You've shed tears during the proposal, shared photos of the sparkling ring and, of course, updated your relationship status on Facebook, now it's time to launch into the blur of excitement, stress and anticipation better known as ‘wedding planning’. At Entertainment Nation we know a thing or two about wedding entertainment and thought we'd share a few insider tips with you to take the stress out of finding the perfect performer or band for your big day.
1. Do your homework
Don't rush into booking the first band that takes your fancy. There are hundreds of great bands out there, so it's a good idea to take your time and do some research to ensure you book the band that's most suited to you and your wedding. Entertainment agency websites are the best place to explore the wealth of wedding entertainment available to you, enabling you to scrutinise the comprehensive profiles of a multitude of talented acts. Band and performer profiles include videos, photo galleries and sample songs, as well as the act's full repertoire of songs and practical details such as the locations in which they're available to perform. While there's no substitute for seeing a band performing live, most professional wedding bands don't have room in their packed schedule for public dates, so instead, why not pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink and enjoy some outstanding performances from the comfort of your own living room?
2. Plan for the whole day
A party band to perform at the evening reception is the big entertainment booking for most weddings, but live entertainers can enhance every part of your big day. Imagine the enchanting moment you (or your bride) glide down the aisle accompanied by the timeless elegance of a string quartet or how about your guests, ice cold drinks in hand, chatting and laughing as a Mumford and Sons style acoustic folk band roams amongst them during your sun-drenched afternoon reception? There's no reason to restrict yourself to musicians either - alternative entertainers such as caricaturists, close-up magicians and jugglers all provide an enjoyable diversion for your guests during the inevitable periods of wedding day downtime.
3. Use a trusted entertainment agency
Hiring wedding entertainment is a large investment, so just as when you're choosing your band, it's vital to do a little research first to ensure sure you're working with a reputable agency. Client testimonials on the agency's website and social media pages are useful, but it's better to investigate an independent review site like Trustpilot where you'll be able to read unbiased feedback on the quality of service provided by a particular agency.
Before you go ahead and book anything, make sure you pay close attention to the agency's terms and conditions, how much deposit is payable and the method of payment of the total fee.
Working with a trusted agency is the safest and most secure method of booking your wedding entertainment. You can rely on the quality of bands the agency represents and you're covered for all eventualities.
4. Be open about your budget
Once you're satisfied that you're booking through a reputable agency, it's a good idea to be honest with them about your budget. While it may be tempting to haggle over a band's price, because most professional wedding bands are so busy during the April-to-September ‘wedding season’ there is little impetus for them to drop their prices (you may have more luck during the quiet periods of October-November and January-March). Instead, trust your entertainment adviser who will do their utmost to help you find the best band for your budget. If a particular band is out of your price range, your adviser will be able to suggest affordable alternative acts or inform you if your chosen band offer an alternative line-up with fewer members to bring them within budget.
5. Keep your guests in mind
It's your big day and you should hire wedding entertainment that reflects your identity as couple, but before you book that Scandinavian thrash metal band, spare a thought for your guests. An empty dance floor at a wedding reception is an awkward situation all round: for you, for the band (we've been there) and for the bored guests staring into their phones while they wait in vain for a song they can dance to that never arrives. Even if you're totally in love with a particular band, think about who will be attending and whether the band's set list includes at least a few songs for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps consider hiring a more versatile band, like a pop and rock band or a soul and Motown band, who are able to perform songs in a range of styles, from contemporary chart hits for the young 'uns to the classics your grandparents used to jive to when they were courting.
6. Check if your wedding entertainment includes a DJ service
Wedding bands usually play in one of two defined set patterns: either three 40 minute sets or two 60 minute sets, with breaks in between each set. It's important to arrange for music to be played during the intermissions and after the band finish so your wedding reception doesn't end up grinding to a halt in awkward silence. To save you from having to hire a separate DJ many bands offer a playlist DJ service as standard (a preselected playlist played from MP3 player or laptop through the band's PA system), with some offering a manned DJ service so that your guests can make a few special requests. Make sure you establish in advance what type of DJ service your band offers (if any) and whether it's complimentary or requires an additional fee.
7. Check if your wedding band can learn your first dance
What could be more romantic than sharing your first dance as a married couple to an immaculate live rendition of your special song? Most bands are happy to learn your first dance, and many will do so free of charge as long as they are given sufficient notice. If you'd like your band to play the first dance, discuss it with them in plenty of time so they have time to rehearse your song until it's perfect and make sure to check whether they charge a fee to do so.
Three questions you must ask your wedding venue before you book wedding entertainment
These venue considerations get their own section as they're so important: if your band aren't aware of any venue restrictions before the big day it can be... problematic. This isn't meant to be scary – as long as you ask your potential venue these questions prior to booking any entertainment everything will run smoothly.
8. Do you have any restrictions on sound levels?
There are many venues out there that have a set decibel limit that live bands aren't permitted to exceed. It's your responsibility to inform your band of any volume restrictions so they arrive on the day with the correct equipment (an electric drum kit, for example). Some venues don't allow any amplification at all, in which case you may want to consider an acoustic band or another venue altogether if your heart is set on a band being able to perform to their full potential.
9. Do you have a sound limiter?
Related to the above question, a sound limiter is a piece of equipment that measures the decibel level in the venue and, in some cases, cuts the band's power if that level is exceeded. It's crucial that you let your band know if the venue has a sound limiter, what the maximum decibel level is and, most importantly, if the limiter cuts power to the band if the limit is broken.
10. Are there any other restrictions?
Each venue is different and will have its own limitations. To avoid any problems on the day, it's best to prepare your band in advance for any issues they may face. These can include restricted space in which to set up, a curfew for live entertainment, lack of dressing rooms for the band, and a shortage of parking spaces. Nothing is insurmountable and as long as your band knows about any restrictions in advance they can plan around them.
Follow these tips and booking your wedding entertainment will be a breeze. If you'd like any advice or guidance on booking a band for your wedding, please get in touch with us at Entertainment Nation. Our friendly staff are on hand seven days a week and would love to hear from you!
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