10 tips for booking your wedding entertainment

Get your wedding entertainment sorted.

10 tips for booking your wedding entertainment
Wedding entertainment? Nailed it.

Shopping for your wedding is one of the best bits of your planning. But while you’re on home turf browsing for shoes and dresses, shopping for entertainment probably isn’t something you do every day.

Enter the gurus at Alive Network - the UK’s biggest and best loved wedding entertainment agency, and the last word in award-winning wedding artists. They provide a personal shopper-like service to help around 8,000 couples every year and – praise the wedmin gods – are here to help.

Here, they’ve put together 10 handy tips to get you booking like a pro.

1. Budget
Get the wedmin off to a flying start by setting out your entertainment budget from the beginning. You shouldn’t have to compromise with a last-ditch option on the biggest day of your life (cousin-Toby-the-bedroom-DJ anyone?), so hoping to find some late in the day spare cash under the wedding budget sofa is probably not the best strategy! Factoring in entertainment early on will not only help with your search; you’ll also have a better chance of finding ‘The One’ by starting early – see tip three!

General budget guide: Think £200 – £400 for soloists, £300 – £550 for a dance DJ, £450 – £600 for duos, £650 – £1,000 for trios and £1,000 – £3,000 for a professional band with four members or more.

2. Go with your heart
Your wedding day is about your style and your way of celebrating. Finding the perfect music match is as important as finding the perfect dress (well… almost!). You don’t have to plump for any old band, or the venue’s DJ. Look for artists that can reflect your individual tastes, be it cool, quirky or crazy! From a band that reminds you of your first gig together, a vinyl dance DJ that you and your friends will love, or a string quartet that plays the theme from your favourite film. Whatever you choose, it should make your heart sing. Just like THAT dress…

3. Be an early bird
As with the best venues and photographers, the industry’s most sought-after artists can fill their diaries over a year in advance. Start your search early to have your pick of the best. If you have your heart set on a particular artist, book them as soon as you can.
Start your search: 18–12 months ahead of your big day

4. Timing is everything
If it works for you, consider booking your ‘I dos’ on a day that’s not a Saturday in late spring or summer. They’re by far the most popular dates for nuptials in the UK and typically artists are in huge demand. Booking off-peak will usually mean lower prices and higher availability. You will get the most out of your entertainment, and potentially get a better deal with your other suppliers too. Result.
Best dates for a deal: Mon – Thurs in Jan – Feb or Oct – Nov.

5. Look local
If you’re working with a tight budget, try starting your entertainment search with bands or artists close to your venue. Since artist quotes usually factor in travel and potentially accommodation fees, you can often get the cheapest price if they don’t have to venture far.

6. Think themes
Entertainment is one of the centrepieces to your big day and really helps you set the right tone. If you’re working with a particular style, consider it part of your wedding mood board. Planning rustic-style ‘I dos’ in a lantern-filled barn? Think foot-stomping Mumford and Sons-style band for your evening shindig. Going charming and chintzy? Match your artist to your tea set with a spotty-dressed vintage singer or a retro-modern swing band. Colourful and casual? How about a VW camper bar for daytime drinks, a festival band to headline your own Pyramid stage, and a chilled DJ around the ‘after party’ fire pit?
Tip: Alive’s ‘What’s My Wedding Style?’ Guide is a fun ideas generator.

7. Get more band for your buck
We all know that modern brides have to be multitaskers. But did you know your artists are too? If you’d like music running through your wedding day, many bands can provide multiple line-ups to match your big-day moment. For example, you could have the singer-guitarist play live for your wedding ceremony, joined by a small acoustic version of the band for your drinks, then add members and go electric to get the party pumping later on. Most Alive bands offer a free DJ set too, so check when you’re enquiring. More cost-effective than hiring separate artists, and a big time saver when it comes to the admin and logistics.

8. Research, research, research!
It’s a big leap of faith to book an artist you’re not familiar with, but doing your research in advance will pay off. Watch videos and listen to their tracks – do you like their overall sound; the lead singer’s voice; their visual style; their repertoire? Reading reviews from couples who’ve booked those musicians before will help too.  If booking through an agency, quiz your entertainment coordinator. They get to hear and experience most of the musicians and entertainers live before they work with the agency, and also have a good idea of what they’re like to work with! Channel your inner Simon Cowell, trust your judgement and enjoy browsing!

9. Know your venue
To some extent, your venue will dictate the sort of wedding entertainment you can choose – like the size of your band! Consider what your venue’s performance area can accommodate, and check any volume restrictions or live music curfews. This will determine how loud and late your party can be.

You might also find that your venue has a lovely baby grand piano that’s begging for a pianist at your drinks reception, or a gorgeous gazebo that’s the perfect setting for a jazz band at your garden wedding. Knowing your venue well will not only help your entertainment search – it may even inspire you!

10. Make the most of every moment
There will be natural lulls in proceedings – as the photos are being taken for example. That doesn’t mean the party feeling has to flag. This is the time to surprise your guests with something extra.

Seeing close-up magic live is a real experience and can totally wow guests at your drinks reception. Or how about a caricaturist to draw special mementos for your guests to take away with them? For something a bit different, how about a bubbleologist – they exist! – who do uh-mazing things with bubbles. Or your very own ferris wheel? Touches like pop-up cocktail bars and retro photo booths are also cool and popular choices that will keep the energy going up all night, and capture those precious party moments!

Main Image: Andrew Billington

For more ideas, planning tips and inspiration, go to Alive Network’s gorgeously fun Ultimate Guide To Wedding Entertainment.

Looking for more entertainment ideas? Here are the eight best Ed Sheeran songs for your wedding day and how to avoid an awkward first dance

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