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How expensive is hiring live music for a wedding or party?
The cost of hiring musicians to play at your wedding will vary widely, dependent on a number of factors. The number of musicians involved will obviously have a direct bearing on the cost, along with the location of the wedding, the duration of the performance, the amount of equipment entailed and the style of music they play.
So it’s virtually impossible to generalise, other than aggregating these factors to reach a ball-park estimate for each individual case.
Professional wedding ensembles frequently calculate their fee per musician
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It’s a relatively straightforward equation – so much for each musician, plus expenses and administration costs – therefore, the bigger the band, the higher the fee. Some bands offer different line-ups to cater for different types of event, for instance, a compact trio for more intimate occasions right up to a more expansive 8-piece for large-scale functions, but the same basic formula is usually applied.
OK, so how much per musician?
Once again, this can vary quite widely, but you can expect to pay between £125 and £300 per man for a fully professional ensemble, the high end representing London prices.
Away from the capital you will typically pay rather less, but if a band charges significantly less than the suggested lower end price it’s likely that they’re not strictly professional, so you may be taking a chance on their performance quality or overall reliability.
Plan your reception party around the band’s main performance
Whatever the required duration of their performance, the musicians nevertheless devote the whole evening to deliver it, so will tend to charge as much for a short session as they do for a longer one. Most wedding bands charge a standard fee which includes a typical performance duration, say 2-3 hours within a 3-4 hour period. Any further performance time beyond this, or a late finishing time (after midnight) will usually attract an additional surcharge.
Bearing this in mind, make sure you get reasonable value for your money by careful timing and forward planning. Weddings almost invariably run late, so don’t forget to factor that in as well!
Musical style and genre can influence the cost
Popular musical entertainment such as Irish, ceilidh, standard swing jazz or pop covers bands tend to be relatively inexpensive because there are a huge number of such outfits to choose from and therefore fierce competition for engagements – supply and demand. However, if you’re looking to book something that little bit more esoteric or even exotic, like authentic African drums or a fully-fledged Bollywood troupe, you will probably be asked to pay considerably more for the privilege.
Given the price of petrol these days, it’s little wonder that travel expenses feature strongly in a band’s calculation of their overall fee. Similarly, the amount of equipment the band needs to transport (and maintain) will have a direct bearing on the cost. As mentioned above, bands in and around London tend to charge a premium, which is to an extent understandable, as central London gigs often present a logistical nightmare!
So, for economy and best value for money, source a compact local band (outside London) playing a style of music that is not too out of the ordinary, preferably performing entirely on acoustic instruments! OK, all this may not be practical, but if you apply the general guidelines outlined above, it should be possible to arrive at a working approximation of the likely cost of hiring high-quality sprofessional live musicians to play at your wedding celebration.