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Wedding Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Piezoman, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. Piezoman


    Nov 29, 2002
    Bronx, New York
    I am looking to join a wedding band to make some $ on the side from my own originals band. Can anyone help me with a list of songs to learn so I can get started on learning enough material to get through most weddings.

    I know every wedding might be different but a basic list of some common tunes that are played at such events. A few suggestions or a list would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, how much power would I need gennerally to get by in a wedding band?

    This may all be stupid but I would like some feedback in any way.
  2. marsk


    Aug 17, 2002
    First, I'd like to recommend a great novel, "The Wishbones" by Tom Perrotta, which is about a wedding band. Good at least for inspiration. As for music to learn, search for a successful wedding band's website; they usually list their songs. I play in a cover band, and our wedding clients have loved us; our site is

  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    basically, in a wedding band, you play the most giant hits out of any genre you can think of and you'll be OK. 70's funk and disco is really big at weddings now but only the most huge hits of all, swing tunes are great because of the old folks, lots of sappy ballads about love, electric slide, chicken dance (we refuse to play them but we have them on a CD). But it varies...I had this wedding where they went thru our setlist with a fine-tooth comb and said we absolutely had to play some songs (mostly ballads), and then when I tried to work them in, they told us to stop playing ballads and play rock and funk all night. You will also want a good couple sets of instrumental dinner music for when they first get there and are eating. Some jazz standards and instrumental versions of light rock ballads are usually what you do here.

    To play a wedding band you have to pretty much be all things to everyone. But there's people who make a lot of money doing weddings. I don't play a whole lot of them, but they usually pay better than any of my other gigs.
  4. Tingly


    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    I suggest you search the web for wedding bands and check out their set lists and what's been written in various guitar forums and stuff about doing those types of gigs.

    But I must warn you, DON'T PANIC, because, if you don't know already, you are going to find out that the wedding gig is truly amongst the most difficult and stressful of all. You will earn every cent of your money.

    You will deal with crazy bandleaders, a cult-like mixture of hand signals that mean "play the verse again" or "we do this in the key of F" or "that hot blonde is drunk" (okay, that last one was a weak attempt at humor). If you have ever been to a wedding with a live band you already know the incredible number of genres you need to have ready, at a moment's notice: American standards, ethnic music, funny songs, jazz, punk, classic rock, pop, etc.

    Then there are the song requests, faking songs, the garter ceremony, the bouquet toss, the nephew that wants to sit in on the drums, the stoned uncle who has to sing "Yesterday" with the band, rules on mingling, dealing with intoxicated guests, the money arrangements for an extra hour of playing, local union issues, the clothes you need, the agent's fee or the double payment for the band leader.

    Whew! There's a lot to know!!
  5. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    Purchase "The Working Bassist Toolkit" by Ed Friedland.
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Word. I just played a really goofy one last night. We only do jazz and old pop standards, and make this very clear when we book. So we run into a bunch of dance instructors at the gig, and they want country swing and novelty songs, played at very specific tempos no less. We got close enough, but it was definitely a stretch. Other wedding bands I've worked with have to do all those styles you mentioned and more, usually. We have a little niche and just run with that though.

    The next one we've booked is now asking for Armenian folk songs (which are kinda cool, it turns out), after they had already approved our 180 song book as all we needed. Today we get a request for several klezmer songs as well. :rolleyes: I'm OK with all of this to a degree (but then I don't have to learn the words or transcribe the charts), but I'm also learning why you have to bid these jobs so high. ;)
  7. I wouldn't try and learn a bunch of "wedding tunes" as every band has a different play list. Sure there are common tunes that most everyone will play i.e. Play that Funky Music, At Last, Brick House, but each band varies. Just learn how to learn tunes quick and you'll be ready. Check out gigmasters.com and you can look at a lot of wedding bands playlists.

    I personally love wedding gig's and find them alot easier than club gig's. First off the pay is way way better than clubs and the gig is usually alot shorter. Getting $1,500 to 5K is the usual range depending on how many pieces. Most of the time you get food and sometimes even an open bar or bottles of wine. If you get people to give speeches and toast's you can really cut down on the actual performance time. Yeah you have to be ready to go back to the top of a tune to extend it especially during a "Dollar dance" or such, but thats not that hard.
    The down side is you'll probably have to play Brown Eyed Girl, Mustang Sally and a slew of others that are as old and tired as the Father of the Bride :)

    The biggest hurtle I always encounter is the Bride or Groom have seen the band and want to hire you and dig the playlist, it's the Parents (who are paying you generally) that scrutinize your list and want a bunch of 40's standards and will inevitably complain about volume.

    The key is you have to make the party happen, you have to get them up and on the dance floor, so you must be entertaining and not just musical. You'll have to get "gig suits" too as old jeans and t-shirts just don't cut it at wedding gig's. Maybe even do a few "steps"
    There is definatly a level of schmaltz that you have to endure but the money can be very rewarding.
    Good luck