Pivoting to Wedding/Corporate Band - What to Wear?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Flacco, Aug 11, 2022.

  1. Flacco

    Flacco Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2017
    Jacksonville, FL
    Greetings TB!

    So recently my fellow bandmates decided we should try to go for fewer gigs that pay more and, after significant hemming and hawing, landed on pivoting towards being a wedding/corporate function type of band. You know, play all the favorites of the area plus the top 40 of the 70s-80s etc.

    At the risk of disparaging my BL, he does not have the sensitivity for our image like I do which I am convinced is a significant and critical element to these types of bands. He is an amazing guitarist and singer but is in his element when he's in smoky bar or outdoor patio in jeans and a work T-shirt. I just don't think his "style" is gonna fly at the local Hilton ballroom playing for the 10th Annual South East Region's Real Estate Mixer or whatever :)

    So, question is, how should I go about crafting some sort of image for us that is cohesive and unique to our sound? I want something that ties us together but isn't as cheesey as matching blazers or vests. We do Southern Rock, Yacht Rock and 60s Jam band stuff really well so I was looking at our favorite bands from those genres for any common thread (pun intended) but they just make it look so effortless.

    Any ideas? Tips, Tricks? Funny Stories? All is welcome.

    Thanks again for being the best community on the interwebs!

    GodsLove66 and JRA like this.
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    study the marketing materials of successful bands in your genre, and ideally, your area.
    in my function band, the dress code is: all black. when there are backing singers, they usually get a bit of a pass on that -- like -- sparkly black...
    We do have a set of matching vests, which we pulled out for a wedding -once- in the 2 years i've been with them.
    by the time i was done setting up the PA, there wasn't one that fit. Drummerguy couldn't move in his so he ditched it. which kinda worked -- horn section matched, rhythm section blended into the background, BL was unique.
    smogg, Dabndug, Chickenwheels and 3 others like this.
  3. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    The style of music you're playing isn't really relevant to what you should be wearing onstage with corporate/wedding gigs. If the guests are in suits/evening wear, you should be too unless they specifically ask for something else.

    There are some comfortable suit options out there that don't cost a lot. My previous wedding band bought ours at Macy's. Not this one specifically, but we went with a charcoal jacket/pants with a slim black tie. The drummer went with a vest/pants, no jacket and was fine.


    Regarding your BL, I've known plenty of guys like this. They'd rather die than put on nice clothing for 5 minutes. He's gonna have to get over it if he wants these types of gigs.
  4. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    This. Do your market research and collect a bunch of examples of portraits/videos of bands who get the kind of gigs you want.

    Here's an example of a successful one in my area:

    Which is an example that you don't have to always wear a tux (but be ready to if the client wants it), but you don't get these gigs in tshirts and dumpy jeans.
  5. Flacco

    Flacco Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2017
    Jacksonville, FL
    I like how that group is not necessary matching but has a clear asthetic (e.g. semi formal, blacks and reds). I see everyone else telling me to do the research....ugggh, can't I just get the answer lol.

    I hear you all, though. I will start looking at other bands like this for similar inspiration.
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  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    LOL the answer is to dress for the job you want. If you want the nice upmarket gigs, dress upmarket. I think you already know that - the reason I'm suggesting collecting examples is to drive the point home to your sartorially challenged BL.
  7. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I play in a few of these types of groups. Every one of them has a dress code. You want a unified look that distinguishes you as being separate from the guests and also establishes that you’re professionals providing a service. For best results get everyone on the same page.

    As an example: One band is black dress shoes, black slacks, black dress shirt and a gold tie for the rhythm and horn sections. The singers get a little more leeway and flare since they’re the focal point but they keep within the black/gold color scheme. That color scheme is carried through to the band logo and all related promotional materials. It’s very cohesive. It also makes our job as musicians simpler since having a predetermined outfit is one less thing to have to plan.
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    For that kind of band you have to be ready to wear everything from tuxdeos to just sharply dressed. Black pants and shoes with nice shirts, jackets and ties in some cases, will cover most of the bases. Vocalists are free to dress more flamboyantly.

