your special day. One of these main things is the music! It is very easy to stress about how to hire bands, musicians, or DJs, and even who to hire, but hopefully these guidelines will help you along your way to choosing the perfect musical accompaniment to your wedding.

First, be sure to begin your search for the perfect band(s) at least 6 months in advance to your special day. That is the average booking time span for musicians and if you wait too long your top choices may be all booked up!

Second, there are several points you want to consider as you search for your musical choices:
    • How many bands do you want to hire?  For example, you may want a small jazz band or quartet for your ceremony, an acoustic band for your cocktail hour, and then a full band for your reception.  It is very important to decide this early on so that you have an idea of what bands you budget will accommodate. 
    • What style of music are you looking for to create your atmosphere?  Like mentioned above, you may want several different styles to add to the flow of your wedding, whether you choose to hire more than one band, or you may just want to stick with one consistent theme.  This will change the way you look for musicians, as well as, narrow down your search before you get too far in.  Don’t confine yourself to only search for musicians that specialize as “Wedding Bands”. Sometimes the best fit for you may be a band that only plays weddings on special occasions.
    • Have backups!  Be sure you and your fiancé have at least 3 choices for each style of band you want to hire.  Most bands or DJs will be pretty flexible for weddings, but sometimes they just have prior engagements or their price just may not work with your budget.  So to keep the stress away, have a few backups that you both agree you love.

Next, take advantage of the numerous resources available to help on your search for musicians. 
    • Word of Mouth - this is the most reliable and best way to find your dream band.  Ask family and friends about bands that they have seen and explain to them the feel that you are looking for.  Also, think about weddings or events you have attended and if there were bands that really stood out to you, contact them!
    • Gig Masters & ReverbNation are both websites that have a whole arsenal of registered musicians that you can search and choose from and provides you with their location, contact information, and sometimes even their price.  However, be mindful of hiring bands you have never heard of…look up reviews, Youtube videos, or even go see a show yourself to see if this is really for you.
    • Entertainment agencies - there are several agencies out there that will do all of the work of finding your match for you!  All you have to do is tell them the atmosphere you are going for, the location and your budget and they will send many options your way.  A couple of suggestions are East Cost Entertainment and C&J Entertainment Agency.
    • And don’t forget about the wedding planner and vendors! They have seen every kind of band you could imagine from the weddings they attend, so they are an excellent source as well.

Once you find a band there are several steps you need to take to ensure your day goes by without a hitch.
    • Song Selection - this may not be so important for the ceremony or cocktail hour bands, but for your reception you want to be sure that your full band or DJ understand you and your fiancé’s musical taste, as well as, songs you have chosen for your first dance, father daughter dance, etc.  Especially, be sure to discuss songs that you absolutely DO NOT want played at your wedding, even if requested by your guests (such as the electric slide, or the chicken dance…you get the picture!).  You, also, want to be sure that if you have a full band, that they play the variety of musical styles you are looking for and know the songs you ask for, as well as, playing energetic and upbeat songs to keep your guests on the dance floor! Agreeing on this at the time of the booking will clear up any stress or miscommunication on your big day.
    • Write up a contract.  Most times, the band will have a ready-made contract already written up.  Be sure that you are both on the same page about your day and the contract includes
      -names of all parties involved
      -song list or style you agreed upon
      -times for arrival, set up, sound check, breaks, and departure
      -payment schedule
      -attire, food, and drinks for band
      -sound equipment (some musicians will bring their own and others may not so hiring a sound engineer may be needed)
    • Make sure that you, your fiancé, and the musicians have talked and fully agreed upon the detail long before your wedding day.

Following these guidelines, the musical accompaniment to your wedding should be one less thing on your mind and will make the perfect ambiance so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day!

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