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Bar band --> Wedding Band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hrodbert696, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    So, I have a younger cousin who is getting married, and at the family Easter gathering I threw out to him that he could get my cover band to play the reception. He seemed open to the idea if we would do it for less than the DJ quoted him, which was $1500.

    I'm sure the band would agree to beat $1500 - this is the group where the BL has hired us out to private parties for $300 (and then asked us to help cover airfare for him to fly back from CA where his job had taken him that week :rollno:). But we're not a classic wedding band with a repertoire of 300 top-40 hits to choose from, we're a year-old bar band with about 50 or 60 tunes, and not all of them guaranteed crowd-pleasers - you know, stuff that someone or other wanted to play.

    Still, I think we can pull it off, we have a lot of standard 80s stuff (Pat Benatar and 867-5309 and all that) and some more recent pop (Pink and Katy Perry) as well. The wedding is at least a year away, also, so there's plenty of time to learn new tunes they might request.

    So - thoughts, experiences, warnings, advice, all welcome. What price would you guys offer, and on what terms, and what should we expect?

    PS - Not entirely sure what to expect as far as the character of the crowd, like whether we'll have drunk Uncle Harry barfing on the amp or something. They're not a hoity-toity couple. My cousin's side is pretty religious and most of them don't even drink. Her side is apparently not particularly religious and I don't know what they're like.
  2. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Edmonton canada
    a few thoughts:

    talk with your cousin to make sure they know what kind of music you will be playing and ask if their is anything they would like. now you might want to edit your set list a bit; if there are some angry breakup songs take them out and maby add a couple lovey-dovey ballads.

    if you are trying to beat 1500 id say go in at 1200 +sound system (unless you have your own.) my bar/wedding cover band tried for $200/per band member.

    make sure you guys are getting feed and see if drinks are free too :)
  3. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    My old band did bar gigs and wedding gigs. They key difference is that weddings are usually littered with speeches, meals, and other things during which it is inappropriate to play loudly.

    So you'll want to have a good idea of how the night is working and when you are expected to play. Rock bands at wedding receptions generally work best if they come on after meals and speeches are all finished, the lights have gone down and grandma has gone home, and they can play until the night is done (with set breaks if needed, of course). So plan to be set up in the afternoon, before anyone is at the venue, but don't plan to start until much later in the night.

    Ask if meals and drinks will be provided.

    Wear 'concert blacks' with a coloured tie or something that will match the wedding themes. Be classy and inconspicuous; it's not your show.

    As far as the set list goes, you've got a while to work on it, and don't underestimate how many people actually want more newer stuff to be played than older stuff. We musicians always think people just want to hear the classics, and then a recent chart topper comes on and they go wild.
  4. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
    Bar bands and weddings are usually not a good mix IMHO. The bride and groom my like you, but some of the older guests will not. You will be too loud, your set list will be too limited and unless you get tuxes, you most likely will be under dressed.

    That said you have a year to prepare. Is it worth all the effort? Hard to say. Weddings typically do pay better than bar gigs.

    I'm sure if you do a search you find a list of wedding "must know" tunes. Chicken Dance, Trantella, Daddy's Little Girl, Hokey Pokey and of course a polka!!

    $200 per band member seems reasonable.
  5. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    You're not a wedding band ... and I can't imagine why you think you can be for this one gig. Do your cousin a favor and just bow out. It takes a lot more than a set list to be a good wedding band or DJ.
  6. kdogg


    Nov 13, 2005
    This doesn't sound like much of an endorsement from your cousin. If he had approached you, and was excited about having your band play at his reception, than I think you would have a better chance at pleasing the wedding party and having a good time in the process.

    The question you need to ask, will all the prep that will have to be done be worth it in the end? I'm assuming you will need to learn some new songs, some of which may not be in the band's wheel house sonically, depending on the type of music you currently play. You'll need a nice sounding p.a. with all the band members being willing to play at a lower volume than you would typically find at a bar gig. Dj's typically provide some type of lighting and effects. Does your band have any of that?

    It can definitely be done, just can be a bit more work than it appears at first glance.
  7. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    i'd just skip it and enjoy the wedding TBH
  8. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    $1,500 for an effin' DJ is ridiculous.

    I'm thinking you should take the gig if for no other reason than to keep him from getting it.
  9. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    ^^^^^This right here!! He better be DJ Jazzy Jeff or Danger Mouse for that kind of money!^^^^^
  10. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Just to address this - the band hasn't been together all that long and we're not all that close, so he hasn't seen us play yet. Having him come to a gig before making a decision would probably be a good idea.
  12. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    Like he said.

    If you want to be a wedding band you have a year to become one. It's more than just buying Tuxes. But it's steady work for the months of Wedding Season.

    Get a fake book since you'll be expected to play many songs not in your current song list.
  13. kdogg


    Nov 13, 2005
    Please don't take my post as a criticism of your band or skill as musicians. A lot will depend on what your cousin expects from your band. Does he want to save a few bucks over the DJ thinking your band will essentially be a live juke box. If so, can you guys cover a wide variety of musical styles. Can you play, or even want to play, YMCA, Celebration, or Brick House, which seem to be wedding staples. How about newer tunes in the pop, r&b, and dance genres? Can your lead singer cover those tunes as well?
  14. I could be very wrong (I often am), but in my gut I see this as a potential red flag in terms of band chemistry. A lot of work to get "wedding ready" -- you gotta have everyone committed and bought in. One guy flakes out and you just boned your cousin.

    Good luck with whatever choice you make.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    A GOOD DJ doesn't just stand there with his hat on sideways saying, "Yo Dawg." A good DJ is a master of ceremonies and knows all of the little things involved in helping to make the wedding a success, i.e. The first dance, dance with the father, cutting the cake, calling a line dance. A really good DJ can run the show and make it enjoyable for everyone. My nephew got married last year and the DJ was absolutely fantastic and well worth $1500. It doesn't seem like the OPs band can do any of that.

    Also, a crappy band can ruin a wedding.
  16. This. DJ or band, ya gotta bring the perfection to wedding gigs—gotta be seamless for the biggest day of the bride's life. While I refused to hire a DJ for my wedding, MRs. and I made sure we hired an experienced band that could "run the show." Plus they were funky.
  17. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Good DJ's actually get FAR more than that for a big wedding- $1500 is on the low-end. Typically they are probably $2000 and up.
  18. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Those guys probably get around 10k ....
  19. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    I have done many weddings with a full band and have had success in doing so. There is a difference in how it's approached and a trick we did was to "dj" between sets with canned music. It's always helpful to get a list of requests from the clients. It's good to learn some classics in all styles if you can pull it off. Turning down is a key as well. If you play classic rock then just load a computer with top 40 country hip hop and wedding classics and play them during your breaks. You can sell is as having a love band and a dj service in the same package. You can even mix it up and set up a karaoke system as well. This format has proven for me to work well and has made a good wage. You are offering entertainment at a reasonable price. A good show can include all above mentioned areas and be a hit. You can even take longer " breaks" while playing canned music. All are happy and you don't have to learn songs above the ability of the band as lost of top 40 is hard to reproduce without the right parts. Don't have a female lead? Play the requests during the "dj" portion of the show... Or be a love karaoke band and encore people up to sing a song and play behind them. The crowd will roar when uncle joe gets up to sing a classic Johnny cash song. Involve the people and let them be a part of the fun. After all weddings are family events and it's all about them having fun.
  20. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    Sorry was typing this from a phone and word suggestion messed a lot of sentences up. Sorry and try to read through the glitches.

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