20 Nov How To Book Wedding Music
How to book your wedding music
Planning a wedding is a huge affair with music choice being a small piece of that enormous pie. I wanted to share some helpful hints and tips for how to find and what to look for when you book a wedding musician.
Where can I find a Wedding Musician?
Before focusing on how to book your wedding music, first you need to know where to find it! Looking for good wedding music can seem overwhelming. You may want to narrow down the genre or style of music you are looking for and when during your day you would like live performances. Perhaps you’d love classical string music for your ceremony or you’ve always visualised a jazz band for your drinks reception. A quick google search can help you find these musicians within your local area, but always scroll down further than page one!
If you aren’t so sure what you want, are there any particular instruments you like the sound of? Maybe a laid back acoustic guitar would be the perfect accompaniment to your bohemian outdoor reception or if you like the soulful sounds of saxophone (AHEM!) it could create the perfect party vibe for your evening reception.
Wedding fairs are a great place to meet musicians and hear them perform live, although sadly that isn’t an option at the moment. However; many local wedding directory listings will feature music choices from around your area – you may be inspired just by having a look at what’s on offer.
Agency vs. Direct – who should I book my wedding music with?
I’m going to be spilling some industry secrets here (and hoping I don’t get found out!) There are some big name agencies that will appear on any generic google search looking to book wedding music. These agencies absolutely have their place within the event music market. They offer the security of being a big entertainment provider, have reliable booking processes and cancellation terms plus a big name with a shiny website and posh head office can feel more reliable somehow.
Big agencies like this make some of their profits by charging the bands and artists a commission when a booking is made through their service, as they absolutely should. Much like a travel agent, they are acting as a middle man between the client and the musician(s). Most agencies will tell the acts registered with them that they cannot charge the client more than their usual fee, even though up to 25% of it will be taken by the agency as their commission. This means many acts may increase their fee in other ways, such as adding a higher travel cost charge etc. so they do not have a financial shortfall. What I am trying to say is if you find a band you like on an agency website but then approach them direct; you might find it’s cheaper than the quote you received via the agency! But Shhhhhhh! Agencies absolutely do not want their clients to know this…!
Do your homework and have a look at what is on offer on these sites, but don’t think you HAVE to book the act through this website.
But they will have met and vetted the musicians personally…?
In my personal experience I have never met, spoken to or received anything other than an automated email from most of the big name wedding agencies I am signed up with. They will presumably have checked through my listing before letting it go live, but they don’t actually KNOW me.
If you contact the artist or band you are interested in hiring and arrange a meeting in person or via video call you can really get to understand for yourself what they are like as a person. Assess if you gel with them and ask all the questions to ascertain if they will be able to provide what you are looking for. Musicians are providing the soundtrack to your day, so it’s important that you like them!
If I book wedding music with the artist direct I may save some pennies, but is it risky?
In the current Covid climate with many couples having lost out financially having changed their wedding plans, this is definitely an important question to consider. But it shouldn’t put you off. In general; booking your wedding music with any professional musician direct should make absolutely no difference to your rights as a consumer than it would booking them through a third party agent. Ask what their cancellation terms are and what will happen should you need to postpone or cancel.
How can I tell if they are legitimate?
Do some fact finding! They should at a minimum have a website, social media accounts and links to videos/recordings of them performing available.
Then, ask lots of questions to establish whether they are a professional, trustworthy musician. These can include:
How long have you been performing at weddings? (it could be considered a red flag if they have NEVER performed at a wedding!) How many weddings have you performed at?
What are your deposit and cancellation terms? How do you accept payment?
Can I see a show-reel or hear your recordings?
And most importantly, before you take the final step in booking your wedding music…
You MUST ask the following:
Do you have public liability insurance? Is your equipment PAT tested? Are you a member of a union?
Any professional musician will be happy to provide evidence of all the above on request and it absolutely shows their commitment to the industry they are working in. Hiring a mate’s band who play once a year at the local pub might be a huge benefit on the budget, but should anything go wrong it might not be worth the risk. Plus many wedding venues require your music provider to have PLI and PAT tested equipment or they won’t allow them to perform!
Please don’t take this a bashing of agencies, I think they do a great job and I’m actually signed up with most of them! If an agent is the top solution for booking your wedding music, that’s great! I just wanted to open the secret door to other ways of sourcing your wedding musician(s) which many don’t know about 😉
Now that you’ve found out how to find and book your wedding music, have a read of my blog about how to make your song choices.
Got a question? Ask me here.
Happy wedding music planning!
Author – Lucy Harvey – Vocalist & Saxophonist
Coffee drinker and ‘Friends’ addict.