Happy Monday everyone, and Happy Bank Holiday to those of you in the UK. I...
This afternoon we are talking wedding bands. I have enlisted the help of Bands for Hire who are here to answer many a question that may have sprung to your mind while searching for your perfect wedding band. There are so many things to think about with every area of your wedding planning but getting the entertainment right really should be high on your priority list! There are many questions you may have about booking a band, after all it isn’t something you necessarily do every day, which is why bands for Hire are here to help you today with the 10 questions they get asked the most from prospective brides and grooms.
If you’ve booked a wedding band for your evening reception, the band will generally arrive at 5:30pm-6pm. Don’t worry, they’re not about to start interrupting your speeches with their noisy guitar amps, they’ll always wait until the formalities are over before loading in their gear and sound checking. If the band are playing in a different room to where your wedding breakfast is taking place, they’ll start setting up straight away (quietly!).
Sometimes venues insist that bands arrive earlier in the day to set up, this is no doubt the preferred option for many couples but unfortunately bands fees are usually based on a 5:30pm arrival and so an early set-up will most likely incur additional costs. These costs vary from band to band with many charging £20 / hour per band member.
In general, it takes a band an hour to set up and sound check, some bands take an hour and half and a few of the bigger bands can take up to 2 hours.
Wedding bands are there to work around you and your schedule on the night, however, I can’t stress how important it is to restrain from starting your band too early on in the evening, however tempting that may be. Your meal and speeches may be due to end at 6pm but that doesn’t mean we have to dive straight into the first dance! Guests are often more than happy to drink and socialise after the meal so don’t worry about keeping everyone entertained every second of the day.
We usually recommend that the band start no earlier than 8:30pm and if you can hold out until 9pm then even better. You’ve probably invested a significant part of your wedding budget on the band so it would be a real shame if they started too early and people weren’t quite ready to dance.
In the old days couples would always book a DJ with their band but these days it’s a rare occurrence. With iPods, laptops, iTunes and automated DJ apps bands are able to supply music between sets free of charge to keep the party going. You may even prefer to make up your playlist for the evening and this is encouraged if you’re keen to have more control over the music between sets.
We also recommend that you schedule your evening food to be served after the bands first set, it doesn’t matter how good the band is, people always think with their stomachs first and that could mean an empty dance floor!
Yes, 99% of bands will be happy to learn a first dance for you as long as it fits in with their style – for example, a 50’s rock’n’roll band probably wouldn’t be keen to play Billie Jean on the double bass! There are a few bands that charge extra to learn a first dance so this may be something to look into before you book your band.
You’ll no doubt choose your band based on their repertoire and so you’re bound to have a number of requests which is absolutely fine. The only thing we try to politely discourage is when brides (and grooms) email through the exact set list. This makes it very difficult for the band who would usually choose their set based on a number of factors. When a band puts a set list together they’ll consider their audience, which songs go well together, which are nice to start with and which really end the night well. A set list is something that needs careful consideration which is why it’s nearly always best to leave it up to the band.
It’s something that’s queried time and time again and the simple answer is ‘Yes please’. Although it may seem that your band is only playing for a couple of hours, with travel and time spent hanging around at the venue, their day will almost always be between 10-12 hours long and so it’s really important for them to have a proper meal to keep energy levels up. Having played a few hundred weddings myself in my time I can honestly say that a well fed band is a happy band and that will come across when they’re up on stage performing.
A stage isn’t essential and function bands are used to playing on the floor so don’t worry too much about it. It’s an added expense that can be avoided but if budget isn’t an issue then a stage is always a nice touch and will really add to that live gig atmosphere.
You should always speak to your band about the stage size but as a guide we’d recommend about 1 meter width for each band member so a 4-piece band would require at least 4 x 3 meters to give them sufficient space.
I’m sure you’ve spent many hours trawling through the hundreds of wedding bands on the net and after submitting your first few enquiries have found that prices quoted are often higher than the advertised fees. The main reason for this is that bands will advertise their base rate but may charge more when travelling. First of all there’s the fuel costs but then they also need to consider the extra time spent travelling and whether accommodation will be required.
Sound limiters are the bane of the musicians existence but where there’s a will there’s a way. In case you’re not familiar with sound limiters, they’re trip switches installed at venues that turn the power off when the volume reaches a certain level. Some people like to refer to these as ‘Fun limiters’ and I am akin to agree.
It all depends on how low your sound limiter is set but most bands are able to deal with sound limiters by either using soft drum sticks or electronic drums. It does mean the volume will be lower than you’re used to so always make enquiries with your venue before booking up.
Hopefully you’ve found this little list of FAQ’s to be quite useful in your wedding planning, if you have more questions or would just like to have a chat about your wedding entertainment, please feel free to visit the Bands for Hire website and we’ll be happy to offer advice.