How to Work Out How Much You Should Be Paying for Wedding Entertainment

How to Work Out How Much You Should Be Paying for Wedding Entertainment

Today I will talk about what you should expect to be paying for a specialized wedding band for an evenings entertainment. The meaningful information there is specialized. A band that does it week in week out and knows what is expected from a wedding band.

I’ve been in 3 or 4 different wedding bands, and worked with at the minimum 50 others on a weekly basis, trying to help couples find the perfect band for their weddings. A lot of people ask me how much wedding bands should be charging for an evening of music. Personally, If I had never booked a band before I would have no idea how much live music should cost.

There are a lot of differing thoughts on costing with regards to value to the customer and value to the musician. Both parties need to be satisfied for the evening to work out. If the bride thinks she is paying too much then she won’t be relaxed, happy and enjoying her perfect evening with family and friends. If the band aren’t safe in the knowledge they can pay their rent / eat more than rice and peas this week, their performance will suffer.

There are a few different factors to bear in mind when looking at a bands costs the main two are distance from the venue and number of musicians.

With petrol prices being what they are a band will need to charge for travel and the bigger the band the more the travel costs. We have to bear in mind that, for example, a five-piece rock and pop band will need to bring drums, PA, lighting, 5 people, instruments and amplifiers, which may, if the band don’t all live with each other and have a van, need to be brought in 4 or 5 separate cars. If the venue is 100 miles away from their base this equates to potentially 4 x 5 hours of car travel. At current petrol costs that’s approximately £180 for 5 pretty efficient cars. This doesn’t include an hourly rate for the musicians while driving or car use and tear. It’s purely petrol cost.

The 2nd main factor is hours per musician. There is a short story I have read which goes a little something like this.

“A lady calls the musician’s union to get a quote on a six piece band for her wedding.

The rep says “Off the top of my head, about two thousand quid”.

She says “What? For music?.”

The rep responds, “I’ll tell you what. Call the plumbers’ union & ask for six plumbers to work from 6 to 12 o’clock on a Saturday night. in any case they charge you…, we’ll work for half.”

The lady hangs up. She calls back five minutes later…

“I get your point” she said.”

I have seen this quite a few times in different places. For this reason I will look at plumbers as a comparison. Both musicians and plumbers are highly skilled labourers who have spent hours on their craft and £1000’s on their tools.

The basic service offered by my bands is a 6 hour period from 6pm til midnight. Each band has 5 musicians so 6 x 5 hours of musician time. So far including the travel we have 50 hours of man time. It’s tricky to work out what musicians should get paid an hour. Some are highly skilled and put everything into their craft. Others enjoy doing the music as a hobby. If you look at plumbers you have new plumbers who charge a little less because they are less experienced and older more knowledgable plumbers who charge more because they really know what they are doing. On the money saving expert website it says that plumbers will cost between £20-£40 an hour or £200-£250 a day for a local job.

If we use the lowest pricing for our 5 example wedding musicians we have 50 hours x £20 which equates to £1000 for labour.

So plus travel the total cost for a five-piece wedding band for a 6 hour period with travel to a venue 100 miles away is approximately £1180. This is using the lowest rate that a plumber would charge and rounding cost of travel down as doesn’t include means use and tear nor the fact that the cars, loaded with equipment, aren’t at their most efficient. It also doesn’t take into account the ‘unsociable hours’. So this really should be the minimum expected to pay for this service and it shouldn’t be a surprise if a specialized wedding band were to charge double this. It’s strange though, as many bands charge less and many couples expect to pay already less again. Why is this? It has to have something to do with the value a customer puts on live music at their wedding.

I find it interesting that a lot of the time a bride will leave the success of their whole evening reception, once food is done with, to their entertainment team (band / dj). I would think it’d be worth paying additional to make sure you are dealing with absolute professionals who have done many weddings and who have experienced most types of guest, time table, venue and event.

You wouldn’t leave plumbing your house to someone who hadn’t studied plumbing for years. Chances are something will go wrong and you’ll have to get another plumber out to fix what the first did wrong!

Hopefully this blog will help any newly engaged couples budget for a wedding band. If you really want something good be prepared to pay £20+ an hour per musician and travel expenses. A 5-piece band is usually the norm and bands will need to be there for approximately 6 hours to play 3 x 40 minutes of music.

If you are planning to have a wedding on a budget here are a few ways you can save money on quality entertainment.

Only get the band for the times you need. Chances are that a band won’t need to set-up before the ceremony or wedding breakfast. There is usually an hours pause in activity between food and dancing where guests digest, chat with people they weren’t sitting with and get some drinks in. This time is perfect time for your band to set-up and will usually be right before they play. This method you won’t have to pay for band waiting time.

See if you can use food or accommodation as a way to bring the bands price down. Some bands aren’t that keen on driving three hours home after midnight and may be able to give you a discount if you can find them a place to stay over.

Work with an agent to help you find a band that lives closer to your venue to cut out travel costs. Let the agent know where you are having your wedding, what you need the band to do and what times you need them. Also let the agent know your budget. They will then be able to find you something that fits with it all. Also more often than not an agent will have a deal with their bands so already though there is a commission, costs should nevertheless be approximately the same. Also due to the fact that the agent has worked with many couples booking bands in the past they will be able to advise you on what best fits with your needs hopefully saving you unnecessary spending.

One last thing is you probably don’t, unless you really want it, need both a DJ and a band. A specialized wedding band will have an iPod or laptop complete with the latest dancey tunes and will be able to play this by their pa while they are taking their breaks. Also I’ve found it’s often good for party guests to have a short break from dancing to fill up drinks and have a rest.

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