A friend of mine once said to me, "I feel like I've been to my own wedding five times!" In my hometown, the Jewish community was small, and as families went through the wedding planning process, they would pass along their vendor recommendations to their friends. The result? A lot of weddings at the same venues with the same food and the same bands. When it was my turn to plan my wedding, I was determined to be different. And one of the biggest challenges was finding a band that was reliable and a party pleaser but had not been overly used in my community.
Of course, the easiest way to find a band is word of mouth. Ask friends and family about their recommendations. But if you want your wedding to stand out from the crowd, one way to do so is through the music, and you'll have to veer from the recommendations.
To begin your search, you can check out Gigmasters. This is a great web site that allows you to search for all kinds of different bands that perform in your area. There are reviews posted for some of the bands, and if you find some that seem to meet your needs, then you can go to their web sites where there will often be video clips posted of the bands' work. When considering a band that you find on your own, always ask to see some video clips or a demo CD. While the sound of the music itself is important, you should also see the kind of atmosphere that the band creates.
Another way to find a band is to ask your venue about bands that have performed there. The site coordinator for your venue will probably know several bands from past events, or the venue may even have a person that specializes in finding music for parties. Also, a good wedding planner will maintain lists of great bands for you to choose from.
Some bands may have booking agents. If you find the band through a booking agent's web site, I recommend trying to find the contact information for the band itself and communicating directly to the band. Booking agents are middlemen, and I have found that dealing with them makes booking a band a much lengthier process. From my experience, they often don't know the answers to your questions and then have to contact the band every time you have a question.
Once you decide on a band, read the contract carefully before booking. You'll want to inquire about the band's policy on learning new songs. They will likely only learn one to three new songs. Ask to see their current song list, and ask if the band will follow a "do not play" list. Be sure you know how many breaks the band takes during the reception and the electrical requirements for their equipment. You may also want to ask if they will play recorded music that you have assembled during the break. If you have a lot of special songs that you'd like played at the wedding, but the band will not learn them all, using customized recorded music during the band's break is a great way to fit in all the music that is meaningful to you.
Booking the band is a big decision, but before you know it, you'll be dancing the night away on your big day!