5 Steps To Hire A Band For Your Wedding

5 Steps To Hire A Band For Your Wedding

You’ve finally found it…

Your only online resource that actually gives you a practical guide to booking your wedding entertainment.

There’s enough fluffy content online with paragraphs of conceptual recommendations describing various entertainment considerations, but you don’t have time for that. What you need is a list of steps that you can easily execute.

Behold, your wedding entertainment checklist!

How to book a band for your wedding, music bands for weddings

Let’s get right to it…


STEP 1: Brainstorm

Chances are, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to find it. This section helps you get clear about the best entertainment for your celebration.

Select your favourite genres:

  • R&B/Soul
  • Funk
  • Blues
  • Rock
  • Rock 'n Roll
  • Big Band Jazz
  • Dixieland
  • Country
  • Top 40
  • 80's Disco
  • Electronic
  • Rap/Hip Hop

List some of your favourite songs you'd like to hear during the dance:

What is your first dance song:

  • Will the first dance song be performed by the band or played from a recording?
  • Looking for some first dance song recommendations? Check out these first dance song ideas.


What is the ideal band size?

  • 4-6 piece: Bands of this size can have great energy, but rarely come with a horn section. Depending on your preferred music genres, a horn section may be a necessity. Obviously, the cost is less, but surprisingly, the size isn't much different. The size difference when adding a horn section is really just the addition of standing room for 2 or 3 people. The bulk of the space taken up by any band usually pertains to the sound system and the rhythm section instruments (bass, drums, piano, guitar).
  • 7-10 piece: A bigger band usually means multiple lead singers, a full horn section (trumpet, trombone, saxophone, etc) and the most accurate renditions of all your favourite songs. More action on-stage means a more engaging show and a more interactive and memorable experience for you and your guests. Because of the size and diversity of these ensembles, it's common for them to offer services for your ceremony (like a sound system or a solo musician), live dinner entertainment and even dancers. You can save money when you package these services together and get them all from one place. The Phonix offers all of the above services in our various wedding entertainment packages.

Stage plot for wedding music band, hire a band for wedding

Desired vibe for the dance party:

  • Classy
  • Family Friendly
  • Barn Party
  • High-Energy
  • Hip
  • Mellow
  • Edgy
  • Intergenerational
  • Trendy

Ceremony Music:

  • Processional:
  • Recessional:
  • Signing of marriage license:
  • Background music before/after:

Here's a list of 35 Wedding Ceremony Processional Songs from theknot.com

Dinner Music:

  • Select some popular genres: Jazz, Easy listening, Classical etc.
    Here's a great dinner Jazz playlist on Spotify
  • List a few of your favourite artists or song titles:

Wedding entertainment options, hire a band for wedding dance songs

Don't hit the search engines just yet! The next section (budgeting) will help you narrow down what you can afford so you can begin your research with more accuracy.

The Phonix offers ceremony musicians, instrumental Jazz music for your dinner and cocktails, and a full 9-piece funk, soul and R&B dance band for your reception dance. We can learn your first dance song too. 
When selecting your favourite genres, think about your guest list too. R&B/Soul and Funkmusic is easy to dance to and likely to be appreciated by everyone. Big Band Jazz, Dixielandand Rock 'n Roll are more likely to be appreciated by older (50's +) generations while Top 40, Hip Hop and Electronic cater much more to younger (25 and under) folks.
For the best dance floor results and the longest lasting party, think carefully about your range of guest age groups and make sure your band can perform accordingly. Don't be afraid to ask your friends for a little help here!

STEP 2: Set Your Wedding Music Budget

Okay, so the title of this post might have been a bit misleading. Hopefully you're aware that a great band is going to cost more than $500.

Truth is, you'll need at least $2-3k if you want a reputable band. Expect the price to go up in proportion to band size and quality level. 

Use the information from your brainstorm in step 1 to select the services you want from the list below. 

