How Much Will Your Wedding Band Cost in 2018?

Have you always wanted live music to be played at your wedding ceremony or reception? Perhaps an elegant string quartet while you walk down the aisle or a lively band that will keep your guests moving all night long at your wedding reception. Now that you know what you want, how much will you pay to make that vision a reality?

According to countless real quotes submitted by wedding musicians and bands nationwide within the last 12 months, couples in the United States can expect to pay an average of $1,927 for live wedding music for their ceremony and/or reception, which is an average of 6.2% of their total wedding budget. In terms of cost, this ranks number 5 in terms of cost ahead of buying wedding flowers and behind hiring a wedding photographer. These average numbers will appear higher than the median amounts spent by most couples on ceremony musicians and live wedding bands for their reception. You can also click here to view the costs associated with every wedding service both nationwide and in your area.

2018 City and State Averages

The average cost you can expect to spend on live musicians for your wedding chiefly depends on where you are located, as well as the time of year, their popularity, their size, whether you need them for the ceremony or reception, and other factors. Shown below are the average budgets for wedding bands and musicians over the past 9-12 months. How does your area compare? *NOTE: The amounts appearing below are updated throughout the year.

The Average Cost of Wedding Musicians by State

StatesAverage Cost
USA$2,001
Alabama$1,708
Alaska$2,054
Arizona$1,784
Arkansas$1,520
California$2,219
Colorado$1,845
Connecticut$2,418
Delaware$1,827
District of Columbia$2,285
Florida$1,916
Georgia$1,761
Hawaii$1,998
Idaho$1,512
Illinois$1,954
Indiana$1,681
Iowa$1,580
Kansas$1,618
Kentucky$1,677
Louisiana$1,725
Maine$1,898
Maryland$2,044
Massachusetts$2,394
Michigan$1,804
Minnesota$1,715
Mississippi$1,692
Missouri$1,657
Montana$1,450
Nebraska$1,588
Nevada$1,792
New Hampshire$2,114
New Jersey$2,534
New Mexico$1,535
New York$2,289
North Carolina$1,736
North Dakota$1,578
Ohio$1,778
Oklahoma$1,676
Oregon$1,759
Pennsylvania$2,090
Rhode Island$2,187
South Carolina$1,798
South Dakota$1,491
Tennessee$1,657
Texas$1,807
Utah$1,713
Vermont$1,850
Virginia$1,848
Washington$1,964
West Virginia$1,596
Wisconsin$1,820
Wyoming$1,805

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What is Included?

You've secured your venue and are narrowing down your choices for who your photographer and caterer will be. Now is the time to think about how your guests and loved ones will be entertained. Your choices for this generally are recorded music played by a DJ or live music played by a band. While a DJ will be your more economical choice, it cannot compare to the energy and feeling you get from hearing live music played by a talented musician. Read on for the various options you can choose from, what you can expect to pay for each, and some tips on bringing your costs down.

Keep in mind that bands charge PER PERSON that will be playing, meaning that the larger groups will naturally cost more, up to $10,000 or more for the most popular options in a given area. If you wish to proceed with having live music at your wedding, you can choose to do so at your ceremony, your reception, or both:

During the Ceremony: Popular types of musicians to play these selections can include:

  • String Trio

  • String Quartet

  • Flutist

  • Pianist or Organist (if at a church)

  • Harpist

  • Violinist

  • Soloist (singer)

  • Trumpet Soloist

  • Acoustic guitarist

  • Bagpiper

Your wedding ceremony music is more than just what song you will play as you walk down the aisle, and will traditionally involve selections for preludes, processionals and recessionals.

