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Why Are Wedding Bands So Expensive?

Blog Post Image Budget Wedding Band
Blog Post Image Budget Wedding Band

“Why is Wedding Music So Expensive???..How to Get The Most Band for Your Buck”

As January comes to a dreary end, many Brides are on the search for a wedding Band or D.J
As it is in January most of us are feeling the post Xmas pinch. Credit Card statements are
dropping on doorstep and with this, every penny is being weighed and measured, not least
when it comes to planning a wedding. Quotations are being handed out left, right and
centre. “ 1,500…€2,500….€5,000…Are you for real? It’s only a few songs sure”. Yes those
figures are not uncommon for Wedding Bands in Ireland. When it comes down to it,
everyone’s budget is different, and not everyone is as selective about the music for their big
day. Unfortunately, sometimes they wish they had been more selective afterwards. You
only get married once…hopefully…( We offer discounts for repeat customers), so make sure
you do your research and decide how much you are willing to spend and if it’s really worth

This blog post will hopefully guide a few brides and grooms as they decide on their wedding
music. If it helps even one couple navigate the murky waters of wedding entertainment it
will all be worthwhile. It might also be of help to some suppliers getting started in the
business who don’t yet know what to charge. All aboard, see you on the other side of this


Numbers –

When deciding on a wedding band there are three main things that will affect the price. The
first and most important, is the size of the band. Please do not be surprised that the 11
Piece Swing band you are eyeing up is charging between 3 and 5 thousand euro for one
nights entertainment. When you tally up expenses and other business costs, there really
won’t be that much at the end to split between the musicians. For your average wedding
budget, a 4 or 5 piece band will be the ideal size. Some bands can perform with as little as 2
or 3 members and can be aided by pre-recorded tracks to fill out the sound. These are an
excellent option for those on a tight budget, but want to have something different before
the D.J takes over. As a member of a 5, sometimes 7 Piece band which is a little more top
heavy numbers-wise than most, it would be easy for me to begrudge the smaller bands
because they can provide lower quotes. On the other hand I appreciate the role they fill
within the industry. More power to them. It’s just, not really our thing. We like bringing out
a full band and having everything live. That being said, some larger bands with full brass
sections, will think we are undercutting them. There is always a bigger fish, don’t get eaten.

On and Off-Peek- 

The next most important factor is when you have chosen to get married, similar to booking
any other service for your wedding, some days are more in demand than others. For Ireland,
August and December are peak times for wedding bands. August due to the weather and
December due to a variety of other Christmas parties and work functions that we may have
the opportunity to play at. January, November and February are, for the most part, a bit
quieter. So there we’ve established that weather is a factor in Ireland…I bet you’re glad you
clicked on the link now. Hope is not lost if you have booked your wedding during a peek
month. Price can also be determined by the day of the week. I will go out on a limb now,
and without any prior research, other than my own past experience, say that 99.9% percent
of weddings in Ireland occur between Thursday and Sunday. Thursday weddings have
become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for younger couples. A lot of
money can be saved on a wedding by opting for a Thursday. This logic holds up in relation to
music. Bands are more likely to be available on a Thursday than a Saturday, so will be willing
to offer some form of discount for a wedding on Thursday. It gets the band off the couch
when they more than likely would have had the night off. Win for you, Win for the
band…kind of…depends on the traffic.

Location –

Ah yes, the last of the big three. You guessed it, location, location, location. A very divisive
issue for band members and those in charge of providing the quotes. To begin with, some
musicians will flat out refuse to travel an hour, two hours or even further to go to work. For
others, this is not as much of an issue. From my own experience it’s a little bit easier doing
the driving, than being in the passenger seat, at least you have something to do. That tip is
more for the musicians reading…if anyone is still reading. So once a band has agreed to
drive the two and a half hours from Dublin to Sligo, they now have to decide what to charge
for this service. A minimum charge would usually be the cost of Fuel, Tolls and €10 or €15
per head for food along the way. This could work out at roughly €150/€200 for a 5 or 6
piece band travelling in a van and a car. This is without paying anyone for the time they
have spent driving…You can see how this will add up to a lot of money. So if we were to pay
each musician, €10 an hour for every hour spent in the car (A policy we go by when
possible) between Dublin and Sligo this would amount to an additional €250/€300 in travel
expenses. So if the band you want for you wedding in Sligo is based in Dublin, you can
expect to pay anything from €200 to €500 extra, depending on the bands travel policy.
That’s before anyone has tuned a guitar or sang a note. There is of course a way to negate
this expense. Shop local, in the interest of saving a few trees and whales it’s probably better
for the environment to have a band from Sligo play at a wedding in Sligo. There is also less
chance of an accident on the way due to someone falling asleep at the wheel. Every
weekend, hundreds of Bands drive across the country to play in different towns, partly
because they like playing in new venues but also because it’s where the work is. Dublin
bands drive to Cavan and Cavan bands drive to Dublin, it’s a little bit mad and quite
dangerous in winter months. That might be an issue for another post.

