How to Hire a Wedding Music Band

Photo Credit: Tana Photography

Photo Credit: Tana Photography

The wedding music band you choose to hire will set the tone for your reception. Not only will your wedding music band play a major role in creating the atmosphere, but they also play a big part in keeping your guests happy. Lame song choices or a bad lead singer can have guests bailing early, while exceptional musicians and a perfected song list can keep people on the dance floor all night long.

Hiring the right wedding music band for your wedding can feel daunting—after all, you want a band that not only expresses you and your partner’s tastes but also that can be pleasing to your reception guests. However, with the right strategy, you can make picking the perfect wedding music band for your wedding as stress-free as possible

10 Steps to Hiring a Wedding Music Band

Hiring a wedding music band takes knowing your reception goals, understanding what’s available, and having a budget. Below, we list 10 steps for hiring the best wedding music band for your event. 

Step 1: Determine the Mood You’d Like to Set

What type of mood are you hoping for with your wedding reception? A string quartet or jazz trio, for instance, are going to have a much different vibe than a dance or party band. When you envision your wedding reception do you see people dancing and singing along on the dance floor or do you see people mostly eating and mingling with gentle music in the background? Determining the mood you’d like to set helps narrow down the type of wedding music band to look for.

Step 2: Choose Your Style of Music

Choosing the style of music you want at your wedding can be a balancing act. Some couples opt for a full-theme (Star Wars cantina band, anyone?) or to pick a style of music most suited to their personalities, such as country music or smooth jazz. Most commonly, however, a bride and groom or wedding event planner pick a wedding music band that can play something for everyone, which typically means a combination of Top 40 hits, rock ‘n roll hits, a smattering of country favorites, and a few other favorite danceable songs.

Step 3: Ask for Recommendations

A good way to start looking for a band is to get referrals from other people in the industry. Not just your wedding planner, but also party and event planners, managers at event venues, and vendors such as photographers or caterers. 

Of course, you can also ask your friends and relatives if they’ve attended any receptions with a memorable band. However, keep in mind that this can lead to recommendations like someone’s second cousin whose heavy metal band is looking for their “big break.” You want to avoid being guilted into doing someone a favor that will cost you the party.

Step 4: Choose Your Budget

A live wedding music band will likely be one of the bigger expenses of your wedding. However, since you’re paying for the entertainment of your guests as well as the feel and atmosphere of the event, setting aside the right budget can be worth the cost. It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. If you have a limited budget, the quality of band you’ll be able to afford may suffer—in most cases you’d be better off using a DJ instead of hiring a mediocre (or worse) band. However, having a live wedding music band can help make your event extraordinary. If live music is a priority to you and your partner, make sure to set enough aside that you can afford a wedding music band that will live up to your expectations.

Step 5: Listen to Sound Clips & Watch Videos

Any live wedding music band for hire will have videos and sound clips online. Listen and watch as much as possible. As you’re watching and listening, remember to look for:

  • Quality of sound. Do the backup musicians and lead singers sound good?

  • Professional look & feel. When they perform, does the band look polished and professional, or do they look a little disheveled or does the performance seem forced?

  • How the audience reacts. How is the audience reacting in the videos? Are the crowds sparse or disinterested, or can you see the audience singing and dancing along?

  • Song choice. What types of songs do they sing, and do those songs align with your styles and tastes?

Step 6: Look for a Song List

You’ll want to make sure that the band can play your favorite song and that the song list jives with your musical tastes (and the tastes of your guests). A song list will let you know what songs the wedding music band is capable of playing. However, keep in mind most bands will put everysong they can possibly play on that list. A more accurate representation of the songs they play on a regular basis will be the songs you’re able to find on videos and sound clips on their website and YouTube.

Step 7: Read Reviews Online

No amount of marketing material can compensate for honest feedback from customers. In addition to seeing if a band sounds good live, also use wedding band reviews to know how the band was to work with as well as what kind of show to expect. Look for reviews that match the experience you want, such as “kept the dance floor full all night long” or “quiet atmospheric music perfect for a romantic reception dinner.”

Step 8: Narrow it Down to 3 Bands 

After you’ve done your research, narrow your choices down to 2 or 3 bands. This gives you a better chance of one of the bands being available on your wedding date while keeping yourself from getting too overwhelmed by too many options. Prioritize your list in order of first choice, second choice, and third choice.

Step 9: Reach Out to the Wedding Music Band

Some wedding music bands can be reached directly which means you can talk directly to the band leader while others may be managed through an agency. Talking directly to the band leader can give you a better sense of how the band will interact with you and work with you on your special day while an agency may be more responsive. Whomever you talk to, here are some questions to ask:

  • Are you available for my wedding date?

  • What are your pricing options and what impacts the price (such as adding a horn section, longer music sets, including cocktail hour music, including equipment, etc.)?

  • Do you work best with a certain size of wedding?

  • Do you work with the couple to come up with a song list?

  • Will your band members dress according to the look and feel of our event (match wedding colors/style etc.)?

  • How do you engage with the crowd?

  • Do you travel and if so, how expensive are your travel fees? (Many larger wedding music bands will travel out of state or even out of country to perform, but travel fees will likely be incurred.)

  • What type of equipment will you need or do you provide your own?

  • How long can you play, how often do you need breaks, and how long are the breaks?

Step 10: Book the Band 

Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to book your band. You will want to do this as far in advance as possible as many of the best wedding music band schedules may start filling up several months in advance. Ask your band contact how to proceed. They will likely send you a final quote and contract to sign and will likely require a deposit to hold your date. 

About the Salamanders Live Wedding Music Band

The Salamanders have played for wedding receptions, cocktail hours, engagement parties, and more across the country. With two of the best lead singers in the industry and world-renowned musicians (who have played with artists including Collin Rae, Eddie Money, Belinda Carlisle, and Bo Diddley) the Salamanders have a polished and professional sound that will wow your guests. The Salamanders wedding music band spans genres from Top 40 hits to classic rock favorites, country, hip hop, and more for a song list with something for everyone. Check out our sound and video library here or contact The Salamanders for a quote today.