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How do you price a wedding?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Zephrant, Jun 28, 2014.


  1. Zephrant

    Zephrant

    Dec 10, 2013
    Spokane, WA
    Working on my web site for the band, and am at the point of putting down info for private events like weddings. Online research says people charge from sub one thousand to over 10k...

    Does anyone have an ala-carte setup where the bride can pick from a list to get a price? i.e. three sets, five piece band, full PA with subs, MP3 tracks pre/post = $X...

    Add another set for $X. Add fiddle player for another $Y...
     
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    I have seen bands base prices on specific customer desires. It's an interesting concept.
     
  3. skwee

    skwee

    Apr 2, 2010
    Minneapolis
    You need to think about time, preparation, personnel, and logistics.

    for your website, I would put: "please contact us for rates/price list". And then just field them on a case-by-case until you have done it a few times and have a better idea of charges.
     
    Zephrant likes this.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    think of a reasonable fee, then double it.
     
  5. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Seattle
    Regrettably, a-la-carte will probably lose you clients in the long run. In my (limited) experience, folks tend to not care so much about how big a band is (anything greater than a 4-piece is 'big'), they just want to know you can play the entire history of recorded music at the drop of a hat, and not have to think too hard about it. "We'd like jazz for the cocktail hour, an hour of top 40, and then the deep cuts from our favorite Norwegian Speed-Metal-Death-Polka, but toned down for our grandparents...". I'd forgo an a-la-carte menu system in favor of "we can provide a band of X members, plus a smaller combo for a jazz- or classical-themed cocktail hour. Here's a sample setlist <link to 10,000 tunes>, and we welcome a reasonable number of requests!"

    MP3s are good to have, but video is *necessary*, even if it's in exclusion of the MP3s. The wedding clients want to SEE as well as HEAR your band before they even ask for a quote; an investment in 3-5 well-produced videos will be paid back in spades.

    Ninja-edit:
    A good, albeit sneaky, way to get a ballpark of what the low end of your area is, is to post a fake Craigslist ad. "Couple seeking to get married in September, looking for a band to play 4 hours popular music + cocktail hour jazz in <nearby wedding venue>, please send quotes + links to video" will net you a wide variety of replies, AND you get to see who your competition is.
     
  6. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I would say don't make it too complicated as that will likely leave the door open for a lot of headaches. I would also suggest not including mp3s. As the person above suggested, a potential client will want to see the band so you need a video (I would suggest just one video of approximately five minutes in length). Make sure the video is as good as it can be. There are a lot of not very good corporate/wedding band videos out there and part of the reason for that is that a good video costs money. Take a look at what's out there and learn what you can before going ahead with your own.
     
    Zephrant likes this.
  7. I would base the price on the wedding and what the hosts require of the band.
     
  8. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    +1. You're talking about a pretty full day in most circumstances. The band needs to be set up before all of the guests arrive for the reception which is usually in the afternoon and then you're expected to be playing until the end, then you've got load out. In some cases you need to work around the venue too, as they're setting up their stuff for the night. Some of them have a set time that you need to load in and sound check by then you sit on your hands for 4 hours before you even think about playing.

    Of course, this is not in all cases. As always YMMV
     
    Zephrant likes this.
  9. bobicidal

    bobicidal

    Mar 28, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    I too would keep it basic, not too lengthy, on the website. Your description could list price and then text like "assuming all-day booking for setup, performance and teardown"
     
  10. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I would not ever dream of putting my price on my website. One number does NOT rule them all.
     
    bluesdogblues and marmadaddy like this.
  11. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    Old rule of thumb used to be to double your regular bar/club rate at a minumum and go up from there. Lots of extra time goes into weddings, from setup time hours before the event, learning special songs, MC'Ing the event, DJ'Ing during breaks, etc., and who knows what else. There's also the matter of their budget, what the local market will bear, and the fact that you will be in price competition with DJ's.

