Planning the music for a wedding can and should be fairly straightforward – the key is to begin to organize it at an early stage in the overall planning process.
Band Style and Timing
First, consider at which points in the day you would like to have music played: before and during the ceremony: after the ceremony at the drinks reception: during the formal wedding meal: as evening entertainment for the party. Next, think about the style (s) of music you would choose (taking into account the likely age-range and diversity of musical tastes of your guests). Finally, think through the logistics of the occasion (how many guests will be attending, how big are the reception and entertainment rooms at the change venue, etc.) to help ascertain how many musicians will be needed at each stage, and the direct result this will have on the cost.
Make the Best of Your Musicians
With economy and efficiency in mind, plan how you can make the best use of your musicians. With judicious research, it is often possible to find a group of musicians who would be able to play for several if not all of the sentences in the day described above; for instance, a string quartet or a harpist could go on to play for the drinks reception and the formal meal, or the evening party band might be able to provide background jazz / easy-listening music for the reception and meal. Naturally, such combination of functions typically makes economic sense.
Consider a Quiet Period
Of course, it's certainly not essential to have live music performed at every stage of the day, and you may prefer to plan quarterly periods (sometimes the formal meal, for example) when you and your guests can simply relax and talk. You may have relatives or friends who may be called upon to entertain at certain points – factor all this in before deciding which professional musicians you need to engage.
Research Music Agencies
Careful research at this stage will pay dividends. Increasingly, the Internet is a good and generally reliable source of useful information about musicians, bands etc. who specialize in wedding and party entertainment. Consult a music agency (maybe several) in your area, or even nationally, to obtain the widest range of appropriate possibilities, as well as a reasonably firm idea of the likely cost for each. Here are 10 reasons to book wedding music through a reputable music agency. Compile a shortlist of potential candidates, first including their availability for your chosen date and venue. Many musicians will be prepared to travel considerable distances, but this will add to the cost, so a more local choice might be preferred.
Draw Up a Contract
Finally, take a critical look at your budget before coming to a firm decision. If booking musicians through an agency, a little further consultation may well be helpful in making your final choice. Then go ahead and book them while they are still available to play for you. Talk over fine details (timings, special musical requests, etc.) with the agent, or better still, with the bandleader or the individual musicians concerned. Make sure that as much detail as is reasonably possible is included in a contract to be drawn up between you and the musicians or their agent. During the intervening period leading up to the wedding date itself, certain fine details of your requirements may change (exact timings, for instance), but wedding musicians are usually prepared to be flexible within reason, so keep them informed of your plans – they are there to entertain your guests and to make your big day extra-special.