There is nothing more special than having musicians present to perform for your wedding and reception. Hiring musicians is not just about having wonderful music to accompany your wedding activities—it’s also about having a performance to watch. Your guests will certainly enjoy watching a musician performing rather than someone pushing the play button on an iPod stereo.
Conventional thought is that musicians will charge more than DJs. This is not necessarily the case. Here are some ways to get your musical talent for less:
· Invite musicians to play for several wedding elements
When you hire musicians to play for multiple hours, they may give you a price break for performing additional hours. Invite them to play for the ceremony AND the photo session afterwards. Or invite them to continue through cocktail hour. Or have your reception band play through dinner and then kick it up for dancing.
· Shave off some time
Your reception hall may want you to be finished by a certain time so that the staff can get in and clean up. Therefore, don’t instruct your reception band play until the very last guest leaves—instead, tell them to end a half hour before everyone needs to vacate the site. Bringing the music to an early close will give guests the signal that the party is at a close and it is time to throw the rice.
· Go with a smaller group
Obviously, if you hire a trio instead of a six-piece band, you’ll be saving some money.
· Hire musicians who can fit into your budget
Professional wedding musicians have large repertoires and know the elements of a wedding. They may also be familiar with the staff of your wedding venue and have strong working relationships with other service providers that you have hired (such as your celebrant and your wedding coordinator).
If you don’t have the budget for a professional, turn to student musicians. You will need to educate them about your expectations, and you won’t have as many musical choices to choose from, but you’ll save money. Find student musicians at local colleges and universities, or simply ask music teachers at your local full-service music store for recommendations.
· Be careful inviting friends and family members to perform for you
It’s absolutely wonderful when your professional musician friend volunteers to perform at your wedding as a gift to you. You won’t have to pay for the musician’s services, and the musician will welcome being a part of your special party.
It is an entirely different story if you ask an amateur musician friend or a close family member to perform at your wedding. You are putting that loved one on the spot—if they don’t want to perform, and then they feel they’ll risk hurting your feelings by turning you down. The solution: Invite amateur musician friends and loved ones to play a special song, during the reception, while you give your reception band a break. At the reception, people are partying and your friends will feel more relaxed performing. Save performances during the formal wedding ceremony for professionals or experienced musician friends who volunteer to perform for you.
· Provide amplification or nix it altogether
Some musicians and bands may offer you a discount if you provide the amplification, or house sound, for them. To make this happen, you will need to have on hand an experienced sound tech to take care of the musicians’ amplification needs. A plus for hiring a sound tech is that they can also mike your celebrant during the wedding service.
Or, trim your guest list so that amplification is not necessary. Some musicians will charge less if they don’t need to haul sound equipment to your wedding.
· Hire musicians in your geographical area
Travel is expensive, and importing musicians from many miles away is, too. They will pass along the price of their gas, lodging, and meals to you. When you hire local musicians, you won’t be paying that surcharge, and they are more likely to be familiar with your wedding venue.
· Change your date
Saturday evenings are prime time for weddings, and in many regions, June is the prime wedding month. To receive possible discounts on your entire wedding services, including live music, plan a wedding that is off-season (during November or January, for instance) or select a weekday wedding date.
Having live music at your wedding can be affordable! If you have further ideas, be sure to let me know, so that I can pass them along to my wedding clients.