Music festival themed weddings have become popular the world over. And it’s no wonder—they’re just so much fun! What better way to celebrate your shared nuptial excitement than getting a selection of musical groups to entertain and serenade your guests throughout the day?
In this guide, we’ve outlined 10 of the best types of bands, the top songs, and our Encore favourites, to headline your music festival themed wedding.
Need more general advice on planning your wedding music? Read our Ultimate Guide to Hiring Wedding Musicians (2020).
- Top songs:
- Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons
- Ho Hey – The Lumineers
- Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Glastonbury Festival, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention
- Encore’s picks: Wait For The Wagon, Only Tonight, Folk Foxes
One of our top choices is the folk-rock band, now often referred to as a Mumford & Sons-style band. Made famous by Marcus Mumford and his three musical compatriots, these bands will keep the energy up with their festival-worthy fusion of high octane rock and grassroots folk. They’ll get your guests dancing and singing along, but in a more informal way than a ceilidh band with a caller might do. Accordions, double basses, banjos, fiddles: they’re all fair game. If you book a Mumford & Sons-style band for your music festival themed wedding, they’ll be sure to keep your guests frolicking for hours.
Mumford & Sons-style band, Only Tonight
- Top songs:
- I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & The Family Stone
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
- Give Up The Funk – Parliament
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Afropunk Festival, Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival
- Encore’s picks: StepNSoul, The Burning Shoes, Funk With Us
Ever seen the footage of Sly & The Family Stone playing their extraordinary set at Woodstock? If you have, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this type of band is the heart and soul of any festival. Delivering passion and flavour to the line-up, the soul/R&B band’s mix of dance floor classics and well-known Motown sing-alongs is always a hit with both young and old.
Soul/R&B band, StepNSoul
A staple of any festival-themed event is, of course, the original artist. What better way to celebrate your love of music at your wedding than getting a talented singer/songwriter (or band) to perform their original music for your guests? Whether it’s for a chilled afternoon session before the reception, or a show-stopping 2am closing set, an original artist is sure to be a hit.
In fact, many musicians and bands, while also being able to play a set of covers, are original artists in their own right. If you’ve already seen a musician you like, but you’re after a set of original music, it’s worth asking them if they can perform some of their own music. They’ll be pleasantly surprised, and you might just be supporting the next big thing in music! Imagine being able to say you had Ariana Grande perform at your wedding.
- Top songs:
- So What – Miles Davis
- Africa – John Coltrane
- Moanin’ – Charles Mingus
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Jazz festivals all over the world, Glenn Miller Festival
- Encore’s picks: Ben Harker Trio, Love For Sale, Swing Train 42
Jazz bands cover a lot of ground. Maybe you’re after a relaxed set, à la Kind Of Blue-era Miles Davis; perhaps something a little more purist, like the modal jazz of Coltrane, or the hard bop of Monk and Mingus; possibly even the quasi-funk expeditions of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters? “I want a bit of everything though!”, I hear you say. Well that’s also possible! Whatever your stylistic preference, you can bet there’s a jazz band out there that will be the perfect fit for your festival themed wedding.
Gypsy-jazz band, Swing Train 42
- Top songs:
- Sunsets For Somebody Else – Jack Johnson
- Sunrise – Norah Jones
- Only Love – Ben Howard
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: The Isle of Wight Festival, Acoustic Festival Of Britain
- Encore’s picks: Daughters of Davis, Wandering Soul, The Boutiques
So, you’re still interested in having a music festival themed wedding, but you’re not so interested in the energetic antics of the bigger music festivals some people might have in mind—you’re after something a little more rustic, a little more ‘low-key’. Or maybe you’re venue has a few sound restrictions. An acoustic group may just be the answer then. Acoustic groups can range anywhere from a duo, ideal for a cruisy sunset performance, to a 5+ person band, slightly more upbeat, but still keeping with your theme. Acoustic groups prove you don’t need a large PA sound system to provide a little musical magic.
- Top songs:
- Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
- Sex On Fire – Kings Of Leon
- Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Glastonbury Festival, Download Festival
- Encore’s picks: Bright Lights, All Nighters, Halfway To New York
The rock band is the undisputed king of music festivals: bands like Pink Floyd, Queen, Rage Against the Machine, and Kings of Leon have certainly seen to this. Not much beats the excitement of seeing a rock band up close and personal! If head-banging, singing along with the lyrics until your voice is hoarse, and mind-melting guitar solos are your bag, then we are confident a rock band will be a solid choice for your music festival themed wedding.
Rock band, Halfway To New York
World music group
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Africa Oyé, Notting Hill Carnival
- Encore’s picks: Alvorada, Sunny Steel Band, Faith i Branko, Jali Cissokho
For those more adventurous music aficionados among you, a world music group might be just the key you needed to complete the roster for your by now well-curated music festival themed wedding. The UK is home to musicians from all over the world, brought up and trained in their own country’s particular musical style. If you’re thinking about booking a world music group, the only problem you’ll face is what to pick! Maybe you want music from a country that holds some significance for you and your partner. Or, perhaps your wedding is in summer—a steel drum band will be sure to capture that sunny festival vibe. Whatever you choose, we couldn’t recommend world music groups more highly!
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Glastonbudget, Marvellous Festivals
- Encore’s picks: CASH, Jamie Ledwith (Franki Valli Tribute), ABBA Chique
We all know the feeling when you miss out on seeing one of your favourite acts at the many major music festivals that happen all over the country each year. Now’s your chance to bring the music festival to you—and at your wedding no less! Tribute acts are masters of capturing the spirit of their chosen band or musician. They’ll leave you wondering what all the fuss is about when compared to the real thing.
- Top songs:
- Sell Out – Reel Big Fish
- Wandering Eye – Fat Freddy’s Drop
- Super Rad! – The Aquabats!
- Music festivals featuring this type of band: Skamouth Weekender, The Great Northern Ska Festival
The masters of cool, and ranging from small (3-4 people) to large (8-9 people), ska bands are no strangers to music festivals. If you could put the vibe of a relaxed summer festival into musical form, it’d probably be ska or reggae. They can play a fast-paced set, replete with bright brass and zesty guitar stabs, or a calmer set, letting their closely related reggae roots take over. Naturally, ska bands are one of our top choices to consider when planning a music festival themed wedding.
Lounge Cat Ideals, an incredible ska/swing band
OK, so a DJ isn’t exactly a band. But what happens when you get a few steel drummers, saxophonists, or percussionists to join them? You get ‘DJ live’. This new musical synthesis has become a big trend in events and music festivals all over the place nowadays, and it a lot of makes sense. Take the versatility of a DJ, their ability to put together a seamless flow of music that will keep the atmosphere pumping, and add to it one or two fantastic live musicians, who can interact with the audience, belting out melodies all the while. You can see why this one made the list.
DJ live—DJ Adam + Sax
Cover image courtesy of The Bluejays