Shopping for a wedding band is like shopping for any other aspect of your wedding, from the photographer to the venue to the flowers – or anything important at all, for that matter – you want it to be high-quality, and especially for a once-in-a-lifetime event like your wedding, you want it to be special. You also want it to fit your budget, of course.
As with anything wedding-related, there’s a wide spectrum of pricing for live music. Some bands are extremely affordable; some less so. And while price doesn’t always correlate with quality, we would suggest being weary of bands that are significantly less expensive than the rest, simply because it implies they’re not paying their musicians enough. If your salaries aren’t competitive, then the top musicians won’t want to play with you. Also, certain destinations – islands like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, for example – might raise a band’s prices if it requires additional or complicated travel arrangements. (We’re happy to affirm that our prices do not go up in the slightest for island weddings!)
For most top-notch wedding bands in the New England area, you’d be hard-pressed to find a starting price below $6,000 for a basic 6-piece group to play your standard four-hour reception. That 6-piece refers to what’s more or less a bare-bones lineup: a male and a female vocalist, and a full rhythm section (guitar, keys, bass, drums). The cost of additional musicians, like horns, percussion, strings, additional vocalists, or additional rhythm section players will, of course, affect the price, and depending on how big of a band you might want, the cost could be upwards of $12,000.
Music performed during the ceremony and cocktail are additional to the base price of the reception. Pricing can depend on several factors: how many musicians you’d like, how big of a time commitment it involves, how many songs the ensemble needs to learn, and so on. The cocktail portion of the wedding can be performed by any collection of musicians, ranging from a solo pianist to a jazz quartet and occasionally even larger, and usually runs one to two hours. Ceremonies are priced slightly higher than cocktails and are usually performed by one to three musicians for an hour-long time commitment. In general, it’s helpful to keep in mind that cocktail hours and ceremonies are priced based on both duration and number of performers, so the longer the time commitment and the larger the group, the more the overall cost is affected.
There can be other additional costs that aren’t included in the reception price, such as overtime, continuous music during the reception, speaker rental, DJ’ing the afterparty, and so on; the more specific and personalized the requests, the more individualized the pricing becomes.
Once you’ve established what tier of wedding band you’re looking to hire, you’ll likely find that there isn’t a huge amount of variance in cost. At that point, we recommend watching a bunch of demos, speaking with these bands directly, getting a sense for how they’re run, and then trusting your gut. When one band feels right, go for it. After they’ve turned the dance floor into a party like nothing you or your guests have ever experienced, you’ll agree that they were worth every penny.
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