An Important Decision

Find a Dream Reception Band

April 22, 2013
Words by DanceBands
Photos courtesy of DanceBands

Finding the right music for your reception tends to be a huge hurdle for some destination wedding couples. Many throw up their hands because they don’t know where to start – they end up hiring a DJ or playing music over a PA system just for logistical reasons. Here is what you need to know if you want a band at your wedding:

If your destination wedding is in a popular city (New York, Chicago, Miami, etc.) then there are a lot of great choices. You can either fly a group in that you really like, or you can find a local band which may be quite good and saves on travel expenses. However, if you are holding your reception in a beautiful, secluded venue (Montana, Jackson Hole, etc.) you end up playing the “whose farther away” game. You spend a lot of time contacting various bands to find out their travel costs and where they are located. A good talent agent can direct you to bands that are closest to you; but the bottom line is you need a band that will appeal to your style and aesthetic.

If you need a mix of music from many different genres such as top 40s, Classic Rock, Country, dance music, and so on – then a Party Band is what you need. These variety bands tend to be high-energy bands that specialize in playing almost anything you could possibly think of. It’s like having the versatility of a DJ with much more energy and an impressive aesthetic. These are the type of groups that get even old Aunt Mildred out on the dance floor; they bring tons of excitement and life to a reception.

Although a variety band is great and often ideal, brides and wedding planners are usually unaware of this little-known fact:  specialty bands are almost always less expensive than variety bands. It may seem sad, but bands that specialize in one brand of music like Motown, Country, Bluegrass, Jazz, Dixieland/Creole have a harder time filling their performance calendars than more versatile groups. So, they end up charging a lower price (sometimes a lot lower). If you are a Country gal, really want a “Gatsby” themed party, or really love the Temptations, you may find it easier to save on a good band.


Upon choosing a band, don’t forget about what is actually POSSIBLE. If you are in a small venue then bringing in a 12-piece, explosive party band may not even be feasible. Each band has their own requirements when it comes to space and power needs. To save you some time, here is a general guideline for choosing a band size:

  •  4-5 piece bands: need approx. 12×16 feet (need approx. 1 to 2 twenty-amp circuit breakers)
  • 6-7 piece bands: need approx. 16×20 feet (need approx. 3 to 4 twenty-amp circuit breakers)
  • 8-11 piece bands: need approx. 20×24 feet (need approx. 5 to 6 twenty-amp circuit breakers)

The last thing you want is for the power to go out on your guests because of a blown fuse or for guests not to have enough room to shake it.

A Final Word of Caution

Beware of the “hobby” band posing as a professional group. If you are going to spend a chunk of money and time on a band, imagine your horror when you find out they are some of your dad’s old college buddies who started a garage band. It doesn’t cost a whole lot these days to put together some decent promotional material. Make sure they have good references. Again, working with a well-known talent agent or booking agency can help you avoid these sorts of mistakes.

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