A professional musician or band can take a wedding to another level. Various solo musicians and bands specialize in pop, classical, standards, rock, R&B, big band, jazz or a combination of some or all of the above. Karaoke bands are also available for weddings. Costs vary depending on the specific day of the week and date, distance the musicians must travel, their skill and experience, food and drink, gear, special requests, and how in-demand the performers are.
Flat fee or hourly
Wedding musicians and bands often charge a flat fee for each gig. For example, MarkOHarps of Arlington, Virginia, charges $350 for a large wedding and reception. Others charge by the hour. Tucker Dale of Redondo Beach, California, charges $200 for up to two hours and $50 an hour thereafter. Scotty Paulk of Austell, Georgia, charges $100 an hour for weddings.
Number of musicians
Generally speaking, the more musicians, the higher the cost. For example, Sweet Harmony of Plainfield, New Jersey, charges $450 for a soloist, $650 for a duo, $850 for a trio and $1,150 for a quartet.
Skill and experience
Generally, the more skilled the musician or band, the higher the price. But that’s not always true. Talented musicians who are just starting out generally charge less. Customers can usually listen to musicians’ music on their website, SoundCloud or Bandcamp site to determine if they are a good fit. Many highly skilled musicians and bands develop a repertoire and stage act specifically for weddings. These acts are generally in high demand, so the price is generally higher.
Most bands and musicians provide their own sound gear as part of their price. Sometimes the sound gear is listed as separate charge from their performance fee. Some musicians do not provide sound gear, in which case customers will need to rent equipment. Some wedding venues can provide sound and lighting gear on a rental basis or as part of the overall fee for the wedding.
Food and drink
Wedding bands and musicians generally request to be fed during the wedding reception, so account for this cost.
Day and date
Prices for wedding entertainment fluctuate based on demand. More weddings are held at certain times of the year, so demand for musicians and bands is at its highest. Also, prices for Saturday performances are usually the highest because the majority of weddings take place on that day.
Members of the American Federation of Musicians union have defined minimum rates. While this may be more expensive than hiring nonunion musicians, the experience is likely to be highly professional in terms of booking and logistics.
Most musicians and bands provide a list of the songs they are prepared to play. Customers who have a special request that isn’t on the list may have to pay an additional fee to cover the musicians’ time learning and practicing the new material. For example, The Ocdamia Strings of Anaheim, California, charges $25 per song not in their repertoire.
Some musicians charge a travel fee to attend weddings that are relatively far from them. For example, Acoustic Guitar for All Occasions in Burbank, California, charges an initial flat fee but adjusts that price based on travel expenses and the gear needed to perform the job; he also charges by the hour for overtime. The Ocdamia Strings travels free to weddings within Orange County and Los Angeles County but charges $1 per mile in excess of 20 miles from Anaheim.
It’s always a good idea to meet with the musician or band manager in person or over the phone to plan for an event and set expectations. This service should be free.
Some musicians require a deposit upfront to secure services. For example, The Ocdamia Strings requires a signed contract and a 25 percent deposit to book a specific date and time. The remaining balance is due the day of the wedding before the performance.
Hire a tasteful solo musician or DJ to save over the cost of a full band. Have talented friends or local music students play. Schedule your wedding for a day other than a Saturday or at a time of year when demand is lowest.