There is a lot of misinformation online about the cost of a solid wedding band. It’s not hard to see why, though. Many of the individuals and companies that know the answer don’t really want to provide you with a number until they think they have a shot at your business. Some of the numbers you’ll find from a quick Google search will look a little too reasonable – $800 – $1,500 for a 5-piece band! And you’ll also read about that massive show band that charges over $20,000 for a performance.
So, what’s the bottom line? How do you put a price tag on the experience you want to receive? Of course, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as you’d like it to be. Why? Because you CAN book a band at virtually every price point. Let’s break it down by the dollar amounts.
Amateur Hour | Price Range: $250 – $1,000
Call your local university or high school – I guarantee you can find a few music students to do your wedding for $500 or less. Depending on your vision for the event, it could be just what you need. They should have the musicality required to play the music well. They probably also have little to no experience working in private events, which could be the indicator of an incredibly tacky, unpolished and awkward experience for everybody. If you choose to go this route, vet your musicians very carefully and be sure that both parties know what you’re getting into.
Mega-Band | Price Range: $5,000 – $20,000+
Call a top rated entertainment agency in your metropolitan area and ask for pricing information on one of their oldest, most well-known show bands. Don’t be surprised at how casually that five figure sum rolls off his or her tongue. Will you get what you pay for? Maybe. When dealing with the older bands that formed at a time when big band was huge, you’ll find that they’ve acquired an incredible amount of overhead over the years. Technical directors, salespeople, talent coordinators, accountants, so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong – if you’re looking at a band that has updated their look and sound each year to stay at the top of the game, that $10,000+ will absolutely be money well spent. If you don’t believe me, go to a showcase or talk to somebody you know who has booked a band like this. You’re getting Aerosmith quality – but way better than Aerosmith could ever deliver it (and probably for a longer show than they’d ever play). However, if you’re dealing with a band that has been playing the same old songs for the past 10 years, with an outdated look and musicians that are just going through the same old corporate motions, you’re just paying for a ton of people on a stage, a company name and a vague promise that your needs will be met and requests fully attended to.
Small But Mighty | Price Range: $1,500 – $5,000
The space between, of course, is where most of you reading this will find yourselves. You are budget conscious, but you understand what live music can do for your wedding – and you just want it to be good! The bands that fall into this category are the small ensembles consisting of 2-6 members each. You won’t be getting the fancy staging, lights and costumes of the show band, but you can count on top-caliber talent and sound. Most importantly, you can find a band in this category that has proven themselves again and again for their clients – check the reviews! Nobody can describe an experience with a wedding vendor better than somebody who has already paid for their services.
So – you’re back where you’re started. There are many options when it comes to wedding entertainment – and that’s a beautiful thing! Do your research. Spend some time sifting through bands, and don’t just look in your area. Many bands (us included) can travel less expensively than you might think. Come up with a solid list of at least 5 bands, and contact each of them asking for information about what they can offer you. GigSalad, Borrowed & Blue, and WeddingWire are all great resources to find top talent bands.
An Annapolis, Maryland native, Ben Mallare has provided live musical entertainment for hundreds of couples, families and companies since 2012. In 2014, Ben developed Ben Mallare Events & Entertainment into what it is today: a full-service private events entertainment agency with over 35 musicians performing 75 weddings and events each year. The company is a natural result of Ben’s aptitude for musical performance combined with a deep love of personal service. Ben currently lives in Glendale, California and most looks forward to the new brides and grooms he’ll get to meet in the coming year.