A wedding band, also known as a function band or covers band, is a group of musicians who perform live music together at weddings and civil partnerships. Couples with a passion for entertainment tend to steer towards hiring a band as opposed to opting for a DJ as they prefer to see the songs played live on instruments and have the energy of a performance.
When searching for wedding bands, couples should try to narrow down how many musicians would suit their venue and what style of wedding band would work best as there are many genres of band to choose from.
History of the Wedding Band
Live music at weddings is nothing new but the arrival of the wedding reception band, as we know it today is still a relatively recent concept. Music at weddings dates back to the Middle Ages, where for the wealthy, entertainment would take place during the wedding breakfast and consisted of lute, bladder pipes and hurdy gurdy music. By 1840 the wedding ceremony also included musicians such as harpists, pianists, string quartets and choirs, which is still commonplace today. The major difference now is that previously it was the wedding breakfast where the celebrations took place and not the evening reception. The reason for this shift was to allow all-day guests a little breathing space between the main meal and the reception party, and, also to accommodate the arrival of new guests in the evening and allow them to also join the celebrations.
The advent of the wedding band itself can be traced back through jazz, big band and swing eras. But, the modern version of the rock and pop band came about as an extension of mobile DJs and Discos, which served (and still serve) as a cost effective way to provide music for dancing. As musical instruments and PA equipment became more accessible and less costly hiring a band for a wedding became a realistic option for many couples and meant they could have their own mini-concert. These days the options are endless with bands ranging from 3 piece cover bands to 10 or even 12 piece soul and Motown groups.
Discover Wedding Bands
Couples who enjoy going to concerts should without a doubt be leaning towards booking a wedding band for their nuptials. They provide a great focal point for any wedding and also encourage guests to take to the dance floor because of their direct interaction. The following sections provide some insights into the things to be aware of when booking a wedding band and also the different styles of bands available to hire.
Wedding Band Line-Ups
Bands for weddings these days are available in just about every shape and size imaginable and also stylistically cover every genre possible. The sections below outline the most popular band line-ups and also discuss the different styles currently being booked for weddings and civil partnerships in the UK today.
3 Piece Bands – This line-up normally involves an instrument-playing member of the group also being a Singer. For example, popular line-ups are Drums, Bass and Guitar/Singer. However, there is nothing to stop the Bassist or Drummer being the main Vocalist.
4 Piece Bands – A 4 piece will normally be an extension of the 3-piece line-up but allow more freedom to the Singer by making them a standalone option. For example, Drums, Bass, Guitar and Vocals.
5 Piece Bands – The 5-piece band will normally include the addition of a new instrument. More often than not this is the Keyboard, which makes the 5-piece line-up Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboard and Vocals.
6 Piece Bands – Again, the augmentation to a 6-piece band will often mean the addition of a new instrument, which may be a Saxophone as an example. It is also known for 6 piece line-ups to include an additional Singer, more often than not a member of the opposite sex to the usual Vocalist. For example, a line-up could be Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Male Vocals and Female Vocals.
7 Piece + Anything above a 6-piece line-up will normally involve either the doubling or tripling of instrumentation already included in the smaller line-up. For example, the addition of 3 Singers is quite normal or adding an additional Guitarist. Plus, the larger the line-up becomes the more common it becomes to add full brass sections (Trumpet, Trombone, Saxophone) or even percussion players.
Styles of Wedding Band
There are more styles of wedding band available to hire than ever before and pretty much everything is catered for by a band of musicians somewhere… guaranteed! So, the following table provides a list of the most popular and commonly booked style of bands for weddings today with a brief description of what they do and what kind of wedding they would be suitable for.
