In this blog post, we've put together our definitive guide to hiring a wedding band with real questions from couples, as answered by the live music experts at FixTheMusic. The article contains tips, advice and inspiration for your own wedding, especially when it comes to hiring your wedding band, and also the best questions to ask when booking a wedding band.
I think you'll agree that finding a wedding band is one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. Well, fear not – as we’ve put together the complete guide on how to hire a wedding band. It’s full of useful tips and suggestions, as well as 29 frequently asked questions that we’ve gathered from speaking with hundreds of bands and real couples searching for their wedding music.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve recently become engaged. If so, congratulations! As the excitement sinks in, your mind will soon start to focus on getting some of the main suppliers and items for your wedding booked.
So why do I need to read this guide?
Hiring a wedding band is often one of the trickier aspects of wedding planning: there are so many great musicians in the UK to choose from and picking the style of band to suit your big day can be a defining decision for the feel of the wedding.
At FixTheMusic, we supply bands for thousands of weddings each year in the UK and across Europe. From speaking with wedding couples each day, we’ve got a good sense of the frustrations and difficulties that they face when they begin their search for the band of their dreams.
In this post, we’ll cover:
If you have any questions that aren’t covered in this guide, send an email to email@example.com and we'll do our best to help!
Further down the page, we've also added some extra sections packed with useful information...
The following assumes you’ve got your date set and venue booked – or at least a rough idea of where in the UK your wedding will take place.
We'll expand on each of these tips in the advice below...
You’ll probably want the style of band you book to be in keeping with the style of your wedding as a whole.
For example, if you’re having a rustic festival-style wedding in a countryside barn, you might look to hire a folky Mumford-style band – one that includes instruments like a cajon and banjo.
If your wedding is going to be an intimate affair with fewer than 50 guests, you probably won’t want a large soul or funk band. You might instead look for a smaller duo or trio. Read our blog post on live music for micro weddings.
We’ve noticed more a more themed weddings recently – such as an 80s- or 90s-themed wedding, or a Disney theme for example. If you’re having a wedding full of 90s throwbacks (complete with 90s games for guests to play of course), then you’d probably want to book a 90s wedding band. Their repertoire would feature all the 90s classics, UK garage tunes, old school hip hop and RnB music.
Choosing the budget you want to spend on the wedding band can be one of the hardest parts of wedding planning.
The costs of hiring a wedding band can vary a lot depending on numerous factors. The main factors include the number of musicians in the band, how far they have to travel to get to your venue, how late you want them to perform until and the band’s level of experience.
As a general rule, for a professional wedding band, you should expect to pay between £250 - £350 per musician. That means an acoustic duo would be around £600 - £700 and a standard 4-piece band pop and rock band would be between £1,000 - £1,400.
Many bands will charge much less than this. However, it’s possible they will not meet the requirements of UK wedding venues, which usually require bands to have public liability insurance and PAT certified electrical equipment.
At the top of the scale, there are other large showbands that charge anywhere between £5,000 - £20,000 for luxury weddings in the UK. These groups are usually made up of highly in-demand session musicians and singers who have toured with the likes of Adele and Coldplay.
So once you’ve decided how much to spend on your wedding band, the next thing you’ll want to do is start getting a few prices from bands that are available on your date. You can read more in our blog post on how much wedding bands cost on average.
Now that you’ve decided on the style of band and your budget range, you’ll want to start seeing which groups are available on your wedding date.
A lot of wedding entertainment websites list bands but don’t indicate their availability. So you spend hours searching for the perfect band, enquire with them and then find out – much to your disappointment – that they are already booked on your date.
In our experience, it’s better and quicker for couples to head to a website that allows you to list your requirements (the style of band, wedding date, venue, budget) and then available bands get in touch with you with their quotes for your wedding.
This will help you to get a quick and easy overview of which musicians are still available and how much they cost to hire. FixTheMusic can help here – our system does the heavy lifting so you can sit back and enjoy the wedding planning process.
Every professional wedding band will have a promotional video to showcase their talent. This indicates they take their job seriously, as they will have invested hundreds or thousands of pounds producing this video. You should also see if the band has any videos of them performing live at previous events.
