Prospective brides and grooms are always looking to book the best wedding band they can afford – but how much do musicians typically charge and what will UK wedding entertainment cost you?
The old adage ‘you gets what you pay for’ remains relevant as ever when booking live music. Whether you need musicians for a church ceremony, drinks gathering, or post-dinner wedding reception, those with more experience and higher demand will generally charge more than semi-professional or younger bands with less experience. Prices vary wildly from sub-£1000 ‘pub bands’ to showbands that charge in excess of £10,000. So how do you navigate such an unwieldy price range, and how much should you spend on live music for your big day?
Also have a read of our definitive blog post about the cost of hiring a wedding band in the UK: The Cost of Hiring a Wedding Band in the UK (Updated May 2020)
Since launching in 2015, FixTheMusic has received thousands of enquiries for wedding bands across the UK.
We’ve built up a trusted roster of hand-picked bands, everywhere from Cornwall to Glasgow, which enables our platform to cater to a huge range of budgetary requirements. In other words, we’re in a unique position to help you plan your wedding budget!
There are some general rules that apply across the majority of bands listed on FixTheMusic:
Size of the lineup
This has the biggest bearing on quotes you receive. You can estimate the price of an amplified band by assuming each member will cost £300-£400. A four-piece band with vocals, guitar/keyboard, bass, drums and their own PA system will generally charge £1200-£1600 for 2 x 45min sets. Acoustic or semi-acoustic lineups like ceilidh bands may charge £250/member because they don’t carry as much equipment, whilst premier showbands can charge anything from £500/member.
The UK wedding season traditionally stretches from May to September, with peak dates falling on summer Saturdays when bands charge their standard rates. However, a trend we are seeing continue is the increase in weekday, off-peak and winter weddings. Bands will often offer a discount when demand is lower, sometimes as much as 15%. Email them to ask whether this is possible and try offering hot catering and free drinks in return!
Most bands who respond to your enquiry on FixTheMusic will be local. Being based in the same county as your wedding means they’re likely to have experience at the venue you’ve chosen for your reception. They can advise on timings, repertoire and what works well for the number of guests. In terms of price, bands will quote inclusive of travel even when coming from further afield.
How much will extras cost?
Every wedding is unique, and all of our bands will be happy to accommodate specific requests. You’ll want to agree these in advance so the musicians can quote for them, but it should be said that these additional services represent extraordinary value for money.
2 x 45min with a short break is industry standard. It keeps your guests dancing for the optimum amount of time (c. 10-12 songs per set) and gives everyone a chance to rest, cut the cake and refill their drinks. Most bands will begin at around 9pm and expect to finish before midnight. If you request an extra set then this will generally cost £50/member, so an extra £200 for a four-piece band.
If the venue allows you to play music late, then one of the musicians will usually stay late so you can use their PA to play an iPod playlist. Bands often include this extra for free, but otherwise £50-£100 should cover it, which is a fraction of what it would cost to hire a PA separately. Most bands will be happy to let you use their PA beforehand for speeches too.
If you’ve chosen your favourite band then it’s likely they’ll know many of your favourite songs already. Many couples request a specific first dance, and if the band has to arrange and learn the song especially then this may cost extra (say £150). However, all our clients have attested to this being the most important part of the evening, which more than justifies the price. If you’re working to a particular budget then playing the first dance through an MP3 player using the band’s PA is also an option that works well for many of our clients.
Bands usually require an hour to rig and can do this relatively quietly in the background. That said, if you’re holding drinks, a dinner and/or speeches in the same room beforehand you can request early set-up which generally costs between £100-£200. This will cover the cost of one or two members arriving early and taking time out of their teaching or gigging schedules to set the stage and soundcheck.
Which wedding bands do you recommend?
We would proudly recommend any of the acts on FixTheMusic. All of them were hand-selected by our three co-founders, and collectively they represent the best pool of talent currently available in the UK. Submit an enquiry and local bands will reply to you with a bespoke quote.
That said, there are some notable lineups worth drawing your attention to, based on trends we’re seeing across our enquiries.
The Dreamers are Midlands-based and perform awesome Mumford-style covers of contemporary pop music, perfect for rustic weddings with a festival vibe:
Wandering or roaming bands are on trend these days and we’re not just talking about Mexican mariachi music. Wandering Three introduce a folk fiddler to their covers of Ed Sheeran, Avicii and older classics like Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’:
If you want a unique take on the acoustic roaming band, then check out [NOMAD](/nomad-roaming-party-band-london), one of the UK’s only amplified roaming bands:
We’re proud to list a number of premium showbands on FixTheMusic, all of which are made up of top UK session musicians. Each singer is an artist in their own right, with many having appeared on X Factor, The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent. Aptitude are one of our newest scalable showbands who offer smaller as well as larger lineups:
It’s always best to book as soon as possible so you can focus on planning other aspects of the day without worrying about missing out on your favourite act. Although we help brides-to-be and other clients book last-minute entertainment every week, our most experienced bands are often booked two years in advance.
Experienced musicians charge more than amateurs, but then they bring charisma and stagecraft to your event, and furthermore this experience enables them to guide you through the planning process. Booking wedding bands needn’t be daunting; the important thing is that you make your big day unforgettable and live music is a sure way to do this.
We’d love to help you receive quotes from the finest wedding bands in the UK, so tell us about your event below.
FixTheMusic is free to use – you are always in direct contact with musicians and can book easily on our secure platform.
If you're planning a wedding we want to hear the sort of wedding music you’re looking for! Tell us in the comments section below...
— Myles is co-founder of FixTheMusic and works on development and marketing amongst other things.