It can be tricky to know where to begin when you’ve got to pick a wedding band that you and your beloved can enjoy together, as well as one that will please your guests. The music‘s got to be entertaining to all ears as well as reflective of your relationship.
In this feature, we’ve broken the process down into manageable steps for you to help alleviate some of the pre-wedding pressure.
Pick Your Preferred Genre
The music‘s going to be mostly responsible for the atmosphere of your wedding, so it’s important to understand what effect different styles will have. The spectrum begins at quiet and ends at riot, so pick your position and see which of these suggestions get you thinking on the right track:
Classy: Think smooth jazz, with plenty of tinkling piano and soothing saxophone, or some flamenco, Spanish or classical guitar.
Fun: Go for something that’ll get people dancing and singing along – so don’t be afraid to venture into cheesier territory. Here you’ll find funk, disco and tribute bands mostly from the 70s and 80s – though search for ‘party bands’ too if you’re interested in big choruses.
Formal: If you’ve asked everyone to dress in all their finery, then return the favour with a string quartet, classical ensemble, harpist or pianists, a choir or vocal group, or an ultra tight jazz band.
Traditional: Celebrate your roots with bag pipes, Irish folk bands, ceilidh bands or traditional folk bands.
Unconventional: If tradition’s not your cup of tea, then give your guests something to talk about like a barbershop quartet, steel band, a world music band or an unexpected tribute act. There are also wedding bands that cross the border into comedy and other forms of entertainment.
Take Your Guest List into Account
Think carefully about which friends and family members have made it onto the invite list, and which musical styles might sit well with them. Age is a big factor here, though by no means the only one – essentially, it’s time for your to decide whether you want your reception to be a stand-up or a sit-down kind of party.
Although you’ll find many wedding bands for hire are quite accommodating and willing to adapt their sound to suit your ceremony, they’ll still want to stick to their guns to an extent. So have a chat with your nearest and dearest to see how they’d prefer to celebrate with you, then make some enquires whilst bearing in mind the following criteria:
If you’re planning a full-on shindig, it follows that you’ll want a wedding band that provides energetic music at a high volume. In this case, we’d suggest soul and R&B bands, jazz trios and jazz quartets, rock tribute acts, Latin and salsa bands, 70s funk and disco bands – these all feature the perfect blend of fun, melody and youthful energy.
Alternatively, if you want your guests to take things easy while they enjoy a drink and a chinwag, you might prefer to go down the acoustic jazz duo, folk band, ceilidh band, 60s pop covers band, string quartet, classical ensemble, solo pianist or harpist route. These would all appeal to a more mature audience.
Pop rock covers bands, swing bands and pop tribute bands tread the middle ground in this area, so if you’re expecting guests from all walks of life, you might find it useful to start by scouting around for wedding bands of this ilk. Nothing too overbearing, but just enough fun to get a few people on the dance floor.
Choose Your Wedding Playlist
To a degree, you’ll be leaving the majority of this to the wedding band you’ve chosen; this is just common practice. You will, however, have chosen a band based on their style at this point, so you can trust that they will have enough expertise and have had enough experience to know which songs are the most popular and most effective in their respective genre.
That being said, it’s still your wedding, and choosing the first dance song is most likely going to be left to the happy couple. Be sure to contact your wedding band early on to give them enough time to familiarise themselves with your song of choice – and if you have any other songs your wedding simply wouldn’t be the same without, then let your band know with the same amount of notice. You’ll find that, more often than not, they’ll be happy to oblige.
Select Your Venue
The majority of venues that are happy to host wedding receptions will be also be happy to accommodate live wedding bands. However, it’s better to leave nothing to chance when planning something as special as your wedding’s going to be, so check, check and check again to find out if there are any regulations in place that you should know about.
Two of the main issues you need to concern yourself with are: time and volume. Check with your venue how early you and your wedding band can arrive, and how late you can leave. Then, try to coordinate this with whatever time your guests arrive and leave, so they’ll be there when the band is good and ready to start playing for them.
If you need your band to arrive early, then be prepared to be charged more, and be aware that, although they’re not guests, they’ll also need looking after. Regarding volume, many venues now use sound limiting devices to curb extreme heights of volume. Ask them if this is the case, and you’ll then know what kind of band to hire.
A third issue you need to bear in mind is space. If your selected venue is used to having live music, then it’s likely they’ll have the relevant information readily available. You’ll need to find out how much space you’re hiring for numerous reasons, one being it’ll tell you what size band to aim for, another being how many guests you can invite, which in turn will affect what kind of vibe you’ll be aiming for.
Different styles of band tend to have different sizes of line up. For example, a rock or pop covers band will have around 4 members, but a funk, R&B or disco band will like feature upwards of 7 members – potentially with backing singers and backing dancers in tow.
Larger bands also tend to come hand in hand with more equipment, which can often take up the same amount of space again, so be sure you liaise with you band to find out how much room they tend to take up. Furthermore, if you are concerned about noise levels and equipment, then jazz trios, solo guitarists, pianists and acoustic duos are a safe bet.
Keep an Eye On Your Budget
Weddings are pricey enough as it is, so arm yourself against any nasty surprises and find out beforehand how much live wedding entertainment will set you back. As with the other aspects we’ve considered so far, there’s quite a broad range to choose from.
Wedding bands usually base their quotes on how many members are in their group, how established they are as an act, and sometimes how long they’ve been hired to play for, though the standard is roughly 2 hours. They’ll also usually have factored in travel expenses too, though if these, like the running time, exceeds the norm (for example, having to travel more than 100 miles), the fee must go up.
It’s always worth preparing to pay a little more for your wedding band, as this goes some way to ensure quality. A less experienced band probably won’t have garnered enough of a reputation to charge professional rates, and will likely have less professional equipment, which will affect the quality of the sound at your wedding.
Additionally, it’s worth paying for agency support, as hiring a wedding band from an agency provides you with certain guarantees an amateur and unrepresented band will be unable to match. In other words, if for some reason your wedding band is unable to perform, or delivers a less than stellar performance, the agency will be there to help rectify the situation.