7 Red Flags when booking a wedding band
Live music is a fantastic way to make your wedding day extra special, whether you want musicians to play during the ceremony, drinks reception, wedding breakfast or evening party.
The best way to avoid disappointment when hiring a wedding band is to make sure that they present themselves like a professional wedding supplier from any other industry. This can be gauged through viewing their online presence such as their website, videos and reviews as well as how the band corresponds with you when you make contact.
Many people book through agencies thinking that this will guarantee a great experience but in reality many agencies offer bands on their rosters that they’ve never worked with before and often never even met, while taking up to 30% commission!
Booking a band can be a bit daunting if you've never done it before so here are seven red flags to watch out for when you hire a band for your wedding.
They have no website
Let’s start at the beginning, the point where you begin looking and asking around for the right band for your big day. Perhaps you’ve been told about a band or a local musician by a friend of a friend? You try to look them up on their website, but wait a second, they don’t have one.
This is the first big red flag. It’s so important that the band have a modern professional website because this will tell you a lot about them. Firstly, it tells you that the band or musician exists, which is a start! It should also tell you what they look like, if they are any good and if they play the type of music suitable for your wedding. The local guy might play a great Metallica cover but is he able to do two forty-five minute sets of appropriate music for your guests during the drinks reception?
They have no videos
Following on from the point above, in 2022 all professional wedding bands should have a great website that clearly shows what they look and sound like. This should also include both professionally-shot promo videos and live performance videos.
Professionally shot promotional videos are pre-recorded videos that require time and planning and are also expensive to produce. If a band or musician hasn’t invested in showing you the best version of themselves then the chances are that they aren’t professional musicians. Here’s an example of a professionally shot promo video…
They should also have live footage of them performing either at a show or a "live session". This is important because although promo videos give a great impression of how the band sounds and looks, it often isn’t recorded live. We advise you to look for videos where the video and audio may not be the best but you can clearly hear that it’s a live performance and whether they sound good enough to hire. Here’s an example of one of our live performance videos…
They don't charge enough
This might sound a bit strange at first, but like anything else in this life when it comes to wedding suppliers you almost always get what you pay for. The price per musician for a wedding band should be around £250-400 plus there can be a bit on top for travel and other costs.
If you’re thinking of hiring the local pub band with 5 members and they’re only charging £1000 for the whole band then there’s a good chance that you’re hiring amateurs. Imagine doing the same with the catering and you can see why this is probably not the best approach for such an important occasion.
Our advice is that if the big evening band with the sax player and an extra set takes you over budget, then it's better to scale-back the size of the band or even opt for some live music in the afternoon during the drinks reception rather than settle for a low quality, cheap band for the evening. Quality over quantity.
They don't use a contract for the booking
Professional bands use contracts for bookings just like any other wedding supplier because it makes the terms of the arrangement clear and protects both you and the band from any unforeseen problems that may arise. The usual process is for a contract to be signed and for payment to be made in advance of the day of the wedding.
If your band isn’t mentioning a contract in their correspondence then be aware that you have no protection if they decide to not turn up, change members or perform less than what was agreed. These things don’t happen often but we have heard of awkward situations that were entirely down to not having a clear contract specifying all the important details for the day.
They take too long to respond to emails
If you’re in contact with the band and they’re too slow at getting back to you then it might be better to look elsewhere. Obviously when dealing with email there’s a reasonable response period and then there’s unreasonable. We always try to get back as soon as possible with 1-2 days being reasonable because some times the band leader may be out one day and unable to reply immediatly.
On some occasions the band may need a little bit of time to find out some information you’ve requested but we’d always let you know if this is the case. It’s worth sending a follow up text message or phone call if it’s been 3/4 days with no response because emails can go missing by going to a spam folder for instance. If that goes unanswered then you might be better looking elsewhere.
Not willing to talk on the phone
This point follows on from the point above as they often go hand in hand and are based around one of the most important parts of supplying services for weddings, good communication. When we receive an enquiry we always offer the chance to discuss the wedding on the phone or via zoom so that we can get to know you and put your mind at ease about anything you may be worried about.
If the band you’re dealing with is avoiding you and not answering your calls then it could be a sign that they’re not confident in the answers that they can give you on the spot or even worse it could be a sign that they are just a bit flaky!
They don't have a basic song list or repertoire available
It’s a good idea to know what genres of music the band plays and to get a rough idea of their repertoire or song list. Bands often add new songs to keep the setlist fresh so it might not be exactly what they play on the night, but they should be able to direct you to their basic song list.
The suitability of the list obviously depends on your own preference but it’s generally a good idea to try to cater to the tastes of all your guests. Remember some of the older folks will be dancing right up to the end so it’s always a good idea to have some music they will enjoy or at least have heard before!
You can find our general repertoire here.
They have no reviews
Wedding bands that are working regularly should have reviews on a major social platform whether its google, facebook or their own website. If a band is new then it is understandable for them not to have many reviews, but if they have been around for a while then they should have at least some.
If they don’t have any reviews then like any other supplier you are taking a risk as to whether they are a professional outfit and given that it’s such an important occasion it is worth making sure that the band you book have done well in the past. Less reviews can be forgiven if you happen to have seen the band live or they have a lot of live performance videos on their website or social media.
Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the possible pitfalls and problems to look out for when booking the live music for your big day.The main theme behind many of the points listed in this article center around making sure that you hire professionals and showing you how to spot the amateurs and cowboys.
If you’d like to know more about how to book a wedding band then please check out some more of our articles below. If you’re interested in hiring wedding musicians for any part of your wedding then you can see our range of options on this page here.