If you’re like most couples, your wedding is the first time that you’re hiring serious, professional entertainment. Sure, you may have booked a DJ for your college fraternity or a cover band for your high school reunion, but never before have the stakes been so high. This is your wedding after all—you MUST get the details right.

In Part I of this series, How will your wedding sound? we helped you determine the type of entertainment you wanted for your wedding, guiding you through the thought process of narrowing down your music options. In Part II, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the specific questions you should ask the entertainer you selected BEFORE you sign a contract. We want to help prevent any unnecessary, unpleasant surprises on the big day. Further, the answers to these questions will likely form the basis of your entertainment contract:

How much time will they need to set up?

While you’ve established the date and time of the performance, you may not have discussed what time the performers need to arrive to set up. Once that time is determined, you’ll need to clear it with the venue and make certain that they’ll have access to the venue’s event coordinator during that time, in case they have any questions or problems. Most likely, the bride and groom will be busy during this set-up time; so it’s important that someone at the venue is available to them. And, if your performer is going to play for your ceremony and your reception, you’ll have to factor in set up time for both locations.

Which of their group members will be present at your wedding?

When you said to your spouse-to-be, “This is our wedding band!” you were probably referring to the specific group of performers that you saw perform either live or on a video. However, it’s important that you verify which of the band, dj or ensemble members will actually be present at YOUR wedding. The vocalist that nailed Nat King Cole’s voice may not be available for your particular wedding day. Better to find out now than later.

Will they be consuming alcohol at your wedding?

This is really a question for you. You need to determine your comfort level with this issue. Remember, they are working for you…do you want them drinking on the job?

What will they wear at your wedding?

You should find out what their standard attire is for a wedding and make sure that it fits in with what you envision. If your wedding is black tie, they should know this in advance. On the other hand, if you’re having a more casual wedding, you probably don’t want your entertainers in tuxedos.

What is the performer’s cancellation policy?

This is a two-way question: they could cancel or you could cancel. It’s important to understand what happens in both scenarios. In the case of a performer cancellation, you should select a certain number of days prior to your event that you can live with. For example, you might decide that they can cancel the contract up until 14 days before the event. While this is not something you even want to think about, it’s obviously important you allow ample time to find a suitable replacement. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure that if they cancel, that they’ll return your deposit to you. And, if you book your performer on GigMasters, you’re covered under our deposit guarantee.

There are a couple different scenarios if YOU cancel:

  • If they’re requiring that you pay a non-refundable deposit, then the performer will need to select a date by which you can cancel and not be further obligated to pay the balance.
  • If you’re paying a refundable deposit, then the performer will select a date by which you can cancel and receive a refund for your deposit.

What form of payment will they accept for the balance?

You don’t want to be surprised on your wedding night when the performer asks for a certified check. So, be absolutely sure that you ask this question! Cash, money order, certified check, personal check, and credit card are all possible options.

Do they have personal injury and property damage liability insurance?

Before you ask this question of the performer, you should discuss with the venue what they require or recommend. Ask them to provide their proof of insurance BEFORE signing the contract.

What are their space and electrical requirements?

Understanding how much space the performer needs and their power requirements is really important, because it affects what the performer brings to set up. This will also determine where they set up, which needs to fit in with the overall layout of the space. Ideally, you’ll have a meeting with the performer and the event coordinator at the venue prior to your wedding – you can certainly discuss these details during this meeting.

Will they provide the sound and lighting systems?

The answer to this question varies from performer to performer – and could be affected by the venue’s existing sound and lighting systems. So, find out what, if any, sound and lighting systems are available at the venue, and make sure that the performer’s systems are compatible with this. This is another important item to discuss at the meeting with the venue.

Are they available for overtime?

Months before your wedding, the idea of paying your performer for overtime might sound totally crazy as you and your spouse carefully pore over every budget item. But, on the night of your wedding when the party is in full effect, you might say, “to hell with the budget” and ask them to play for another hour or two. So, we advise that you find out beforehand how much overtime they’d be willing to provide and at what rate.

Once you’ve discussed all of these questions with the performer, you’ll be better prepared to sign the contract that they send. You should make certain that the answers they provided during your conversation are consistent with what you see in the contract.

If it isn’t already apparent to you, we STRONGLY recommend that you have a contract with your wedding performer. We provide a contract template for performers to use, that covers all of the details outlined above and more. So, if your performer, for some reason doesn’t have a contract or doesn’t have one that includes all of these details, you can remind them about the GigMasters contract template. Also, our event specialists are here to answer ANY questions you have about hiring your wedding entertainment.

Stay tuned for Part III of the GigMasters Guide to Hiring Wedding Entertainment: “You’ve booked your entertainment, now what?”