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Beginner’s Guide to Hiring a Wedding Band 2021

Looking for a wedding band but not sure where to start? 

I have spent the last 20 years playing in various wedding bands all over Scotland – and I can assure you that it’s no easy task.

One of the first issues couples tend to have is that there seems to be an absolutely overwhelming number of bands on offer at every turn, from agencies and directories to social media – and not forgetting the friend of a friend’s cousin’s band who once supported Scouting for Girls in 2006.

The good news is that The Dirty Martinis have already done the hard work for you – so while you’re here, why not head over to our About section to make a start?

Plan ahead

Although there may appear to be an abundance of wedding bands out there, by the time you’ve whittled down your requirements, settled on a budget and focussed in on your local region, you may find just a handful make it to the shortlist.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to plan well ahead to ensure you get the pick of the bunch. We often receive enquiries over two years in advance, and whilst that may seem over-zealous for your average bride and groom, we do recommend booking at least 9-12 months in advance if possible.

 

Outline your must-haves

Much like buying a house, every couple will have their own wants and wishes when it comes to planning a wedding – and the evening band is no exception.

Would you prefer a rocking male vocalist, a band who can also play Scottish dances or perhaps a bit of both or all? Whatever it is you’re after, you’ll find plenty to choose from.

 

How do I know if a band is any good?

The Dirty Martinis primarily perform at private events, we understand it can be frustrating for couples to not have the opportunity to watch their prospective bands live before booking.

We go to great lengths to showcase the band through our promotional videos and feedback videos taken from real couples at genuine weddings. Some of our feedback is from wedding co-ordinators and managers ( Balbirnie House Hotel / Craigsanquhar Hotel etc.) Very often they will have saw hundreds of bands perform at their venue.

Our YOUTUBE channel has over 150 videos of previous feedback and clips from weddings and parties. (Click on text to go to channel.)

We also list any public gigs on our website and also on our events page on Facebook.

Set an approximate budget

When searching for a wedding band, it’s a good idea to get a feel for the costs involved before settling on your entertainment budget. You’ll no doubt come across pub bands on Facebook who are willing to travel across the country for beer money and a pat on the back, but if you’re after a band that exudes quality, charisma and professionalism, you’ll need to come up with a sensible budget that will cover exactly what you’re after.

 

TIP – As a general rule, the average cost per musician lies somewhere between £250-£350, which amounts to anything from £700 – £1050 and above for a trio and upwards of £1000 – £1400 for a 4-piece band in their home town. Average price for a 5 piece band £1500.

Why do prices vary so much?

As you start to browse the web and the quotes come flooding in, it soon becomes apparent that prices can vary massively, so what actually affects the price of a wedding band?

There are so many factors that come into play but the main five differentials tend to be as follows:

  • The number of band members: The more musicians in a band, the more mouths to feed.
  • Travelling distance from the venue: Always start your search locally before searching further afield in order to get the best deal.
  • Popularity of the band: The more popular the band, the higher their rates become. A professional function band is a business and it’s only natural that they will increase their fees as demand goes up.
  • Time of the year: With peak summer Saturdays being the most popular in the year, bands will often be inundated with requests for the same dates and so some bands may alter fees to account for this, often offering more competitive rates out of season.
  • Quality: Some musicians are just better than others!

 

What else should I take into account before budgeting?

We always quote inclusive of any travel expenses and come fully self-contained with PA system (sound system) and lighting. If the band need to stay over they’ll either include accommodation in their fees or outline the requirement on their quote.

One thing to note is that the band will always require parking at the venue – so if this isn’t available, you may be required to cover parking costs.

 

What should I expect to be included in the quote?

All bands work in their own particular way, but as a guide, you can expect most bands to include the following in their quote as standard:

  • 6-6:30pm arrival and set-up
  • 3.5 hours of live music – 1.5 & x 2 x 60 minute sets
  • Playlists to fill the gaps
  • High quality PA system and lighting
  • Midnight finish
  • Travel expense
  • Public Liability Insurance and PAT test certificates

Other optional add-ons we offer include:

  • 1am finish time
  • Early arrival to set up before guests arrive
  • Added brass section
  • Added Saxophone player

 

Meals/Drink  for the band?! Yes please.

Whilst many wedding suppliers may not request meals in their contracts, it is generally considered the industry standard for function and wedding bands. Having played in a band for many years myself, I can attest to the fact that eating (healthily) on the road is a tough nut to crack, and so bar meals and refreshments on the night are always hugely appreciated.

After all, it’s never much fun to tuck into the remnants of the cheeseboard after all of the crackers have already been polished off. 

Marquee set up

Check band and venue requirements

Now that you’ve chosen your band, you’ll need to double-check they’re compatible with your venue. Does your venue have any specific sound requirements? Do they have enough space? Do they have a sound limiter, built-in sound system or indeed a license to have live music at all?

There are a whole list of questions to ask your venue before making a booking.

 

What’s this PLI and PAT all about?

If you’ve had quotes in already, you may have seen the term ‘PLI’ floating about, but what’s it all about?

Every self-respecting wedding band should be able to provide a Public Liability Insurance Certificate (PLI Certificate) on request; should the band then be held responsible for an accident, they’ll have the appropriate insurance to cover themselves.

The Dirty Martinis have PLI insurance for £10 Million.

Some venues, especially listed buildings of historical value, may even insist that the band have a minimum level of insurance; if the band don’t already meet this requirement, there is the option to look into single day insurance instead.

Similarly, PAT tests aren’t a legal requirement, but are generally requested by venues to ensure that any equipment older than a year old is safe and acceptable to use.

Is there anything else I need to know?

You’re bound to have lots of queries specific to your wedding. Whether they be about dress code, logistical obstacles or otherwise, feel free to email a list of queries to us and we will be sure to offer answers and advice. In the meantime, you may find our FAQs page is a great place to start.

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