bride and groom walking down stairs with band playing walking behind them

When a band told me they could play everything from Frank Sinatra to Beyonce, I quickly replied “where do I sign?” But before I got into wedding band heaven, I had make this vendor selection a priority. Too often choosing the entertainment is left to the end of your overwhelming Wedding Checklist—but it shouldn’t be. A skilled Master of Ceremonies will gracefully guide your guests from the ceremony, to the cocktail hour and the reception to follow. The top talent is booked quickly, therefore in order to allow yourself the most amount of choices for your music style and budget, it’s best to get down tonight and book this vendor!To give you a jump start on this process, I assembled this list of questions that will help you evaluate a DJ, band, or other entertainer.

THE BASICS

  • Do you have my date open?
  • Have you done events at my ceremony and/or reception location before? If not, are you familiar with them?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many weddings have you done? How many do you do in an average weekend?
  • What sets you apart from your competition?
  • Are there any other services that you provide, such as lighting design?
  • How far in advance do I need to secure your services?
  • Can you provide me with 2–3 recent brides that I can contact for references?

guitar guest book

wedding band playing a violin, cello and guitar

PRICING AND OTHER BUSINESS DETAILS

  • What is your pricing? Does this include setup and breakdown between ceremony and reception locations?
  • How much is the deposit and when is it due? When is the final payment due?
  • If the event lasts longer than scheduled, what are the overtime charges?
  • What is the continuous music charge? NOTE: For bands, bookings traditionally run for 4 hours divided into 4 sets, each lasting 45 minutes with a 15-minute break. If you want “continuous music,” i.e. with band members trading breaks, there is usually an additional charge.
  • Can I start with less performers for the ceremony and add more by the reception?
  • When can I expect to receive my contract from you?
  • Are there any additional fees that could accrue that I am not taking into account, like travel expenses, vendor meals or charges for special musical requests?
  • What is your refund policy if for some reason I need to cancel or alter my date?
  • Do you carry liability insurance?
  • If I hire musicians for the ceremony and want them to play at the wedding rehearsal, what is the extra charge?

THE MUSIC

  • Do you have a DVD of your music or a video link to a prior wedding where you performed?
  • Can you assist me in choosing the music for my processional, recessional, father-daughter dance, etc.?
  • How extensive is your music library or song list? What genres can you cover? Can I give you a specific list of songs I want or don’t want played?
  • Are we guaranteed to have the performer(s) of our choice at our event? As mentioned, many bands hired by an agency are made up of members who may not play together regularly. Even set bands often have substitute players. If there are specific performers (singer, harpist, guitarist, etc.) that you want, make sure that your contract includes them. Of course, illness or other circumstances may still preclude their being able to perform at your event.
  • If the DJ or one of the band members scheduled for my event is unable to perform for some reason, do you have a backup replacement ready to go?
  • Can you provide wireless mics for the ceremony?
  • Does any of your equipment require special electrical outlets that I need to inform my wedding site about?
  • Do you bring backup equipment?
  • What kind of space or stage do you require for the DJ or band? If my site doesn’t provide what you need, will you make arrangements for the stage or am I responsible for renting it?
  • How much time will you need for setup, sound check and breakdown on the day of the event?
  • What music will be provided during the breaks?
  • How many people will you staff for my event?

wedding dance party, wedding reception under marquee tent

bride and groom kiss during first dance

USEFUL TIPS:

  • Discuss with your site manager
    any restrictions that might affect your event, like noise limits, a music curfew and availability/load of electrical circuits. Also check with your facility and caterer about where and what to feed the performers.
  • All professional entertainers have access to formal wear (if they don’t, that’s your first clue they’re not professionals!) However, it is YOUR responsibility to be specific about how you expect your performers to be dressed. Any extraordinary requests (period costumes, all-white tuxes, etc.) are normally paid for by the client.
  • Make notes of your general music preferences before you meet with your DJ, bandleader, etc. Not only will this help you determine which entertainment professionals are a good match for you, it will guide them in preparing your set list.

elegant wedding with band playing