Preludes: consist of ambient or background music that is usually played starting around 30 minutes prior to the ceremony while guests are being seated and are waiting. Couples usually choose elegant classical music to play during this time, although romantic oldies music can also be played to the same effect. Some of the more popular selections include:

  • "Claire de Lune" Debussy

  • "Serenade" Schubert

  • "Adagio for Strings" Samuel Barber

  • "Water Music Suite" Handel

  • "Moonlight Sonata" Mozart

  • "Concerto in D Minor" Tomaso Albinoni

  • "A Rose Is Gently Blooming" Brahms

  • "Toccata in E Minor" Pachelbel

  • "Crazy Love" Van Morrison

  • "All I Ask Of You" Andrew Lloyd Webber

  • "Everything" Michael Buble

  • "Make You Feel My Love" Bob Dylan

Recessionals consist of any music that is played as the bride and groom (along with the wedding party) make their exit. It is played at the conclusion of the ceremony after the officiant announces the newly married couple to the guests in attendance, and will strike a triumphant and celebratory tune that will make your guests want to stand up and cheer! More popular recessional selections can be classical or more contemporary, and can include the following:

  • "Ode to Joy" Beethoven

  • "Spring" Vivaldi

  • "Trumpet Tune" Purcell

  • "Triumphal March" Grieg

  • "Beautiful Day" U2

  • "Brandenburg Concerto No. 1" Bach

  • "Rondeau" Purcell

  • "Anthem" Ciani

  • "Hornpipe" Handel

  • "Hallelujah Chorus" (from The Messiah) Handel

  • "Wedding March" Mendelssohn

  • "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Wonder

  • "Coronation March" Walton

  • "Badinerie" Bach

  • "Joy" Winston

Interludes consist of any music that is played during especially important moments of the ceremony, such as when a couple lights the unity candle. Popular selections can include:

  • "All Things Bright and Beautiful"

  • "You Are So Beautiful" Cocker

  • "Adagio" Mendelssohn

  • "Fields of Gold" Sting

  • "Canon in D" Pachelbel

  • "A Simple Song" Bernstein

  • "Ave Maria" Schubert

  • "Reverie" Debussy

  • "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"

  • "Minuet" Handel

  • "Amazing Grace"

  • Romanza" Beethoven

  • "First Arabesque" Debussy

  • "Lento con tenerezza" Granados

  • "Cantabile in B-Flat Major" Chopin

Remember that ceremony music is usually played in an acoustic fashion, meaning that it should be heard clearly by your guests as long as your church or wedding venue isn't too large or outdoors. If your location is enormous or windy, you will likely have to amplify the music electronically with speakers so that it can be enjoyed by all!

During the Reception: The ceremony is over and now it's time to party! Before anything think what kind of specific music will best fit your theme. Do you want a soloist or soft string music during your cocktail hour or while your guests are eating followed by a cover band, big band, latin band, or other type music to play for the party. An average quality band will average between 6 and 10 members, including a dedicated vocalist or two. Costs will be charged per band member per hour, so if you have 10 players performing for 4 hours and each player charges $100, then your cost will be $100 x 10 x 4 = $4000.

Options for what bands you can choose from for your reception can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Instrumental Ensembles for cocktail hour. These can be the same musicians that perform at your ceremony.

  • Jazz bands can play slow easy listening jazz for the cocktail hour and then increase the tempo for dancing after dinner.

  • Latin bands are popular for weddings where a lot of dancing is expected

  • Swing bands are perfect as a more formal and elegant option, yet fun!

  • Cover bands are the norm for more playing contemporary music that most guests are familiar with and love.

  • R&B bands are perfect for modern venues and can be played in different tempos as the evening progresses.

  • Steel Drum bands will add a Caribbean flavor to your celebration and is perfect for cocktail hour and between courses.

Once you've booked your wedding band, ask to review their playlist or help them create one according to your own taste in music. Just some of the most popular songs to play at wedding receptions across the country currently include the following:

  • *NSYNC, "Bye Bye Bye"

  • 50 Cent, "In Da Club"

  • ABBA, "Dancing Queen"

  • Adele, "Make You Feel My Love"

  • Aretha Franklin, "Respect"

  • Backstreet Boys, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"

  • Bob Seger, "Old Time Rock & Roll"

  • DJ Casper, "Cha Cha Slide"

  • Don Omar, "Danza Kuduro"

  • Earth, Wind & Fire, "September"

  • Elton John, "Tiny Dancer"

  • Elvis Crespo, "Suavemente (Remix)"

  • Eric Clapton, "Wonderful Tonight"