Some bands play at very exclusive events which can be hard to film due to privacy issues, but most wedding bands will have some footage from previous events which should show guests on the dancefloor and give you an idea of what the band sounds like when playing live.
Any band worth their salt will have built up a collection of reviews and testimonials from weddings and private events they've performed in previous years. When you book a band on a secure platform like FixTheMusic you can also see when the reviews are from verified bookings on the site, giving you an extra layer of security.
If you're wanting to book a large soul or Motown band with full horn section of trumpets, sax players and trombones, you should definitely check with your venue that they have sufficient space for the band to perform in. Bear in mind that things like the drum kit and PA system can take up quite a lot of room. If you really want to put on a show, you might also want to hire a stage for the band, but most groups won't need a stage in order to perform.
Many inner-city wedding venues and venues based in old buildings have restrictions on the noise levels permitted at weddings and parties. Some noise limits can be very onerous and mean that even singing is difficult. The majority of professional wedding bands can cope with sound limiters, but it's worth checking the levels with the venue first and then ensuring your band is happy with them too. You can read more in our guide on sound limiters.
Most wedding venues require live music to stop by 12 midnight. This is usually in order to comply with local laws and regulations. If you want your party to continue into the small hours, you may need to apply for a late license – and you should also check if your band is happy to play after midnight too.
It usually takes around an hour or an hour and a half for a band to load in, get their equipment set up and carry out their soundcheck. You should get the exact details from your band so that you're able to plan the rest of your day's schedule, in case you don't want to hear any noise from the band during their soundcheck.
Some bands don't request a deposit in order to book them. In our experience, this tends to be quite risky, as there is very little commitment to the booking and the band is liable to back out or cancel at the last minute. A deposit payment means everyone is taking the booking seriously and ensures the band will hold the date in their diary for your wedding. At FixTheMusic, you can pay your deposit securely online using credit or debit card. Your money is then held securely by FixTheMusic and only released to the band after the wedding. This is the most secure way of paying for your band and also provides the band with sufficient protection too.
Some of these questions have been covered in the tips above, but you should always ensure you ask the following questions when booking a wedding band:
1. Do you have public liability insurance?
All professional wedding bands in the UK will hold public liability insurance. Your wedding venue will likely ask that you send them the band's insurance details a few weeks before the wedding date. Read more in our blog post on Public Liability Insurance for UK Musicians and Bands.
2. Is your equipment PAT-certified?
Similar to public liability insurance, most UK wedding venues will require you to provide them with a PAT certificate from your wedding band. This will cover any electrical equipment that the band is bringing onto the venue's premises and ensure that the equipment has been tested and is safe to use. Read more on our blog post on Portable Appliance Testing (PAT).
3. How long does it take you to set up and sound check?
Most bands will take between 60 - 90 minutes to get set up and sound checked. The sound check is an essential part of the band's preparation and ensures they will sound as good as they can once they start performing. The soundcheck can sometimes be a little bit noisy - so if you are having your wedding breakfast or dinner in the same room as the band, you might want the band to arrive earlier in the day to carry out the soundcheck. There may be an extra fee for the band to arrive early, so you should check this with the band before you book ideally. Some bands can carry out a "line check" rather than a full soundcheck, to minimise the amount of noise they make, but this is usually not as effective as a proper soundcheck.
4. What time will you arrive at the wedding venue?
Most wedding bands quote based on the assumption that they will arrive at your wedding venue at around 5pm or 6pm. If you need the band to arrive a lot earlier than this, you should ask your band about any early arrival fees. It might be possible for only one band member to arrive early to start getting set up if necessary, which may reduce the extra cost.
5. Do you have to finish by a certain time?
Almost every wedding band in the UK will expect to finish their set by 12 midnight. This is usually a requirement of the wedding venue too (and local council). If you're wanting the party to go on later than that, make sure you ask the band about this before booking, as there will almost certainly be an additional fee for the band to stay later than midnight.
6. Will you perform our first dance live?
Most wedding bands will be happy to perform your first dance live for you at your wedding. If you have an idea of what your first dance might be at the time of booking, it would be a good question to ask the band if they can play that specific song. Sometimes the band will say they'd prefer not to perform the song if it doesn't fit with their musical style (e.g. if you're asking a ceilidh band to perform a rock song). Most bands don't charge any extra to learn one new song, which is usually the first dance.
