How to Save Money on Your Wedding Music

how to save money on your wedding music

The wedding music can truly make or break a wedding. I have been to weddings where the band was great and had everyone on the dance floor and having a fun time. I have also been to weddings where the DJ was terrible, playing odd song selections and stumbling over his words when he spoke into the microphone. Unfortunately, the best DJs and wedding bands don’t come cheap. This article will tell you how to save money on your wedding music and help you decide whether hiring a band or a DJ is best for your wedding music.

Music For Your Wedding Ceremony

Most people want some type of music in their wedding ceremony. Walking down the aisle wouldn’t be the same without a beautiful song playing in the background. Many people hire string quartets for their wedding ceremony music, which adds elegance to the event. But hiring a string quartet means you’re paying for 4 musicians to perform. That can cost you a lot, even if you only need the musicians for an hour.

Instead of a string quartet, consider hiring a pianist or a classical guitarist to provide the music for your wedding. This way you’re only paying for one musician, which will save money and won’t take anything away from the ceremony. Most churches already have a piano or an organ at the venue, and you can likely hire the church organist to play the music for the ceremony. If your wedding is not in a church, pianists will usually have a portable digital piano that they can set up anywhere as long as there is power. Another option is to hire a classical guitarist. A guitar is easy to carry and as an acoustic instrument, it can go anywhere — even locations without power. Either way, your musician won’t have a lot of equipment to bring. Search for wedding musicians in your area and try to get someone who has experience but isn’t too expensive. You definitely don’t want to hire someone who has never played a wedding before. A seasoned professional will be able to roll with the punches, such as a delay

When you’re searching for wedding musicians in your area, try to get someone who has experience but isn’t too expensive. One option is to hire a music student from a nearby college to play. Serious music students are superb musicians and are often just as good as a professional but they will usually charge much less. You definitely don’t want to hire someone who has never played a wedding before. There could be many variables with timing, and a seasoned professional will be able to roll with the punches. For instance, I went to a wedding where the bride took longer than expected to get down the aisle. The pianist finished the song before the bride got to the altar and there was an awkward 20 seconds where the bride was walking without any music. Not a big deal, but a seasoned pro would have extended the song to accommodate the timing issue.

The best deal is if you have a friend or family member who is a musician. Ask them if they would be willing to play at your wedding as their gift to you. Then your music is free, and it will be more meaningful for someone who knows you to be involved in your ceremony. 

Music for Your Wedding Reception

When you hire a band or a DJ for your reception, they aren’t just providing the music. They are also going to be the emcee for the night. They’ll run the show—announcing the bride and groom, wedding party, first dance, father daughter dance, etc. That’s a lot of responsibility and you definitely want someone who has experience with weddings to take care of these announcements in a professional way. This is a skill that is often overlooked when hiring a DJ or band. Make sure that whomever you hire has solid skills on the microphone as well as their instrument or DJ equipment. A qualified DJ or band leader will want to meet with you before the event to go over the order of events and song selections. This meeting is important and is likely your one chance to go over your expectations for the event. If your vendor claims theydon’t need to have this kind of meeting, be concerned.

Hiring a Wedding Band

Hiring a band is usually more expensive than hiring a DJ. Not only are you paying for multiple musicians, but you’re also paying for them to lug all of their equipment to your wedding, set it up and break it down. However, a band can add another level of excitement and entertainment to a reception, especially if they are energetic and put on a great live show. It’s more fun to watch a live band perform than it is to watch a DJ spin records. (That being said, I have seen some VERY entertaining DJs) To save money, find a cover band that doesn’t have a huge following. Look for a group that does weddings and parties as a side business rather than a group that does it full time. If possible, try to go watch the band perform so you can get a feel for their style and ability.

Hiring a Wedding DJ

A DJ is usually less expensive than a band and there are more good DJs than there are good bands in most areas. Since you’re only paying for one person, you’re usually going to pay less money. When booking the DJ, make sure they know what kind of music to bring for your reception. Ask to see a list of songs in their catalogue to make sure that they would play the type of music that you want to hear. In general, avoid the big DJ companies in your area. They will usually cost more, because they spend a lot of money marketing themselves and they are well known. Try to find a DJ who books his own gigs and has his own equipment. You’ll usually pay a lot less.

Provide Your Own Music

If your budget is really tight, you can always consider providing your own wedding music. Load up an iPod with a few hours of your favorite tunes and rent your own PA system. You’ll pay a lot less, but you’ll still need to have someone to emcee, make announcements, etc. I have seen this done at several small weddings and it usually works out well. Just be sure that you have a variety of music and enough songs to get you through the night. Nobody likes hearing the same songs over and over again. 

In General

Make sure that anyone you hire is familiar with the wedding proceedings. Go over the song selections with them for the ceremony, first dance, father-daughter dance, etc. Make sure they have a list of names that you want to be announced and a schedule of events. This will help avoid mix-ups and awkward moments. 

• When booking a band or a DJ, always ask to see some video of one of their performances, a demo tape (for a band), their song lists, and references from people who have hired them in the past. The more wedding experience they have, the better. 

• Ask what kind of clothing they will wear while performing. You wouldn’t want a guitarist in ripped jeans to show up at your formal wedding. Also, ask if the band/DJ will require a meal. If you have to pay for their food, you’ll need to account for the extra cost in your wedding budget.

• If your wedding is outdoors, be sure to ask how inclement weather would affect the music/performance. If possible, try to locate the band or DJ inside or under some sort of protection from the elements like a rented pop-up tent. Otherwise, a sudden storm could stop the party.

The wedding music can really help set the tone for your wedding, so it’s a component that should not be overlooked. With good planning and experienced bands/DJs, you’ll save money on your wedding music and your guests will enjoy the party.

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