Wedding Planner Advice for Wedding BandWedding Planners Discuss the 3 Traits They Look for in A Professional Live Music Wedding Band

It’s time to hire the live music entertainment for your special day. You still have lots of questions. Do you need to hire a different band for the main ceremony and the reception, or can you hire a band that can handle both? What about the father-daughter dance, bride and groom first dance, or all the other “crowd work” parts of the ceremony that make it work smoothly and seamlessly?

Now, when you factor in a live music band that can handle playing an upscale wedding, you might feel like you have your hands full.

That’s why we got together with some of our favorite Austin Wedding Planners to gather their sage advice to help you make your decision.


“Hire a Band Instead of a DJ…”

  1. “As a wedding planner who sees dozens of weddings every year, I’ve realized now the biggest thing I’d do differently is have a band at my wedding instead of a DJ!
  2. Professional wedding bands not only sound better than those newer, but know how to emcee the event and keep the energy level of your wedding up with not just songs: They can emcee and transition the events so it flows so much smoother. A great emcee is key to the success of your wedding.
  3. Professional bands also make your (or your wedding planner‘s) life easier by communicating easily in the weeks leading up to the wedding. They’ll know the rules and set up of the venue (for example: if they can’t put down tape somewhere, if they only have 1 hour to tear down,etc). This helps you as the client avoid any fees for either cleanup or adding on more hours at the end of the night.”
Lauren Chumbley
Eclipse Event Co.

“Professional Communication with the band is key…”

“When looking for a professional Austin wedding band to recommend to our clients, we look for a few key things. The biggest I would say is the ease of working with the band prior to the wedding, and on the wedding day!
Things always come up and we have to shift timing frequently when we are in the moment, and when bands are nice and easily accommodate without making it a huge deal- it REALLY helps us stay on track. Also, the interaction with the crowd during the performance is something that leaves a lasting impression for the couple and their guests.
And lastly, the variety of songs that professional bands offer allow all guests to have something that they like and want to hear- everything from Motown to current hits is great for large weddings that have lots of different age groups attending. It is important to also have good transitions with the band between songs too, not much downtime or quiet between songs- that is huge!!”
Megan Metzger
Event Planner
Pearl Events

“Stage Presence, Transitions, and Attention to Details…”

“In my opinion there are three things that separate the professional live wedding entertainment from amateurs: 1). Overall stage presence and command of the audience. You want a band that is entertaining guests on and off the dance floor and encouraging your guests to let loose and have a good time; 2). Smooth confident transitions. It’s hard to avoid announcements (introducing toasts, first dances, taking breaks, etc.) at a wedding reception, so it’s important to hire a wedding band with an emcee that is smooth and reflects the overall vibe of your event 3). Attention to detailA truly professional wedding band will reach out to you for a pre-wedding consult and take careful notes of all your preferences, including your wedding song list. They will know your timeline and be accommodating to your needs from start to finish.”
Ren Newey
Senior Event Producer + Designer
36th Street Events

“Pro Wedding Band Vs. Amateur = Having it in Writing…”

“From the venue perspective, the key distinguishers from an amateur vs professional band are:

1)       Having a rider that outlines any food & beverage, parking, set up time and power needs.

2)      Communication with the venue to confirm/discuss said rider needs- especially parking, times and power.

3)      General professionalism and friendly demeanor on site i.e. checking in with the venue manager before getting started and confirming the time for sound check, being able to roll with any last minute changes from the client/bride/planner and of course not drinking on the job. We’re all professionals hired independently to do our jobs for a wedding, but there has to be an understanding that we’re also operating as a team for the night. While it’s just another night on the job for us, for the bride and groom it’s an incredibly special celebration for their families. I think generally it boils down to good communication and being respectful of the venue and colleagues. I’ve definitely had some poor experiences with amateur groups in the past, but never have to worry when working with you and Memphis Train Review!”

Lily Alpern
Event Sales Manager
Bullock Museum

“Find a Band that’s Willing to Invest the Time and Energy Needed for Your Special Day…”

“When looking for a wedding band in Austin, the “Live Music Capital of the World”, the choices can seem endless. But there are a select few that rise above the rest! In order for me to feel comfortable recommending a wedding band to a client, they must be able to roll with the punches, have excellent communication and be willing to go the extra mile for the client!
The best wedding bands remember that they are playing weddings! Their clients are stressed and will often need help or a little extra time on a deadline. Being flexible is key in the wedding industry!
“A song choice or order of events may change during the wedding, and a band who says “no problem” is the best to work with! Professional wedding bands also communicate their needs to clients in advance so there isn’t any panic as the wedding approaches. Receiving an e-mail with “we need your song selections today” with no warning can cause terror for a bride or groom!
“To both of these points, bands who go the extra mile always stand out to myself and to the client. Whether it’s learning an additional song, or bringing an extra speaker to ensure the ceremony sound is perfect, those are the details that really make an event.
“You want to hire a wedding band that’s willing to spend the time or money to make sure everything is the best it can be!”
Kelly Bottoms
Event Planner
Pearl Events

