Performing at a ceremony or reception can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. But what’s involved in setting yourself up in this field and does singing at a couple’s nuptials well?
Discover how to become a wedding singer and you’ll unlock lots of lucrative work. But you must build a good reputation and know where to look for gigs. Working out how much to charge can be confusing at first and will vary according to a number of factors.
A singing engagement on the most important day of someone’s life is not something to undertake lightly. Yet for many artists, it’s a vital and enjoyable source of income. In this article we’ll look at the skills you’ll need and explain exactly how to go about it – including how to get bookings.
How to become a professional wedding singer
As a professional singer, one of the best kinds of event gigs you can get is a wedding. Everything wedding-related commands a higher financial premium than other functions, be it flowers, photography or catering. But there is a reason for this: the stakes are high. People plan their big day often for years and so expect fully reliable and perfect service from suppliers.
That means you need to guarantee you’ll turn up and do what you’re contracted to do – and have people you can call on for back up in an emergency. It also means you must have a robust voice and train regularly. If you don’t, you’re likely to experience vocal strain that can lead to voice loss and make you unable to sing at gigs from time to time – a real no-no for a wedding singer.
The role of the wedding singer is so important and iconic, there’s even a famous film about one.
How do you become a wedding singer?
This is an area of work as a singer, that, while still competitive, is abundant. Hundreds of thousands of couples tie the knot every year and in peak wedding season it can be a challenge to find good musicians within a reasonable budget. And with a lot of components to arrange, couples will be only too glad if the job of sourcing the music is made easier for them. This is where you come in. Advertise and promote your service in the right places at the right price and you can get regular paid work as a singer. But first, you must ensure you’re up to scratch, have the right equipment and enough appropriate repertoire.
How to be a wedding singer
There are two ways to be a wedding singer – either by yourself as a soloist or as the lead singer of a band. Some singers also perform as part of choirs, but would not be classed as a ‘wedding singer’ rather as part of a group. Joining a choir that performs at weddings can be a good way to learn the ropes though. Then, you must decide if you are a ceremony singer, reception singer – or both. This affects how you’ll market yourself.
What do wedding singers wear?
This is an important part of the role. You must be prepared to dress for the day – and not the kind of thing you’d wear for a contest or music video. You can make yourself even more popular as a wedding singer, by pairing your outfit to the vibe of the day – particularly for females. Barn wedding? Wear something floaty and ethereal. Formal church ceremony? Wear a smart suit in a plush fabric. Glitzy evening reception? Wear a long gown with some sparkle or black tie. Ask the couple what their theme is beforehand. They’ll be thrilled if you’ve made an attempt to fit in, particularly if they’re going for a specific era, like Great Gatsby 1920s, or Rockabilly 1950s. And if it’s a vintage wedding, think about how you can echo this with your hair and make-up.
Here are some things to avoid when choosing your outfit.
- Never ever wear white. Or ivory, or cream, or anything that could be construed as white.
- Avoid black (other than black tie/dinner jackets). It looks funereal.
- Bright colours. Aim for muted shades – pastels in spring and summer and rich jewel colours for winter are ideal. Unless the bride has told you she wants you/the guests in bold colours.
- Revealing and super tight clothes. You shouldn’t pull focus. You can be subtly sexy and attractive without drawing too much attention. The bridal party should shine.
- Denim. Unless it’s part of the wedding theme. It’s far too casual.
As a wedding singer, you’ll need a closet with plenty of options and if necessary you should pick up something new (especially if charging a very high fee). Charity shops often have great worn-once wedding outfits.
Wedding day songs
Something else you’ll need to prepare before becoming a wedding singer is some songs. You’ll find many couples with special requests -, especially ‘their’ song. But others may want you to inspire them and provide a list of options from which they can choose. So to become a wedding singer, you’ll need a long repertoire of appropriate numbers. Ideally, you should have a variety of contemporary pop songs, easy listening numbers and love anthems. Also have a mix of up-tempo numbers and ballads. Learn all the classics, as these will return time and again. There are lots of lists available on bride websites.
Learn how to perform a wedding song. A great way to do this is to check out YouTube videos. Many artist celebrities like to surprise a fan on their special day (Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Gary Barlow do this a lot). Watch them to pick up tips from the best.
How much do wedding singers charge?
Arranging instrumentalists, a band and a singer will usually be part of the bride and groom’s planning, and with the average cost of a wedding being £31,974 in the UK, most couples will have a decent budget set aside for music. But fees will vary massively, according to experience, geographical location and what’s being offered. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. It’s a case of researching what people in your area are charging. You can also ask friends and family who’ve hired wedding musicians how much they paid.
In general, fees can vary from £40 for a number without any additional requirements and with little or no travel implication, to around a hundred pounds for a few ceremony songs, to well over a thousand pounds for a full day night’s entertainment.
How much do wedding singers make?
While you will make good money pro-rata, you don’t get the constant stream of work that you would as a session singer, or as a nightly fixture at a club. And you’ll mostly just work o Saturday, with the odd Friday, Sunday or midweek gig.
Each gig must be organised, invoiced and planned as a separate entity. You may need to have meetings with the couple beforehand and practice their requests. If so, you should factor this into the price. Be sure to find out exactly what’s involved in the gig, before setting an exact price. These are some things to consider.
If you have to travel a distance, your time and costs must be included.