Select your preferred entertainment options:

  Low End High End
 Ceremony Musician(solo)  $100  $400
 Sound System for Ceremony  $125  $500
 Cocktails/Dinner Entertainment (Trio)  $600  $1200
 DJ For Reception  $750  $1500
 Small Band for Reception (4 or 5 piece)  $1400  $2900
 Medium Band for Reception (6 or 7 piece)  $1900  $3900
 Large Party Band for Reception (9 or 10 piece)  $2650  $5400
 Band Sound System, Lighting and/or Technician  $250  $1200
 Travel Expenses (only for bands traveling outside their regional district: 
 (i) roughly $0.55/km per vehicle, plus (ii) $0.05/km per addl musician in vehicle, plus 
 (iii) applicable ferry charges & tolls
 ---  ---
 Accommodations: expect to provide accommodations for a band when they
 cannot be back in their home city by 1am following a performance.
   2-6 Hotel Rooms
 Meals: It is fairly standard for a purchaser to provide dinner for band
 members and technician on the evening of a performance
   2-11 meals
 Tax (GST at 5%)  5%  5%


How big of a band should you choose? Obviously your budget is the main concern here, but band size is a great area to invest a little more money in, if you can. The bigger the band, the more engaging it is and the more fun your crowd will have. Larger bands often come with horns sections, which fill out the sound tremendously and add a unique flare that will captivate your guests.
Wedding music band sizes, hire a band for wedding, wedding dance party band


The size of your venue might be less important than you think. Don't rule out a larger band just because you're party isn't in a stadium. Many bands are able to pack into surprisingly small spaces and still pack a huge punch. The Phonix will happily do a free site inspection with you if you have any doubts!


Now, add up the low end and high end totals.

We expect the costs of our wedding entertainment to be between:

$_____________ and $_____________.


Service providers that are priced closer to the "low end" may have little experience or no reputation. We strongly advise steering clear of any services priced below these rates as you may be disappointed when you get what you pay for. Bands and services priced closer to the "high end" are likely to be the cream of the crop and should come with years of experience and a great reputation.

NOTE: Is this information helping you out? We spent weeks putting it all together for you. Please consider helping us out in return!


BONUS: We'll give you a copy of this post as a downloadable PDF workbook for you to add to your wedding planning kit!


STEP 3: Band Choices

By now, you should have an idea of the overall vibe and main musical genres you're looking for. Re-work your budget numbers until you are comfortable, then start searching.

Search for wedding bands or DJs near you:

  • Did you like a band you saw at a friend's wedding? Call your friend and get that band's contact info.
  • Check out this list of Vancouver's Top 6 Wedding Dance Bands or look for something similar in your city.
  • Go to google and try these formulas:
    "[favourite genre] wedding band [city]". Ex: R&B Wedding Band Vancouver
    "wedding band music [city]"
  • Check out sites like WeddingWire and GigMasters to find bands in your city
  • Ask your wedding planner for some recommendations or talk to your venue about great bands that have played there in the past. Don't have a planner? We highly recommend all of these fantastic Vancouver wedding planners.


By now, you should have a healthy list of band names. Head over to their websites and check out their videos. This part is kind of like dating. If you get a weird feeling watching their video, go with your gut and get out! On a more serious note though, look for things like audience engagement, versatility, stage presence and fun!

Fill out this form for each band you wish to seriously assess:

Band Scoring and Info Sheet

Band Name: 
Band Size(s):
Stage Size:

Referred By:
Band Is Available: Yes / No

Attend a performance:

  • Attended performance on: _____/_____/_____(date)

(NOTE: If you'd like to check out a Phonix performance, head over to our Shows page.)

Score the band:

  • Skill level: ___ /10
  • Audience Engagement: ___ / 10
  • Plays repertoire we like: ___ / 10
  • Fun score: ___ / 10
  • Matches our "vibe" (see step 1): ___ / 10
  • Website score: ___ / 10


Band Score:        / 60

Get a quote:

  • Requested quote on: _____/_____/_____
  • Received quote on: _____/_____/_____

The quote amount is $            , and includes:

  • Ceremony sound system
  • Ceremony musician(s)
  • Cocktails/dinner entertainment 
  • DJ for reception
  • Small band for reception (4 or 5 piece)
  • Medium band for reception (6 or 7 piece)
  • Large band for reception (9 or 10 piece)
  • Sound system, lighting and technician
  • Travel expenses
  • Accommodations
  • Other:
  • Other:

Deposit amount of $            , is due        /      /      .

