So you’ve booked the venue, decided on the caterer and designed the invites. All that’s left now is to book the entertainment – but where to start? Most likely you’ve never booked a band, musician, singer or a DJ before now, so it’s important to know the right questions to ask wedding bands.
Well, before you begin your search for bands with Encore (shameless plug!) it’s good to know what to look for. There’s nothing worse than booking a band, only to find on the night that they haven’t got what it takes.
So last week, I chatted with band leaders from two of the UK’s most successful wedding bands and asked them what it was that kept couples coming back to book them. Here are the top five qualities which they think you should check before you book a wedding band.
Need more general advice on planning your wedding music? Read our Ultimate Guide to Hiring Wedding Musicians (2020).
1. That They’ll Get Your Guests Up On The Dance Floor
…the ability to interact with the audience and perform requests from guests is a big part of making each occasion special and unique.
Regularly attending wedding fairs, I get to speak to engaged couples and learn about their biggest hopes and fears for their weddings. It comes as no surprise that an empty dance floor is one of those fears.
When you find a band you like, ask them about previous performances and read their customer reviews. The ability to play guitar and the ability to get people dancing are complimentary but independent skills sets.
Russel Parsons, band leader of The Deloreons and Fiddlin’ About, told me that the ability to interact with the audience and perform requests from guests is a big part of making each occasion special and unique:
“In my band, we interact with the audience, it’s about us getting people up and dancing. When we get a request, more often than not, one of us will know the song.”
2. Passion For Performance
True passion for performance is what transmits infectious energy to your guests to get them dancing.
Musical talent is only one part of what makes a great band. True passion for performance is what transmits infectious energy to your guests to get them dancing. When I speak to top musicians, it’s not lost on them what a privilege it is to be chosen and trusted to perform on the most important day of your life.
“After every wedding we always send an email thanking the couple for letting us be a part of their day!”
3. Years of Experience
The best performers will respond to your guests, adding or remixing songs to give them more of what they want in the moment.
The best bands might play 100-200 shows a year. With that level of experience comes the ability to customise their set list to match each unique couple and their wedding. The best performers will respond to your guests, adding or remixing songs to give them more of what they want in the moment.
Sam (Band Leader, Halfway To New York) has learnt over the years that the running order of the songs played has a big impact on getting guests dancing:
“If you have a first dance where the friends and family are around all ages, you don’t want to hit them with a modern song. I would always start with an older song, get the older guests dancing first”.
4. Extensive Repertoire & Ability to Take Requests
Great musicians pride themselves on delivering moments you’ll never forget.
When you find a band you like the look and sound of, ask them to send you their song lists. For experienced bands, you’ll find that the material is really extensive – after all, they’re used to playing to audiences of all ages and tastes every week throughout the wedding season.
“I ask my clients to go through our repertoire and let me know any songs they particularly do like and any songs which they particularly don’t like – so I know exactly what type of music they’re after”. – Sam, Halfway To New York
If you have a couple of special requests that you’d love the band to perform – just ask. Most groups are more than happy to learn a song or two if they don’t know them already. Great musicians pride themselves on delivering moments you’ll never forget.
5. ‘Dep’-endable Band Members
Deputy (or ‘dep’) musicians are approved replacement band members. For example, to replacement bass player that can step in if the original bass player is ill or double booked. It’s fairly common that approved replacement musicians may step in if required, particularly with the top wedding bands, as players can have all kinds of commitments, from session work to international touring.
The best wedding bands will only work with dep musicians who are of the same talent and familiar with their repertoire. They’ll also make sure that the singer you see in their promo material is the singer who performs at your wedding.
“It’s too much of a gamble to ask someone else to take my singer and band leader position. It’s someone’s wedding and your reputation!” – Sam, Halfway To New York
Getting married is one of the most important events in your life and an occasion you want to make truly unforgettable. An amazing live band will help you ensure your guests are on their feet and not sitting in their chairs!