Booking a band for my wedding reception.
In itself, booking a band is easy! Booking the right band for you and your guests, a band that is going to create a lasting impression of your most important day, is the more difficult choice. Of course this is also quite true if you are booking a disco.
However having chosen to have a band play at your wedding reception, before committing to a deposit ask a few basic questions of yourself and the band.
What sort of music do you want?
I know it sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people don’t think of it. Wedding guests may range in age from 3 to 93 .That doesn’t mean you need to play “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover” but it does mean you need to be aware that there is a wide mix of ages. No doubt the majority of guests will be around your age and although the music should reflect this it must also be sympathetic to the extremes. The most common question asked of a band is “what sort of music do you play” the answer should reflect an understanding of you and your guests.
Listen to your venue, wedding planner or friends who have just got married In that order .They will have first hand experience of different bands. The venue and planner will want you to have the best time you can and will recommend on that basis . It is their reputation that is on the line if they recommend an unsuitable band. Your friends may have less experience but their opinion is still valuable and their recommendation is still worthwhile.
Will the band play my first dance?
The band should be able to learn and so perform your important first dance. This should be part of their service although some may want to charge you for it. I would expect the band to play not only the first dance but perhaps the father/ daughter dance as well.
How long will the band play for?
When will the band arrive and set up and when will they go?
Be careful here! There may be an extra charge for both. Look for a band that will set up early so there is no disruption to the smooth running of your day. You don’t expect to go to a concert to see the band arrive just before they play, do the performance and then pack up and go. You shouldn’t experience that at your wedding either. However it is necessary at some venues for the band to set up after the meal is finished if the wedding breakfast and evening entertainment are in the same room and the room needs to be rearranged to accommodate dancing. If this is the case the venue will know which are the best bands to book for a quick turn around and the least disruption.
It’s equally important for the band to be the last to leave. A band packing up three quarters of the way through the evening will send a signal to all your guests that its time to leave and thus bring your day to a premature end.
First to arrive last to leave is what you want to hear from the band.
Will the band charge for travel?
The answer is, some do some don’t. Again beware. You need to be clear if and what those charges are so that you have a definitive price for your entertainment.
Will the band bring all they need to play?
This will vary depending on who you book but expect the band to bring PA and stage lighting at the very least. Although you may need to arrange staging and mood lighting for example for a marquee. The band should carry Public Liability Insurance and their equipment should be safe ie. Portable Appliance Tested (PAT).
Just a note here about marquees and outdoor performances. If you are providing power for the band to perform it will be up to you to ensure that the power is safe and adequate. The band will be aware of how much power they draw and may even want to check the installation on arrival to see that its safe.
Do the band require a rider?
A rider is an industry term for an item or service you are responsible to provide such as sandwiches and or beer to be placed in the dressing room or even a dressing room itself. Common sense really ,just ask the question, “Do you have any riders or extras”? The most common for a wedding band would be for you to provide a meal for each band member. The venue won’t normally do this for free and will charge you up to the full guest price for each meal provided.
What will the band wear?
Everyone at your wedding will have made an effort to dress for the occasion, expect the band to do the same.
Will the band require a contract?
If you book through an agency a contact is essential, as negotiations will be carried out through a third party and as such are more likely to cause misunderstandings. If you are booking direct you should be talking personally with the band and so a contract is not always necessary . The band should be as keen as you to understand exactly what is required. They should also realise that weddings rarely run to plan and therefore a great deal of flexibility should be built into timings etc.
When should I expect to pay for the band?
Agencies will generally take their fee directly from the upfront deposit and let you pay the band on the night.Or the agency may arrange for you to pay them the full amount upfront and they pay the band after the wedding. Booking a band direct will involve a small upfront deposit to secure the date and the balance some time before the night. Some bands will require cash on the night. We don’t recommend cash as it never mixes well with alcohol !!
Extras are fine provided you know about them up front. Just be aware of the charges you feel should already be included in the introductory quote as this may change the price drastically with all the extras added. Check that the final price includes everything so that there are no unpleasant surprises for you to address on the night.