Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Musicians for Your Wedding

You’re officially engaged and excited to plan your special day and The excitement of having your family and friends celebrate your new union is thrilling and (in some ways) an overwhelming task. There are so many different elements within the planning process and one essential element is hiring musicians to play music during your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Wedding music serves as the soundtrack to a couple’s big day, so it is important to put your energy into getting this part right. If you are inexperienced in planning a significant event or wedding, you are prone to make a mistake or two, but we are here to help. Read more below to learn about the common mistakes to avoid when hiring musicians for your wedding. 

Waiting Until the Last Minute to Hire Entertainment

We understand the overwhelming amount of pressure associated with planning a wedding. There are so many people involved, so many tasks and responsibilities and of course – the money! Considering the number of vendors you may need to hire, you will likely have to secure those vendors with deposits. The timeline of making so many deposits must be prioritized in order of importance. It is not wise to wait until the last minute to hire entertainment, and here is why – you run the risk of losing the best talent for your wedding because top-tier musicians are more likely to be booked 6-12 months in advance. It is important to prioritize hiring your vendors so you can avoid this mistake.

Prioritizing The Vendors You Hire Based on Industry Trends

In the past, we have always shared our stance on the order in which clients should hire and secure vendors:

  1. Hire a planner
  2. Secure the venue
  3. Book your entertainment

Why should you hire in this order? Well, to start, we have a ton of reasons why you should hire a wedding planner first. A wedding planner has a wealth of experience and connections that allow them to take your ideas and match them with the right venue and vendors to help execute your vision. Having a planner rolls over into hiring the venue of your choice because they can not only accompany you on venue site visits, but they may have their own connections and relationships with venues that would otherwise be hard to work with if you attempt to book the location yourself. 

The next step is to book your venue. You cannot secure any other vendor until you have a date for your wedding. Your date depends on the location availability so it is obvious that you need to secure the location in order to do everything else on the list. Find a wedding venue that accents your personal taste but doesn’t break the bank and speak with the venue manager who will also have a wealth of experience and knowledge to help you avoid making mistakes. 

Now that you have the planner and venue secure, most people do not know that both planners and venues have “Preferred Vendors Lists,” a directory of experienced vendors. The list usually includes caterers, wedding bands, wedding DJ’s florists, and photographers, and typically, these vendors have worked with the venue and planner in the past. A vendor’s previous collaboration, especially with the venue, is advantageous for the client because there is usually an understanding between the venue and musicians on things like loading and unloading equipment, noise levels, and other best practices. Utilizing a venue’s previous vendor eliminates you and your wedding planner from having to dig in too deep on those details because the venue and musicians will likely want to keep a long-term relationship beyond your wedding date, so they will be even more willing to partner on getting things right. 

Not Doing Your Research

Most engaged couples use Pinterest and Instagram to do research and get ideas for their wedding. If you’re already doing this, you are on the right track, but you should research in other ways to find the best talent when it comes to music. To start, use your wedding planner or do an online search to find the top talent agencies in your area. Talent agencies are the best route when it comes to finding premiere DJs and bands. A booking agent brings next-level professionalism that may be lost when booking a freelance band or DJ. An agency can also arrange for you to attend a performance or offer access to a musician’s professional reel to get a feel for their energy and musicianship before booking. 

Once you find a few music vendors you like, search online again to find Google reviews or ratings on wedding websites like Wedding Wire or The Knot. Seeing what past clients have to say about your prospective wedding vendors is a great way to gather the information to help you make your decision. What should you look for during your research process? Here are some questions to ask the booking agent:

  • How long has the band been together or been playing professionally?
  • How do you handle being understaffed if there is an emergency? 
  • What are my options when it comes to creating a specialty package? 
  • What do you charge for overtime? 
  • What is your refund or cancellation policy? 
  • Will there be music during DJ or band breaks? 

Not Specifying the Type of Music You Want

Specifying the type of music you want to hear is essential, and you should make it a point to communicate with your band or DJ reasonably early, so everyone understands (and can manage) expectations across the board. If you host a themed wedding or plan to incorporate traditional wedding elements, you may want particular songs played during the reception or ceremony, and you need to give your entertainment vendors a heads up so they can better prepare. 

Specifying the music is especially important when it comes to accommodating guests and even appropriateness. Consider the age range of your guests – have you opened the guest list to include children? Or do you have guests that may be a little older and could be easily offended by specific lyrics in songs? There are songs that your band or DJ may need to play later in the evening after those guests leave, or they may need to hold those songs altogether. 

Offending the Officiant with Your Music 

It would be best if you considered that your officiant could be offended by your choice of music too. In most cases, an officiant and their spouse receive an invitation to the wedding reception, and it would be respectful to consider hiring a string quartet to play light cocktail music during the early hours of the evening – basically have music with no lyrics to stay on the safe side. If you host your wedding ceremony or reception in a church, it is important to respect the venue’s rules or find another location. Here’s what EpikWedding.com had to say about this issue: 

If the venue of choice is a house of worship, there are set rules that will affect your choice of wedding music. Rules include prohibiting certain secular songs, types of instruments, and even beat and tempo. Although the ceremony is yours, the venue isn’t, so respect the rules. Speak to your officiant before booking your musicians, especially if you are having your ceremony in a church. If you are doing both your ceremony and reception at the same venue, this is rarely an issue. 

There are many other mistakes you can make but give yourself some grace. If you use this article as a guide, you will be off to a great start. Remember to use your resources and plan as early as possible, and most importantly – have fun during this process!  

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