How many musicians do I need?

The size of the wedding party is the key to this question.

A duo with discreet amplification can happily entertain a group of up to 60-70 people. A trio can cope with up to 100 people. As the party size increases, so does the size of the venue. You need more happening on stage to catch the attention and get the party going. A four or five-piece band with a small PA system is generally required if the party is 100 or more.
To entertain 200 people and beyond, the quality of the PA system and the lighting for the stage and dance-floor becomes crucial to the success of the event. An act is required that is able to present a "stage show" that not only sounds good but also looks good, in terms of movement and costume, with the ability to catch the attention of the crowd ... even those at the back of a big hall!

How do I find the right band?

The quality of musicianship is the most important factor. Listen to recordings of the band performing live, where available.

Repertoire and experience come next. How long has the band been involved in wedding entertainment? Can you talk to a "satisfied customer" ... a couple who used the band for their wedding and were, hopefully, delighted with the result?

If it's possible, watch the band perform live. However, if your wedding is in the UK, do be aware that recently revised licensing laws have made it very difficult and expensive to present live music in a public place, so public performances by bands of the quality you require for a successful wedding are a rarity.

How will the performance be organised?

You can expect approximately 3x45 minute sets of live music in a four hour period ... or 2x1 hour sets, if it suits you better. If the musicians are carrying a PA system, they will probably come equipped with a CD player and will be able to play CDs of a similar style of music for half an hour before the first set and in the breaks between the sets, giving professional-quality background music when the band is offstage.

For peace of mind, organise your music through a reputable agency. Make sure you receive, sign and return a contract stipulating when the band will arrive, when the performance will take place and the agreed amount of remuneration. You should expect to be able to talk to the bandleader a few weeks before the wedding to discuss any specific preferences you require.

That first dance is something really special. If you approach the band well before the event, the guys will usually be prepared to learn your chosen song, if it's not already in their repertoire.

How much should I expect to pay?

Reliability and quality of performance are the two attributes that are essential for headache-free, successful music at a wedding. If you go for cheap, you are likely to sacrifice either or both of the above!

In the UK, a professional musician will expect to take home £100 - 150 for an engagement. On top of that there are equipment and travel costs, along with publicity, advertising and agency costs.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay £200 - 250 for a solo performance, £300 - 400 for a duo, £450 - 625 for a trio. A four-piece band starts at approximately £800. Depending on the versatility of the musicians, the quality of equipment (PA system ... possibly backlighting for the stage and for the dance-floor), the price increases to £1000 - 1500. Larger bands cost proportionately more.