    Beyond "all the favorites of the area (sic...did you mean era?) plus the top 40 of the 70s-80s" being able to play soul and maybe some country plus pop hits of the pre-rock era (Sinatra, Dinah Washington, etc.) will make you more saleable.
    Fuzzbass and fdeck like this.
  9. Ggaa


    Nov 26, 2018
    Had a tux, now have a dark suit I can wash in a washing machine.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
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  10. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    from Apparel Production Incorporated ("New York's Leading Clothing Manufacturer"):

    "You can never go wrong with basic black. Black is a classy color that matches everything. It’s the shade of tuxedos and cocktail dresses. It’s also the color of leather jackets and distressed jeans. In both cases, it’s serious and urban. If you wear black, you don’t want to make waves. Dark colors are always traditional, elegant, and sophisticated. You embody these traits when you wear it."

    Got it? Okay, then!
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  11. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    FWIW, I've played a lot of wedding/corporate events, and I've never been in a situation that required a tux. Don't buy one unless you absolutely need it.

    Regarding the music, I don't see a lot of demand for southern rock or 60s jam band material in that space. And 99% of the weddings I've played have been in the south. Except for "Sweet Home Alabama," I'd definitely steer clear of those genres. One thing I learned with wedding/corporate setlists is that it's not about what the band wants - it's 100% about the client.
  12. bwildt


    Mar 21, 2017
    Wichita, Kansas
    Somewhere in my past, I was told that the band should dress at least one step above the clientele. When we formed my last band, that is what we did. We were not a show band, but there were elements of it. The band color theme was red and black. Our fashion was on the dressier side. We didn't match, but the dress code was black, grey, white and red. There were often jackets and ties.
  13. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    When I did a wedding/corp/variety band we had several "looks" put together. Theme weddings are pretty common nowadays, and it pays (literally and figuratively) to be flexible. We had a beach theme, Old Time Rock n Roll theme, formal, semi-formal, etc. We would dress accordingly, but still nice (the beach theme was linen suites, for example). Sometimes the client would specify tuxedos and black dresses - not dark suits. We'd work with whomever was planning the wedding and let them decide.

    We got a lot of gigs by offering a lot of variety, and not every wedding was a tux or black suit.

    As a side note, most men's dress shoes are extremely uncomfortable when you have to stand and hold a bass for three hours. A nice, comfy pair of the right black sneakers was a must for the formal gigs.
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  14. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    Also, kind of related, there was a TV show literally called "Wedding Band." Didn't last long, but I thought it was hilarious and a must watch for anyone in a wedding band, if not any band.
    Bajo Clarkko likes this.
  15. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I say just wait till you score a gig and dress for the gig in question. Apparel does not have to be pre-determined before a gig is even booked.
    juggahnaught likes this.
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Yeah, basic black or black and white. Every pro musician needs a black suit and/or tux and the accoutrements. I always love at wedding receptions when the jackets come off and the groomsmen, band and busboys are indistinguishable.
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  17. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Absolutely. This is critical.

    These days I find that pop, soul, funk, RnB and disco tunes go over a lot better than typical classic rock tunes on these GB type gigs. Modern rock is effectively a non-starter on these gigs unless specifically requested by the person signing the check. I've also noticed a swing in the demographics. Most weddings we play are for people in their mid-20s. If you go back to the years they were in high school, which is typically around 7-10 years ago, you'll find the songs that they'll be the most excited to hear. There's also been a massive resurgence of 90s RnB tunes lately. For every classic rock song the bands I play in have ditched in favor of Bruno Mars, Lizzo, Beyonce (if you have a capable enough vocalist), Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, etc. song the crowds have been more into what the band was doing.

    Unless you need it for promotional photos of the band to get that all-important first booking.
  18. Lowandfat


    Jan 1, 2019
    Central NY
    Endorsed Artist Karl Hoyt Basses
    All black is always the go to, but when I was in the world of this stuff there are exceptions. With all black you have to have solid lighting from multiple directions, or you can come off looking like floating heads. I've seen the videos. :laugh:

    For a step down, I have always liked black slacks (not jeans), and crisp button-down collared shirts. Band members pretty much picked their own colors, but no patterns allowed, must be solid. It's a flexible option, can all be easily machine washable, and you can bring a couple different levels of color on the road. Good way to accomplish multiple cohesive looks without breaking your wallet or your suit case. With one band we had a vibe where we all wore (mostly) black silk bowling shirts for when the BL booked a more jazz/blues/rootsy gig.

    I have always found that in this world the look is indeed a key element, they are not hiring Dad Bande & The Cargo Shorts, and I like having a packaged look on a private
    event stage. It is always great for chemistry.
  19. WWJAED?
  20. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    We don't live where you live, and advice based on what flies in Philadelphia suburbs is probably not relevant to Florida...
    lowphatbass likes this.