This is a question that is frequently asked on wedding forums – how much does it cost to hire a live wedding band for your reception?
At FixTheMusic, a free platform for booking a carefully curated selection of the UK’s finest wedding bands (you can browse them all here), we have been able to keep track of the average cost of hiring wedding bands, so we’d like to share our thoughts with you in this blog post.
First of all, it’s important to state that wedding bands are considered to be a cut above pub cover bands, although perhaps this does amateur pub bands a disservice – many of the most famous bands started on the pub and club scene playing a mixture of covers and original tracks.
But a wedding band will generally have invested more in top-of-the-range equipment, which usually means a high-quality PA system, musical instruments and lighting. They also invest in public liability insurance (a requirement of all UK wedding venues), equipment maintenance and Portable Appliance Testing of equipment.
Another reason that wedding bands charge more relates to the pressure involved in performing on such a special day for all included, not least the bride and groom – lots of time goes into rehearsals to make sure each player is in tune and in time with each other.
And finally, it’s worth saying that wedding bands usually consist of professional musicians who make a living from their gigs, often supplemented by teaching music lessons at schools or privately.
So we’ve established why a professional wedding band might charge a bit more than a pub cover band. Let’s get to the figures.
Of course, the main factor that influences the cost of a wedding band is the number of performers in the band.
A good rule of thumb is that the cost per musician in a wedding band for 2020 is roughly £290 to £340, so an acoustic duo would charge in the region of £580 to £680, a three-piece band charges approximately £870 to £1,020 and a four-piece band would cost about £1160 to £1,360 to hire for the evening’s entertainment.
But there are several other factors that influence the cost of hiring a wedding band:
Saturdays in the summer months are peak times when wedding bands will charge their full rate and will generally not be willing to negotiate on price. At FixTheMusic, we’ve seen an increasing demand for bands to perform on weekdays, as weekday weddings become more popular in the UK. Bands can often offer a reduced rate for performance on any other day than Saturday in the summer wedding season (May to September) and the rate might be further reduced for winter weddings, which are also increasing in popularity.
The distance the band will need to travel to your wedding venue is also a factor that affects cost, especially considering that larger bands will need to travel in more than one car. Petrol costs can be significant if the band is travelling from afar. At FixTheMusic, enquiries are sent to local bands from our hand-picked selection who will then provide quotes – you can then compare the bands and their quotes, message them if you like, and when you’re ready to book, you can pay securely on our platform by debit or credit card.
Most bands prefer to perform a maximum of 2 x 45-minute or 2 x 60-minute sets with a small break in between sets. Their quotes will usually be based on this length of performance, but if you require them to play for longer, or for them to set up early, they will charge a bit more. Wedding bands will often include a free DJ set with their package so it’s worth enquiring about this. If they do charge for a DJ service, it will, in general, work out much cheaper than hiring a separate DJ.
Another factor relates simply to supply and demand. The more popular bands will generally charge a bit more as they are able to do this and still achieve bookings. The popularity of bands often relates to the genre of music they perform. We see a greater demand for male lead vocalists than female lead vocalists, but this could in part be due to the popularity of all-male bands like Mumford & Sons. Mumford & Sons style folk-rock wedding bands (often featuring upright bass, acoustic guitars and occasionally banjo) have become very popular in recent years and remain popular in 2020, particularly at festival-themed and vintage-themed weddings.
So where the demand is high and supply is limited, such is the case for Mumford style weddings bands, they will generally charge a bit more for their services than a more standard pop/rock cover band, even if they are both of equally high standard.
A few examples...
The rock and pop bands below generally charge between £900 - £1,200 for weddings (depending on travel and other factors discussed in this post):
The soul and funk bands below usually start at around £1,800 - £2,200, simply because they include more musicians such as the trumpet, sax and multiple vocalists too:
Our largest and most luxury showbands tend to cost anywhere between £2,000 and £6,000, depending on the size of band:
Whilst supply and demand can relate to the music genre of the band, of course it can also simply relate to the sheer musicianship and charisma of the band – wedding bands with the wow factor may be able to charge more for their services and still have a full calendar of weddings and function bookings.
Also bear in mind that the most in-demand wedding bands will often be booked up for up to 2 years in advance (particularly with regard to Saturdays in the summer months), so it’s best to start your search as early as possible. Band hire prices also increase with inflation too.
That’s about it really. So to summarise...the cost of hiring a wedding band in 2020 mainly depends on the number of musicians in the lineup. There are of course other important factors to bear in mind such as date, location and performance length. Like most of us, you'll want to keep costs to a minimum!
Good luck in your search for a wedding band and we’d be delighted to help you – submit an enquiry to receive quotes directly from our hand-picked selection of the finest wedding bands in the UK.
FixTheMusic is free to use – you are always in direct contact with musicians and can book easily on our safe and secure platform.
If you're planning your own wedding, how much have you budgeted for the wedding band or DJ? Tell us in the comments section below!
— Adam is a co-founder of FixTheMusic and works on everything from copywriting and marketing to design and user experience. He studied Music at Cambridge University. Adam is a keen pianist and also learned cello and trumpet from an early age.