How long will you be required to be there? If they want you to arrive two hours before the ceremony to set up ahead of guests arriving, figure that in.
Are you required to learn new songs and if so how many (and how challenging are they), as this will affect prep time? If the couple has a tight budget, you can suggest a lower price for songs already in your repertoire.
Will you need to hire equipment? As a rule, you should have your own PA system (a mic and amp) as standard. But anything over and above that may be extra.
Date of the event
What day of the week and month is it? Saturdays in summer and special days like Valentines and New Years often command a higher fee. You can set winter and midweek special offers, something that’s common in the wedding business.
Work out your hourly rate and then calculate what’s involved, taking into account how much experience you have.
Wedding singer pay rates
Your research on finding out how much to charge, doubles as research on your advertising. Find out which websites the singers and musicians in your area use. Chances are, other singers won’t want to give their secrets away and share the work. But fortunately, this information is easy to access yourself. Here are some websites to scour.
Wedding singer jobs near me
Unsurprisingly, one of the best places to source work is social media. Facebook groups reign supreme in this area and many brides, in particular, will source services by posting requests on them. Search for wedding-related groups in your area, join them and turn on notifications. A great way to kickstart your wedding singing portfolio is to post a message with a special offer. People are always on the hunt for bargains, and some may be happy to hire a less experienced wedding singer at a lower price. You should be an experienced singer though, wedding singing isn’t ideal for brand new singers. If you need to build up live experience, do this at jam and open mic nights or as part of a group.
Or you might offer friends some freebies on the basis that you can use videos and photos of you performing at their weddings, to build your online presence and entice further customers. They’ll often reward you with a gift or a bottle of something. And you can suggest singing for them as a wedding gift, which will save you money.
Wedding singer packages
As part of your process of becoming a wedding singer, you’ll need a Facebook page and/or website promoting your wares. Include some example tracks and videos of you performing and photos of yourself – couples like to see the image a wedding singer has ahead of time. You can also include the packages you offer, as well as the individual services. Design these yourself according to your skills, but some examples may be:
- Processional song + three songs during the signing of the register
- Keys for hymns + two songs (vocal and keys) during the register
- 30-minute harp before the ceremony + one-hour easy listening vocal set during post-ceremony drinks
- One hour background set during the wedding breakfast + one hour set for evening dancing
- Song for the first dance + 30-minute evening cabaret-style set
- Winter package offer – 10% off fees from November – February
- Midweek deals – 10% off Monday to Thursday
You’ll also have to think about invoicing and when to ask for payment. Some singers ask for a deposit in advance with full payment due ahead of the date. Using an online invoicing service can help if you need to chase for payment – it’ll send automated reminders and looks a bit more authoritative than you emailing to ask them.
Wedding music ideas
As well as having lots of classics under your belt, you should also have some more alternative numbers too. Some couples will want a unique style and to avoid overdone wedding songs. You can also create an unusual vibe by taking a song and giving it a whole new spin and your own unique stamp – much like Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Remember to pick ones with appropriate lyrics (this is not the time for Adele’s heartbreak or Little Mix’s song about the ex).
Church wedding music
If you’re an operatic soprano you may be in demand for traditional church weddings. Some brides like to walk down the aisle to a singer and classical music is often favoured for this.
A key part of the wedding that needs live music, is during the signing of the register. This usually takes between 5 and 15 minutes and in some cases, the bridal party will leave the room for it. If nothing is happening, or there’s just music played on speakers, guests become restless. Cue the wedding singer – or choir or harpist – to keep everyone entertained. And if you’re a pianist, you may be asked to play for hymns too.
Pop wedding music
Many couples these days like to feature pop tunes as part of the ceremony. And if you’re performing at a reception, it’ll almost certainly be a pop/rock/easy listening vibe. Receptions are more relaxed affairs, so can be a lot easier for singers. However, you’ll have to work harder for your money in terms of time and numbers. A ceremony may involve one or a few songs, whereas you may sing for several hours at reception for dancing or as background. YouTube and Spotify are full of pop wedding song inspiration.
So you do think you have what it takes to be a wedding singer? Is it something you’d enjoy and can commit to? If so, begin taking the steps we’ve discussed to build your career as a wedding singer.
Once you’ve got a fair few under your belt, you might like to build a YouTube channel. This is a career that’ll take you to some wonderful venues, meeting some interesting people. And you never know who might see you perform at a wedding – it might just be someone influential one day.
- What is the most played song at weddings?
This changes year on year depending on which artists are hot and fashionable, but at the moment Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud tops the wedding popularity list, followed by Bruno Mars’ Marry You. Another of Ed’s – Perfect is a big favourite among bride and grooms too.
- How do I start a singing career?
You can complete a music course at an accredited college. Or get out there and build a career from scratch by attending open mic nights, entering competitions and going to jam sessions. You’ll most likely need to work with a vocal coach too. Read our advice articles for more info on how to do it.
- What is the average salary of a professional singer?
Unlike some other professions, salaries in the arts have a huge degree of variance, even for the same jobs. A singer can earn next to nothing or be a multi-billionaire. According to the website PayScale, the median salary in the UK is £30,517 for a singer or musician.
Are you an aspiring wedding singer, or do you regularly perform at weddings and rely on it is a form of income? We’d love to see you in action – post some clips of your work below.