7. Can we see your setlist?
Each wedding band will have a setlist of the songs that they usually perform at weddings. This setlist will have been refined over many years and is based on their professional experience of what works well at keeping people on the dancefloor all night and with music that fits their style. Many wedding couples will ask the band if they can pick songs from the band's setlist. In our experience, it's much better not to question the band about the order they play their songs and to leave it to them to decide. The band will judge which songs to play on the night, using their intuition and experience. They're the professionals after all!
8. What requirements do you have on the day?
The vast majority of professional wedding bands are self-contained and don't need you or your venue to provide them with anything. They will bring their own sound system, lighting and instruments. The only thing you normally need to provide for the band is a hot meal and drinks on the night. It's also appreciated by musicians when couples provide them with a secure and warm changing area for them to leave their belongings and to relax in before their live sets.
9. Do you have any dietary requirements?
The musicians will have likely left home around lunchtime in order to arrive at your venue in good time to load in and get set up. So having a hot meal at some point in the evening is essential to ensure the best performance from the band. Your wedding venue will usually ask that you confirm with any suppliers if they have any dietary requirements, food intolerances or allergies.
10. Will the singer from your videos be the singer at my wedding?
Many wedding bands use a pool of singers and don't guarantee who the singer will be at any particular wedding. This is usually not a problem, as the band manager will know and trust the singers they work with. However, if you have any questions or preferences about the singer, you should discuss this with the band to make sure you aren't disappointed on the night.
We hope the above best questions to ask your wedding band before booking them is helpful. Check out our blog for the latest advice, tips and advice.
In this next section, we’ll cover an exhaustive list of the most frequently asked questions that we receive at FixTheMusic from our couples who are hiring a band for their wedding.
For most couples, their wedding is the first time they have booked musicians or even organised a party. So it’s only natural that you’ll have a lot of questions about what can seem like a complicated process.
FixTheMusic provides bands for thousands of weddings and private events each year across Europe and worldwide. We've put together some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about hiring a wedding band, a few of which are listed below:
At FixTheMusic, we hand-pick the UK’s best wedding bands available for hire. We’re incredibly proud to work with the country’s best musicians who consistently receive superb feedback from couples and their guests alike.
You’ll find a diverse range of groups: from classic rock, pop and indie bands, large soul and funk bands, as well as bands riding current trends, such as DJ, sax and percussion groups and 90s-style, hip-hop and UK garage covers bands.
Here are a few of our favourites...
View more videos and read verified reviews of Wandering Three ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of The Manhattans ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of The Power ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Mashup Kings ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Urban Dynamite ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Soul Flight ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of The Old School 90s Band ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Roaming About ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of The Moonlighters ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Soul Destiny ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of Aptitude ➡️
View more videos and read verified reviews of NOMAD Lite ➡️
Picture the scenario...a couple of days before your wedding day, you get a call from the wedding band you’d hired to say that they won’t be able to perform on your special day.
There are usually legitimate reasons why musicians may need to cancel shortly before your wedding, from illness and injury to bereavement.
This is usually not a problem for ensembles like wedding bands and string quartets, as such groups generally work with a small pool of professional musicians, meaning that a replacement player can be brought in at the last minute.
It’s obviously a greater problem for soloists, who will need to liaise with other musicians in the hope of finding a replacement, and the client may need to do the same.
Aside from these “legitimate” reasons for late cancellation, other factors could be at play here. Hobby or amateur musicians who have agreed to play for a low fee (perhaps because you have a low budget) may be tempted to take another higher-paid booking on the same day instead. It’s often the case with more informal bookings, e.g. where a deposit has not been taken, or with musicians who request cash payment on the day.
But the fee is probably the main issue — a low fee will mean the musician is likely to accept more lucrative work instead if the opportunity arises.
So we’ve talked about the reasons why musicians might cancel at the last minute, but what should you do if it happens to you?
