Love is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, or so they say. On Earth specifically, it could be argued that money is what makes the world go ‘round…

…and for musicians, it’s one of the best ways to make money.

The average cost of a wedding in the 21st century is around $30,000 in the United States. This varies widely from state to state and city to city, of course; many couples choose to keep their wedding simple, hosting their ceremony and reception in a church or religious building. It is possible to have a wedding under $1,000, but more and more couples host secular weddings and go all-out with the reception.

The average cost of a DJ is $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the amount of uplighting, length of performance, and other features that a couple chooses to incorporate into their after-wedding festivities.

Then there are those couples who want live musicians to perform at their wedding, spending more money to have a completely authentic, “classy” experience. These are the weddings that make it worth your while to be a wedding musician.

How Weddings Work

If you’ve never been to a wedding before, then you need to understand that there are traditional events that happen within the entire wedding day to make it a special occasion for the bride and groom.

The Ceremony

The first part of the wedding day is usually the ceremony itself. Depending on the culture of the marrying couple, the ceremony will vary in terms of how the ceremony breaks down. Generally speaking, the first part of the ceremony is simply seating music, where music is playing while the guests slowly arrive to the ceremonial place to take their seats.

The music is generally peaceful, sporting light music in either a modern pop genre, strings (like Vitamin D Quartet or The Piano Guys), or smooth jazz.

Then, once everyone is seated, the ceremony begins. The bridesmaids are announced to a pre-chosen song one by one, with the groomsmen usually already up front with the groom. Then, depending on what the bride has chosen, the song may change specifically for when she comes down the aisle.

Many couples will include some kind of bonding ceremony in the middle of the wedding ceremony, such as lighting a candle or tying a rope to “bond” them together. Usually this part of the ceremony will include a pre-chosen song.

Then, the moment! The couple kisses, the music plays, and they happily come back up the aisle and go off to get ready for the reception.

The Reception

After all of the guests have filed out of the ceremony area, it’s time to get set up for the reception. Unless you’re a DJ, this part should be pretty easy to do, depending on how much equipment you have. A full rock band would have equipment like microphones, a drum set, amps, and so forth. If you’re in a jazz band, your musicians will have their instruments with them and simply need music stands and chairs.

Regardless of what your setup is, guests come to the reception to celebrate the newly-wed couple. The beginning of the reception is usually a cocktail, again with soft music playing the background. Many times this is light pop or jazz music playing on speakers, or if you’re a string quartet then you’ll play for the cocktail.

String quartets don’t play for the dancing portion at the tail end of the reception, so that might be the end of the reception for you; it all depends on the family and what they’ve chosen to do. It’s pretty hard (and boring) to dance to a Mozart sonata!

After the cocktail, the reception usually officially begins with the entrance of the bridal party. The groomsmen escort the bridesmaids, the best man escorts either the matron of honor (a married individual) or maid of honor (unmarried individual) – these roles can change, of course, since we’re in the 21st century! Then the bride and groom make their grand entrance, and everyone claps for them.

Once the , the order of a reception varies widely. Sometimes the “first dance” of the bride and groom happens at this part, or perhaps they’ll save it until right before the dancing portion once dinner has ended so as to smoothly lead into the guest dancing portion.

Regardless of the order, the actually type of musicians that would play a live set during the reception dancing would be responsible for keeping the guests moving and excited for the rest of the night. It’s a fun party, designed to make the entire ordeal memorable for all involved.

How To Get A Wedding Gig

Branding your musical group as a “wedding band” is important; you might play gigs or events outside of the wedding industry, so if you truly want to get into the wedding industry and make money as a musician you’re going to need to let people know that it’s one of your specialties.

Getting started won’t be easy, however – remember that weddings are an expensive investment for the families involved.

Start by establishing your website focused on wedding gigs, and each time you perform a wedding gig make sure to take lots of photos of the crowd having fun, post videos of real events, and let the general public in on all of the events that you’ve done.

Marketing yourself as a wedding musician means letting the bride and groom imagine you at their event, and how much fun their guests will have!

It’s almost impossible to directly reach out to engaged couples because they don’t really post about their upcoming wedding; it’s just something that they’re preparing for in person, contacting vendors, venues, and the like.

In other words, they’ll need to find you.

Create a Facebook page solely dedicated to your wedding music services, establish a website that features everything your group offers, and again, make sure to post videos of your band or group actually performing for weddings.

Networking is also important here; get in touch with local wedding planners and start to rub elbows with local wedding venue owners for recommendations. Word of mouth is the best type of marketing for wedding musicians. If a bride and groom are recommended by a venue for a music group to perform at their reception, chances are they’ll reach out for pricing and your music selection.

Many musicians make money – quite a bit of money, actually – by performing for weddings around the nation. Some tour, some stay local, but one thing is for certain: you can almost make a full-time income by helping a wedding couple remember their special day!

Paul Cassarly
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