25 May How to Choose the Perfect Live Wedding Band to Fit Your Style
How to Choose the Perfect Live Wedding Band to Fit Your Style
Choosing a live wedding band for your special day is an essential part of the wedding planning process and one which you’ll want to get just right.
Music can makes all the difference in the world on the day and acts as more than a just a backdrop to the proceedings. A live wedding band with the right experience can set the mood and tone for the whole day, acting as a musical centrepiece, which perfectly compliments and enhances the proceedings, as well as acting as a catalyst which helps to make the atmosphere come to life with the energy of the moment.
Thankfully, finding the perfect live wedding band to fit your style need not be complicated, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide, to help you make the right choice for your day.
We’ve broken the decision making process down for you in easy to digest blocks, so if you’re pushed for time, you can skip to the sections which matter to you the most and come back to read more later, when you arrive at that point in the decision making process.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR VISION
Weddings take a huge amount of planning but this doesn’t mean you’ll want to compromise your vision of the perfect day for the sake of an easy life. Admittedly, where cost and expenses are concerned we may all have to be realistic to some degree but overall the theme and style of your day should be reflect exactly the vision you have in mind.
So, while a big band playing throughout the course of the whole day or the world’s finest jazz musicians all on one stage may be out of financial reach, you should, however, consider hiring a live wedding band who shares your vision of what makes the perfect wedding day entertainment and can adjust their performance to your theme. In this respect it is as much about you choosing the band as it is them choosing you, as the there ought to be some degree of synergy between what you want and how they like to perform.
That said, it’s also equally important to choose a live wedding band who can accommodate your wishes, so make sure they are able to provide the right type of entertainment that you have in mind from the outset.
So how do you go about this? Well, at this early stage you may well be in a researching mindset and not actively in discussion with the band you have in mind. In this case, be sure to browse the content on their website, check the images and video on their social media channels and YouTube channel, to see what kind of image they present on stage. This will give you a feel for how they come across in performances, as well as giving you some indication of their technical expertise and a chance to find out what people are saying about the band.
A live wedding band is as much a part of your theme as are the surrounding, the wedding flowers or the bridal dress, so make sure the band you choose blends in perfectly with your style and as they’ll be setting the stage for the whole day.
Be clear on what you want from the band. Many live weeding bands like to take an active role in the proceedings, so be sure to find out if this is the case. Are they to be background music, will they announce the bride and groom to the reception on the wedding first dance song or is the DJ that you hire to interact and communicate with the audience or play a set list without interruption for the night. Do you want them to take an active role in getting people involved or simply create a atmosphere of bliss that envelopes the event? Get these initial questions right and you’ll be well on your way to making the ideal choice.
Choosing The Music
While many brides will have an idea of what music they want in mind, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’ll have a detailed playlist to hand. Take advantage of the band in this respect as they ll most likely be more familiar with popular contemporary or classical music and which tunes create the kind of atmospheres you’re aiming for. With most experienced wedding bands, give them a few pointers and they’ll be able to come back to you with a whole playlists worth of suggesting, some of which may pleasantly surprise you.
Pacing is a consideration which matters more than it may as first appear. The pacing of the band can mean to difference between an event which lags behind or races forward, so you may have times of the day when one of the other is most appropriate. Slow and flowing to create a dreamy and timeless scene or fast and rhythmic to keep conversation alive and help transition guests from one event to the next. Find out what approach the band you’re thinking of takes to this all too often overlooked skill.
What experience do the individual band members have? How long have the band been playing together? What is their quality of musicianship and history of playing at wedding like yours? Whatever the questions are which are most important to you, make sure you choose a band with plenty of experience in the areas which mater the most for your special day.
Also, you can find out whether a band is industry approved, how unique they are in their presentation and style and what what kinds of music or genre they are able to play at your event.
You may also be looking at a performer or artist of choice which gives your event a more exclusive flavour and can help wow the audience with their uniqueness and artistry. Be aware however, that artists in their own right are less likely to deviate from their own artistic persuasion and you’ll be choosing them more or less on their own merits.