Assess deal-breakers:

  • Quote fits our budget
  • Band can learn our first dance
  • Positive reviews from past weddings
  • We have adequate space in our venue
  • Band uses a professional contract
  • Experienced wedding entertainers

STEP 4: Book Your Wedding Band

The band scoring and info sheet in step 3 should help you narrow down the best band for your wedding.

The next step is to book the band!

Once you have made a choice, don't delay on this step. Great bands book 12-18 months in advance. Not only that, if you're in a big city (like Vancouver or bigger), you're likely competing with about 5,000 other wedding couples for about 50 desirable wedding dates (Saturdays). 

As soon as you have your venue locked down, book the band! 

Here's your task list for taking care of the booking:


Complete a consultation with the bandleader or band's agent:

  • This is where you'll hash out all the details, finalize price and draft a contract. Any pro band will have a questionnaire for you to fill out so they get all the information they need.

Sign contract and pay deposit:

Check your contract for these items:

  • Load-in, sound check, performance start & end times
  • Meals for musicians and/or technician
  • Deposit amount and conditions (usually 25-50%)
  • Cancellation clause
  • Breakdown of all costs
  • Names of all musicians
  • Date and address of engagement
  • Your full name and address
  • Complete name and address of band or DJ
  • Contract is dated and signed by both you and the bandleader


Complete a site inspection with the bandleader:

  • Stage location & size
  • Electrical requirements
  • Greenroom & storage area (for instrument cases etc)
  • Introduction to on-site venue contact person
  • Load-in & load-out procedures
  • Ceremony music performance location
  • Other:
• Steer clear of any band that doesn't use a contract. Aside from it being a legal guaranteethat you will get a service for your money, it puts all your event details in one place and eliminates the risk of anything being overlooked. 

• A site inspection may not be necessary if your venue is very straightforward and the band has performed there before. However, don't be afraid to push for a site inspection if it will put your mind at ease. Any reputable bandleader will happily oblige.

STEP 5: Final To Do's

The contract is signed and the deposit is made. The big party is fast approaching!

Here are the last few loose ends you'll need to tie up:


To Do 1-2 months before:

Select songs for the set lists and first dance song:

  • Request song list from band (if they haven't already sent it)
  • Select songs to be played 
  • Return list to band
  • Communicate your desired first dance song and any other song requests


To Do One Week Before:

Prepare final payment due:

  • Write a cheque or schedule an eTransfer
  • If cheque, give it to your day-of coordinator with instructions to give to the band following the performance


To Do On The Day-Of:

Enjoy your party!

  • Don't forget to pay the band yourself if you didn't arrange for someone else to.


To Do One Week After:

Write a review for the band.

  • A review is one of the most generous things you can do for the band. If they rocked your party, say so!
  • Touch on points like favourite performance moments, details of services provided, customer service, responsiveness, and what your guests thought.
  • Most bands will ask for a review, but if not, you can review them yourself on Google, WeddingWire, Facebook or just send them an email.

What's next?

Great job! You made it through.

Now that you're aware of everything you need to check off your list to secure your wedding entertainment, the only thing left is to DO IT!

And how better to do it, then to grab a PDF workbook version of this post that you can print out and add to your wedding planning kit.

We know that planning your wedding entertainment can seem like a daunting task, but our goal is to make it fun and easy for you. No matter where you are located or how big or small your budget is.

It literally took us weeks to put together this post and PDF, not to mention the years of experience behind all the lists and tips. If you got some value out of this post, or would benefit from owning our 5 STEP WEDDING ENTERTAINMENT CHECKLIST Workbook, we'd be super grateful if you bought us a coffee!

Wedding entertainment checklist, hire a live band for wedding



PS: YOUR 5 STEP WEDDING ENTERTAINMENT CHECKLIST workbook will give you confidence in choosing a band or DJ, help you establish a budget, provide expert advice and keep all your important research in one place. Don’t delay, the best bands are getting booked right now! No risk with our 7-day 100% money back guarantee.

Let's create the perfect event!

Book Your Event TODAY

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published