Wedding Riders and Contracts

Wedding Gigs

As a band, wedding gigs can be quite an effort - you have to be on your best behaviour for the couples special day.


I did this gig at a very fancy estate once, a wedding reception. It would be the first gig for our new covers band, I was sold on the idea with a $200 payment and promise of dinner and drinks and a fun evening and party.

We did a bunch of practises through the summer and later nearer to the gig we found out that only two of the band who knew the bride and groom personally would be getting dinner since it was $200 each per head to provide this service. Fair enough I agree in fact that it would result in a doubling of the price paid for the band (a 7 piece) to play the gig in theory going from 1.4k to 2.8k. Also we didn't know the bride and groom so makes sense. Cool.

So we agreed to still do it - as a reasonable show of good faith though it was agreed the band would get a platter and 5 beers each as a rider. Also cool, slightly less cool that originally thought, but still do-able.

Then we get to the gig. It was lovely. This place is incredible. I'm gonna keep the exact location secret for this blog, but it had some amazing plants and gardens and the house was awesome. I was enjoying it, and had got their relatively early compared with the other band mates.

I had already acquainted myself out with the surroundings and had just made it to the bar during speeches for a glass of Wine. I noticed two more of the band had started to arrive and got 2 beers for them. We continued to setup. More members arrived, but still no rider over an hour after our original side of stage call time, about 8.36pm.

I thought I would be a good dude and go and sort them out some drinks also - after all there was some spare time and everyone else was living it up in a luxurious environment! I'm not gonna lie in that I did feel a tiny bit jealous of all the other guests having fun and the guys in the band who didn't appear to be getting looked after in such a rich environment. The wedding must not have been cheap.

Instead of going to the bar like before, I went into the kitchen to try and find out if the rider could be brought out ready to greet the band when they arrived, and met the owner/manager who I'll call Mr Big Stuff. He said he'd bring it out after we played, and I commented that it would not be OK since by that time the whole gig is over and it's like I'll just have one beer and go. It would be best if he could please bring it out ASAP so we could have a couple of beers during the performance.

He agreed and I could hear them discussing putting beers on ice ready for when the rest of band arrived.

Later the band arrived, but not the rider.

I raised this once again with Mr Big Stuff who was now getting pretty clearly agitated with me on the 3rd visit. We had a verbal altercation in fact. I told him it was part of our contract (it was technically). It turns out that this agreement was never communicated properly up the chain (band manager -> wedding planning -> venue owner), leading to the breakdown of communications, I can see this now. In his eyes he didn't owe us anything and wanted to charge us for drinks. Thing is he didn't seem to know about the agreement at that point, and was not keen to honour the sub-contract (which is fair). I recall a desire for him to come out and meet our band leader but he would not do so, I wish I had pulled him in now, since things got more intense later.

Near the time when we went on, when everyone was onstage in position to play they actually did bring one round of drinks for each person. Hoo-fucking-ray. When that came, I hid behind my drumkit and just listened in to what she said, as I was really over it by then and did not want to discuss beers or riders again. One beer each for the band members she said. If we wanted another just to let them know and all good she said. I kept quiet.

I almost did pay for a drink at the end, curious how by that point they weren't even selling drinks anymore. 🙂


I once saw a bunch of musicians performing 2 song sets at a bar called Sponge in Ponsonby that closed down later, a dude had organised a "jam" night, but the acts were actually pre-confirmed and on the promo. This chick got onstage to do her set. In-between the songs she started to look really thirsty and said something about how she would really appreciate a beverage (it was clear that it would help since she coughed a little even and being onstage you need a drink ready to go for those vocal chords. There was an awkward silence as she waited to - hopefully - hear the bar staff and/or patrons bring it over but it never happened. I remember my head tilting around the room back to her and then back to the bar to see if they would capitulate, but it never happened. I always thought to myself those cheap bastard scumbags should really have given that girl a drink and the moment stuck with me. Someone from the audience eventually got the poor girl a drink but it was not a good look and I had a word with the bar owner afterwards about it.

The point of this article: I hate stingy bar and venue owners who try to dick bands out of their riders.

Moral of the story: bring your own liquor to certain gigs.

I had planned to and regretted not doing so.

Some other highlights about this dude:

  • Early on when I was discussing it with him, he said he would bring out the drinks after we played.
  • I mentioned it was part of our contract and that we'd need them now thanks
  •  The venue owner seemed to think we were his employees. His venue was actually hired by the wedding party, and was our groups client, so it's the other way round I would say.
  • Before we went on the first time, I went up to the bar and asked for some beers for the band, they had already been informed about me and not to serve me!
  • As we were all onstage getting ready to play the first set, a porter came up to ask if he could clear away the empty bottles (I'd previously sourced 2 beers from the bar upon first arrival), and I could instantly tell the porter had been sent by Mr Big Stuff. I informed the porter that we (the band) had never been supplied with a single beer (or water). I found it "interesting" that Mr Big would do this.
  • Once through the night they sent a porter out with a set of 1 beer each for some other band. Nice.
  • In the halfway point through the night I made my 2nd approach to the bar - but was informed I needed to pay now as the tab had finished.
  • At the end of the gig, I made my 3rd approach, and was kicked out by management!
  • At this point I didn't really want to leave any of my gear at the venue, so decided to load up the car with gear and planned to sleep in it to sober up.
  • While waiting in the car park I'm pretty sure they sent their security lady round move me on
  • When I stopped just outside the gates for another rest, on what I assumed must be public road, she came at me again, this time another guy jumped out at me from nowhere quite aggressively which was rather amazing


Posted by tomachi on February 7th, 2015 filed in Music