In this post I want to talk about the small wedding bands that are available. I mean, it’s easy to find an impressive ‘all singing, all dancing’ 12 piece function band, that can play pretty much anything you ask of them because they feature such a large line-up. They are probably charging thousands and will therefore provide whatever you want, whenever you want, and you’re (almost) guaranteed the band will sound amazing.

But, like so many couples out there, what happens if you have a limited budget? What if your wedding venue doesn’t allow or doesn’t have space for the afore mentioned ’12 piece dream band’?

If you want some kind of live music but you’re restricted on price, space or budget, a small wedding band is the best option. By ‘small band’ I mean anything from a solo performer to perhaps a 4 piece option.

Below are a few options to look out for when searching through what I call the ‘function band jungle’…

Backing Track Bands

As you probably know, most bands consist of a live drummer, bass player, guitarist, keyboard player and a singer. In some bands one of the instrumentalists may also be the singer. Small wedding bands will often supplement their musicians with a backing track.

The White Tree Band - Three-Piece Wedding Band

Advantages of a Backing Track Band

This is a great money saver. As they are using a backing track you should only have to pay for two or three ‘live’ players.

If you get the right band with good quality backing tracks this can sound amazing. If you think about it, the band can make as much effort with their backing tracks as they like. They can layer tracks of backing vocals, percussion, extra keyboard parts, samples – the list could go on forever – and make their tracks sound fuller than that ’12 piece dream band’ we were talking about earlier.

If your venue has restricted space and you have limited time for the band to set up, this sort of band is perfect for you. Less band members quite simply means it will take less time, space and hassle to set up the equipment.

Does your venue have a sound limiter? This controls how loud the band can go and will cut the power as soon as they exceed it. Backing track bands are a really good way of getting around these. A good quality band will have professional, compressed backing tracks which these dreaded sound limiters react a lot better to than uncompressed, fully live music. You can also get backing track bands with the drums recorded, rather than live, which means the sound levels are a lot more controllable.

Disadvantages of a Backing Track Band

Watch out for bands that use midi-file backing tracks rather than real audio. Midi-files are basically computer generated music – you’ll recognise it when you hear the band’s demo. If the instruments sound small and squeaky and the playing is rigid and feel-less, the band are probably using midi-files and won’t sound great live. When you speak to your band ask if they use midi or real audio tracks. That will impress them! You want to go for the real audio if possible.

Some say there’s a certain lack of energy when you see a band that’s playing to a backing track. The musicians will unfortunately not have the freedom to improvise or play requests if they don’t have the appropriate backing track. However, this is a small price to pay given that the band will be a lot cheaper than a fully live band.

Three or Four Piece Fully Live Rock Band

Rocked Up - Small Rock Wedding Band

This type of small band is great fun and cost efficient. However, they are likely to be lacking a keyboard player. This is fine for rocky numbers, but they won’t be able to pull off the cheesy ‘typical wedding’ tunes that fill the dance-floor (disco, 80s etc).

Acoustic Solo/Duo/Trio

Acoustic Guitarist Playing at Wedding

An acoustic act can add a lovely touch to your wedding breakfast or reception drinks. Bear in mind though this may be a little lacking in dynamic for the evening reception, especially if you want your guests up and dancing.

So there we have it. I’d definitely recommend some great backing track bands and other cost/space efficient small wedding bands out there. Just remember to consider these points when looking for the perfect one.

Guest post by Sera Golding of MIB Music

Images from…

Three-Piece Band: Lara Hotz Photography

Rock Band: Thomas Frost Photography

Acoustic Guitarist: Fiona Kelly Photography