If you’ve never planned a wedding before, it can be difficult to determine your budget. Aside from the big expenses like venues, food, and flowers, you’ll want to plan for the best part – the entertainment! From your ceremony to a cocktail hour to the reception, we’ll help you get an idea of what wedding entertainment costs so you can start saving and budgeting accordingly.
Note: The prices below are nationwide averages based only on GigSalad’s booking data. Your personal event quote may differ based on the vendor’s experience, length of performance, travel distance, and other factors.
Wedding entertainment for the ceremony
Setting the ambiance while your guests are seated is a great start to your big day. And of course, you’ll want special music as your wedding party (and you and your partner) come down the aisle! Wedding musicians for your ceremony generally play for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your plans.
🎶 Music for thought: As you explore bands and musicians, also be thinking about which wedding songs would be perfect for every moment of your big day.
Keep it simple with a solo performer
If you are interested in a solo musician we recommend considering a harpist to add an elegant touch or a pianist for a more traditional sound. Some brides may want to hear the lyrics to their chosen tunes. In that case, a soul singer is a perfect choice to get your guests’ emotions stirred. Or perhaps the romantic and classic style of an opera singer would set the ideal tone.
$150-$300 per hour
Go bigger with more musicians
Maybe you want to go all out for your wedding ceremony entertainment! For a fuller sound, consider hiring a classical duo, mariachi band, or string trio. However, keep in mind, the more performers in the group, the higher the price will likely be.
$300-$600 per hour
☂️ Pro tip: Mother Nature doesn’t always conform to your big day! Communicate your backup plans for outdoor ceremonies to your performer before booking so there is no confusion if inclement weather hits.
Wedding entertainment for cocktail hour
While you’re getting your photos done, or just spending a little time with your new spouse, keep your wedding guests entertained! Most brides and grooms opt for some low-key background music to create a relaxing atmosphere while guests mingle with their cocktails. Like the ceremony, most bookings here are for an hour.
If you want to stay with a solo musician for your cocktail hour, consider a high-energy performance from a saxophone player. They can play along to pre-recorded music or perform their own funky tunes. Do you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere? A classical guitarist can provide the perfect peaceful ambiance.
Not sure exactly what you are looking for? A singing guitarist can help provide whatever type of atmosphere you are wanting by playing and singing some romantic love songs or more upbeat sing-along tunes.
$150-$300 per hour
Spend a little more
Depending on the theme of your wedding, a jazz band may be the perfect choice for a glitzy and glamorous cocktail hour. Winter weddings are perfect for a sparkly theme! On the other hand, a classical ensemble would be a great fit for a more traditional motif. Again, a larger group will likely charge more.
$350-$500 per hour
📝 Pro tip: Some venues require insurance or other documents from your vendors. Be sure to get all your venue’s requirements taken care of a few weeks before your wedding!
Wedding performers for the reception
Once you’re officially married, you can finally party with family and friends! The cost of wedding performers at your reception is generally the highest since you’ll likely want them to stick around for a few hours.
There are so many options when it comes to reception entertainment. Are you wanting to get all your friends and family on the dance floor or do you prefer a more chic and quiet affair? Either way, you can find something to meet your needs within your budget.
Make it an intimate affair
For smaller weddings, you can keep your reception entertainment a bit more low-key. For a traditional but simple setup, stick with a wedding DJ to play some of your favorite songs mixed with popular tunes. Or, consider a live acoustic band to play some mellow background music as you mingle with your guests.
$200-$300 per hour
Small group (2-3 members):
Make it a dance party
If you truly want to get a party started, consider hiring a party or funk band to really pump up the jams! While this is a more expensive option, it will truly create an unforgettable experience for your big day. There’s nothing like live music to keep guests dancing all night long.
$300-$800 per hour
Full band (4-5 members):
$800-$1,000 per hour
Big band (5+ members):
Unique wedding entertainment add-ons
Everyone wants their wedding day to be memorable and unique. If you’d like to add some wow factor in addition to the normal wedding lineup, these ideas can help you budget for that.
Add an artistic flair
Choosing additional entertainment for your wedding is a great way to show off your wedding theme and wow your guests of all ages. Inspire your guests to get on the dance floor with a belly dance performance, or send them home with a one-of-a-kind keepsake by hiring a silhouette artist. Are you having an outdoor summer wedding? Heat up the night with a fire performer or hire hula dancers to perform and hand out leis.
$175-$200 per hour
$200-$500 per hour
Take it up a notch
For larger, more extravagant affairs, consider mesmerizing your guests with aerialists (who can also double as bartenders) or circus entertainers to perform throughout your reception. Or even transport your guests to Las Vegas with casino rentals and Las Vegas-style entertainment. Who wouldn’t love a photo opportunity with a showgirl? No matter your budget there is additional entertainment that will help make your wedding day extra special!
$500-$700 per hour
$800+ per hour
💃 Pro tip: When booking a dancer or active performer, remember that most dance routines will only be for a song or two at a time. Discuss how many “sets” you’re getting before booking so there’s no confusion!
Wedding event services
Wedding entertainment is important, but you’ll also want to ensure you have someone there to capture all the magical moments. Not only do you want the memories from your special day, but you’ll also want event professionals there to be the contact point for your entertainers, keep things on track, and ensure your big day goes perfectly.
Wedding planners, photographers, and caterers are crucial to making sure your special day goes off without a hitch and should be included in your budget.
Pay to stay stress-free
The cost of hiring professional event service providers isn’t cheap, but the peace of mind they will give you is priceless. Prices can vary depending on experience and your personal preferences, but we have some average costs to get you started.
💒 Wedding Planners: $125 an hour
📸 Photographers: $198 an hour
👩🍳 Caterers: $425 an hour
Keep in mind, that while wedding planners will likely be hired for the whole day, photographers are typically hired for around five hours and caterers for two.
🤳 Trendy tip: Take the guesswork out of wedding photos and hire a local photo booth instead! Your guests can provide you with sweet memories while also leaving with an adorable keepsake of the big day.
Take care of your wedding entertainers
When creating the budget for your wedding ceremony and reception, be sure to plan for an adequate tip for each of your performers and vendors. The exact amount will often vary depending on the type of service you hire.
You can tip based on the total fee, where 10-20% is customary. Or for groups and bands, you can tip per musician. For the ceremony music, consider $15-$20 per performer. For your wedding band, who will likely play a bit longer, consider $20-$35 per band member.
💰 Read this: For a complete tipping guide, read Tipping Wedding Vendors 101: Everything You Need to Know.
Your big day will be unforgettable no which type of entertainment you choose. So, take your time and browse through performers on GigSalad until you find the one that’s perfect for you and your budget! 💙
Make your big day unforgettable with the perfect wedding entertainment. Book something awesome on GigSalad!
Megan is the Director of Customer Experience at GigSalad and has gained 9+ years of insight on what makes a great event on both sides of the booking process. Her favorite things include books, true crime podcasts, coffee, hiking, puns, and making people laugh.