Tips on Hiring a Live Wedding Band

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Band … But Mostly the Do’s!

By Myriam Phiro with Nuage Rhythm

The date is quickly approaching and every detail is meticulously planned to a T. Your dream wedding is coming to life, and you and your partner are buzzing with excitement. You have rehearsed the First Dance enough to offer anyone the performance of a lifetime. How about bringing everything to the next level by dancing your routine to live music?

You are about to tell the world about your love story; it deserves some pizzazz! Whether that dream accompaniment is a serenade in the moonlight, a step back in time with an orchestra, or a pop concert at your wedding, live music will undoubtedly add that extra magical touch to an already special moment.

When hiring a band, here are 7 things to think about:

1. Be clear about the style(s) of music the band will play.

Although many bands do, not every band plays a variety of different musical styles. A Jazz band might not be the best fit to perform Top 40 songs, and a Pop band might not be the best choice for a cocktail hour. If you have a musical vision, it’s important to share it with the band leader/agent and ask if it is part of their repertoire.

2. Plan an appropriate budget for a live band.

Often, people don’t realize the details involved with hiring live musicians for an event, such as the hours of travel or the number of musicians. Additionally, coordinating schedules and arriving to the location long before the guests do to load in and properly set up and test the sound equipment and instruments usually takes a great deal more time than the actual performance itself. However, when breaking this fee down between the amount of band members as well as the time & skills required to perform your music perfectly, the price tag soon reveals itself as being not so extravagant. Remember: these are professionals and having high level entertainment will require a certain budget.

3. Ask the band if they can play multiple segments of your wedding.

This would be particularly advantageous if you’re on a budget and would still enjoy having live music at your wedding. Many ensembles are often skilled in several musical styles and could potentially accommodate your ceremony as a duo, the cocktail hour as a trio, and the dinner portion of your reception as a quintet for example. This option would not only allow for more variety on your end, but by hiring the musicians in “bulk”, you may benefit from a substantial savings. Again, be sure to be extra clear when communicating the musical styles you wish to hear during the relative timeline; e.g. classical repertoire for the ceremony, gypsy Jazz for the cocktail hour, and Swing dancing for the reception.

4. Use song requests sparingly.

Each couple has their song or a memory that’s attached to a soundtrack: it’s only human nature! Whereas it’s expected to accommodate for First Dances, Processionals and other songs that are uniquely tailored to your wedding, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re hiring a professional and well-rehearsed band with an established repertoire, not a jukebox.

5. Feed the performers and plan for breaks accordingly.

Breaks are necessary for musicians to avoid hand and lip injuries as well as strained vocal cords. To ensure smooth transitions, break timelines and length can and should be discussed in advance. Additionally, if musicians spend over 3 hours at your event including travel and set-up, a meal of some sort is greatly appreciated.

6. Don’t just grab any microphone for speeches.

Especially in times of Covid, it is important to follow appropriate guidelines when asking the band to provide microphones. Discuss alternate microphone allowances prior to the event to avoid bad surprises.

7. Tip the band.

If you enjoy the music during your wedding or had a nice rapport with the band leader, the best way to show your appreciation is by tipping the band directly! Whereas it is not required, gratuity is highly cherished among the band members when delivering a satisfactory performance.

As a good rule of thumb, musicians will reciprocate the energy they receive from you. They are entertainers at heart, and they’re passionate about what they do. Music is so connected to emotions: a skilled musician is in tune with this concept and can transmit it to their audience.

Hayes & Fisk

There was a time when live music was a daily part of everyone’s lives, long before the stereo. In each home was a piano and, in each restaurant, would be live musicians. People would congregate around the piano and sing or play together in their living room. Music was not just a vocation or a pastime but a common thread of communication.

Hiring a band for a memorable occasion is ALWAYS a good idea. No matter what style of music, the band will bring either a heightened sense of sophistication or will make you feel like dancing with that certain joy that only live entertainment can bring. After all, isn’t that what your special day is about? So, begin your marriage with a live performance and show everyone the best time; you won’t be disappointed!

Myriam Phiro is the band leader/founder of “Nuage Rhythm”, a vintage French/gypsy Jazz band recently relocated to the RVA area from NYC. “Nuage Rhythm” specializes in blending Parisian & American Jazz of the Golden Age and Bossa Nova to accompany any cocktail hour, ceremony and/or reception with sophistication & ebullience. For booking & inquiries, visit