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Hiring the band: What You Need to Know About Booking a Wedding Band

Music is a big part of a wedding day, and a wedding band is what can make the day a success or totally suck. It's the central part of your wedding reception; think of all the great weddings you've been to where you ended up dancing the night away. The last thing anyone wants is a dreary band that plays music nobody dances to, so it's worth doing the groundwork to get it right.

If you have no idea where to start when hiring a band, there are some important steps you need to follow to ensure you have a band that keeps the dance floor filled all night long.

Start your search early

Wedding singers and bands are usually booked far in advance, so you need to start looking for a band as soon as you have booked your wedding reception venue. Word of mouth is a great way to find a band, so ask friends and family about any exceptional ones they have seen playing at weddings.

Booking through an agency

Finding a band through an agency isn't necessarily a safer option, but they can offer a level of security that booking a band directly can't. Using an agency will cost you more because they will add a commission of 15 to 20 per cent on top of the hire cost. If you do use an agency, make sure they are not pushing a particular act on you that makes them the most profit.

Listen to them live

This is your chance to play at being Simon Cowell and audition bands for your wedding. If you're using an agency they will give you tapes and video clips of the band playing live. Try to see them playing in the flesh before you book them to avoid any nasty surprises on your wedding day. You should check that they sound good playing a variety of songs and watch the dynamic of the band because this will give you an idea about their level of professionalism.

Think about your guests

You want the band to reflect your taste in music, but you also want a band who will get your guests out of their seats and onto the dancefloor. Try to go for a mix of music so that there's something to please everyone, from the slow dancers to those who prefer something a bit more energetic. You can also incorporate some formation dances like the electric slide or cha-cha slide, although not every band is enthusiastic about adding these songs to their repertoire!

The First Dance

Some bands have a set list that they will stick to, but if you want them to play your first dance make sure they have enough time to learn the song. They might charge you a little extra to include the song in their set list. If it's not a song they can play then you should consider having a recorded version played through the bands PA system.

Be clear in your contract

It's easier to hire a band with some experience of playing at weddings because they will know what is needed from them. But if you're hiring your favorite band who will be playing their first wedding, be very clear about the arrangements because you don't want the band to show up late or not understand your expectations. The contract you draw up with the band should spell out every detail of the terms of their hiring, from names of the band members to breaks and transportation. Don't forget the any insurance coverage details and agree any overtime charges.

The small details

Your band should be at the venue a few hours before they go on stage and you might want to offer them a small room where they can get ready and relax before they perform. If you have agreed it with them in the contract, you will need to provide them with soft drinks and a snack or basic meal. When enquiring about a band booking you should check if refreshments is something they include in their price.

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