We may be able to help you source replacement musicians, as our system will automatically send your enquiry to relevant, hand-picked, professional musicians, and those available will respond to you directly with a quote via our messaging system. It means that you’re likely to find a top-quality musician, even only a day or two before the wedding or event.
Recently, we came to the rescue of a bride-to-be whose string quartet cancelled only three days before her wedding. A friend recommended that she try FixTheMusic, so she submitted an enquiry.
She received an offer from an outstanding solo violinist, who was well within her budget, accepted the offer and paid online by card within minutes. Our lightning-quick messaging system meant that they were able to discuss all the finer details of the big day, so the bride-to-be felt reassured that the violinist would be the perfect choice for her special day.
We’ve also helped a pub owner in Hampshire, who needed a professional bagpiper at the last minute for their New Year's Eve event, and our system sourced an outstanding Irish band at short notice for a St Patrick's night at a pub in London earlier this year.
At FixTheMusic, we’re certainly not accustomed to blowing our own trumpet, but we strongly believe that our enquiry system offers something completely new and much-needed in an industry that is, in general, incredibly slow to innovate and move with the times...most musicians still don’t accept secure online payment by card; old-fashioned agents muddy the waters with complicated fee structures and the confusion and delay caused by unhelpful intermediation of messages between client and musician; other sites provide last minute musicians but list thousands of bands and musicians, and this lack of curation can make it very difficult for bookers to come to a decision...
Our clients have told us the they want to see a carefully curated selection of the UK’s best professional musicians so they can feel confident knowing that the live music at their wedding or event will be absolutely first-class.
They’ve also told us that they want direct contact with musicians without agents getting in the way. And they’ve told us that they want to be able to pay securely online when they’re ready to book. We’re striving to offer all this and more as we continue to innovate at FixTheMusic.
We’re proud that we’ve yet to have a cancellation on FixTheMusic since we launched the website. That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at some point, as musicians get ill from time to time.
But if one of our musicians does have to cancel at the last minute, as professional musicians they know that they will need to try their utmost to find a replacement, and we’ll also do our very best to help with the search.
Nobody likes being scammed – especially when it comes to music. In the 1990s, producer William Barrington-Coupe manipulated hundreds of pre-existing recordings in a bid to pass off his wife Joyce Hatto as a world-class pianist.
The heist was heightened by the excruciating embarrassment of the many record critics who praised the recordings for their originality.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, nine-year-old Lin Miaoke won the hearts of millions of people after her performance at the opening ceremony – only to be revealed as a lip-sync stunt.
She would hardly be the first singer to be accused publicly of faking performance, as the history of UK pop – from the Everlasting Love Affair’s 1960s session musician scandal to various TV performances by Cheryl Cole (now Fernandez-Versini) – shows.
In 2013 Robert Mawhinney, the lead singer of LA rock band Lights Over Paris, cheated investors out of $11 million by wildly exaggerating the extent of the group’s success. And just last year Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost a high-profile court case to the Marvin Gaye family estate who successfully sued them for plagiarising one of Gaye’s records from the 1970s.
So there’s a rich history of muso hoaxes, and it’s not unique to the glitz and glamour of mainstream showbiz. In a more parochial case of ‘fake it till you make it’, a musician from Borders was taken to court last month after allegedly pocketing payments for a ceilidh band that never showed up to any gigs.
Whether he got away with it or not, the case raises the question what you should do to protect yourselves when hiring entertainment for your private event.
In today’s digital world, it can be hard to tell the pretenders from the professionals. When it comes to booking function musicians in particular, the recent Scottish case highlights the importance of having a contractual agreement in place.
You want to know that the band you’ve fallen in love with online is going to deliver on your special day – and that you haven’t just handed over your money to a group of imposters.
With FixTheMusic, you can enjoy the security of a third-party mediator. We personally vet all musicians and acts who sign up to our site. When you pay the deposit to secure a booking, and the remainder 45 days before your date, it is worth noting that all transactions are processed through Stripe, the most secure online payment platform used by hundreds of trustworthy sites including Lyft and OpenTable.
And, most importantly, the entire fee is held safely in escrow until you’ve danced the night away, after which we pay our musicians. Put simply, we’ve got your back at every stage. Take a look at our booking agreement which governs every transaction made through our site.