Set Length –

Another hot topic for wedding bands. How long should a band play for at a wedding? This
can vary a lot. The minimum is usually 2 hours, based on other bands we know and have
worked with in the past. The max being about 3 hours. For ourselves we started off doing 3
hour sets for couples as we were all very young at the time and thought this would be a
good selling point. We can play for longer than those older bands who have sore backs. This
was a little naïve on our part. We were only getting started so we weren’t doing weddings
night after night. Singing for 3 hours multiple nights on the trot will do damage to vocal
chords, guitar fingers and backs. We learned that the hard way. We now offer 2 and a half
hours and we take a short 10 minute break in the middle. This coincides with tea and coffee
being brought out by hotel staff. There’s a natural lull in proceedings at this point. Though
we are playing for a little bit less time, we find we can keep our own energy and the energy
of the crowd up for longer. This way the crowds on a high when we pass over to the D.J and
everyone is happy. Now if a couple specifies that they want the band to play from 9.p.m to
12a.m, that can be accommodated, but it is another factor when providing a quote.

-Side Note-

Regarding set length, rarely does a wedding ever run on time. So if a band is due to start at
9.30, and the speeches are still going strong at 10.00, you may feel a bit short changed when
your band is only playing for an hour and a half before having to wrap up. We have heard
stories of weddings running so far behind that the band only started at half 12. As a result
they only played a handful of songs before the venue imposed their 1a.m curfew. Don’t let
this happen to you. Keep the speeches to a minimum, you’ll have more time for dancing.

Requests –

There are a few other factors that can determine price. Song requests can be a huge time
sink for wedding bands. If a couple has specified that they want 4 or 5 of their favourite
songs that don’t feature on the bands sample playlist there may be a few late nights and
early morning for the band members. As a general rule of thumb we allow up to three
requests for our wedding couples. First Dance, Father Daughter and one more to stick in at
some stage in the night. So three songs might take each member of the band anywhere
from 30 minutes to 3 hours to learn depending on the complexity of the songs. Generally we
would each spend an evening working on songs for a wedding and then meet up the week
of the gig to rehearse the new songs, find what key a singer will need the songs played in
and get the general feel for the song. This is a nice part of the job, sometimes, depending on
how busy we are on a particular week. We like adding new songs to our set, it keeps it fresh
for us. We don’t charge extra for requests, but some bands do and some bands will not
entertain the idea of couples picking songs. This is something you should clarify with your
band before paying a deposit, it will avoid any nasty surprises for either party.

Package Deals –

Like most bands and wedding suppliers in general, we offer package deals for couples that
wish to avail of more than one of our services. This can be an excellent way of saving some
money on your days entertainment, use the one supplier for all of your music. Our full day
package includes Ceremony and Drinks Reception music provided by our lead singer
Heather ,accompanied on acoustic guitar. As well as this we offer D.J for after the band is
finished. Logistically, choosing one supplier makes sense because you will only pay for travel
once, as opposed to having different musicians for each part of the day. We will also charge
less for items such as Ceremony music, when we know we will be performing at the afters
for the same couple, later that evening.

Case Study – How we price a wedding and what we charge

To run you through what happens when we are asked for a quotation, we will set up a
scenario where we have received the following email.

