Hiring a Wedding Band in Abu Dhabi – A Short Guide
17 JANUARY 2018 (Updated 30 JANUARY 2023) Blog post by Adam Southall Estimated read time: 3 minutes
Abu Dhabi is one of the most popular locations for destination weddings, and for good reason.
The favourable climate offering year-round sunshine, its beautiful beaches and world-class restaurants and hotels are just some of the factors that make Abu Dhabi such a hotspot for tying the knot, especially with British and American couples.
When it comes to hiring a live wedding band in Abu Dhabi, it can be difficult to find exactly what you want for your special day.
In general, couples who head to Abu Dhabi for a destination wedding want a band that plays covers of British and American pop, rock and indie music (as well as some funk and soul thrown in for good measure). As such, British wedding bands are increasingly in demand to make the journey to entertain at destination weddings in Abu Dhabi.
We've put together a carefully curated selection of the finest cover bands in the Middle East, all of which have performed in Abu Dhabi at weddings, corporate events and parties. FixTheMusic is trusted by all of the local wedding planners to provide outstanding international musicians.
Several of FixTheMusic’s UK-based wedding bands are proving popular for destination weddings in the region. Of course, travel expenses mean that it can cost roughly double the price of hiring these bands to perform in the UK.
On FixTheMusic, bands always provide quotes directly to you with a clear breakdown of costs so you can make an informed decision – no other costs are added, and once you’re happy to book, you can pay securely online via card.
You should aim to book your band as soon as possible. Most of our best wedding bands have bookings at least two years in advance. If your wedding is on a Saturday in May, June, July, August or September, you should really be looking to book at least a year in advance of your date. This is because most weddings fall on a Saturday during summer so our bands receive the most enquiries for these days. That said, there are more and more weddings taking place on Sundays and mid-week (especially on Thursdays and Fridays) so it’s best not to wait too long before locking down your band.
Can I see wedding bands perform live before I book?
Usually it’s not possible to see the band live. Most professional bands perform at private events only, such as weddings and corporate events. It’s not usually possible for the bands to allow potential clients into these venues to watch them perform. It is occasionally possible so there’s no harm in asking. And sometimes wedding bands will do the odd gig at a pub or festival that’s open to the public.
How long do most wedding bands perform for?
Most bands play 2 x 45 minute or 2 x 1 hour live sets at weddings. Some bands will play for longer than this. The bands will usually tell you how long their sets are when they provide you with their quote.
What happens between and after the wedding band's live sets?
Most bands provide a “laptop DJ” service. This isn’t the same as providing the service of a professional DJ who reads the room and adapts to the feel on the night. Instead, they will have a playlist (usually on something like Spotify or iTunes) that they play out of their PA system. It's worth checking the details of this with the band, as some wedding bands only provide the live music and prefer to leave the rest of the evening's music to the couple or a professional DJ.
Can I choose the music that the wedding band plays in between and after their live sets?
Yes, usually you can send the band a list of requests before the wedding and the band will download them onto their laptop or device, ready to play on the night. Alternatively, you can compile a playlist and bring your own device to plug into the band’s PA system. You should check this with the band first, as not all bands are comfortable with others using their own equipment.
What songs will wedding bands play?
Most bands have a repertoire of songs that they perform regularly at weddings. This will be a tried-and-tested playlist that they know works well at weddings: it appeals to guests of all ages and keeps people on the dance floor. The set list will change throughout the year, as the band adds and removes songs.
Will the wedding band learn my first dance song?
Yes! Most bands will be delighted to learn your first dance song and perform it live for you on your wedding night. If it doesn’t fit the band’s style (e.g. if your first dance song is a jazz song, but you’ve booked an indie-rock band), then they might suggest you use the recorded version of the song and the band will play this out of their PA system.
Can I give a list of songs to the band to play at my wedding?
Most bands will usually learn one song for your wedding that isn’t already in their setlist. Some bands will offer to learn 2 or 3 new songs, but in our experience they are rarely able to learn more than this. It can be very time consuming for the band to learn and rehearse new songs, and especially so for singers to learn all the new lyrics.
Can I indicate my song preferences to the wedding band?
Yes. Most bands will be happy for you to indicate which songs from their set list you dislike and don’t want them to play, and songs that you like and absolutely want them to play on the night. The band will usually then build their setlist around these preferences.
What time will the wedding band arrive?
Most bands aim to arrive at around 5pm to be ready to play by 7pm. During this time they will set up their equipment and carry out a sound check, essential to making sure the volume of the band is appropriate to your venue and that any sound / noise limiters are taken into account.
Can the wedding band turn up earlier than that?
Yes, most bands will be happy to turn up earlier than 5pm, but you should expect to pay them for the extra time. A lot of wedding couples worry about the band setting up while guests are at the venue. Bands with lots of experience of weddings should be able to set up discreetly and without making too much noise and mess. The noisiest part is when they have to carry out the sound check, but this should only last about 15 - 30 minutes.