“Professional Communication, Flexibility with Bride and Groom, High Energy on Stage…”

“1. Communication before the wedding is huge for both the planner and the client. There are a lot of details that go into the timeline before the big day and having quick and clear responses from the band is key.
2. Having high energy on the stage insures that the guests have the best time possible. Movement, clean transitions between songs and high energy performers make the band fee worth it!
3. Flexibility is huge as wedding details are always changing. If the bride changes her first dance song the day before, we need a band to be positive about downloading a new song or changing up the set list.”
Katie Fingerhut
Event Planner
Pearl Events

“Find a Band that’s Professional, On & Off Stage…”

“When I’m helping my clients hire a live music band for their wedding, there are a few things that factor into our decision: The first is their professionalism. There’s a lot to say about how a band performs on and off stage.
“You want to work with a group that has your best interests in mind throughout the experience. How they help answer your emails and questions leading up to the wedding is a good indicator of how they’ll handle your needs on your wedding day.
“The second is what I call “a little something extra”. You want a band that isn’t just there to show up, play, leave. A band that’s earned its reputation (read their reviews) always has a little something more that sets them apart.
“Whether they have great stage and dance floor lighting, an expansive song list that you can select from, or even provide an extra thrilling experience for you and your guests by interacting with you during their sets, they’re giving you the best possible experience.
“The third factor is their flexibility.
“If something comes up on the wedding day and we need to adjust the timeline, push back a break, or adjust the order of the special dances, you want a band that will work with you to make those adjustments. They’ve got to be able to go with the flow to keep everything running as smoothly as possible, and a professional band understands that and will accommodate your needs without any pushback.”
Jessika Knight
Senior Event Producer + Designer
36th Street Events

“Planning, Communication, Accountability, Seamless on Stage, Reading the Crowd…”

“In Austin, Texas we are surrounded by talented musicians, so if you want to incorporate live music into your event, you are in the right place. There are a few things you might want to consider when you are evaluating your options.
  • “Planning and Communications. Not all musicians are great business communicators. Finding a band that has a responsible manager can help to eliminate problems and stress leading up to the event, and avoid miscommunications. You can count on a band manager to be responsive be responsive to emails, and to make sure that a specific walk through of the venue happens in advance of the event.
  • “Accountability. A band answering to their manager has a lot more at stake than your one event. If they mess up on a gig that is organized by a manager, many future bookings could be at stake. If a band flakes out on the event that they planned with you directly, there is much less of a chance that their future will be impacted.
  • “Seamlessness. It is not just the songs that are played at an event that matters, it is also important that a good party band have smooth transitions from one set to another. This has a huge impact on the overall experience. Conferring with the rest of the group in between every single song causes the event energy to drop unnecessarily. Make sure that the band you hire has rehearsed the way the whole set flows, not just the individual songs.
  • “Reading the Crowd. A great band will respond to the energy of the crowd just like a good DJ. Being able to shift gears on the fly and knowing instinctively when to turn up the heat and when to tone things down is an important skill, and not every band can do this well.”
Stacey Hoyt CMP, CSEP
Special Events Manager
Blantom Museum of Art

“Clear Communication, Flexibility with Bride and Groom (this comes up a lot!)….”

“As an event planning professional. A few thoughts on what a bride is looking for in a band for her wedding and the planning thereof.
1. “The couple should be clear about the type of band they are hiring and what type of music they want to hear. So that there are no surprises during the planning process.
Important questions for the client – especially if they have hired the band before hiring a planner.
A. What is the stage size needed? Smallest size the band can live with and the size the band requires
b. Electrical needs
c. Will there be a back drop – some bands have a lot of equipment that can cover up the design the bride paid a lot of money and this can become a point of contention for all parties
d. If the band is traveling – does the price include hotel, meals and travel
c. Does this price also include the meal on event day
d. If this is an outside event – Green room – what does the band need or can live with?”
2. “Questionnaire. most bands give the bride this questionnaire upon being hired. I rather see it sent 3 months prior. The questionnaire can sometimes overwhelm the bride. If sending upon hiring. Make it clear when you’d like it back and send a reminder email with the questionnaire at least 2 months prior.
3. “Will the wedding band learn a song – and if so is the first complimentary and be clear about the deadline to make this possible.
4. “Dj -or break music. A lot of bands call this a Dj and charge for it. I honestly feel there needs to be a different name for this person. Client visual understanding of a DJ is very different from what it appears to be.
5. “Planners – I’ve been telling all vendors it is important for vendors to start praising Planner. A lot of clients really feel they can do this on their own. Weddings have become small productions and the planners are the conductor or producer of the event. A bride or mother or her dear friend who is a guest at the party cannot be that person.”
Barbara Shorts
Verve Austin Event Management