How Much to Budget for a Live Wedding Band: A Comprehensive Guide to Pricing
How Much to Budget for a Live Wedding Band: A Comprehensive Guide to Pricing

Sean Timmons

How Much Does a Live Band Cost For a Wedding?

You’ve set the date! You’ve chosen the venue! Now comes the fun part: choosing the music. As you begin to think about how important music is in creating a memorable experience for all of your guests, you’ll need to answer this question of how much does a live band cost for a wedding.

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There are several factors that impact the cost of live wedding entertainment. These range from the number of players in the band, to the quality and experience of the musicians, to the day of the week and season of year. Depending on these elements, your average live wedding band can cost anywhere from $3,000-$20,000.

The Biggest Factor: Number Of Band Members

Key among these considerations in pricing is the number of players in the band. That can range from 4 to 15. The larger the band, inevitably the greater the cost.

4-8 Piece Reception Bands

Let’s take a look at bands with 4 to 8 players. A basic 4-piece band will normally consist of a vocalist/guitarist, keyboard player, bass guitar and drums. You can add players such as a second vocalist and saxophone player (6-piece), trumpet (7-piece) and trombone (8-piece). The more players on stage, the wider the musical repertoire you can expect the group being able to perform

Less Experienced 4-8 Piece Reception Bands ($3 – 5k)

Not all bands are created equal. Some bands are made up of “weekend warriors” for whom music is a hobby and their best rehearsal may just be your wedding. Their bass player is your buddy’s best friend and he knows they love to rock. They come with an attractive price tag on the low end, say $3 – $5K for a 4-8 piece band, but take caution because you get the quality you pay for. Sometimes booking agencies or a band leader will pull together a band from a group of talented musicians and deliver, but their model is to create a band of players ad hoc and so the musicians many times are playing with each other for the first time – this is definitely a gamble..

This is not to say all options in this range won’t be a fit for you. The most important factor when choosing your entertainment on ANY level is to interview the booking agent and or the band, and make sure they are hitting a few key marks.

  • You gel with the band leader and/or booking agent, and trust that they can execute for you day of (logistics + music)
  • They are asking you questions that you haven’t thought about, and are helping you think through your wedding entertainment in ways you have not before
  • You have viewed their materials and have confidence in their sound and look
  • They are creating clarity for you about how the night will run and what to expect

These points go across the board for any price range, and it is crucial that you build trust with the band or agency you hire.

More Experienced 5-8 piece Reception Bands ($4.5 – $7.5k)

A more experienced reception band has a few key traits. Often, they consist of musicians who regularly perform clubs, theaters and festivals or tour with internationally renowned artists in addition to performing weddings for discerning brides and grooms. Other times, they perform 40-50 weddings a year, and performing weddings is truly their profession. They understand all of the aspects that make a great wedding experience (first dances, mother / father dances etc). They know how to read a crowd and adapt the energy level as needed. For them, it’s not just another gig, it’s a show and they will pull out all the stops to make it a night to remember. These 4-8 piece bands are priced in the $4.5 – $9K range and the 8-piece bands will often pack the punch of many 10-15 piece bands at a fraction of the price!

If a band has a regular rehearsal schedule, a solid core of accomplished and experienced musicians who are committed to bringing 100% to every performance opportunity, then they are fully primed to be your dream live wedding band. The difference here is these musicians are authentic and that value comes across in everything that they do. Music is a passion, not a hobby. 

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Blues Junior, An Experienced 5-8 Piece Wedding Band on the Mole Street Artists Roster

10-15 Piece Bands ($12 – $20k)

As you can see, the number of players in a band affects the overall budget. Some people feel the need to “supersize” the band go all out for the big splash with up to 15 musicians. You can add featured vocalists and background vocalists, additional guitars, keyboard players, horn players or percussionists. The sky’s the limit, but does bigger mean better? With pricing in the $12 – $20K range, there are undoubtedly some popular big bands out there. Typically these are wedding mill bands, grinding out the same songs and same sets for each occasion.  They are good at what they do if “typical” is what you are looking for. These are not players drawn from bands regularly performing original music and possessing the creative spark and authentic feel to turn an occasion into an event. 

Other Factors That Affect The Cost Of a Live Wedding Band:

Season

Another aspect to factor in when considering the cost of a live band for a wedding reception is the time of year. Pricing will be premium during the high season which is late Spring, Summer and early Fall. If you can set your date in the off season (late Fall, Winter or early Spring), there is less competition on the band’s calendar and they will be more open to negotiation on the price.  High season will put you in the market, competing with other weddings, galas, corporate and private events and music festivals.

Day Of The Week

Similarly, the day of the week will impact pricing for your live wedding band. Saturdays are most popular and therefore most expensive.  You may be able to secure your first choice of live band for your wedding at a lower rate on a Friday or Sunday.

Travel & Accommodations

The location of your venue can impact the cost of a live band for your wedding. The band will factor in expenses for travel and accommodations, in addition to travel time for each person in the band and crew. Mole Street Artists has secured bands for weddings and private events throughout the United States and overseas. Depending on budget, we have flown bands to various destinations or sourced great bands local to the region through our network of professional contacts. Our experience and resources have resulted in cost savings for our clients.

Sound Gear

In normal circumstances the band fee will include all of the sound equipment and personnel for the band. On occasions, the venue may have in-house production and the band will be happy to avail of this service once they are assured it meets the band’s requirements for a high quality performance. Either way, Mole Street Artists provides an experienced contact person to communicate with the wedding party and the venue to coordinate all music related logistics. We request that the client provide meals for all musicians and production staff, a private green room and parking for the band.

Length Of Set

When you book a live band for your wedding reception, pricing includes performance time of up to three hours with short breaks at appropriate times. If you’re planning a longer reception, you can negotiate additional time for an additional fee (usually in increments of 30 minutes). Bear in mind that the band will need to arrive on site in advance of the start time to set up and sound check. They will also need time to break down after the reception. They are making a commitment of at least 6 hours at the venue, in addition to travel time. All of this is accounted for when budgeting the cost of a live wedding band. The high quality bands with extensive experience in performing at weddings will always guarantee a better experience.

How To Save Money On Your Wedding Music

Ask your band’s representative about other services they can offer that may help reduce your overall costs. Your reception band may also provide some of their musicians to perform for the Ceremony and / or Cocktail Hour. They can adapt the musical style and repertoire to your needs and reduce the rate by working with musicians who are already on site.

Remember that a larger band is not necessarily a better band. The rate for a 15-piece band will always be on the high end. If you do your research, you can find an amazing 6-8 piece band at a lower rate that still delivers on the quality. If it’s about the music for you and your partner, find the band that is authentic, shares your vision and that you trust will fit with your

Get an Estimate

It’s an exciting time when you are planning your wedding and we would love to be part of that experience with you. Tell us about your venue, date, number of guests expected and the music you love and we’ll help you find the right fit for your reception band and provide you with a quote in your price range.

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