He popped the big question, and you said yes. Is it time to start thinking about hiring a wedding band? Perhaps you’ve set the date, snagged a picturesque venue, and now you’re ready to hash out the finer details of your Big Day.
Picking a picture-perfect music band for your Chicago wedding is a decision you should get out of the way sooner rather than later. After all, this is the last thing you want to agonize over in the final days before your wedding. We bet you’d rather spend these cherished last moments decorating the venue, entertaining out-of-town guests, or hopping from one salon appointment to the next.
Your wedding band is one of the most indispensable elements of your special occasion. While choosing one might seem easy, you really don’t want to muck it up. Ahead, we’re breaking down the basics, frequently asked questions, tips, and general advice on how to land your ideal Chicago wedding band.
Why Should You Hire a Wedding Band for Your Chicago Wedding?
Let’s be frank; it’s the music that brings any wedding to life. No matter much how much money you put into sprucing up the venue, and how dashing you look, if a fabulous time is had on the dance floor, that’s going to be on every guest’s lips the following morning. You could say they are the heart and soul of the wedding ceremony.
Let’s boogie! A good wedding tune will get everyone on their feet and add pizzazz to your big day. When coupled with a lively DJ and sassy decoration, a wedding band is an incredibly compelling way to liven up your wedding.
Band music can help personalize and make your special day memorable. The beauty of wedding bands is that the choices are virtually endless, and you can get as savvy as you want, to give a truly personal vibe and feel to your wedding. Make sure to go over your musical interests, wishes, likes, and dislikes with the band ahead of time, so they can put on a show that your guests won’t forget any time soon.
Get unfettered access to a vast musical repertoire. The right band will boast an eclectic music playlist cutting across all genres, from hot and trendy to classic and vintage. Most of them have no problem learning your special requests, as well. In short, a wedding band worth its salt will block your playlist out of the park, not to mention the energy, and sizzling excitement they will bring to your day.
How to Find Your Ideal Wedding Band?
It all starts with your style — Every couple has their own taste in music, and this should reflect in your wedding band. When it’s time to hire a music band, begin your search by visualizing your wedding’s vibe.
You don’t need an expert to remind you that your wedding music will set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. And, it also happens that your style will play a crucial role in determining the type of music band you’ll want to play at your Chicago wedding.
For example, there may be a fantastic old-school cover band that’s really wallet-friendly, but if you’re having a traditional black-tie wedding, perhaps a swing band would be more suitable.
Do you have a taste for a particular genre? Or, do you want versatility? If you want the dance floor to be filled to the brim with merry-making guests, then you’d be better off with a versatile cover band that will churn out hit after hit.
Size up the wedding venue — This is an aspect that most couples tend to forget when looking for a wedding band. You want the band to fill up the venue and add some warm to the ceremony. However, if the space is on the smaller end, it might be overwhelmed by a big group of band musicians. Similarly, a toned-down acoustic duo or trio will be swallowed up by a large room.
Ask around — When it comes to finding the perfect wedding band, word of mouth is probably your best bet. Talk to your closest friends, family, wedding planner, favorite hairdresser, or your colleagues at work. They might help you sift through the murk and find your diamond in the rough.
Use the holy trinity rule — it’s a relatively simple and straightforward rule. First, you’ll want to consider the events you need the band for – will they do the wedding breakfast, the ceremony, the evening reception, the drinks reception, or all of them? Next, think about what songs you want on your wedding list, or perhaps you prefer the professionals to take reign on this.
Ultimately, you’ll want to go see them live and experience them as they do their magic in a real setting. Once you have gone through the three things, you will be ready to narrow down your list to one “it” music or cover band for your wedding day.
Can wedding bands do more than just the wedding reception?
It depends. Traditionally, wedding bands play tone-setting tunes as your guests arrive, which is usually a 30-minute session. However, it’s during the actual ceremony where the band brings their A-game, serenading you and your guests every step of the way, from the processional to exchanging vows to recessional.
Yes, some bands play music only during the ceremony. However, some of the best Chicago wedding bands go beyond the ceremony. Some play sweet music as early as the wedding breakfast, and take it up to the cocktail hour and evening reception.
If you are looking for more bang for your buck or don’t want to deal with many wedding vendors, go for a full-service band that provides MC and DJing services. There’s also a good chance that they will provide the music (AV) system and turntable. Whether you opt for a cover band, DJ, or an all-in-one package, ensure they offer variety, meaning they should play both fast and slow tunes, as well as new and old songs to get the party going and entice everyone to hit the dance floor.
How far in advance should you book your wedding band?
