Chicago Wedding Bands Guide

How to Find the Right Live Music in Illinois

The Windy City and jazz go together like Adam and Eve and, well, you and your groom. But in a town where everyone’s in the mood, you can get any kind of music you want, provided you know where to look. Hiring the perfect band for your wedding is a must, so read on for Loop-worthy tips.

Your Chicago wedding band search should begin about 8 months’ prior to your wedding, and after you’ve picked the site. Great bands are booked early on, so don’t wait until the last minute. When searching, ask friends and relatives, and other vendors. The price of bands varies tremendously, depending on the type of group you want, where you live, and the length of your reception. Expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. Always get references, and contact the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

When interviewing Chicago wedding bands, ask to check out a CD or DVD of theirs, and be sure to catch a live performance (but never crash someone else’s wedding). Talk to the band leader about hosting, as bands serve like D.J.’s: introducing couples, first dances, etc. A great band leader will have a feel for their audience, and know which songs “work” the crowd, but you still need to go over favorite songs, and tunes you don’t want played. Make sure your band leader has a list of all wedding sections, and, if you’re also hiring a Chicago D.J., have them coordinate their schedules ahead of time.

When you’re ready to get serious about music, check out the Chicago Local Vendor Section for a list of top-rated wedding bands in the Chicago area.

If you hire a band that is familiar with the site, they will already know where the equipment can be set up, where the dance floor is, and any electrical challenges that might occur—some halls have back-up generators for wedding bands. If the band you hire doesn’t know the site, take them on a guided tour so there are no last-minute surprises.

Wedding bands usually have a “day rate,” as well as overtime charges. If you’re also hiring a D.J., find out if the band can work a smaller number of hours. The band generally takes two breaks, and they should be served a meal. You should tip the band 20%, provided the service is exceptional. The contract should cover all fees, overtime fees, and the names of substitute band members, should an emergency occur.

-David Toussaint

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