Be willing to learn a wide variety of tunes and styles, including special song requests that may be for each specific wedding. You may never play that song again, but do a great job on it anyway.
Be willing to perform in the mode that accommodates the wants and wishes of the wedding couple and the parents.
Realize and be sensitive to the fact that you will be playing for young and old alike. You will have to keep changing up the type of music you are doing before the gripers make their way to the stage. Be nice to the gripers. If you aren't, things can get ugly fast.
Be able to play at low volume if requested, especially if you play during a dinner before dancing begins.
Give serious consideration to purchasing a nice tuxedo, and if you have a band, the whole band should do so. (you can often purchase good-looking used tuxedos from tux rental shops).
Use top-notch, but very portable gear. Compact P.A. system, easy to set up, tear down, and transport.
Be ready and willing to play any song requested, even if you've never sung or played it before. Fake books and Ipads are great for this. You could get a $100 dollar tip or even more if they really are pleased! I've seen that many times.
Have a great "Promo Pack" that includes 8x10 glossy photos of you and your band, biographical information, references from other weddings or events you may have played, CD's of samples of your band, and pay attention to announcements about "wedding fairs" in your area. Have a booth at the event, or better yet, offer to play free at the event, and have plenty of promo packs at the ready.
Have tons of business cards ready to put into the hands of every person who asks about your band at the event. Many wedding gigs lead to more wedding gigs.
Take out ads in any publications or newspaper sections that are featuring wedding planning events.
Have a nice, clean look in your photos, and make your promotional package look like a million bucks. Make it look like you are worth a lot of money, and bid for prospective weddings accordingly. Be worth it, and give them what they are paying for.
Consider talking to local booking agents to offer your services, and realize you will pay them a percentage of your earnings.
When you book your own weddings or gigs, be sure to have a contract, get it signed, and preferably request a 50% deposit in order to secure the date. Stipulate that you want the remainder, in cash, prior to the beginning of the event on the date of the event. The bride and groom are often drinking and very busy schmoozing with every friend and relative they've ever know during the most important day of their lives. For this reason, sometimes they leave without remembering to pay the band. Sometimes there can be problems with a check. Avoid those problems and get paid in cash.
I've done my share of weddings, but I wouldn't classify myself as a wedding singer.
I'm currently in a club variety dance band, so a lot of the criteria is the same, and we have done a few weddings here and there. I'm a drummer, but I sing lead on about a third of the songs we do, and sing backup vocals on just about all of the rest.
Another detail I didn't mention about weddings is that there are certain traditional things you will be asked to do: The bride and groom's "First Dance" as newlyweds. This will be likely a song chosen by the couple for this special dance and the choice of the song will have special meaning to the bride and groom. In other words, this will be "Their Song". Be prepared to learn this. You announce that it will take place and everyone watches while they dance alone. Often you invite the rest of the guests to join in after the first minute or two.
Also you may do a "Bride and the Bride's Father" dance, which symbolizes the father "giving away" his daughter to marriage. This is similar to the "first dance" in that the guests watch and may join in later. This is often a special song chosen by the bridal party.
The drummer will provide drum rolls for exciting moments, such as the tossing of the bride's garter to the batchelors, and the tossing of the bride's bouquet to the single maidens in attendance.
You can include in your contract meals for the band as a negotiable item (it might be crab or prime rib).
Have some quality canned music to play at low level to create ambience during times such as the meal, etc. I have some classy big band CD's with Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, and others that I use. You want people to feel at ease while they are waiting for the next ritual to take place.
Make sure your band members (and you) don't enjoy too much champagne or other alcohol that may be in abundance. I have seen bad things happen when good people drink too much. You are there as a contractor, just like the caterers and florists, and you need to do your job professionally.
Often, by the time the meal is finished, they have cut the cake, taken photographs, done the First Dance, etc..you end up playing one set, and then everybody is done and ready to go home. I've been to some of these where we got paid a couple of thousand dollars to play one set. We sign a contract for four hours, but everybody is exhausted from all of the buildup to the wedding and all of the relatives and pomp and circumstance.... They sheepishly suggest we play a couple more songs and call it good. You can end up making several hundred dollars per hour each.
Performing at weddings can be a very lucrative way to utilize your musical and vocal talents. If you don't mind conforming to be the product that these people want to purchase/hire, this can be an excellent income stream for you.
Yes, you have to hone your craft.
There is good money to be made, but you need to be worth the price.
You MUST sing in key, on pitch, dress formally, and Sound Good. You MUST have a professional look and connect with the audience to make them feel comfortable so they will cut loose and have a good time.
You don't have to be the winner of final round of X Factor, but it doesn't hurt to be a graduate or advanced student of the Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy.
There are bands that incorporate tracks or midi accompaniment and do a good job at it.
My own band at this time is a 3-piece band. All three are lead/background vocalists. The guitarist is also a keyboardist, and we sound very full with the keyboard. We switch off for certain songs to use electric or acoustic/electric guitar. Learn to play some keyboards and broaden your base. I run the sound board from the stage while playing drums.
Get both of your bandmates to purchase KTVA and urge them to follow through with the program!