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Wedding Gigs - Differing Opinions Within Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jaywa, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    So we finished our setup at last weekend's wedding gig and were waiting to eat and the two guitarists in our band (also the two oldest, both 60) started bitching about wedding gigs. (The BL wasn't with us at the time.) Specifically the fact that you usually have to be set up several hours before you go on and then you're sitting there doing nothing.

    My response (which my drummer agreed to) was that I like wedding gigs because:

    - Pay is better than bars; sometimes MUCH better

    - You get to quit sooner; sometimes MUCH sooner

    - Lots of women prettied up in nice clothes and feeling flirty

    - We get a good meal (I know this isn't always the case but I have yet to play a wedding where we didn't get to eat whatever the guests got)

    Really the only thing I could do without on wedding gigs is having to learn "special request" songs that you'll never do again and don't usually put your band in the best light cause they are quickly rehearsed. That, and the stressed out moms and bit**hy wedding planners but that's more the BL's problem than mine. :smug:

    It's not like this was a heated argument or something that's gonna threaten the band. The BL will keep booking weddings, and we'll keep playing 'em. I just thought the difference in perspectives was kind of interesting.

    Your thoughts on the topic?
  2. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    Yes, the "total time" can be long, but if you're doing it right, the compensation should make up for that. Plenty of bar gigs have setup constraints, too. Especially bar/restaurant gigs.
  3. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    The only Wedding Band experiences I've encountered (4 total) have all been very fun, very lucrative, and hired solely because we didn't play wedding "standards"...moreso classic & modern r&b / funk specifically...those gigs are a freaking blast, specifically because we're not doing "old time rock and roll" and "white wedding" type songs.

    I would love to do more!
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Exactly. The way I see it, if I weren't sitting around at the wedding venue I'd likely be sitting around at home so at least this way I'm getting paid for it.
  5. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I'm in a wedding band that just let a singer go because they wouldn't stop complaining about the waiting around between soundcheck and gig time. Granted, that wasn't the only reason we let them go, but the attitude didn't help.

    Waiting around is 99% of the live music biz, especially with wedding/corporate gigs. If you can't handle it, maybe you shouldn't be gigging.
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Not to mention wedding dance venues are usually nicer environments than bars. Oftentimes much nicer.
  7. Yep. When I was booking my 7-piece band to weddings, I made sure each member walked away with at least $250.00.

    Yes. Weddings are notoriously short and have poorly planned timelines. They often try to squeeze so much into a 4-5 hour time frame. When I DJ or play in a live band at weddings, it's uncommon for us to play longer than around 2.5 sets. Every once in awhile we do a longer one, but they are usually over after the second set, and we usually don't even take a break.

    This never hurts.

    I can usually get the bride and groom to at least kick in for pizza, and they commonly let us hit the buffet. Brides often balk at paying for seven extra plated meals; in that case, we're cool with pizza. But I almost always get the band fed for free.

    We set a three-song special request limit for songs not already on our playlist.

    In short, I really dig playing weddings. In my market, a no-alcohol policy is par for the course, so we don't sidle up to the bar, but often the bride and groom insist and even serve us all a couple of rounds.

    The trick for band leaders is making promises he can keep, and making sure those promises contribute toward the bride's most special day ever.

