Food, venue, and ceremony aside, the entertainment at your wedding is the biggest factor to make or break your guests’ experience and memory of the day. So to make sure that everybody, including you, has a good time by way of the music and the dancing, it’s important to build a rapport with the wedding band that you will hire … and to clarify certain things before you finalize booking them. What we have here is a list of important questions to ask your wedding band on your initial meeting, to make sure that everything goes smoothly on the big day.

Can we see you play at a wedding?

One of the hallmarks of a truly great wedding band is their ability to engage the audience. This is what you want to look for when you go and see them play. Try to observe their professionalism on the day as well. Are all band members present? Are they courteous? How do they handle requests? Planning a wedding can be unbelievably busy but this is one of those things you should really try to make time for.

If you really can’t find the time, watching their performance on video could suffice as long as you can see how they interact with the audience.

Do you have a gig the night before you’ll play for us?

You might feel a little iffy asking this but it’s an important question. If their answer is yes and the gig is two cities away, you might want to reconsider booking them. A tired, burned out band could deliver a less than stellar performance. Another version of this question that you could ask is the number of gigs they have that week. Their answer to this can also reveal whether they can be in top shape for your reception.

Can you play our song?

Wedding bands with an excellent track record have a solid lineup of music to play on weddings, but of course, they leave room for your special song. From the beginning, ask them if they can play one or two songs that you’d really like to hear at your reception. If they have performed the song before and have it on record, the better! If they have to learn it, there might an additional charge.

Do you know where our venue is? Will you check it out before the day itself?

This is crucial for two reasons — you don’t want them to get lost or be late on the big day and you don’t want them fumbling around with their set up minutes before they are supposed to perform.

Do you have your own equipment? Do we have to rent anything?

Finding out ahead of time if there is any equipment or instruments you need to rent, and if they will shoulder the rental fee, will help you find out the real cost of hiring the band.

How will you handle the break?

Bands usually take two 15-minute breaks between two sets of 45 minutes. However, the music must go on even during these breaks. Ask your band how they plan to handle this. Some bands split up during breaks so the stage is never empty. Some play recorded music. Regardless, know what they plan to do and if you agree with it.

What’s your cancellation policy?

Be clear about their cancellation policy and always put things in writing. It will hurt to lose part of your budget just because you have failed to have a proper contract. The most common cancellation policy amongst bands is that you can cancel for up to a month before the date and that the downpayment is non-refundable.

How long will you play for the night?

Clarify your band’s contracted hours so you know when the party ends or if it’s time to switch to another form of entertainment. Also, ask them if they can play overtime and how much the charge is for this. This ensures that the flow of your party won’t hit a snag.