More About the Fee?

Please, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!  I look forward to discussing how I can make your special day even more special!!

Email: johnhughesarts@mac.com

Phone:    (802) 380-5683

Booking music isn’t like buying a product at the store.  Two stores might carry the same product, but every band or musician is different.  More importantly, every wedding is different!  Your facility, your timeline and your tastes are all going to affect the kind of services you need from your performer(s).  Which means there are no shortcuts here.  You’re going to have to talk specifics with your musician(s), or the company they work for, to get an accurate quote for your special day.

Pricing art is a kind of alchemical balancing act.  ...But there are some guidelines.  Many won’t tell you this, but most professional musicians use a similar formula to calculate their rates.  Whether you’re hiring a 10-piece dance band, a string quartet or a solo kora player, understanding the ‘logic’ behind live music pricing can help you set a budget and make sure you get what you want.

The Formula

Your wedding music cost will depend on the number of musicians to play and on the length of their performance – with different rates applying for the first, second and third hours of music, etc.  Here’s how it breaks down.

A. The first hour of music is always the most expensive. When you pay for one hour of music, you’re also paying for:

Artist exclusivity:  By saying “yes” to your wedding, your performer(s) is saying “no” to any other work they may be offered on the same date – even if that other work may pay more.

Travel: Driving time is still the musician’s time.  Two hours spent driving to (and from) your wedding are two hours for which the musician could be getting paid to perform somewhere else.  And remember, it takes as much gas to drive to a one-hour wedding as to a 6-hour wedding.  And, of course, we have to keep the car in good condition so we’re sure to arrive on time and in one piece!

Equipment and setup: The cost of equipment, and the time required to pack, schlep, un-pack and set it up.  To be absolutely certain that they are ready to play on cue, most professional musicians will arrive at least an hour before they are due to start playing (and they probably left home at least an hour early to allow for any traffic or other transportation mishaps).  Expect a higher rate for musicians with sound systems.  On average, you can expect to pay a base fee of $300-$500 per hour, per musician.

B. The second hour of music usually costs less than the first, since there are not additional expenses for the performers.  You’re just paying for more performance time and, perhaps, more preparation.  On average, you can expect to pay $100-$250 per hour per musician. 

C. The third hour of music is usually the most affordable of all. Three hours of playing is a “typical” night for professional musicians, and wedding-music companies like to give you an incentive to book in this way.  On average, you can expect to pay $75 - $150 per hour per musician.

D. The fourth hour of music is often more expensive than the third. It’s hard physical work to sing or play for more than 3 hours, so some wedding companies consider this “overtime.”  On average, you can expect to pay  $150-300 per musician for the fourth (or fifth, or sixth) hour of performance.

E.  Additional hours of music are not an uncommon request though the fees for them tend to be negotiated on an individual basis. 

In addition to the above considerations, travel expenses are applied.  Generally, the rate is around $25-$50 per driving-hours to and from the venue.  For more distant venues, plane fare and hotel fees may be need to be added.  You may find that your venue or wedding-day timeline requires extra equipment or additional setup time.  Expect to pay a little more for these.  If your event is very early in the morning or very late at night, you can expect to pay a little more. 


Relax! You already knew that planning your wedding is a crazy-complex endeavor.  That's one reason you’re hiring professionals to guide the celebration!  Just as you don’t have to know how a car works to enjoy driving one, there’s no need to get lost in the details here.  Ultimately, the thing to understand here is that, like all businesses, a musician’s business is made possible by a deluge of hidden expenses so don’t think that the actual time during which beautiful music pours out of an artist’s instrument is all that you’re paying for! 

Payment Policy

I ask for a deposit of 50% of the quoted fee to be returned with the contract.  The balance is due the day on which services are rendered.  In the unlikely event you cancel your wedding, all but $100 of the deposit  will be returned if written confirmation is received at least 30 days prior to the date.   Cash, check, Credit card and PayPal payments are accepted.

I’d Like To Book Your Services!  What is the next step?

Call or email me with all of the details about how you would like me to contribute to your special event.   Once I have this information, I will work up a quote.  Once you have received the quote and have indicated your interest in contracting my services I will reserve your date for one week.  Once a signed contract is returned to me along with the deposit, your date is reserved  and you can rest assured that this detail of your special day is all set!

Wedding Music