Read what other customers have said about us in our five-star reviews on Facebook and Google.
We are very proud to have achieved only 5-star reviews in the several years since we began FixTheMusic.
And rest assured that with an impressive database of thousands of professional musicians on hand across the UK, FixTheMusic is uniquely positioned to be the best possible safety net for your event, with 24/7 customer service and its own in-house team of professional musicians.
We encourage event planners to think carefully about their responsibilities. Hiring musicians offers rich experiences for your guests, but it comes with a certain level of commitment. Here are some ways you can be a responsible live music host...
Make a first aid kit easily available.
We are providing the suggestions below to get you started.
The Government has published a guide to fire safety in England and Wales, which you can access here.
Your local fire service is responsible for enforcing the fire safety laws and in some cases they may want to inspect your venue to make sure that it is safe for your guests.
Ensure you have a clearly marked fire escape route.
Ensure your venue is properly ventilated. If you have gas appliances, you should make sure you have a functioning carbon monoxide detector, that appliances are serviced regularly, and that you are following any gas safety regulations that apply to your venue.
Ensure you have adequate public liability coverage.
Also have a read of our Booking Agreement.
We've put together a handy timeline checklist, tailored for UK weddings so you can stay organised as you prepare for your special day.
You should start making a provisional booking with the venue and Registration Service to secure your preferred date. Research where you would like to hold your reception and start to make enquiries.
Some of the best wedding bands and musicians will start taking bookings about 18 months in advance (some bands are even booked up more than 2 years in advance), so to avoid disappointment, it’s best to start making enquiries as early as possible.
At this point, it’s a good idea to make a final decision on your wedding budget, and how you are going to subdivide this into broad categories, e.g. catering, entertainment and flowers.
Get in touch with the Registration Service to schedule a time to give Notice.
Make bookings with your photographer or videographer, your catering suppliers and venue decoration company (e.g. for table and room decoration). This would also be a good time to book your honeymoon.
At this time, you should also make final decisions on your guest list, including bridesmaids, page boys, ushers and best man. Start to think about your dress and your bridesmaids’ dresses and about hiring formalwear for the men.
A good time to make your order for the flowers. Have a think about your gift list — an online gift list with John Lewis is an easy and fun way to do this. 6 months before the wedding is also an ideal time to book transport for your special day.
Place your order for stationery, and purchase the rings. At this point, you should also decide on the menu for your wedding breakfast and order the wedding cake.
It’s a good idea to check your passport is up-to-date and go through any final arrangements for your honeymoon, like booking hotels or itineraries. This is also the traditional time to send out wedding invitations, along with information about accommodation in the area. Think about presents for your attendants.
Return the ceremony plan to the Registration Service and settle the fees for the ceremony with the venue.
Contact guests who have not responded. Also think about purchasing currency for your honeymoon, if required. You should give provide the caterers with your final guest list. With 8 weeks to go, this is the time to organise the stag and hen nights, and to book your hair appointment.
This is a good time to make contact again with your wedding band or musicians, to discuss details like parking on the day, changing facilities, any song requests you might have, and to discuss their food arrangements (most bands will request some food and drink on the day).
At this point, it’s essential to check final fittings for the bridal gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses and make sure that hired clothes are collected. Start to pack for your honeymoon as the wedding day will come sooner than you think!
To devise this list, we conducted extensive research on the weddings booked via FixTheMusic, but we also created our own survey which was completed by several hundred brides in the UK.
Although some of the weddings have not yet taken place, nearly all the couples have decided on their first dance song. Here we present the most 9 most popular wedding first dance songs.
So here are the most popular first dance songs for weddings...
1. Perfect by Ed Sheeran
2. All Of Me by John Legend
3. Marry You by Bruno Mars
4. At Last by Etta James
5. Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
6. I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz
7. A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
8. Marry Me by Train
9. How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding
So if you’re now ready to receive offers from highly recommended wedding bands, just tell us about your wedding and you’ll have musicians sending you their offers in a few hours.
— Ed is a recovering lawyer, having worked at international firm Hogan Lovells in London and Hong Kong before moving to a specialist practice in Mayfair. He left law to return to one of his earliest passions — music.