Why do weddings cost so much when just a party is cheaper? The prices are caused by the brides themselves. Brides have evolved from simple garden weddings to demanding, customizing bridezillas and so the costs go up to meet those demands. To keep your prices down, please keep it simple.
1. Stick to the musicians' prepared music songlists. Asking a string quartet to play contemporary songs will raise their fee to cover arrangement costs and rehearsals to learn unfamiliar music and classical string musicians are reluctant to play a smaller arranged version of a studio-created pop song.
2. Adding a vocalist will add a rehearsal fee.
3. Do expect to pay travel fees when the musical group has to drive over 20 miles. Hire local bands.
4. Established groups do not have expensive video demos or YouTube. That costs money to produce and increases their overall fees to customers. Rely on their CD demos. It is about the sound, and not fancy production presentations.
5. Outdoor weddings cause increased damages to instruments and sheet music, and often long delays for rain. Weather is not "an act of God" which excuses the bride from paying for the extra delay time or damages. Do have an indoor backup site and USE IT. Remember the two September Saturdays of 2012 of epic monsoon deluge.
6. Do be totally truthful upfront about all your details and requests so they can be prepared and included in the fee. Don't expect to wheedle and whine later and have your additions be complimentary.
7. Don't constantly email for continual reassurance. Your deposit and written contract are your guarantee. If you don't trust the musicians to follow through, then do not contract them. The fee does not cover six months of hand holding.
8. Musicians want to perform a beautiful and memorable wedding and reception for you. But they can be turned off from their enthusiasm if barraged with changes and requests. Agree from the beginning in the contract what the schedule of contacts will be so they can focus on their other brides in turn.