“Hi Guys,
Just looking for availability and Price for our wedding on the 21 st of March 2024 in (Blank)
Hotel, Kilkenny.
Bride & Groom”

So I will first check our calendar for the selected date, provided we are available the next
step is to check what day of the week it is. It’s a Saturday in March, week after Paddy’s
Day’s. Not particularly on or off peek. I will then go to google maps and see how long it will
take us to get down there. Roughly an hour and a half from Dublin, so I know from the past
that will cost us €60/€70 in fuel. I will round that up to €100 to pay for other expenses such
as the rental of a rehearsal space if they have a first dance request. Then we move on to
paying the musicians. This will generally come in at €250 per head in an ideal world, we
sometimes charge more and we sometimes charge less but it won’t be far from that. To this
we will add an additional €30 per head for time spent in the car. We also require a deposit
of €200 to secure bookings. This is put towards the general running costs of the band. Public
Liability Insurance, Storage Rental, Equipment Maintenance, Equipment Purchase, Website
costs, Marketing…this list could go on for a long time. So here’s the break down form our
sample couple
Musician fee’s -€280 x 6= €1680
Deposit for running costs=€200
Total=€1,980…€2,000 for an even number.
Don’t hold us to this number but it’s a good ball park figure before you get in touch with us
regarding you’re event. We have done weddings for less and we have also don’t them for
more. It all comes down to the factors we have listed above, so please don’t be shocked by
a quotation for music. A wedding on New Year’s Eve in Cork will cost a whole lot more than
a Wedding in Dublin on the 11th of January.
That’s a lot for one nights work, some people don’t make that in a week
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room, why is a musician getting paid an average of €250 for
his nights work. Now you first have to ask yourself, is this a lot of money? To some people it
is, to others, especially some musicians, it’s not really. I’ll try explain to you why. €250 is
simply a figure that we have come across that we feel the market can bare, it’s not so low
that we are gigging every night and making no money, nor is it so high that we are pricing
ourselves out of the market entirely. This figure of between €1900 and €2100 for our band
is where we are happy working. We have enough customers to stay in business, but not so
many that we can’t give each client the necessary attention.

Now let’s break down that musician fee. Each member of our band has spent a number of
years learning how to play their instrument, before going on to complete a 4 year B.A in
music performance. The cost of this education alone is €12,000 and yes all six of us have the
piece of paper to prove it. All in the pursuit of becoming a better performer. As well as this,
with the exception of singers, every member of the band lugs around 3-5k of equipment
with them each night in the form of Drums, Guitars, Keyboards and Amplifiers. All of which
needs to be maintained, and in most cases, insured. Now this is not to say that singers get
off lightly, (I can feel our singers preparing to give me a scolding), proper maintenance of
the voice can cost thousands each year. It also requires constant vigilance regarding what’s
put in to their bodies. It’s not an easy life, manuka honey is expensive.
Now that all the investment has been made to get the job, they now have to learn upwards
of two hours of material and perform for those two hours. On top of actually playing the
songs, and since we are not Metallica or U2, we have to haul and set up all of our own
equipment. No roadies for us. This is another hour before a gig, and another half hour
afterwards. I’m sure you’re exhausted just reading this list of tasks, hopefully it’s not due to
boredom. For weddings, our work day would generally start at 6p.m and we would get
home for around 3a.m or later. So after all that, still think that €250 seems like a lot of

This is the End…My Sweetest Friend, The End
Those of you who are still with reading, I salute you, I will now attempt to wrap a neat bow
around what has been covered in this, longer than expected post.
Do some research on a band before you ask for a quote, even just look at a photo of them.
This should help you in finding a band that’s right for your budget. Do you want a brass
section? Great. That’ll cost you. Those guys really aren’t cheap. Do you want a string quartet
for your drinks reception. Those guys paid an awful lot for their instruments. You don’t want
to know how much a good violin costs. So yeah, that’ll cost you. Do you want a band that is
relatively local to your venue and consists of 4 or 5 members and you’re getting married on
a Thursday in February? That’ll cost you…but not that much.
As usual this is just our take on pricing a wedding gig, on the greater scheme of things, what
do we know? About anything? Well whatever we do know we are happy to share, feel free
to drop us a line if we and shed some light on any issues raised in our posts. or find us on Facebook. We also have a shiny new website,

Also check out for more wedding blogs!

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