It all starts with the one question How to choose a wedding music band?
It’s 5pm on a Thursday, I’ve just finished the day job and I commute home to pick up speakers, lights, guitars, laptops, more lights, extension cables, leads, stands and several other cases on my way to set up for a wedding which is at 7pm the next evening. We try, if we can, to get set up the day before (or, if the venue is more than an hour away, at least a couple of hours before) for a wedding because all sorts of things can go wrong on the day and we want to be sure we’ve tested everything out so we don’t have to adjust anything at the last minute.
I normally arrive at the venue at 7pm to set up, sound check and I’m home for my Dinner at half nine.
Before I head to work the next day I make sure my suit and freshly ironed shirt and tie are in the car ready for me to change into at work, then off to the day job before getting to the wedding venue an hour early to make sure we’re ready for any last minute changes. We play 3 hours of live music interspersed with 3 hours of DJing. The bride and groom are happy, we’re happy. An hour of setting down and a drive home (which can be up to a couple of hours) and we’re home mid-morning. We play a lot of pubs and hotels too but on weekends with weddings, we try to make sure we have time to recuperate. Normally I’m dead to the world for at least the day after a wedding.
In this post I’d like to show you the world of the wedding from the band’s perspective and How to choose a wedding music band from the experience we have had.. Or at least the perspective of my band. I’m in a small acoustic duo who also do some DJing. We play in pubs, clubs and do weddings. What attracts a lot of couples to us is the amount of work we put into weddings, we try to care as much about the big day as a member of the wedding party would. The other thing that couple’s like about us is that we offer our own brand of tailored hybrid wedding with a bit of DJing, some acoustic sets, and basically whatever else the couple want to work into the wedding (Karaoke, Scots Country, games).
…..How to choose a wedding music band…….
We don’t do a lot of advertising, we like people to see us and know what they’re getting themselves in for. We get a lot of weddings from our gigs in Mckays Hotel up in Pitlochry, Scotland and our other resident venues. People come up for the weekend and see us playing, we hand out lists of songs that we play and people pick what we want to hear. We hand out our card when folk ask and then they get in touch when they want to book us.
When the couple get in touch, we ask a few questions (if they want a rough quote) and then once they book us in we arrange to come and meet them at their home (or wherever they want) and talk through our checklist. This meeting takes an hour or so and from there we can provide an accurate quote. We tailor everything, the length of the wedding (we’d do 2 days if you paid us enough), because of this we keep our prices low. We take a small deposit and then the real preparation starts.
How to choose a wedding music band..The first steps…. this is the initial meeting that is normally a year or so before the wedding, when we give the couple some homework and one of our lists. What do they want us to play at their wedding? Some couples like us to take the reins here with the exception of the first dance. Some like to let us know every song they’d like. We like both options. The former is more work but it lets us make up a base set, then read the crowd more and swap songs around on the night, the latter is less work but can perfectly suit the couple on the day. The secret third option is we do a special version of the lists of songs that we play and we play requests from the guests for however long we’re playing.
Then of course there is the most important part (to us that is), the first dance, we pride ourselves in at least attempting to learn and play it and in the few months after the initial meeting we’ll learn it and (if the couple ask) send them a recording of us playing it. We then go away, continue to hone whatever new songs they want in our set and get on with other weddings and gigs.
One thing about How to choose a wedding music band is staying in touch….A couple of months before the big day we get back in touch with the couple. Some couples stay in touch all the way through, tweaking their wedding plans as they go, others wait for us to get in touch and then we arrange another meeting. We try to work around the couple for all meetings, trying to fit into their schedule and come to them where we can.
At the second meeting we get everything sorted; songs, itinerary, special plans (sometimes the couples like us to MC and/ or run Party games) and whatever else we need to sort out. The following month is where the real work begins. We put the set list together by checking the key, speed and capo of the song so that it flows. We sort out the DJ set list (this takes about 3-4 days for a full day wedding, 1-2 nights for an evening hybrid wedding). We also arrange practices to go through the set and speak to the venue to arrange set up times.
It’s not all plain sailing, we encounter problems, almost every wedding. What we try to do (where possible) is not let the couple see because 99 times out of 100, it’s not the couple’s fault. 99 times out of 100 it’s not our fault either. The worst one was a venue that didn’t have any working plugs, didn’t let us know, and only gave us 30 minutes to set up (which is ¼ of our preferred set up time). Set up time is often an issue, venues have had us stand outside in the rain until we can set up. Many venues won’t let us come in the day before to set up our stuff, or provide places to store boxes rather than have to take them back to the car. Then there’s parking, a recent venue was 200 metres away from any parking, we then had to negotiate heavy speakers up the stairs. We played a place in Edinburgh once where the nearest parking was a mile away.
Do we mind? Sometimes, but it’s worth it in the end, and the couples never notice. The day goes smoothly, that’s the point. When a wedding goes well, it’s the greatest feeling. We have couples that still travel to see us years after we’ve played their wedding and we can always still play their first dance, whatever it was.
Now we’re not the most expensive band you’d find, we’re normally between £400 for just live music and £800 for a whole day Dj, Live music, ceremony music, MCing and travel anywhere in Scotland but we can afford to be so reasonably priced because there’s 2 of us. Another this about How to choose a wedding music band – it’s about the right band, it might be us, or it might be a 5 piece ceilidh band that charges £2000 for 3 hours. I hope this article helps you at least understand how much work we put in.
Before I finish I’d like to add a disclaimer that you should find a band that’s willing to work as hard for you because some wedding bands will play the same set regardless as to who they are performing for, or what the occasion is. Don’t get me started about the wedding band I went to see that played ‘Band of Gold’ right after the first dance.
To finish on a happy note, here’s a quote from the bride and groom at a recent wedding we did and this makes every minute we put into it all worth it:
From start to finish Dave and Paul were professional and they provided excellent entertainment for our guests on our wedding day. We loved the mix of live music and DJ set and the dance floor was packed. I would highly recommend them – we had a fantastic day! ” Marianne, Bride