    If the band provides good co-host/MC duties and keeps the party rolling, you can make a tidy annual income from weddings. I lived a comfortable lifestyle for around eight years as a wedding entertainer.
  8. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    What I do for weddings is that if they want special songs that we will never play again or can't play because of our lineup, I charge extra or provide the original songs on CDs and play them at the time they want or on breaks. I did this for a wedding in September and they loved it. That way, they had Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes by Paul Simon and other songs that we could never do as a 3 piece band.
  9. If I could stomach the music I'd have to play, I wouldn't mind the wedding band gig. I'd pass on the main course and instead have two giant pieces of cake. (that would be my rider) Waiting around to play wouldn't bother me and the paycheck would probably be a lot better than playing a typical club.
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    This doesn't happen often but we've had some songs we learned for weddings that went over well enough that we added them to our regular show list. My band tends to run a little sparse on slow dance tunes and wedding gigs have been a good way to "force" us to get that part of our show up to snuff.
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    If you're not a club musician they can be a great way to make some money and stay in town and off The Road. I will typically do anywhere from 6-8 of these a month for various bandleaders on Electric and Upright. In a city like Nashville with a ton of great players and a very competitive scene this is some of the most lucrative non-Tour, non-Session income you can get. Typically these gigs pay anywhere from 2 to 4 times as much as a top-tier Nashville Club gig.
    It's just one of the things I do to make money with my bass and as such it's a job, not a career move. If you keep that in mind it's a help to having a good attitude.
  12. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    I would book a lot more wedding gigs if DJs didn't get 95% of them around here. We are a perfect party dance band for weddings and when we play a wedding, I can also provide songs on breaks on CD like The Macarena, The Electric Boogie, and Call Me Maybe, that we don't play and give them the best of both worlds. The last wedding we did, many people said how nice it was to have a live band (plus, I acted as emcee and coordinated the night's events and schedule). The problem is that people will pay DJs huge amounts of money to set up a laptop, a lousy sound system, and press play and would never pay a band the same amount. DJs basically killed the wedding and party gigs for live bands here.
  13. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    We play 90% weddings. Downtime before the dance part of the evening is part of the territory. One thing we've done to reduce the downtime, is to offer a live jazz set during the cocktail hour for additional $$. I'd say most people we contract with go that route. If the initial amount I can get is really nice, I throw it in for free. I'm not sure every band could pull this off, our guys are all pretty talented and have played jazz in one form or another at other times in their music lives. But starting cocktail music at 4pm or 5pm for an hour reduces that down time quite a bit. And since it is merely back ground music = no pressure.
  14. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    A couple months ago, some friends of ours, who follow the band around, had a daughter who was getting married. Well, we figured they would ask us to play (we would have done it cheap as a present). They sent us all invitations to the wedding. They know the band is how we pay our bills too. Well, not only did they not ask us to play, they expected us to not play that date and attend the wedding, meaning not only would we lose money but had to buy a gift. Here is the real twist. The bride's brother plays bass in a country band and they were not asked to play either but they had the leader of the country band (the bride's mother's brother-in-law) as a DJ. So, why would you have a DJ (one who is also a musician) when you have access to two bands? Go figure.
  15. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Wow. Several levels of FAIL there. :rollno:

    Sorry about that.

    In my current band, we've played a couple of "friends of the band" weddings (I suspect at a discount though I don't handle the bookings), and never had problems but in a former band we played a wedding for a "friend" of the band and he totally stiffed us on our pay. Split the venue before we were done playing and didn't give anyone the money to pay us. When our BL confronted him later he said "well you guys used my garage for a few months to rehearse so I figure now we're square." And our BL didn't want to risk the friendship so we would up eating it. Probably the most pissed-off I have ever been in my playing career.

    Bottom line seems to be that as a general rule it's best not to have friends or family as wedding band clients. And always -- ALWAYS -- a contract and deposit. Wedding gigs rarely cancel (for obvious reasons) but you don't want to be left with nothing if one does go south.
  16. Appoint one person to setup all the gear.. then pay them extra.
  17. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    They probably assumed they wouldn't be able to afford you. The "friend" DJ probably did it for $2-300, which I'd expect to get per person for a band.

    Anyway, I put weddings and casinos in the same box. Pros: The money is always better than clubs, you usually get treated better, fed, and usually you don't have to play as long.
    Cons: Not as much fun, you have to dress nice, probably won't really dig a lot of the material.
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Generally agree on all of this, except the few casino gigs I've played have been ridiculously long hours. 9 or 9:30 to 2 is pretty common around here and they require you to take long breaks (30-45 mins) so people get out of the lounge and back to the machines.
  19. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    I don't know how it is around the country but here in the tri-state area (I'm in NJ) Wedding bands make BIG money. I was attending a wedding recently where, supposedly, one of the bigger wedding bands in the area was hired. Granted, they sounded really good, but they didn't play very long, had long breaks and the 8 members were paid somewhere in the area of $10k-$12k. I can't see anyone who would complain about that. Hell, I play for 3 hours, breakdown and setup equipment for a lousy $100 per night at bar gigs.

    Now I could be burned at the stake for saying this as a musician, but I hired a DJ for my own wedding and I have to say, I definitely prefer it vs. a live band. The guys we got were great, had everyone up dancing all night and were 1/4 the price of a band.
  20. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    True, but when you factor in the long breaks you're sometimes only playing about 2-2.5 hours. I've done plenty of club gigs with 4-4.5 hours actual playing time. Some of those you don't even get a break.