How Do I Choose Which Wedding Band to Hire?

Answer: Hire the best.

Bride & Groom:

     Your wedding music is a reflection of you and your fianc√©'s unique relationship. Look for a band that plays music you both love.

Song Selections:

     Your first dance, father/daughter, and mother/son dances are the most important. More than any other music at your reception, these songs should most strongly embody special meaning between each dancer. Look for songs that every participant will feel comfortable with on the dance floor. Make sure you discuss in detail what songs you want performed with your musicians months in advance.

     Plan for music that represents you as a couple while keeping in mind that the first rule of any music performance is to know your audience. Sometimes the latest hit songs or dance classics represent themes incongruent with a happy marriage celebration. Examples of some people's favorite songs that might not match your theme include Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift, Mack the Knife by Bobby Darin, Fire and Rain by James Taylor. On the other hand, sometimes family history brings special meaning to songs that may seem out of place but actually have even more meaning during a wedding. As you plan your music, make certain that you are hiring a band that will perform music that also engages all of your guests from grandparents to youths and everyone in between.

     Every audience is different and you know your guests better than any band until the party has started. A musical variety can work well for many demographics. Sometimes adults will enjoy dancing to Disney songs with young relatives and elder generations may want to rock so a variety of styles is usually most effective to keep your guests entertained. A little country, soul, disco, swing, funk, oldies, Motown and other familiar songs in various styles can ignite a pleasant sense of surprise.

     There are many songs traditionally played at most weddings for good reasons. Such songs brilliantly engage the broadest variety of guests so that everyone feels included and has a great time. Wedding guests generally remember how much of a good time they had with the music better than they will recall what meal was served, what colors the bridal party wore, or what kind of wedding cake was served. Music instills feelings and makes memories.

     Trust your professionals. Band leaders have years of experience building setlists, reading the crowd, and calling songs that keep the dance floor energized. Provide your musicians with a list of styles you know your guests will enjoy and artists you want to hear and let them navigate the rest of what to play at what times.


     Professional wedding bands are great variety bands. They cover styles spanning from big band to funk, Motown to pop, country to disco, and hair band rock to Top 40. Their repertoire should span at least fifty years of chart topping American music.

     Some wedding bands are more versatile than others, especially those that also perform frequently at both wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours. Ceremony specialists will have a greater library of classical music. Cocktail hour specialists will have a large selection of jazz in addition to some softer folk and pop.

     Then there are bands that do almost every popular American style. There are few popular western styles that The Matt McCallie Orchestra does not cover. While we're not known for steel drum music but we do cover reggae, ska, and rocksteady. We cover only a little mariachi but we play a lot of Latin grooves.

     If you are interested in styles of which a band has only a few songs, or appears to have limited instrumentation to cover, it can be helpful to send recordings to the band. Often, requests for music from other nationalities can be covered during band breaks on their DJ cue with advanced planning.

Ceremony & Reception Music:

     For many it is strange to imagine a ceremony or a reception without music. And for many reasons live music is a must. Consider hiring the same company for both your ceremony and reception. Hiring the same music company means there is one less vendor with whom you have to coordinate and they will be intimately familiar with your musical tastes and desires beginning to end.

Stage Presence:

     This is where wedding bands most differ. Look for an entertainer who will set the tone you desire. Many bands will be able to cater to your needs. If you are seeking an enthusiastic personality make certain they will not overtake your party by absorbing all of the attention. The focus should be on your celebration. If seeking musicians who will provide more of a background ambiance make certain they will be capable of any master of ceremonies duties you need them to perform.

     Wedding bands have a reputation of being corny with leaders who perform a shtick with gimmicky verbiage while performing songs like the Electric Slide, Macarena, Hokey Pokey, The Chicken Dance, YMCA, and other songs most modern wedding-goers find outdated and hackneyed. Modern wedding bands have been steering away from these over played traditions in favor of more emotionally sincere and fun for all party music.

     Make sure to review what music your band can perform prior to hiring them and that you will get the personality and vibe you seek. Ultimately, the musicianship of a truly great sounding band should instill a stronger impression on your party than any personalities.


     Quality of sound is paramount. One of the reasons you want to hire a professional band is that they are experienced at tuning their sound to many different types of indoor and outdoor venues. In other words, they can create a good sound even in venues with poor acoustics where a less experienced band will be out of their element. Let the band have as much freedom as possible to setup however they need for ideal sound quality.


     Loudness is another key element in a band's sound. Larger does not mean louder, as is often misconceived. Song selections and how they are performed have more to do with loudness than how many musicians are performing.

     Consider a classical concert with a couple hundred musicians performing simultaneously. They have full range of their instruments' dynamic capabilities from softer than a whisper so that even a slight cough would disturb the entire hall, to a full and powerful sound that resonates throughout your anatomy. A couple amplified guitar players can easily damage your guests' hearing where a twenty piece band of professionals can play softly enough to allow conversations without shouting over the music.

     The limit for safe continued listening is 88 dB for four hours, which is the common duration for most wedding receptions. Increasing to just 91 dB for two hours is the limit before permanent hearing damage affects anyone within proximity. Be certain to communicate with your musicians during the reception if at any point the music's loudness should be adjusted.


     Buy the best you can afford. This is an event you and your guests should cherish for a lifetime. If music is the most memorable aspect of your party make certain to invest in those memories.

     Know what you are prepared to spend before contacting any musicians. Since the early 2000's wedding receptions have been averaging in the ballpark of $400 per musician. Additional budgeting should be allowed for their crew that handles stage equipment, lighting, and sound. Be prepared to spend more on your music than you do on your venue.


     Do your homework before contacting any musicians. Educate yourself as much as possible about what expectations you should have as a consumer. Most bands have a plethora of details about their services online.

     If possible try to see the band live. This can be difficult with bands that only perform at private events. It is not appropriate to crash another couples' wedding to hear the band.

     Whether or not you can meet with a band in person be sure to peruse their audio and video samples. Any professional wedding band will have samples of a variety of the music they perform on their website. If you are looking at a wedding band that has no official website, pursue other options. Social media pages are perhaps the most effective way for modern musicians to gain notice but they are incapable of hosting the customization of presentation and materials a wedding band needs to display.


     Hire a professional wedding band. Garage and bar bands generally lack the skills specific to artists who regularly entertain weddings. Pacing and party tone are results of experience. An analogy would be entering your Toyota Camry in a stock car race. It may be your favorite car because you've had it since college, but its performance will be lackluster in a setting for which it is unprepared.

     To learn more about the advantages of hiring a professional wedding band visit our article called Wedding Specialists in our blog section.

Shop & Compare:

     Big cities like St. Louis, MO have hundreds of bands from which to select. Your search may at first seem daunting so give yourself several months to review and communicate with all of your options. Most couples need to allow at least a year to book all vendors including venues, bands, caterers, florists, and photographers. Many vendors are booked a year in advance.


     As you do your homework on the various options, studying song lists and watching videos, be certain to read client reviews. While quantity is indicative of how long the band has performed together, focus more on the quality of services you can expect from each group. And please review your band after your wedding on the many sites where they likely advertise. Sharing your experience can make or break another couples' wedding.

Final Selection:

     Hire the band you like the most. If they at first seem out of your budget communicate with them to see if they can customize to your needs. Typically, the more of their fullest packages and offerings you can afford will make for a more impressive and enjoyable engagement. Be confident in the quality of their sound, stage presence, reliability, and abilities. If you can envision yourselves as newlyweds happily celebrating with your loved ones to their music do all you can to make that dream come true.