Wedding bands are on a particularly high demand during the peak wedding season, so it pays to book well ahead of the big day. Most popular wedding bands in Chicago get snatched as early as January for summer weddings. Some even say their bookings are filled 80 percent by January 1st.
So, how far back should you book your wedding band? Ideally, you should get in touch with the right band and discuss the booking 18 months before your special day. It’s generally agreed that a wedding band should be booked 8 to 12 months prior to the wedding. This will help you plan other aspects of your wedding and avoid any last-minute nightmares.
When are wedding bands busiest?
As you might suspect, wedding bands are very busy during the peak wedding seasons, which are generally summer and fall months. Expect their schedules to be pretty packed in September and October — the two most popular wedding months in the Chicago area and the rest of the US.
Most people prefer to marry on a beautiful Saturday in the warmer summer months. Similarly, wildly popular three-day summer weekend holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day are some of the busiest days in a wedding band’s calendar. All in all, wedding bands are busiest in May, June, August, September, and October.
How Much Do Wedding Bands Charge in Chicago?
If you’re like the rest of the couples, you need your wedding reception to be buzzy and packed by the end of the night. That’s why it’s wise to bring in a top-notch wedding band, but they don’t come cheap.
The average asking price for a wedding ceremony band playing for the standard 3 hours after dinner is between $800 and $2,500, depending on the package and the size of the band. You should expect to pay anything from $68 to $125 for every hour per player.
If you want the band to perform during the ceremony, after dinner, cocktail hours, and include extras like light production and sound gear, then the average starting price is around $3,700 plus a tip (usually 10 percent of price).
Note, however, that the cost will vary greatly depending on several factors that include:
– The season: During the peak season (read: September/October), the rates charged by Chicago wedding bands skyrocket. For instance, you can shell out a cool $7,500 for a Labor Day wedding to hire a full-fledged wedding band that will cover the reception, ceremony, and cocktail hour.
On the other hand, wedding bands will go above and beyond to find work during the off-peak season. As such, you will see very low and deeply-discounted rates during these months.
– Where you live (the wedding venue): Because Chicago is a large metropolitan area; you’ll likely face higher rates than somewhere in the neighboring Indiana.
– The day of the week: As we’ve mentioned, Saturday is a popular day for weddings, and as a result, is the most expensive to hire a wedding band. Weekdays are the most affordable, while Sunday and Friday sit somewhere in between.
– The number of musicians in the band: The higher the number of band members, the higher the rate, and justifiably so. Larger wedding bands are livelier and more exciting. Adding a DJ and MC to the mix will also drive up the bill, and so do sound tech stuff like effects, video screens, lighting, etc.
Will they bring their own equipment?
Most wedding bands bring their own sound gear, light production, video screens, effects, and other equipment. They are usually large, more popular bands that charge a higher rate. Some may even include DJing and MC services in the package.
How long will the band play?
No one wants their wedding reception to feel like it’s been dragging on for hours and yet you don’t want your guests to think that it ended too soon. So, how long should the wedding band play? The generally-accepted time is for the wedding band to play for 4 hours – and with good reason
Most wedding planners and experts believe that four hours is an ideal length of a standard wedding reception, so your band should follow suit. While two hours of live wedding music can be okay for a short wedding, it may not do it for a traditional wedding that stretches to the dead of the night. 5 hours, on the other hand, can feel like a drag.
Will bands perform covers or original songs?
Some bands can play any cover songs your request, while others are jacks-of-all-trades who switch between original and cover songs. This usually depends on the band you choose! You can always ask.
Will bands take song requests?
Nearly all bands have a big repertoire, with all the classics and new songs included. They cover pretty much every genre, so there’s definitely something to please you and everyone on your guest list. But if you wish, many bands do take song requests that fall outside of their listed songs.
Who plays in Chicago wedding bands?
You can always get virtually any musical talent on an excellent music band. They have a variety of people, which could be vocalists, drummers, studio musicians, rock stars, violinists, classical musicians, general live performers, etc.
How do I know I found the perfect band?
Watch the band live at a venue – you won’t know if a band is good for sure until you see them perform live. You’ll feel the vibe they exude, the quality of their equipment, and general style. By the end of the experience, you will know if they are a good fit for your wedding.
Talk to previous clients – It’s always a wise move to hear directly from those who have worked with the band. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions about their experience. Ask the bands you are interested in to provide you with a few names and some contacts you can get in touch with for references.
Read reviews – Take advantage of the internet to check what others say about your prospective band. While no band is perfect, pay attention to particular trends like consistent complaints. If something doesn’t seem to be quite right, don’t hesitate to move on to the next option.