My cousin got married last year in Philly, and she hired one of my favorite wedding bands. It was a 10 piece orchestra, with horns, 3 singers and a full rhythm section. They were simply amazing. This band has been voted Best Wedding Band for several years running by The Knot, Wedding Wire and NBC. As a professional wedding entertainer myself I couldn’t help asking my cousin how much she paid. She admitted to paying about $10,000. So then I got to wondering what other traditional wedding entertainment charges to play a reception. I went on to GigMasters, and asked for some quotes to see what some of those bands would charge. Here’s what I found:
I asked for bids for a 5 hour reception in NYC, including cocktail, dinner and dancing. I specified that the ceremony was in a separate room, and that I was expecting 100 guests. I put in a Saturday about 14 months out as my wedding date.
Charisma, a 6 piece band out of Newton, CT responded immediately with a price of $5,500. The Polka Brothers from NYC responded quickly with $3,000 for 4 polka musicians. Alchemy from Carmel, NY wanted $2,800 for 6 performers. Barynya, an 8 piece Russian/Gypsy band asked for $5,500. But that’s not the entire picture.
I asked around to several industry friends of mine that run established wedding bands and who DON’T advertise on GigMasters. They were telling me they charge prices of $10,000 – $14,000 for 7, 8 and 9 piece wedding orchestras. Some of them never found the need to advertise because their calendars were booked out 12-18 months just on word of mouth. Others had started advertising on GigMasters and similar sites, but at some point outgrew those sites. As they became more and more known, and were able to charge more for their Saturday nights, they found GigMasters less useful since they were now competing with bands that were willing to charge significantly less.
While you may get a good show from bands that charge $3,000-$4,000 (I’ve never actually heard the Polka Brothers), the bands that are able to charge $10,000-$14,000 are the ones that have nurtured and grown their reputations with each wedding at which they’ve performed. I’m sure that the brides and grooms that have hired them thought they were worth every penny.