Alongside this, if you like a band or one has been recommended it may often be a good idea to put aside your feelings for one moment and loo at the bands abilities and suitability for the event. Taking a broader perspective at this early stage can help avoid disappointments later on.
With so much to consider you may even want to look at hiring a live music booking agent. while some may relish the challenge of overseeing every minute detail of their day, other may prefer to delegate this task to someone with unquestionably more experience in the matter ultimately the choice is up to you, but if you do decide to use a an agency, make sure they are both reputable and experienced in their own right and look for previous client reviews. You can even ask to speak to a client who has used their services in the past if you feel that is an appropriate angle to take. An agent will be able to offer you a good choice of artists and musicians who will fit the style of your day but this support comes at an expense. and it may be more than you budgeted for. Allow an extra 20% of the band booking fee and be prepared to have less intimacy with the band as a result of going down this route, something which can be either a blessing or a hindrance depending on the level of decision making you want to be involved with. As with all parts of the process, establishing trust is key, so you’ll want to be fully transparent with the agency so they can do everything in their power to provide the experience that you want. Agencies can be found be via a web search, niche directories or even recommended by the venue itself.
Reading previous client testimonials, reviewing social media engagement and watching recordings from the band’s live wedding music performances on video are fantastic indicators of gauging a band’s appeal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demo or references from the band as, as much as anything else, this serves to give you peace of mind and know that you’re in safe hands.
If you find a review that is not favourable to the band, don’t be afraid to bring it up, there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why a particular client was unhappy with the service, which may very well not apply to your circumstances. A long list of negative reviews however, is almost always a red flag and should be treated with care.
BOOKING THE BAND
You may be tempted to leave booking a band to the last minute or as an afterthought but this could be a costly mistake. Firstly, the bad will need time learn any special requests you may have and perhaps even more important than this, the may already be fully booked for the season.
A useful tip here is to start a wedding diary so you won’t be tempted to overlook this important aspect of the day. Don’t be afraid to let the band in on the wedding planning process, they may even have some useful tips of their own which can help take the strain off of you having to do all the work. For instance, if they know the venue or help with playlists. Communication here is key, so be as open as you can with the band in advance, as it’s sure to pay off later.
Advance bookings may also come at a discounted cost, so you’ll be quids in if you book in plenty of time.
Of course, make sure you check the dates with the band before doing anything else, as you’ll only be wasting your time if they have another engagement to attend.
Off peak reductions are also something worth asking about, if your wedding is taking place ‘out of season’.
Set your max budget before speaking to the band, but be prepared for a degree of flexibility at the early planning stages. It’s quite possible that your budget may not be in line with your expectations but if you shop around, you can get a feel for what’s typical for your situation. Try not to base the booking purely on cost, however, as this is one such case where the old adage is true, ‘if you pay peanuts…you get monkeys’. Time of year also pays a part in this process, so be prepared to pay more in peak season.
Big name bands will invariably cost more, but if this is your thing, you will most likely be prepared to set a higher budget for the artist you have in mind.
Try to break down costs into their respective elements rather than seeing the whole event as a single unit. It takes a lot of work for it all to come together, so have a separate box for sound and lighting, food and drink, refreshments, overtime, special equipment, extra services, breaks in you check-list. We’ll shortly be introducing a check-list to help you with every aspect of your band hire, so sign up here to be notified when this becomes available.
As a rule of thumb, allocate £1500-£3000 for an experienced live wedding band of around 5 musicians to play 2, 45 minute sets and work out the rest form this base starting point. Out can even ask the band for an hourly rate if this help you to work things out, but be aware most bands will tend to quote on a per performance basis due to the extensive list of requirements mentioned above.
A Note on Additional Charges: Ask the band to be upfront about what’s included and make sure you explain in detail what’s required. No-one likes surprises further down the road, so as long as everything has been discussed to both parties satisfaction early on, there should be no need for concern.
No matter how well you plan, unforeseen circumstances do occasionally happen insurance, so be sure to check the band’s terms and conditions with respect to deposits, refund & cancellation fees, backup artists, time constraints and sickness. This is the nitty gritty of band hire and hopefully you won’t have cause to resort to any of it, but should it happen, it’s best to be prepared.
