You want live music at your wedding and have booked your perfect wedding venue. You’ve arranged the ceremony, sorted dresses, suits, transport, cakes, food and the all-important booze. To cap it all off you’ve booked your favourite band to really make the party go off with a bang! You’re all set for a party to end all parties….or are you??
For most people not involved in the live music industry, the booking and hosting of a performance can be a daunting process. Here are UTC’s 5 top tips to making sure your evening band will be able to perform without a hitch, giving you the best party they possibly can!
1. Always put venue and band in contact
Remember you are the paying client so the band work for you. This is also true of the venue. However, on the night the band and the venue will have to work together seamlessly to put on your wedding entertainment! It is always wise to ensure the person in charge of the band speaks to the venue co-ordinator in advance of the wedding. This should eliminate any issues on the evening and ensure any problem areas in the band’s contract (for which you will be ultimately responsible) are raised and highlighted before the event.
2. Check the venue out thoroughly before you sign the band contract
Hopefully your venue should have plenty of experience hosting bands and live music. They should have made you aware of any previous successes or failures, including rules and regulations for your band when you booked with them. They may also have various production elements or practical solutions that will be very useful for the band on the evening. The key things to check are:
Is there enough time in your itinerary for a band to setup? Most decent bands 4 piece and above, will require at least an hour to set up and then some time to soundcheck. There is a lot more to putting on a good band than meets the eye. Ensure this is compatible with your wedding schedule.
Are there any noise limiting devices at the venue? These have become more commonplace in the last few years due to a need for bespoke noise pollution regulations to be imposed on individual venues. Reasons for having them can range from complaining neighbours to polluting an area of conservation. This is the biggest single element that can hamper a band’s performance on the night – always check and ask your band if this will be any problem for them before you book. Most bands will perform at a dB level between 95-105. A lot of limiters will be around the 90dB or lower mark and will cut off all electrics to the room – including lights – if they are breached. Booking a 12-piece rock and roll band that can’t make as much noise as an alarm clock will be a complete waste of your money and will ruin your evening!
Do the venue have any production elements that could be used to take the performance to the next level? A lot of venues will have staging that can be used free of charge, or for a nominal fee. There may also be some lights installed or readily booked that will enhance the experience for your guests. Staging and Lighting does not often come as standard with bands, but can really add a wow-factor. Using what the venue already has can be a great way of making the band look at home in the space.
Does the venue have a microphone for your speeches? It is a question we almost always get asked: “Can we borrow your microphone for the speeches?” Speech-based sound systems are designed very differently to dance floor sound systems, which is probably what your band will bring. Don’t forget to make sure you think about this in advance…it’s these small details that you don’t want to be worrying about on the day.
Do the acoustics match your act? This is a really difficult question for a non-technically trained ear. A lot of wedding venues are large halls, castles, or even cathedrals. If you think of traditional acts seen in churches and halls, you will think of choirs or symphony orchestras. This is because the natural reverberations of the space will enhance these styles of performance. You may find that a lively band will struggle to be heard properly in these venues without correct acoustic treatment, and – trust me, here – no performer wants to hear “turn the vocals up!” without being able to do anything about it!!
3. Arrange a separate ‘greenroom’ for your band
Make sure you arrange your performers somewhere to relax when they are not performing. Whilst they are there to enjoy and be a huge part of your evening – they are ultimately working and, if they are worth their salt, will want somewhere to be when they are not performing. The caterers have their kitchen. The venue staff will have their back-corridors and offices. Leave your band out in the cold and risk a more stressed second set!
4. Design an appropriate performance Itinerary
What happens around the live music and when the band perform is the most important part of the planning. To make an evening entertainment programme work you should consider a few key elements:
- Make sure you space things out time-wise so that the evening feels full.
- It is always better to work backwards from your curfew when planning. It is far easier to have spare time after your wedding breakfast when the sun is still out than at the end of the night when people are in the mood to dance!
- Never arrange catering and live music to be happening at the same time.
5. Make sure you think about keeping the music going when the band are not performing
Most bands will either offer you a DJ as part of their package, or at the very least be more than happy to facilitate the playing of iPods or Spotify through their sound system. This is crucial to the event…nothing kills a party’s momentum like not following up a smashing band performance. What you are aiming for is a full and fun evening; leave no moment quiet!
OK – so we hope you have found this information useful in planning the live music for your evening reception. Ultimately, any band who have good experience within the wedding industry should be completely equipped to deal with all of these issues. It is often the case, however, that bands will rely on you having read their terms and conditions. Do not leave this to chance – this is your big day, you only get one shot and only the best will be good enough.
This is a guest post by Adam Birkett from UTC Events Tel 0161 413 0530