Choosing a Live Band

When we first started planning our wedding, we thought that we’d have an iPod reception. Our venue offered up their iPod deck and said a lot of couples choose to use it. It seemed like a great idea.

Image via Apple

But I swooned over the idea of having a string quartet for our ceremony music. Something about it seemed so classic and pretty. And just very wedding. But it got me to thinking…why not have live music for the reception, too? Well, it’s expensive. That’s why. And it wasn’t something that we had thought about before, so the imaginary budget we had doctored up didn’t include an extra couple thousand for live music.

We considered hiring a string quartet for the ceremony and having a DJ for the reception. But what about cocktail hour and dinner music? The way our venue is set up is that the dinner is upstairs, while the dance is downstairs in the ballroom. The dinner area and the dance area are completely separate…which means the DJ would have to set up equipment in two locations, putting a serious damper on the evening. Plus, I kind of felt like a DJ just didn’t really match our venue. We wanted to host a true black-tie event…and while I’m sure the right DJ could create that sort of atmosphere, I felt like a live band would be a great experience for our guests.

I really didn’t even contact any DJs and just started contacting bands. We met with Don Campbell of Estelle Elegance in Music, who we immediately loved. Their vast experience and music samples were enough to reassure us that we were making the right choice going with a live band. And while it is expensive to hire live music, the price is actually only around 50% more than a DJ would have cost to provide ceremony and reception music.

For our wedding, we will have a classical string trio for ceremony music. This includes the trio playing for a half hour before the ceremony and also for our champagne toast, which will immediately follow. Then, new band members will come, and we will have a smooth jazz trio for the cocktail hour and background dinner music. Following that, we will have a five-piece “big band era” ensemble with a female vocalist for the dance.


Image via Estelle Elegance in Music

I’m really glad I went with my gut on this one and hired the band. I think they will bring a lot of elegance and class to our wedding (and I love that they wear full black tie) and give our guests a truly unique experience. I’ve never been to a wedding with live music before, and I hope that many of our guests haven’t either! I think it will make our wedding all that more special and unique.

Image via Estelle Elegance in Music / Photography by Orange Girl Photographs

Image via Estelle Elegance in Music / Photography by Cineart Photography

How did you choose your wedding-music provider? Have you been to a wedding with live music before?


Mrs. Eagle

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Wedding Date:
August 2012
Table Numbers Take Two
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  1. Member
    secondchances 2960 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:52 pm

    Oh I am so jealous! Now I want to come to your wedding LOL.

  2. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:56 pm

    @secondchances: Lol :P. I hope that our guests are this enthused as well!

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Rebecca, Guest @ 2:17 pm

    Just wanted to say that the iPod thing can be a DISASTER. How do you get your guests attention for things like first dance? The wedding I attended where they did this some poor bridesmaid had to get everyone’s attention and keep restarting the song over and over trying to pry the bride and groom out of their conversations. And later in the night your gusts feel like they can take over the iPod – meaning songs get abandoned halfway through.

  4. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:26 pm

    @Rebecca: I agree. I think there is a huge chance of it not working out, which is why we didn’t choose it. I would die if my bridesmaid had to announce our first dance.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 2:27 pm

    FANCEEE! I wanted to do this, exactly–just couldn’t swing the cost. That will be very classy.

  6. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:40 pm

    @Lone Star: Luckily Fiancee Eagle’s dad agreed to pay for it, or we wouldn’t be able to afford it either. Its expensive. I really hope it turns out to be classy!

  7. Member
    Coffee cup 2319 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:54 pm

    My dad decided for me. I was ok with having an mp3 player (I don’t own an Ipod) wedding, but my dad decides it wasn’t appropiate, so out of the blue he hired us a band!!!! In his words, our venue was too nice to have recorded music.
    We’re still using an mp3 player for the ceremony though, no way we can affors a string quartet.

  8. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:05 pm

    @Coffee cup: Thats so exciting! I think Dads can care more about music than we give them credit for. I’m so thankful FI Eagle’s dad offered to pay for ours, too.

  9. bacon Member
    bacon 695 posts, Busy bee @ 3:17 pm

    We did an iPod for the ceremony, and just those 5 songs gave me a headache – you totally avoided a lot of stress by picking these fabulous musicians!!

  10. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 3:58 pm

    I’ve never been to a wedding with a band, it seems so fancy (and perfect for your black tie wedding).

  11. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:22 pm

    @Mrs. Bacon: I hope zoo too!

    @Mrs. Pony: We’re going for fancy, but hopefully our younger friends like it and actually dance.

  12. turkey Member
    turkey 654 posts, Busy bee @ 4:43 pm

    It’s going to be fabulous! I’d say about 80% of the weddings we’ve attended have had live music and they are SO fun. Wonderful for your wedding!

  13. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:09 pm

    @Miss Turkey: You must have fancy friends, haha! Most weddings here are usually DJs.

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    AT, Guest @ 5:39 pm

    Most weddings I have been to had djs. I kind of agree that live music is more fitting for formal black tie events though some djs are very professional and excellent MCs. I had live music for ceremony cocktail hour and reception and it made the day. though my wedding was more casual it was 200 people and the presence of a band was more commanding I think. Lent a lot of energy. They mostly played standards and motown. Everyone of all ages loved them–so fun!

  15. Member
    jojay 4 posts, Wannabee @ 6:11 pm

    I think that you’ll end up being extremely happy you ended up with live music. All of the weddings I’ve been to have had a live band and it really adds an extra layer of elegance and vibrancy to the whole affair. ENJOY!

  16. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:28 pm

    @AT: Eeee! I’m glad you had such a good experience. That is what I’m hoping happens with our band as well. :)

  17. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:29 pm

    @jojay: Thank you! I am pretty confident that it will lend elegance to the wedding as well.

  18. Member
    Irish_in_Oxford 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:46 am

    Weddings in Ireland nearly always have live bands. Picking the band is a much bigger deal than picking the photographer. It’s not at all unusual to have a couple who do not know the bride and groom sitting at the back of a wedding reception trying to look inconspicuous – they are there (with the permission of the bride and groom) to see the band before they book them for their own wedding. When the band finishes, then many weddings have a DJ after that to keep the party going.
    Good choice Miss Eagle, I am sure your band will be brilliant.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    candykiss, Guest @ 5:57 am

    We’re doing a band too! We saw them perform at a local bar and they really knew how to get the crowd going (The singers even had head set mics and came and danced with everyone!). We were the youngest people there for sure, so I know the older folks will like them too! Having an emcee is important and they can adapt to whats going on in the situation, where as an ipod you’d have to have an amateur try and get things moving. Most bands do also offer ipod music so if there’s a song you absolutely must have and its not something they can perform they can still play it for you. My fiance is actually a composer and he is writing our first dance piece and our band was even willing to learn it and perform live for us! We are so siked.

  20. trailmix Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 11:32 am

    I think more than half of the weddings I’ve been to have had bands and I have to say, I far prefer a band to a DJ, nothing gets a crowd moving faster than live music! Our band literally saved our wedding from being the world’s greatest disaster so I’m definitely on team band!

  21. Member
    NYC1012 1 posts, Wannabee @ 1:39 pm

    @candykiss: Would you mind sharing which band you chose? Thanks!

  22. ostrich Member
    ostrich 2402 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:44 pm

    Bands at weddings are super duper awesome….and a big band era band? Can’t beat that!

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