    I'd do it on a case by case basis and not put hard prices or an alacarte menu on your site.
     
  12. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    +1 to not including any prices on the website.
     
    bluesdogblues likes this.
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Think about how much we get for any gig we have to bring a PA and do a few sets, multiply that by 5. Then think about how little I like playing wedding shows and/or how obnoxious the mother of the bride will be...add an extra thousand dollars.
     
    lyla1953 and cdavisshannon like this.
  14. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    It cost me something over $200K...

    Oh - you mean a GIG, not the price of getting married. My bad.
     
  15. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx

    :D

    You do need to add something for dealing with bitches. Weddings are about the bride and her mom and no one else. Always remember that.
     
  16. Remyd

    Remyd

    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Lifetime or per incident? Do legal bills count?
     
  17. yeah, don't put your prices on a web site.
    Just put what services you offer with your wedding band performance, like full band w/ horns, keys & singers, but also small combo quiet jazz package.
    PA Rental available.
    DJ & MC services available.
    Lighting rental available.

    Often times I will work with the bride's budget.
    If they ask for a quote and don't quite know what they want/require, then I ask them what is their budget for entertainment, and go from there.

    Often times if they have a small budget but seem like nice people, I will tell them to contact a local rental company through their wedding planner for backline, lighting, staging, etc., and then me & my boys show up in suits 1 hr prior to performance time. If they bring poo-poo gear, they get poo-poo sound.
    99% of the time, it works out well, because the wedding planners know what's up.

    And 50% of fee due at time of booking, 50% due 2 weeks prior to date.
     
    Zephrant likes this.
  18. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx

    Interesting take on the pay. Done plenty of 1/2 up front non-refundable (in case one of them gets cold feet. Also to hold the calendar date.), and 1/2 upon completion, but never asked for it all up front. You get pushback, lose gigs, or is this common among wedding planners?
     
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    To me weddings were soul-sucking experiences. We did them if the cash made it worth it, but I can say I hated nearly every single one. Not only that, but we let people know up front that we're not a request band, a pop-cover band or a traditional wedding band. We don't take requests, etc. If you want to hire us for what we do, then hire us, but we're not playing "Celebrate" or any such stuff.
     
  20. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Alexandria,VA
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    What I tell clients is that it all comes down to time and materials. The more material that we need to bring (musicians, sound, lighting) and the more time we need to spend (including coming in early for set up time) the higher the cost. The benefit of focusing on time and material is that you can negotiate the cost up or down without having to compromise too much. I've avoided very early set up times, hauling in tons of PA, etc. by having the client delete those requests to save money. But if those things can't be avoided, then at least we get compensated for it. It also lets the customer see what really goes into a gig, and they have a better appreciation for what they are paying for if they see the actual effort and cost that goes into it.

    Here's my simple metric for pricing a 4 hour reception, showing up 2 hours prior to the gig.
    Going rate for a good musician multiplied by the number of musicians
    + Band leader cut
    + Cost for sound and lighting if it needs to be contracted out.
    + Travel expenses

    We will charge extra for cocktail hour and the ceremony using a similar equation as above, but less since the amount of time and number of musicians are usually less.

    We will charge extra if we have to show up earlier than 2 hours before the show to set up.
    We have an overtime rate in our contract if the client wants us to perform past the agreed upon time.
    We may charge more if customer requests result in additional costs for us, such as when a client asked for the band to wear bow-ties.
    A contract and a deposit is required for us to hold a date and to perform.

    Sort of related to the topic of compensation, make sure to clarify any band perks like food, drink, dressing room, etc. beforehand. I never factor that into the cost, meaning I will charge the same whether you get the whole band full and drunk or make us watch everyone eat while we starve. Here's a tip: For the food, talk to the caterer, if you can. You may need to talk to them anyway to coordinate set up. You may get a better meal out of it, and the client won't worry about additional cost. Referrals are king of the wedding business, and a caterer may hook you up if you can get them referrals.
     

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