Rock and Pop Bands – Rock and pop bands are by far the most booked style of wedding band in the UK and have been for many years. These bands play popular chart music from the 1950s to the present day. So, their set-list may include anything from The Beatles to Kings of Leon and Bruno Mars to Buddy Holly! They are popular for weddings where there are guests of a varied age range who are all looking for some dance floor action at some point in the evening. Normal Line-up: 3 to 5 piece line-ups
Jazz Bands – Jazz bands are a great choice for brides and grooms who are looking to add more elegance and panache to their evening than create an all out party atmosphere. If dancing guests is still a requisite, albeit perhaps not at the same level as a Rock and Pop band may encourage, then a line-up with Drums is a must-have. Whilst many Jazz bands will perform the ‘standards’ taken from ‘The Great American Songbook’ (by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, etc.) there is a new breed of contemporary Jazz group that fuses modern day songs by artists such as Beyoncé and transforms them into the Jazz medium. Normal Line-up: Trio to Quintet line-ups
Soul & Motown Bands – Soul Bands perform classic songs from the Motown era by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. There will also tend to be inclusions from contemporary artists doffing their cap to the Soul genre, such as Duffy, Pharrell Williams and Bruno Mars. Because Soul and Motown bands tend to have full sounds with extra vocals and brass sections they are perfect for weddings where the happy couple are looking to wow guests and keep everyone on their feet all night. Normal Line-up: 5 – 8 Piece line-ups with Brass instruments included
Tribute Bands – Tribute bands are groups that perform the music of one particular artist or band and in most cases mimic their look and characteristics. Tribute acts are ideal for couples who are big fans of a particular artist or group and popular examples include; The Beatles, ABBA, Elvis, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Foo Fighters, Queen or Oasis. Normal Line-up: Matches the original band line-up
Big Bands & Orchestras – Big Bands and Orchestras create a fantastic focal point at any wedding and are great for couples that want to cut some rug in a days-gone-by style. But, not only for dancing, these bands are truly mesmerizing to just sit, listen and watch. Performing classic music by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Duke Ellington amongst others, the Big Band era encapsulates the very best of arranged Jazz and Swing. Normal Line-up: Ranges from 12 to 25 band members
Irish & Ceilidh Bands – Irish bands (or indeed Scottish bands) are a fantastic way to celebrate a wedding or civil partnership where there is family lineage relating to the country. Popular tunes to dance and sing-along to include, Irish Rover, Whiskey in the Jar, Galway Girl and I’ll Tell Me Ma. In addition, Irish and Scottish bands are adept at providing Ceilidhs (or, Ceili) where a Caller can provide instructions over the PA to help dancers become acquainted with the steps… and each other. Normal Line-up: 3 – 5 piece line-up with instruments such as the Fiddle, Banjo, Whistles and Uilleann Pipes amongst others
Considerations for Booking a Wedding Band
Before booking a wedding band there are a few things that need to be taken into account regarding the venue to ensure that everything will go to plan logistically.
- Check with the venue to find out if they have a Noise Limiter.
Noise limiters may sometimes be installed at venues to help control the volume level and avoid creating noise pollution. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the end of any live band plans it can have connotations with regards the type of band and instruments possible. So, always check and if there is a limiter find out what level it is set at to see what kinds of band can realistically perform.
- Make sure there is enough space to have a band perform.
A 12-piece Soul band aren’t going to be able to squeeze into a space of 2 x 2 metres. As a guide, a 3 -5 piece band will normally require about 5 x 4 metres and as the line-ups increase so does the space required. The band will be able to assist with exact dimensions required and advise the kind of spaces they have previously worked with.
- If the band needs electricity check the performance space has it.
Most bands will require electricity for their amplification and PA gear and it’s always much better to have this as close to the performance area as possible. Trailing extensions never looks good and also creates a health and safety hazard. So, the nearer the better. And, ideally, it’s always best to have the sound on a separate circuit to the lighting as it can sometimes interfere.
- Ensure that there is adequate car parking available for the band.
Some bands travel together in one van/vehicle whereas others will move the equipment in a van and then travel in separate cars. It’s worth checking the exact requirements of the band with regards parking and the closer this is to the performance area the better.
- Check how easily accessible the performance area is for setting up.
