Hidden fees. They’re a bride-to-be’s worst nightmare.
Yet, you’ll find countless horror stories of vendors quoting one price, locking in a customer, and tacking on hidden expenses — often when it’s too late for the wedding couple to change vendors. When any of your wedding vendors could charge you for features you’d expect to come standard, it’s no wonder that planning your wedding can become a financial and logistical nightmare.
To help as you research your live entertainment options, we’ve gathered a list of features that should come standard when you hire a cover band for your wedding. If a band you’re considering charges an extra fee for these — or if they won’t tell you until you sign a contract — we recommend taking a look at your other options.
1. MC services
This one is first on the list because it makes the least sense for a band to try and charge you an extra fee for it. If they already have the microphone and sound system that they need to play music, there’s no reason they can’t MC at your reception.
When a band includes MC services as part of their performance, you’ll have fewer communication breakdowns and fewer people getting on and off the stage throughout the night. Critical moments of the night — like the best man and maid of honor toasts, father/daughter and mother/son dances, and the couple’s first dance together — aren’t things that you or your guests want to miss.
We recommend hiring a band that includes MC services in the price. It should be as simple as providing them a schedule for the night, which you would likely do even without the MC services. Run from any band that suggests you pay them for their live music and pay another vendor to MC.
2. Lighting & PA Systems
When a cover band asks you to provide extra mixers, audio production, or a sound guy, they’re asking you to handle more than your fair share of the entertainment. It’s just as bad if they try to upcharge you for each of these elements that they really should be responsible for handling.
Usually, you can coordinate with them beforehand to make sure that your venue has the space and speakers they need. Apart from that, they can save you the hassle of hunting down the right PA system for their music and appropriate lighting for their stage when they just include them in the price.
After all, they know exactly what they need to work with their instruments. What’s a relatively easy task for them is an annoying, expensive, and tricky problem for you when it isn’t taken care of for you.
3. Their Instruments
We think this should be a given, but some live bands claim that you should pay an additional fee for equipment rental. While more prominent in cases where you’ve hired a band and asked them to travel across the country for the event, you may be surprised to find that even local cover bands will try to charge you for the instruments they use to play.
If you hire a band that’s a few hours’ drive from your venue, there’s no reason you should have to pay because they don’t want to transport the equipment they likely already own. If you find yourself in a position where a band is quoting you extra charges for equipment, we recommend taking a look at your local options and seeing if there’s a band that includes the equipment in the price.
4. Fast response times
Whether you booked the most prestigious band around or you went for the most budget-friendly option you could find, you deserve a certain level of customer service as you coordinate with them about the big day.
In the early stages of wedding planning, you may not anticipate too many conversations with your live band. But, as you nail down all the details, you may find that you have a handful of questions and concerns for the band. Regardless of how much you’re paying them, you should expect prompt, helpful responses.
Long response times can be a sign of a much bigger problem. As a bride-to-be, there are few experiences more terrifying than a wedding vendor that’s MIA. When you find a band that gets back to your emails and calls within a reasonable amount of time, you can be confident that they’ll show up on time and ready to go — no hassle needed.
5. Appropriate attire for the event
You spend a lot of time choosing a venue, flowers, food, and decor that sets a very particular mood for your wedding. The live entertainment for your wedding should blend into this theme, helping you create a well-rounded, consistent experience for the night.
It’s one thing if you have a very specific set of costumes in mind for the band. But if you chose to have a black tie affair, it’s simply inappropriate for your live band to show up in jeans and flannel shirts.
Most bands should offer a couple options to help you get the look you’re after. If you find a band that’s unwilling to don appropriate attire for your wedding without tacking on an extra fee, simply look into some other bands that will respect all the work you’ve put into establishing the night’s mood.
6. References from past clients
Sites like The Knot, WeddingWire, and GigMasters are great places to check the reviews for a band you’re thinking about hiring. But if you’re looking to go beyond the standard 4- and 5-star reviews to make sure this band is a good fit for your wedding, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask that they supply a reference (or a few) from past clients.
Bands that have been attentive, professional, and prompt in their service and who left a lasting, positive impression at past weddings will likely have references ready to share with you. You may not encounter a band that tries to charge you for providing them, but you could very likely find one that simply refuses to disclose them.
If you’re willing to pay them to perform on the most important day of your life, they can provide references that affirm your decision to do so.
7. A long, versatile song list
If you’re after a band that performs a very niche set of music, this one may not apply to you. However, if you’re like many brides-to-be, you’re looking for a band that can somehow accommodate the tastes of your grandpa, best friends, and co-workers. A band with a song list less than 50 songs long may have outlined the exact order of every single song, meaning one slip in their set or in the night’s events could leave them stumbling to recover.
What’s better is a band that has several hours of music from several different genres ready to go — and ready to adapt to your guests. When the current pop hit fails to get everyone up and moving, they can revert to a sure-fire classic, or when their planned set of slow jams seems to bring the energy down, they can switch it up to keep people dancing the night away.
Keep in mind that most people that play in a cover band are extremely passionate about music and spend a considerable amount of time listening to it, practicing it, and perfecting it. You don’t have to settle for a band that has a limited song list. In fact, you’ll find that the entire vibe of your wedding night is energized when you have musicians who can read the crowd, guide the mood, and be flexible as they do what they love.
8. Arriving on time
We can’t emphasize enough how important this one is. If a band can’t show up well before the guests arrive in order to set up and sound check their equipment, you’ll be the one scrambling to work things out in the moments leading up to your wedding.
While it’s one thing to request that the band show up at 8 am for a wedding that doesn’t start until 6 pm, most live bands should be willing to show up well in advance without tacking on extra fees to do so. What’s one way you can be confident they won’t be tardy? Pay attention to how quickly and thoroughly they respond to your quote request and initial questions. If they don’t have things together during those beginning conversations, you can almost guarantee that your agreed-upon arrival time will be treated as a suggestion rather than a requirement.
Learn what’s included when you hire a band for your wedding
Whatever you do, it’s crucial that you find out what is and isn’t included before you sign anything. Many bands will be happy to disclose this information and answer any specific questions you have about pricing. Others may try and lead you to believe that you can’t know the full price until you’re invoiced.
If you’re looking for a cover band for your wedding, check out our frequently asked questions and what’s included in the price of hiring The Cover Band. Or, if you’re looking for a quote and would like to learn more about how we can be one of the best vendor decisions you make for your wedding, reach out to us through our contact form. We’ll be happy to walk you through the process and address any concerns — all with lightning-fast response times, of course!