[This guest post was written by our friend Drew Stoga from GigMasters.]

Chicken dances. Bad tuxedos. Mullets. These are the unfortunate stereotypes surrounding wedding bands.

You need to forget all about that stuff.

Most people getting married these days would rather be stood up at the altar than hear YMCA on their big day.

Nobody wants to hire a cheesy wedding band. They want to hire unique and dynamic entertainers – the type that will make all of their friends jealous. If that sounds at all like you or your band, you need to seriously consider these four reasons to dust off your suit and jump on the wedding circuit:

1. Money — It’s no secret that wedding gigs pay big. Year in and year out, they’re among the highest paying bookings on GigMasters.

2. Built-In Audience — Do you like playing to empty rooms? How about packed dance floors filled with partiers looking to have the time of their lives? That’s a wedding gig.

3. Free Cake — New Year’s resolutions be damned.

4. Did We Mention “Money?” All told, the average wedding pays around $2,000 though we routinely book wedding receptions for $10,000 and over.

And here’s why you should, as they say, “act now:” 40% of all wedding engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s – a.k.a. right now.

That means that, as you read this, there’s a growing population of brides and grooms-to-be out there searching for talented wedding entertainment. Chances are there are hundreds of these newly engaged couples right in your local market.

You need to get in on this. Like, now.

3 Tips to Get Your Wedding Band off the Ground:

1. Prepare a Unique Repertoire and Get the Songs Down Cold

We’re not talking about the Electric Slide. There will always be a market for wedding classics (think ‘At Last’ or ‘Brown Eyed Girl’) but many couples are looking for something more unique and, often, specific. My wedding band played all New Orleans-style soul and funk. I’ve seen bluegrass bands absolutely kill at weddings. Indie rock types get married too and they want a band that fits their tastes.

Chances are your wedding clients probably don’t want to hear much of your original stuff, if any, but what’s wrong with working up a batch of great covers? Build a repertoire of songs you’d love to hear at your own wedding and you’ll be on the right track (check out our Top Wedding Songs of 2013 to get started).

And I think it goes without saying – though I am saying it anyway – that you need to know these tunes forwards and back. This isn’t open mic night – this is somebody’s wedding. And chances are that somebody is paying you good money to get it right.

2. Get Organized. Get Promotional.

You’ve got the songs down, now you need to get them online and in front of potential clients. Gee, how can you do that? Well, GigMasters has booked over 60,000 weddings and gets nearly 30,000 clients visiting the site every day looking to hire entertainment. So, that’s probably a good option (more info here).

All plugs aside, you need to get photos, audio and video online ASAP. If you already have a website, add a ‘Wedding’ page. Get some samples up as well as a song list of all those great wedding-y tunes you’ve learned. Describe yourself and your unique style and don’t forget to tell potential clients where they can catch you live. Nothing will convince them like your live show.

3. Sharpen Your Bidding & Negotiating Skills

Working with wedding clientele is a whole different ballgame. The good news is that, unlike a lot of club owners, these people actually want to pay you! That said, chances are this is the first time they’ve hired entertainment and probably the first time they’ve gotten married. There will be questions. Do your best to be helpful throughout.

That’s the lesson in this blog post: 5 Bidding Secrets to Help You Book More Weddings, written by 5-star GigMasters guitarist Jim Perona. Jim played over 80 weddings in 2012 alone and provides a great read start to finish but I’ll give you the crib notes: Be polite, helpful and responsive but don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. This isn’t a charity gig after all.

The bottom line is that wedding gigs are rewarding both financially and emotionally. Helping a couple celebrate the biggest day of their lives is a big deal. If you have the musical talent and the people skills, you can do this. And, if you’re looking to make more money from your music, you should do this.

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Since 1997 GigMasters has booked over 180,000 gigs for its members – bands, solo musicians and much more. With wedding engagement season in full swing, now is the perfect time to join the party. Visit gigmasters.com/signup.aspx and use the code CDBABY to save 30% on the GigMasters membership of your choice. Any questions? Give them a ring: (866) 342-9794!