Band insurances protect both you and the artist from unnecessary expenditure and and prevent you from regretting your decision should anything come arise which forces a change of plan.
VENUE & EQUIPMENT
We recommend your book the venue you would like the the band to play at before choosing a live wedding band to play. While it maybe an obvious point to make, the reason for this can often be overlooked.
Firstly, is the venue able accommodate the band you have in mind? Smaller venues may necessitate the need for smaller line-ups and space requirements may be at a premium.
In respect to the band itself, you may ant to ask about certain technical considerations such as if they require a backstage room. a stage and how many power sockets for all their equipment and any special equipment or lighting they use which may have a bearing on the venue itself.
Also ask the band if they have any previous experience at that venue as this can often lead to a smoother experienced and greater peace of mind.
If alcohol and smoking are to be permitted, this is also something which you’ll need to prepare for in advance.
Further considerations come to light is the venue is on outdoors or in a marquee as certain restrictions may apply under these circumstance.
Also, check what parking considerations the band have as if it is tight for space, they may not be able to gain easy access to the stage area.
Some bands will ask to put up a banner bearing their name or possibly have visual imagery on a screen behind them. Try to make sure all bases are covered before the day as unwitting surprises in this regard won’t benefit either party.
Check the availability of the venue as the band may need set-up time or system and sound checks which you probably won’t want to be around for!
Alongside any special equipment ask the band if they are planning on using wireless mics, a this can make a difference to the engagement with the guests and allows the lead performing more freedom of movement and for others to take the mic when needed.
THEMING & VISUAL APPEAL
If you’ve been with us all this way so far then well done! Or if you’ve skipped to this section first, it’s a great starting point, as we think it’s one of the most important aspects of the whole show. With all the technical and specific details out of the way, its now time to look at what makes a band a band, their energy, flair, style, vibe and presence.
Many bands are adept at performing cover songs for weddings, while some carry their own personal stamp of approval with unique musical compositions written by the band themselves. If it’s a particular artist you have in mind, you’ll most likely be looking for the latter, on the other hand if the irresistible appeal of a familiar tune to bring your guests to the dance floor is what you have in mind, the covers band wins the day.
This is about personal preference and what fits your style. We like to think of the perfect live wedding band as the final piece of the puzzle that makes everything else come together, adding an harmonious energy which brings your wedding theme to life. The band’s musical vibe is a constant which flows throughout the whole event, which you’ll want to blend perfectly with that of yourself, your guests and your theme.
Listen to the band play, watch how they perform, see how they interact with the wedding guests and pay attention to the energy they radiate when they are doing what they do best, playing your favourite music. While this may look like a case of going with your heart over your head, in reality it’s the core of what band is all about, their unique musical flavour and passion which creates an unmistakable atmosphere that adds the je ne sais quoi to your wedding day.
Moving from the aural to the visual sense, consider the band’s presentation with particular attention to how they dress, their attitude on stage, the colours they use and the tone that this creates. Most bands will be prepared to fit your style when it comes to dress code but seeing them as they choose to perform in their own surroundings is a good indicator of where they might be most at home. If the band has a website check for a recent wedding videos from the band or have a browse through their YouTube channel to see them in action at a previous event.
You can also get a feel for how they interact with the wedding guests and if they use MCing as a tool to motivate the crowd or if making announcements or introductions is a part of their act. You may even prefer as band who doesn’t have a vocalist at all, where the music speaks for itself. In any event, the perfect live wedding band will exude an unmatched confidence on stage that is all their own and will be thrilling to watch.
Also consider if a wedding DJ is on the cards for an evening session, when the guests can let their hair down and party or if you’d like the band to continue into the early hours of the event. This one certainly comes down to personal taste but there’s nothing like a first-rate wedding DJ to get the crowd going.
The total impact of these individual pieces when taken together can be a fantastic experience in itself and it’s up to you to get the balance just right, to create the kind of experience for your guests that you have in mind.
How did we manage get this far without mentioning playlists? OK, so we mentioned the band can help you choose a playlists but now let’s go a little deeper.
