This can vary according to time of year, day of the week, the number in the band (could you get a reduced version - do you really need the full twelve piece?) and how heavily booked they are. Be warned: good wedding bands get booked faster than mainstream bands.
YOUR FAVORITE BAND VS THE WEDDING BAND
The first choice is whether you want to mark the occasion as special by having you and your beloved’s favorite band to play or a band that specializes in playing at weddings? If budget is a factor, the average fee of a wedding band is between $3-4,000. However, if you want to really splash out you could get Vanilla Ice to entertain you for $25K, Lana Del Rey for $75K or Mumford and Sons for $625K. But Lana, Vanilla and Mumford are unlikely to be playing covers of your favorites whereas a professional wedding band musicians will be prepared to play anything anyway you and the groom desire.
SEE THE BAND IN ACTION
Either watch a videotape of them (preferably without an auto-tuned soundtrack!) or watch them at a dress rehearsal. If neither is possible, ask for a playlist and ensure that the artists or songs you want will be played at your wedding reception party.
GET RECENT REFERENCES
It is important to know that their last five gigs met with satisfied customers. Ask for references and, if they are slow in forthcoming, pass. You need some guarantee this wedding band is professional in that it can get with the vibe of a crowd, create synergy with any theme and uplift the energy of a room.
CHECK THAT THEY HAVE YOUR FIRST LOVE SONG
If they do not have it, don’t know it, won’t learn it or play it, don’t book them. If they really are wedding band professionals, they should be able to learn, rehearse, play or download any tune you like - at no extra cost.
PREPARE A PERSONAL PLAY LIST AND A DO NOT PLAY EVER LIST!
The wedding band is a group of professional musicians playing for YOU - not for themselves - so should cater to your preferences, play your personal request list and ensure that, no matter how many persistent requests from drunk guests, the Do-Not-Play-EVER list is honored. Make this specific in your contract.
DO YOU WANT YOUR DJ TO DOUBLE AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES?
Do you wish the band or lead singer to also act as a Master of Ceremonies in announcing the Cutting of the Cake, the First Dance and so forth?
CHECK THE SOUND, SIZE AND SONIC BOOM!
It is important to clarify that the venue size, P.A. system, power supply and license will accommodate the band and who will moderate the volume to ensure Great Aunt Ethel is not in hell at 120 decibels and fourteen year old niece Sally Mae is not bored to tears. The band should check out the venue themselves before the gig to ensure the requirements are met. If they fail to do this, for whatever reason, don’t book. Also, have in writing who will set up the acoustic, power and amplification requirements and ensure that the band know who to contact in the venue management to facilitate equipment storage, food, drink, changing rooms and other details.
You will need a thorough and detailed contract to cover limitations and liability. You will need the names of each of the principal band members, a specific song list, the logistics of arrival, set up, departure times, liability insurance coverage, payment schedule, what will they be wearing (tuxedos or black formal?), food and drink, break times, transportation arrangements and provisions for overtime.
Then...just relax and let the band play on!