What time will the wedding band finish?
Most bands expect to finish by midnight. This suits most weddings as the majority of venues require live music to stop by this time.
Can the wedding band stay later than midnight?
Usually, yes, the band can finish after midnight. But bands will normally charge a slightly higher fee for this later finish, and this should be arranged with the band in advance.
Can I use the wedding band’s PA system after midnight?
Usually, yes. Though this will also attract a slightly higher fee, as it means that at least one band member has to wait until the end of the party to pack up the PA system and head home. Some band members might be a couple of hours’ drive away from your venue, so finishing at 1am means they won’t arrive him until 3am or 4am.
Will the wedding band bring their own equipment?
Yes. Professional wedding bands will bring their own equipment. This includes a PA system, mixing desk, some basic lighting for the dance floor and their own instruments. If you are planning a particularly large wedding with hundreds of guests, you might consider hiring in a larger PA system and more lighting. Not all bands in Europe provide their own equipment (e.g. they might not bring lighting), so you may wish to check this before booking.
Do wedding bands need a stage?
No. Most bands are happy to perform without a stage, though it can look special if you can offer them a stage to perform on.
If I do provide a stage, how much space will the wedding band need?
This will depend on the size of the band of course, but to give you a rough idea, a 4-piece band would usually need at least 5m x 4m. This is to provide room for not only the band members themselves, but also their instruments (keyboards and drum kits take up quite a bit of space) and other things like speakers and a mixing desk.
Can I or my guests perform or sing with the wedding band?
If you ask the band in advance, most will be happy to allow you or one of your guests to sing or play along with them for one or two songs. We always advise checking this with your band first.
Do I need to hire a DJ as well as a wedding band?
Most bands will provide pre-recorded playlists between and after their live sets, so your entire evening will be covered. However, if you want a professional DJ who will adapt his music choices on the night and interact with guests, then it’s better to hire a DJ as well.
If I do hire a separate DJ, can the wedding band and DJ share equipment?
Bands and DJs will often share the same PA system, as it can look cluttered to have two sets of speakers around the dance floor. However, you’ll need to discuss this with both the DJ and band before the event to check the equipment suits everyone’s requirements and that everyone is happy to share. One problem can arise when the DJ is booked to provide music into the small hours, but the band is to finish at 11pm. In this case, it would make more sense for the band to use the DJ’s equipment to save the band having to wait until the DJ had finished his set.
Do I need to provide anything for the wedding band?
Professional wedding bands will normally bring all their own technical equipment and instruments. However, most will expect to be provided with a hot meal each and soft drinks. The musicians will probably have left their homes around lunchtime to arrive at your venue in good time to set up and soundcheck. It can be a long day for them and they will be much more energetic on stage if they’ve had a good meal and refreshments before performing for you. The bands won’t expect to be given the same meal as you provide for your guests. Most wedding venues have an option you can purchase in advance for your suppliers or you can give the musicians access to your buffet if you’re having one.
Will the wedding band members be the same as the ones I’ve seen in their videos?
Not always. Most professional bands will have a core group that plays at the majority of weddings they are booked for. However, they will also have a group of deputies (or “deps” as they are known in the industry) that they call upon frequently to cover for band members. This is a standard and essential practice in the music industry. Most musicians work as freelancers, meaning they might work for different function bands or tour with famous pop groups for example. Being able to draw upon a deputy musician to cover a band member who is unavailable (or ill) means the rest of the band can still work.
What do wedding bands wear?
You should get a good idea of what the band wears from their videos online. Most will opt for a smart shirt, but if you have a particular theme or any requests, let them know well in advance. For example, if you’re having an 80s style wedding, you might want to check if the band could wear appropriate clothing to match!
Will the wedding band need parking spaces?
Most bands will arrive by car as it’s the easiest way for them to bring their equipment and instruments. Having 1 or 2 parking spaces available for them to use that are close to the venue will be appreciated by the musicians. In certain cities such as London, you might also need to cover the costs of parking.
Can wedding bands play outside?
If you’re getting married in Europe, it’s a good idea to make the most of the summer months and have as much of your wedding outside if possible. That said, the weather isn’t always the most reliable – so whilst many bands will be happy to play outside in principle, they will always require access to a shelter from the elements, whether that’s strong sunlight or rain. Musicians’ instruments can be worth thousands of pounds and a small amount of water damage or sun can have a devastating impact on the instrument.
Do I need a contract with my wedding band?
The most secure way to book a band is to do so via FixTheMusic. All bookings are governed by the agreement on our website, which is based on the Musicians Union standard contract and amended by the particular details that you agree with your band by email (date, venue etc.). The contract provides protection to both parties.
If you'd like to receive free quotes from our bands that are available to hire for weddings in Abu Dhabi, submit your enquiry to get started.
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to hire English wedding bands in Abu Dhabi, and we hope to help many more couples find their perfect wedding band in the years to come.
— 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.