If the performance space is up 4 flights of winding stairs or at the end of a long muddy field then think about arranging help for the band. The band are only human and if they have traveled some distance for the wedding and then need to traipse through difficult conditions to set-up, sound check and then still be expected to give the performance of a lifetime it would be nice to provide some assistance. This could take the form of speaking to the venue to ensure there are some extra hands available to help lug the heavy gear, or perhaps a few of the stronger guests could lend a hand. Alternatively, check if the venue has a trolley or lift that could perhaps make things a little easier for the band.
- Find out if the band needs to be fed and watered.
As mentioned previously, quite often bands will have traveled some distance and had to do quite a bit of physical graft in order to perform for the wedding reception so it would be nice to see if they require any kind of food or drink refreshments. Not all bands will require a food option but at the very least they should be set-up with some kind of bar tab so that they are able to get some soft drinks throughout the course of their stay at the venue. Remember, keeping the band well fed and watered maintains their energy levels in order for them to perform at their very best abilities.
- Make sure the band have an emergency contact number.
Heaven forbid something should go wrong on the wedding day itself! But, accidents may occur and even with the best will in the world it could mean that the band may be running late or simply cannot make the wedding. The best scenario here is for the band to inform someone at the earliest possible moment so that ‘plan B’ may be implemented. So, remember to pass on an emergency contact number to the band for use on the day itself. This may be a number for the best man, the wedding coordinator, somebody at the venue etc. just somebody that they can contact who won’t necessarily be involved in the proceedings and will be able to take a message and help resolve any issue.
Popular Wedding Bands
Below are some popular wedding bands included on the roster:
- The Indie Killers – 3 Piece Rock and Pop Band from Sussex
- Union Street – 6 – 9 Piece Soul and Motown Band from London
- The Jumping 5 – 5 Piece Lindy Hop and Jive Band from Brighton
- The Street Swing Band – 2 – 5 Piece Jazz and Swing Band in London
- The Jukeroxx Collective – 4 – 7 Piece Female Fronted Rock and Pop Band in Cambridgeshire
- String Ceilidh Band – 3 – 5 Piece Irish and Ceilidh Band in Kent
- The Swingin’ Dance Orchestra – 13 Piece Big Band Orchestra from Yorkshire
There are many more wedding bands, but this list provides couples with a starting point when looking for the right style to hire.
Find Wedding Bands on Warble Entertainment
Once a couple has determined that they want to hire a wedding band for their special occasion, they can begin their search on the Warble Entertainment website by using the top navigation bar and selecting ‘Live Music’. From here they will be able to narrow down the genre of band and also refine their search by region on the left hand-side of the page. Furthermore, if the couple already has a band in mind that they have been recommended or previously seen they may enter the name in the ‘Search Acts’ box at the top of each page. They may then spend some time looking at the band’s individual profiles. Each profile contains a write-up that provides essential details about the band, audio samples, promotional photographs, a guide to prices and in most cases video footage. Once a couple has selected bands they like and want to check availability and receive an accurate quote they can either call 0845 643 9384 or 01270 501 164, fill in the online form, or, email an enquiry to [email protected] The Warble team will be more than happy to answer any questions.
Book a Wedding Band with Confidence
After a couple receives a quote and would like to confirm a band for their wedding or civil partnership they should read through the terms and conditions of booking and make sure that they are happy to proceed. If they are, booking paperwork will be emailed across explaining the next steps in order for them to secure the chosen band. A small deposit will be required and confirmation that the paperwork has been received and the details checked. Once this has been completed the band will be secured for the couple’s wedding or civil partnership.
Warble Entertainment hire bands for literally thousands of weddings each year and are happy to offer free, impartial help and advice.
Wedding bands are a must-have option for genuine lovers of live music and concerts. They will provide guests with a focal point at the reception and help start their celebrations in style. However, before booking a band, couples should research groups, listen to them and talk to their venue to make sure that any band hired will be able to perform successfully.
Published by Warble Entertainment