Taking a holistic approach to playlists can make all the difference on the night. While it would be impossible to satisfy everyone’s musical taste, it’s a good idea to start with the guests at the wedding party and consider what type of they would like to hear. You can even choose different styles for your playlists at different stages of the day, to bring in some fun dynamics to the occasion.
While you don’t need to please everyone, it certainly can help to get your guest involved if you appeal to a broad musical taste. Variety is the order of the day here and keeping things fresh with both old and new songs thrown in for good measure. So, unless your guests are a part of a very tight knit group engaged with a particular musical scene, it wouldn’t make sense to be too selective in your approach to playlists. That said, no matter what you go for, no event would be complete without dance favourites or club classics from the era, as these tend to resonate well with wedding party guests of all kinds and ages.
WEDDING FIRST DANCE SONGS
Perhaps the single most important song choice for the day is the wedding first dance song. We’ve reviewed popular choices for these in a previous post, so feel free to check that out for suggestions. This one may be tricky, as it carries such weight, but ultimately it’s the one song choice which means the most to you and your partner. You’ll either just know it already or it will feel right. Either way, go with your heart on this one absolutely! Make sure the band knows it and knows it well, and give them plenty of time to rehearse it to your satisfaction. It may well form one of the central pillars of memory for the whole day.
Whatever playlist you eventually decided on, or opinion is that provided the band is at a high enough standard, everyone should be able to enjoy themselves, regardless of their own personal music tastes.
A final important consideration is the do-not-play list, for those songs you’ll want to avoid making at unwelcome appearance on your special day. Along this line, your playlist may quite feasible end up too long for the allotted time. In this case, ask a friend to help you choose which songs are to be omitted and which will make it into your final set. You can also keep the ones which you may have been agonising over as backup tunes, should you change your mind.
Again, allow plenty of time for this process, it may take a little longer than you think!
WHEN THEY PLAY
Think about when and how many sets you would like the band to play. It’s typical for many bands to play two sets of around 45 minutes each, with a short break in between. A wedding DJ may be required at these times or ask as the band themselves will often have suitable recordings to ‘fill the gap’. If the band is to play at various important stages of the day, such as at the reception, the dinner or cocktail hour, you can keep things flowing by having different line-ups perform at any one given time which helps keep things varied and fresh for your guests.
You may also want to transition to a wedding DJ towards the end of the night and give the band a well earned rest, but both having the band play through or having a DJ in reserve are acceptable options, provided everything is planned accordingly.
TRUST & RAPPORT
Hopefully, with all these tips at your disposal ,we’ve helped to take a weight off your mind about planning the perfect love wedding band to fit your style on your special day.
We’d encourage you to choose a live wedding band who can be flexible as well as being highly valued at what it is they do.
Also, never take eyes of the fact that this is your day and as such, it’s all about you. Make sure they understand your dreams and share your musical vibe and even have sympathy for some of your favourite artists, tracks and tunes. It’s much easier to be in resonance with a band than it is to force them into a new mold.
Communication is a vital part of making the experience an enjoyable one for everyone involved, so be sure to provide all the information they require and be clear about payments and who is to do what and when.
Building trust will help you and your partner to relax and the more you can let the band do their thing, without the need to micromanage each detail, the more you can enjoy the music and get on with the somewhat important business of getting married.
If you feel the need, you can appoint a liaison person to deal with any last minute band request on the day, so you can rest assured the event sails by without a hitch.
When all’s said and done, your wedding day is all about you, and you’ll want it to be a cherished memory for everyone present for many years to come. Choosing the perfect live wedding band is an intrinsic part of that process and chosen wisely, can be the crowning glory to fit your style on your special day.
Keep this guide handy to refer to any aspects of the planing process you may be unsure and be sure to register for our mailing list for when our check-list becomes available. We’ll also be releasing this as PDF guide shortly so stay tuned!
The Surrey Wedding Band are a live wedding band with years of experience in playing live wedding music and at all kinds of events up and down the UK. Sign up for more wedding band music tips and advice direct to your inbox or connect with us on our social media channels for what’s been happening with the Surrey Wedding Band and all round great wedding music tips.