  • Etta James, "At Last"

  • Frank Sinatra, "The Way You Look Tonight"

  • iHeartMemphis, "Hit The Quan"

  • James Brown, "Sex Machine"

  • Jerry Lee Lewis, "Great Balls of Fire (Remix)"

  • John Legend, "All of Me"

  • Justin Timberlake, "Can't Stop the Feeling"

  • Louis Armstrong, "La Vie en rose"

  • Michael Jackson, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"

  • Neil Diamond, "Sweet Caroline"

  • Queen, "Another One Bites the Dust"

  • Ray LaMontagne, "You Are the Best Thing"

  • Run-DMC, "It's Tricky"

  • Silento, "Watch Me"

  • Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off"

  • The B-52s, "Love Shack"

  • The Beatles, "Twist and Shout"

  • The Jackson 5, "I Want You Back"

  • Warren G, "Regulate"

  • Whitney Houston, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"

For both your ceremony and reception, it is important to consider the venue in which they will be performing as it relates to size, configuration, even the availability of electrical outlets! Even if you can afford a Big Band or large Latin band, the size of your facility may not call for that.

Do your research regardless of who book for your event! Ask any band you are considering how long the band members have been playing together as well as a list of venues they have previously performed at and a list of references that you will call regarding their quality and level of professionalism.

Once you've selected your band, remember to itemize and include every single detail in the contract regarding the performance that is important to you. This can include a list of names of the band members that will be performing, to a list of songs that will be played, to setup and departure times, payment information, what they will wear, equipment and liability information, performance times, how many breaks and how long, how they will be fed, overtime charges if applicable, and more. The more information you include in the contract, the less of a chance of something bad happening with your multi-thousand dollar investment in entertainment!

Key Points to remember:

  • In 2018, the average cost for a wedding band will expect to be around 6.2% of a couple's total budget, which is currently around $1,927 for the average US couple.

  • Pricing will be charged per performer, per hour needed. Additional time over what is contracted for is generally paid in cash in half hour increments.

  • Final costs are correlated with how many band members you are hiring and for how long, your location, popularity, and general supply and demand factors.

  • Some types of musicians are better suited for the wedding ceremony, while others are better for the reception.

  • Remember to check every reference and see/hear samples of past performances before hiring, and to list every single detail in the contract so that there are no misunderstandings.

Tips on Saving Money on Your Wedding Band

  • Book early - by doing so you will be able to negotiate a small discount

  • If you will be having a church wedding, inquire if they have a talented organist or pianist available. It will both save you time and will be likely cheaper than booking via an outside source.

  • Local entertainment agencies will help you define your musical preferences and will help you find the right musicians that will match your budget. An added benefit is that the agencies should allow you to "audition" whichever bands interest you, either via videotapes and/or audiotapes of previous performances, or even viewing the band live at a function which they are performing.

  • Hire a music student from your local college or university to perform at your ceremony and save up to 50% of what a professional would cost.

  • Ask a friend that is musically inclined to perform at the ceremony. It will be cheaper and more personal for both of you.

  • As most of your guests will be busy talking and mingling during the cocktail hour, they won't even know if you skip the live music during that time.

  • Ask if your wedding venue has a sound system to play background music during the cocktail hour instead of a live performer.

  • If you would like to use the same instrumental ensembles for your wedding ceremony and reception cocktail hour, you will most likely be able to negotiate a discount.

  • As bands charge per performer, hire a smaller band. A smaller band will sound larger if their equipment is new and up-to-date.

  • If you don't have the money to shell out for live music, opt for having a DJ instead for much cheaper.

  • As Saturday is the most popular day for weddings, have your wedding on any day other than Saturday. This will also result in savings for every other service needed.

  • NEGOTIATE with any band you are considering. Simply asking if they can give you a price break costs you nothing, and can result in saving hundreds or thousands of dollars! Even if they won't cut on their hourly rate, maybe you can get them to play extra time or during the cocktail hour.

  • Paying in cash up front will likely earn you a discount just ask!

  • Acoustic acts can be had for less many times as they usually do not have to carry heavy equipment, sound systems, etc.

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