10 Questions For Musicians

Since music can play a big role in either your ceremony or reception, make sure you will get you envision. All musicians are not made alike. Likewise, every bride’s needs are different. Make sure that your musicians and you are on the same wave length, ask them these Top 10 questions.
1. Do you have a demo tape or CD I can listen to? References? A demo tape or CD gives you a chance to listen to the musician. However, these tapes are expensive for the musician to produce and even harder to maintain up to date copies. If a tape is not available, ask if you can see the musician play live, possible at another event. Hiring a band without first listening to them is not recommended. Always check on their references. Check to see if they’ve ever played in your ceremony or reception site. Remember, each site has different acoustics. Also, see if there are affiliated with any unions.
2. What band members or instruments am I hiring? Make sure that you stipulate in your contract which band members or instruments you are hiring. Many bands have back up members who fill in for sick members. Will that be okay with you? Or is their a particular member or instrument that you have to have? Check to see what kind of guarantee is made to ensure that what you see now is what will be playing at your wedding or reception. Is there a lot of turn over in the band? How long have they been together?
3. What type of music do you play? Can you play special requests? Make sure that your musician’s) can play a variety of music. A good band should be able to provide an extensive list of songs. Check the list to make sure there are some songs that everyone in the crowd will know and dance to (i.e. electric slide, Macarena) Will the band play requests? If you have any special songs you’d like played that aren’t on the musician’s song list, ask if they will learn. Most musicians will learn new song is you give them enough time (1-2 months).
4. How long will you play? How do you handle breaks? Overtime? Most musicians playing for your ceremony will charge your for an hour’s time or a set ceremony rate. Most bands playing at your reception usually start their rates at four hours. But always check as there is an exception to every rule. Most bands will take one break every hour and the breaks usually last 10-20 minutes. Check with your band for their schedule. If you know when the breaks are ahead of time, you can plan non-musical events at this time (i.e. cake cutting, toast, bouquet toss, etc.) You might also want to check to see if the band will have any background music playing during their breaks, if not you could have dead silence. You’ll also want to find out the band’s overtime rate and if the party continues longer than expect, will the band stay?
5. Will you act as the emcee or master of ceremonies? Most bands will announce your events for you. But always check so you won’t be disappointed. And if you don’t want any announcements, let them know that too. It is important that you communicate your needs and wants to the band and in return you understand what they will and will not provide.
6. When will you setup? Take down? You probably don’t want the band still setting up when your first guests arrive — you want them playing! Make sure you find out how long they will need to setup and when to expect them to arrive. Make sure you clear this time with the site. Many sites have strict rules about how soon before an event vendors may arrive to set up. When the band takes down is less important since you’ll already be on your honeymoon. What is important to know is that the band doesn’t start packing up before your reception is over and that they can be clean up before you scheduled time to vacate the site so you won’t be charged for additional time.
7. What special effect do you provide? Special effects can vary from band to band and often depend on they style of the band. Some things that might be provided: special lighting, mirror ball, spotlight, strobe. Also make sure that you and the band are clear on what will or will not be provided. You might also want to check with the band to see if you can use their microphones for things like the toast.
8. Volume? Some bands play only one volume. Make sure that the band will alter the volume to fit your tastes and the needs of your guest.
9. Food? Does the band expect to be fed? If so, you need to know this in advance so that you can give your caterer an accurate count. Are you feeding just the musicians or all their help as well (i.e. sound person, setup people)? You need to determine this ahead of time. Does the band expect to be fed the same thing as your guests or will box lunches be okay?
10. What deposit is needed? When is balance due? Cancellation policy? These three questions are important to your planning process. Always make sure you ask these upfront and get the answers even if your not ready to book yet. Because when you are ready to book you’ll have exactly what you need.