How Much Does a Wedding Live Band Cost?

You want a high-energy live band that people rave about after your event, but what does that actually cost?! 

We'll do our best to break down the different factors and give you a few tips on how you can save money on your perfect wedding day music.

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Live music at a wedding reception is always a crowd-pleaser, especially if you hire a talented live wedding band.

 

There's nothing that gets all your friends and family onto the dance floor like the electric atmosphere created by live music and a charismatic bandleader.

 

For that reason alone, choosing a live band for wedding entertainment should be a no-brainer.

If you're currently in the middle of wedding planning and depending on your preferences and budget, you might want to save money on other parts of the wedding so you can splurge on the parts that make the biggest impact (ahem, the band).

 

That's why it's important to know exactly what to expect when it comes to wedding music, for the ceremony and reception music, and how much it will cost.

Is a Band more expensive than a Wedding DJ?

It depends.  Some Wedding DJs can get expensive, especially if they have a lot of experience and are in high demand. Compared to a less experienced wedding band, you might actually end up paying more for a DJ in some cases. However, most wedding DJs play more bat mitzvahs than nightclubs, so not many are charging insanely high rates. And remember, a wedding DJ's experience playing music selections suited to families is a plus for most weddings.


At the end of the day, a wedding DJ is one guy with a laptop, a playlist, maybe some turntables, and some speakers. So in most cases, this is going to be less expensive than the cost of a wedding band.

 

Keep in mind that there's a third option where you can have the best of both worlds. For example, book a DJ during the dinner service or cocktail hour and a live band for the dancing part of the reception, but not the other way around. This hybrid option may turn out to be both affordable and the best fit with your preferences.

9 Factors that Influence Total Wedding Band Costs

Number of band members

Band prices are often calculated for live wedding bands based on the number of performers. With the knowledge that a larger band will mean more people to pay, a standard four or five-piece band will typically be more affordable than a group of seven to nine musicians. Picturing a standing orchestra with ten players for your big day? Awesome, just expect to pay more than for a 3-piece jazz trio.


Length of time you want them to perform

Most live wedding bands play for about three hours during the reception, but the number of hours you want them to play will increase or decrease the price. For example, playing during the wedding ceremony, during cocktail hour, dinner hours, or after-party, in addition to after-dinner dancing, would increase your total costs.

Learning new songs

Do you want to have the band play a specific song? Most musical acts have a catalog of music ready to play. But if you want them to learn a new song they don't already know, they usually charge an additional fee, since they have to put in more practice time.


Years of experience 

Not all bands are created equally. Experience and professionalism go a long way, so a band that has played 15 weddings can't charge as much as a the best bands that have played far more events.


Seasonality

The time of year has a significant influence on price. During the wedding season boom, late spring through early fall, rates will be higher than out of season. Essentially, the nicer the weather is, the higher the rates are.
 

Day of the week

Typically, bands charge more on the weekends as opposed to weekdays because they're more in demand on Fridays and Saturdays.
 

Transportation costs

Depending on where your wedding venue is located and where performers are traveling from, transportation may be a factor. It won't be a major spending area if the band is local, but you want the band to travel for a destination wedding, you're looking at a higher price range. Since the band will have to transport their instruments and gear, and if the location is someplace expensive like New York, you'll have to pay a higher rate.


Miscellaneous or extra services

If you want anything extra such as lighting or special effects, this will bump your price up.
 

Tipping

While it's not included nor expected, it is always much appreciated by band members, especially if it turns out to be the best night of your life.  

What do you get for different price ranges?

While we won't speak for other bands' price ranges, at Standing Room Only, we like to break our wedding band offerings down in a simple way:


Our core offering is a 6 piece band, but depending on your preferences and budget, you can either add or subtract the number of musicians. Each band has the following musicians:

  • female performance singer

  • male performance singer

  • keyboard player + vocals

  • guitar player + vocals

  • bass player + vocals

  • drummer

 

As the size of the band grows, horns are added, then lastly our 10 piece band adds an additional singer.  Our 5 piece band subtracts a dedicated singer.  We do this so that we can always guarantee a high-quality experience for you and your guests, yet also make it affordable based on what your needs may be.

There are many ways to be creative with live or recorded music to deliver cost-effective, but amazing results.  Here are a few options to consider:
 

Small Budgets 

Under $2,000 options

  • A la carte musicians (soloists or trios) for your ceremony or cocktail hour.  

  • DJ Hybrid program with live music for the ceremony and cocktail hour, followed by a DJ for the reception.

Moderate Budgets 

Under $7,000

  • Band of 3-4 musicians (keys, guitar, bass, drums) with custom playlist for dinner hour.  Although you’ll have a leaner band with fewer musicians, they’re dedicated professionals who can really put on a show.

  • Band of 5-7 musicians (adds solo singers and saxophone) with custom playlist for dinner hour
    The highlight of going for a bigger band is you get a sound suited to the deeper tones of classic Motown, Funk, and Soul hits.

 

Larger Budgets 

Under $10,000

  • Orchestra of 9-10 musicians.  Bands in this range offer a little something extra. When you have this many musicians on stage, it creates a much fuller and richer sound quality. More instruments also mean an increase in the diversity of songs the band is able to execute.

Tips for hiring a live wedding band

If you don't want to make any compromises on your wedding music, here are some tips on finding the wedding band that's right for you.


Know the vibe you're going for

Think about your personal taste and style, what type of atmosphere you want your ceremony and reception to have, and what your wedding guests might like. This will all inform the type of live wedding band you hire. Whether they specialize in big band music, 80s dance hits, motown, or are known for getting a crowd moving, it's important to know exactly what the band will deliver.


Remember you get what you pay for

If a wedding band in the low price range is what works best for you, that's great! At the same time, don't forget this rule of thumb: that a lower price may result in a dip in quality. 


Communication matters 

Are you booking a band that is organized and reliable? How are they with communication, scheduling, being on time, etc.? Most of the time, you can find this information in the band's reviews.


Book early

Wedding planning happens early and if you really want something specific for the big day, don't leave an essential part of the wedding until the final stages.


Make sure they know your music preferences

Having a conversation about what genres of music you and your partner like, as well as the taste of your friends and family, is an easy way to ensure you get what you want on your wedding day. Talking about music preferences throughout your search will also help you find the band that fits best with you.

Tips for saving money 

It's absolutely possible to book a quality wedding band at an affordable price. Here are a few pointers for cutting costs on your big day


Hire local performers

Try to find a local band that won't have to travel far to the wedding venue in order to minimize transportation costs. So even if you are doing a destination wedding, groups based around the same area as the wedding location are the best option if you want to cut costs.


Limit new songs

Most live wedding bands have a great selection of popular wedding songs, so sticking to their catalog will be fun and cost-saving. If you want to pay extra for them to learn a special selection for a first dance song or father-daughter dance, that's the place to spend extra. While SRO doesn't charge to learn a new song, we do need plenty of advanced notice!


Limit performance time 

Do you want the band to play during cocktail hour?  How about extending the reception until after midnight? If you're looking to save on cost, limiting the length of performance time will help.


Try an off-season wedding

Remember how we mentioned that prices go up during the peak wedding season? If you don't mind getting married in cooler weather, you'll save a significant amount of money due to supply and demand.

Let's talk about the music plans for your event

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HOLY COW were they amazing! And I know we weren't just being biased because even now we still have wedding guests telling us how much they loved our reception band and how amazing the music was. The whole band was exceptionally talented, professional and organized. 10/10.

Nicolette, Bride