It’s the most special day of your life.

So shouldn’t the music be special too?

Many couples are happy to make a playlist and play it off of their smartphone. But where’s the fun in that? 

If you want the best wedding entertainment possible, you should hire live musicians for your ceremony and reception!

But it might not be as simple as you think. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might be in for some surprises!

Here are five things you need to keep in mind when booking your wedding entertainment!

1. Seeing Is Believing

Imagine you and your partner are listening through recordings of potential wedding bands. They all blur together.

But then one of them catches your ear. The band tears through complicated riffs like a hot knife through butter. The vocalist is one of the best you’ve ever heard. You can hardly believe that this band applied to play your wedding.

You immediately send an email to book them.

But on the day of the wedding, you’re in shock. Is this even the same band? The guitarist keeps flubbing his part. The drummer is sloppy and rushes the tempo. The vocalist is pitchy and doesn’t sound anything like the recordings.

Unfortunately for anyone trying to book a live band, recordings aren’t a reliable way to check a band out. Studio recordings are augmented by pitch correction, spliced takes, and drum quantization (i.e., fixing sloppy tempos).

Even the live videos on an act’s YouTube channel isn’t always an accurate representation. These videos are often curated to show the band at their very best.

To get the best idea of how a band will perform at your own wedding, catch them at a random gig around town. It might be inconvenient to fit into your busy schedule, but it’s better than hiring a bad band.

2. Variety Is the Spice of Life 

Often, the decision behind finding wedding entertainment is reduced to “DJ vs. live band?”

But the options are much more diverse than that. 

Sure, you could hire a band that can play live versions of your favorite songs. But you could also hire a jazz combo. If you want to give your wedding an undeniable touch of class, you can hire a string quartet or even a harpist.

If you have the budget for it, you could even hire different acts for the ceremony and reception. 

3. Can I See Your License?

There’s nothing as romantic as sharing your first dance with your spouse while a live band plays your special song. 

But did you know that if the band plays the song without the proper licensing, they could face legal trouble?

When a band writes and records a song, they file a copyright with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, or ASCAP.

In order to perform a song by another songwriter, someone must pay for the proper ASCAP license.

Cover bands and tribute bands will often pay this fee themselves. If the band plays mostly original music, it is unusual that they will pay it.

Often, bars, restaurants, and venues will pay a blanket license to cover any bands that play there. 

Before hiring your band to play your favorite songs, make sure that either the musicians or your reception hall have paid for the license.

4. Stage Presence

Your reception hall might look very different to you than it does to your musicians. 

You might see a great dance floor, a spot for the cake, the perfect backdrop for the head table…

But you might completely miss the lack of stage space for your band.

Musical equipment takes up a lot of room. And depending on your band’s stage layout, they might need much more space than another act. 

A string quartet may be fine setting up just about anywhere. On the other hand, a four-piece rock band with a drum set, guitar amps, and keyboards has a much bigger footprint. Some bands have much more equipment than others.

Similarly, a band might have very specialized sound needs that the reception hall’s sound system might not be able to accommodate. 

Before your big day, make sure that the band sees the reception hall so they can know what to expect. Put them in contact with whoever will be managing the space so they can communicate any special needs.

5. Take Five 

Unlike the musicians on a DJ’s playlist, live musicians don’t just disappear when they stop playing.

Depending on the length of their set, it’s likely that they will take a break or two at some point.

When that happens, what are they going to do? After all, these are flesh and blood human beings. 

Are you comfortable with them mingling with the rest of the guests? Are they free to any of the food? 

Consider what the musicians will do during their breaks. You might want to set up a dedicated table for them. If you want to go the extra mile, provide a green room where they can take their breaks in privacy. 

The best option is to communicate with the musicians to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

Looking for the Best Wedding Entertainment?

Great wedding entertainment can take a wedding from run-of-the-mill to unforgettable. 

And if you keep these things in mind, you can be sure that everything goes smoothly on your big day.

But are you looking for great musicians for your wedding but don’t know where to start? You’re in luck.

We have a wide variety of musicians to choose from, from rock bands to jazz combos to harpists and string quartets, and more! 

For a complete directory of our live musicians, click here