Indisputable fact: planning a wedding is stressful. Whether you have someone to help you or not, things get hectic. In the midst of all this it’s easy to overlook a few things or not consider all of the angles. Thankfully, entertainment is the easy part, right? Find a wedding band, DJ or an act that you like and book them. Job done.
While that may well be the extent of your involvement, it’s now over to the musicians to put together an unforgettable night. Now this is pretty stressful too! Naturally, we’re not comparing this to the stress of wedding planning, but everyone is after the same result and there are some simple things you can consider to help ensure a smooth and enjoyable event for everyone.
As such, here are 10 things that your wedding band wants you to think about…
1. Set Up Times
One of the most common problems musicians encounter is not being left enough time to set up their equipment. Obviously, the amount of set up time required is going to vary depending on the act. For example, a solo acoustic guitarist will need less time to set up than a nine-piece soul band. But remember that your wedding band may be travelling with thousands of pounds worth of pretty heavy and bulky equipment. It will usually fill an entire van and has got to be unloaded and set up safely in the allocated space.
Therefore, always liaise with your band in advance to ensure they get enough time to set up safely and have a convenient area to unload their equipment. On average, a four-piece wedding band will require between one and a half to two hours to set up and around an hour to pack down, depending upon the distance equipment has to be carried.
Remember, they will require a soundcheck, where they make sure all the instruments are working and can be heard clearly. They will therefore ideally need some testing time before their performance too.
If possible, it’s always better for your guests to be in a different room during set up and soundcheck. Black flight cases don’t make for particularly interesting viewing, and no wedding guest needs to hear someone repeating “One Two!” down seven different microphones… or anything that accidentally slips out if there’s a problem!
2. Sound Limiter
ALWAYS ask your venue if it has a sound limiter, and make sure you tell the band if it does.
Here is a small excerpt from a Last Minute Musicians’ article on sound limiters, and how they work:
“For those of you lucky enough to have never encountered a sound limiter, their function is fairly universal – monitor the level of noise and volume of music.
“Noise is measured in DB (Decibels) and if the level of volume exceeds a predetermined DB limit, then limiters can not only inform, but also take action. Usually, there will be a visual representation based on a traffic light-style system.
“Green is acceptable, orange is a warning that you are approaching the limit, and then red – at this point you might only have a couple of seconds before the limiter cuts the power to the mains! Power will usually be restored after around a minute or so, but some increase this blackout time if triggered more than once.”
If you’ve made the band aware there is a limiter then there are several steps they can take to ensure things go well and at a volume acceptable for all.
3. Adequate Space
As previously stated, bands have a lot of gear. When choosing your wedding venue ask if they usually do live music and, if so, where they put the band. Maybe even take a quick picture on your phone and send it off to whoever your contact is with the group.
It’s worth asking the band in advance how much room they’ll need, but safe to say the more space the better. Remember, if you’re short on space it’s worth considering a solo singer with backing tracks, or an acoustic band, rather than trying to cram a huge wedding band into a tiny space.
Now this is something of a controversial subject, but as a musician nothing kills a dance floor like having lots of little darlings running around. With loads of kids messing around on the dance floor things can rapidly descend into anarchy. Adults are less likely to get up to dance and parents will have to be more careful about drinking alcohol (often having to leave early).
Give serious consideration to whether you want children at your evening reception or whether you could come up with a compromise.
5. Price vs. Professionalism
A big thing to consider when planning your wedding entertainment is what you are getting for your money. Hiring a musician is definitely one of those situations where the cheapest option is not always best.
While weddings can get horrendously expensive, I can promise you that your band is not an area where you should be looking to the bargain basement. While your mate Dave’s band who play in The Dog and Gun pub once every couple of months might only want £250 (trying to be delicate about this)… there will be a reason for that.
Putting the quality of the music aside, there is an obvious advantage to hiring a professional musician, and that’s experience. They will have encountered things you probably haven’t even considered a possibility and will know how to deal with all sorts of issues. This could range from being prepared to work with spare equipment, arrange professional lighting, repairing faults, dealing with space issues, reading a crowd, dealing with sound limiters, dealing with audience members that have had a drink too many and much more.
6. Audience vs. Style of the Band
While this is something of a judgement call, consider how appropriate the band you want will be for your audience. You might be a huge fan of grunge rock, but if most of your family and friends are older, perhaps a Nirvana tribute band isn’t going to go down quite as well with your 84 year old Nan.
That said, this is YOUR wedding and you are perfectly entitled to have things however you want them. Maybe granny will enjoy rocking out to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’!
7. A Jug of Water and a Cup of Coffee Go a Long Way
It’s a really small thing for you, but a big gesture to us!
8. Make Sure You Get in Any Requests in Advance
If you’ve got a favourite tune you’d like played, many bands will be happy to take requests on the night. However, if you want to absolutely ensure the band knows the song then speak to them in advance.
We’re musicians, not jukeboxes. We try our best to have a varied repertoire to accommodate everyone, but it simply isn’t possible for us to know every B-side from the last 60 years.
9. Be Realistic with Timings
Things run late. It happens. As musicians we try to be as realistic and flexible as we can, but don’t schedule the band loading in at 7pm, the cake cutting at 7.15 and the first dance at 7.20, and then expect the band to play continually until 1am.
As a rule, bands will usually play two sets of 45 minutes, two sets of one hour or three sets of 45 minutes, depending on the event. Check with the band in advance and remember a break of 10 to 15 minutes for everyone to get a breath of fresh air and some water will be necessary – we’re people, not robots.
Don’t worry! Musicians are working professionals and can deal with virtually any issue that arises, big or small. Don’t feel like you have to micromanage everything… relax and enjoy your special day!
If you need help finding wedding bands, why not visit www.lastminutemusicians.com?
Sponsored post by Jon Fellowes of Last Minute Musicians
Microphone image from Flickr by Gavin Whitner, used under CC BY 2.0 License