Choosing your wedding music supplier/vendor
If you haven't seen our blog post on choosing songs for your wedding, that's a good place to start.
You have several options for music related vendors/suppliers and its really important to make the right decision to give your wedding the mood and vibe you desire- as well as fitting within your budget.
Options include: (ordered from estimated cheapest to most expensive)
Singers with backing tracks
Solo acoustic performers, male or female (guitar or keyboard)
Singers with a separate musician (guitar or keyboard)
Duo acoustic performers, male/male, male/female, female/female (guitar and/or keyboard)
DJ with saxophone or singer
Small, 3 or 4 piece bands (can be any combination of guitar, keyboard, drums, bass, percussion, brass or woodwind instruments with vocals)
Large, 5-8 piece bands (all or most of the above instruments)
Most weddings are split up into three distinct parts: the ceremony, the canapés and the reception and you may need to organise different types of music or suppliers/vendors for each one.
*Ceremonies are best suited to solo or duo acoustic singers or string quartets.
*Canapés are normally a good fit for solo or duo acoustic acts, low key DJing or small bands.
*Receptions often start with solo or duo acoustic and end with either a small band, large band, DJ or DJ with a saxophone or singer.
Before you decide- here are 10 things you should consider:
Define your budget. This sounds obvious, but the bigger the band and the more musicians you are hiring, the more expensive its going to be. Most venues give discounts for supplier’s meals, but if you have 8 musicians all eating, even at a discounted rate of, say $70 per head, this will add up pretty quickly! You may love the sound of a large band, but do you have a spare $2500-$5000 in your budget to accommodate this? If you’re having a big wedding and love the sound of a live band this could be well worth the extra money.
Consider your venue (if you’ve picked one). How big is the area for the musicians? If you want a large band, its worth checking with your venue that they have the space for it. Also, if you’re having a huge wedding with 200+ people, there’s a fair chance an acoustic soloist or duo won’t cut it (especially for the reception) and you will probably need a band or DJ to provide the volume and energy required. Also keep in mind that some venues have sound restrictions and even have to monitor decibel reading and have automated systems that switch the power off if it gets too loud. If you have a venue like that, a full band might be too much noise.
Is there power available? This is mainly in the case of garden weddings. If you’re booking a string quartet for instance, you probably won’t need power as they are normally ‘unplugged’. If you are hiring an acoustic soloist or duo, check with them that they have access to a battery powered system if there is no power at ceremony site.
Where is your venue located? Most musicians and DJ’s charge an extra fee if your location is, for example, more than 50km from either their location or the CBD. Especially if you’re hiring a big band with 7-8 people, it could get expensive if they’re all charging extra for their travel time. In this case, you might be best off looking for suppliers that are local to the surrounding area of your venue. Really, its just something else to keep in mind and a potential extra expense.
Put yourself in your guests shoes. Above all else, think about their tastes, behaviours and age demographic. Do you think they will dance? Are most of your friends into clubbing (DJ), Aussie pub rock (band) or do they like a more chilled out vibe (acoustic)? Keep in mind that the music (particularly during the canapés while you’re off getting your photos taken) is to keep your guests entertained. I know you can’t please everyone, but try to pick something that a majority of your guests will enjoy.
Be aware of hidden fees. Maybe you can you bundle and save? Musicians always charge a “call out fee”, which is incorporated in their price, to cover travel time and expense as well as set up and pack down time. If you can hire the same people to take care of everything ie. a soloist for the ceremony who joins the band for the reception or an acoustic duo that also DJ’s, this could save you some money! Plenty of musicians also offer MC services for an added cost, but it’s probably cheaper than hiring a dedicated MC who is travelling to your wedding to just MC. Also, if you come across a website with lots of different artists on it, it is probably an agency. Be mindful that, if you book through an agency, you will be giving them a cut of the money as the ‘middle man’. To keep your own costs down and to give more of the money to the musician who is doing all the work, you are better off booking direct where possible!
Will your musician or band learn your special songs? Most couples want to be able to pick certain songs for their wedding- particularly for times like walking down the aisle or the first dance. Most musicians are prepared to learn songs for you, but its worth checking before you book. Also ask whether there are any extra charges for learning new songs- some singers who use backing tracks charge extra because they have to buy new backing tracks.
Work out your timeline as soon as you can. Most musicians will want to arrive at the venue at least an hour before they need to start playing so they can work out where they will be situated, to set up and to sound check. Generally your guests will start arriving around half an hour before the ceremony starts, so its a good idea that musicians be finished setting up and starting to play as guests are arriving. Your musicians will also need to know if they are required to move their equipment around if, for example, your ceremony and canapés are in different areas and you want live music for both. Keep in mind that there may be extra costs associated with this, as well as potential delays as it may take the musician/s up to half an hour to move from one location to the other.
Are your musicians insured? This is not absolutely vital and most musicians have insurance but lots don’t. I didn’t used to when it was my side gig. It will give you peace of mind that if anything goes wrong (equipment damage, venue damage by the musician, injury to guests or staff etc.) it will be covered by insurance.
Does this all sound too expensive? If you are on an extremely strict budget, you can do everything really cheaply! If you simply can’t afford any of the above options, you could always hire (or if you own one, bring it) your own PA system and set up a Spotify playlist. You could even assign a friend or family member to take care of things for you- there’s not too much work involved. Some venues also offer to play music very cheaply or free of charge. Although, keep in mind that speakers at a venue probably aren’t of the same sound quality that a professional musician or DJ would bring- and you don’t get the personalised touch, energy, vibe or ‘room reading’ that you get with a professional musician or DJ.
Hopefully now you have a head start and a good idea of what to expect when hiring musicians or DJ’s. I hope we have answered some of your questions, as well as letting you know some of the questions you should probably ask before you book.
Good luck for your special day, we wish you all the best!
OTHER SUPPLIERS WE RECOMMEND:
Photography- Peter Ingamells - peteringamellsphotography.com
Celebrant- Lisa Hunt-Wotton - lisahuntwotton.com
Venue- Lyrebird Falls - lyrebirdfalls.com.au
Flowers- Flowers of Yarra Glen - flowersofyarraglen.com.au
Videographer- Crystal D Studio - crystaldstudio.com.au
Photo Booth- The PhotoBooth Girl - thephotoboothgirl.com.au