(1) Never book an act based SOLELY on recommendations from other
This is a common mistake often made. Even though referrals are
definitely a good starting point, one must always remember that
musical knowledge and tastes can vary. You must at least hear or
better still, go and see the band perform live before making that
final important decision.
(2) Never leave booking your entertainment 'til the last minute.
In fact as soon as you have a date set, this decision is as
important as booking the venue for your special night. The best acts
are usually booked well in advance, and it would be extremely lucky
to find a band available with only a few months notice, unless
perhaps it's in the off peak months. Most top performers are booked
between 6 -12 months and up to two years prior to the reception. The
best advice is to place a tentative booking with one or up to three
bands you have narrowed down to ensure the date you want is
available. Most acts will do this for you, and its one way of
ensuring you are not disappointed. Make sure you confirm or cancel
as soon as possible.
Also be aware of venues which offer or insist on you booking their
RESIDENT band. (not to be confused with venues recommending bands)
Although RESIDENT bands are usually cheaper, they are quite often
sub-standard and the venue only pushes them because they actually
make a commission from the booking. This deal is often struck with
bands because it offers them regular work they may not otherwise get
based on their own merits.....see them first before committing to a
booking.......and remember.......the key is to shop around!
(3) Professionals versus the hobby performer.
Ask yourself four simple questions.
(a) How often do they perform, and where?
(b) Is their booking fee hundreds of dollars cheaper than other
(c) Have you heard better at a Karaoke venue?
(d) Is their most up to date/hip song 'oh what a night'?
Remember true experience and talent is obvious and cannot be
replaced by the sheer facade of confidence. The ultimate
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
That reminds me of a 'bride-to-be' huffing and puffing and actually
being quite rude over the phone when I gave her a
quote......practically screaming......"You must be
kidding!!!!"....followed by..... " I can get a 6 piece band for $350
monkeys.....did I hear someone say monkeys????.......
Now keep in mind that our fee is quite standard when it comes to
quality acts. Most people certainly expect the ball park. Anyway, I
had to hold back my initial reaction of a quiet chuckle, all the
while thinking I was ever so grateful I wouldn't have to endure the
misery of it all as her guests would have to at her reception. I'm
sure the staff would also have appreciated the howling! Well, I was
very polite, and didn't even dream of telling her how naive I
thought she was, even after she told me she hadn't even heard them
perform yet.......hmmmm............yeah I'm sold on the $350 idea
too.....I mean........ who cares whether they can sing or play their
instruments or not right??!! ....YOU JUST CAN'T BEAT 350
PEANUTS.....I MEAN.....DOLLARS CAN YOU???............ Sorry for my
sarcasm........but you would be better off tuning the trannie into
3AK for the evening.......Anyway, I told her if she was happy she
should book them and wished her luck.....(all the while knowing she
would need it)
now........where are those nuts?????
(4) Size DOESN'T matter.....
Well not in this case anyway.
Once upon a time duo's and trios were seen as a cheap
alternative...not any more. In fact the benefits of a smaller
compact band in many if not most cases makes them the better
alternative. (unless you have a budget in the vicinity of someone
like Mr Kerry Packer who can also afford the venue and type of sound
system and sound engineers Mr Farnham uses at his concerts ...if you
do....go for it!!) .
main reason for this belief is that most "wedding" venues are not
designed with acoustics in mind. Big Wedding Bands with drums and
the works, often tend to be too loud, and unbalanced in the overall
sound. That is why when you go out to a hotel or band venue you will
see the lengthy process of a 'sound check' taking place. And then
throughout the bands performance, a sound engineer will 'mix' all
the different instruments and vocals to ensure a well rounded sound,
and eliminate problems with frequencies (feedback etc). Wedding
bands just don't have that kind of budget, unless its coming out of
true nature of partially or totally sequenced music eliminates this
problem. For this reason, smaller, sequence based bands are more
likely to sound more like the 'original' than any other act, and
produce the 'big band' sound most people are after (not to be
confused with eardrum perforating volume!!) without the negatives
associated with a larger line up.
good sound system, and musicians who know how to get the best out of
it will ensure a great sound, so preferably they will have their own
system, or at least one they hire regularly and are familiar with.
Now this rule does not always apply.....so the rule once again is
..."see and hear for yourself". If the wedding band only plays at
weddings, pop in and sneak a listen at a reception centre if they
must be noted that you are not paying for the size of the band. You
may find the best duos and trios are around the same price as some
other five or six piece bands. Remember you are paying for the
quality of the act, rather than quantity. This is where Experience,
talent and the work that goes on behind the scenes must be taken
into consideration. A large, up to date, versatile repertoire for
instance takes time. Programming songs can often take up to 8 hours
per song, then there's rehearsal time. Another thing to remember is
the time factor on the day of your function. Travel, set up and
performance time and then set down and returning home may mean 10
hours for the band, not just the 4to5 hours you initially consider.
(5) Dodgy Demo's!
Yes, Demo's can be dodgy, so take the time to see a band perform
live when possible. I cannot stress how important this is. If a demo
sounds bad, don't even bother....believe you me, they will only be
worse live. Sometimes a band is so good, it's obvious on CD and if
they also come highly recommended by reputable reception venues who
work with them on a regular basis you can't go wrong. However even
when a demo sounds impressive, find out where the band is performing
and take the time to get there, and spend a good amount of time
listening to various songs. Remember Demo's can be recorded under
very different circumstances than a live performance, and we all
know even some of the worst singers can be made to sound much better
with a little studio magic. Live CD's on the other hand, certainly
offer a true representation of what to expect, but I still advise
you to go and see the act perform live before you make the final
(6) Bands versus DJ's
YEP ! YEP ! YUK!
I could just say 'yuk' but I shall enlighten you as to
why.......(and I will try not to upset my DJ friends...although I
know I won't because 'Professional' Dj's DON'T DO WEDDINGS!
A DJ should only be hired for a wedding when......
* You really believe spending $2000 or so on a wedding dress,
$500-$800 on a cake, $3-$5,000 for photos and video combined, $1500
for hire cars, and $250 dollars on entertainment is 'well balanced'.
* You don't believe that music is very important for the overall
success of the evening.
* You have left it to the last minute and all the best bands which
play most of your favourite songs are already booked
* When the only band left available is a 6 piece act which charges
* You're having a 'techno' themed wedding and your best friend is
non other than SASH
* You wish to re enact a really bad wedding you once
attended......just for fun
* Your father is a DJ and he refuses to pay for the wedding unless
you let him SPIN!
Seriously though, you cannot beat the atmosphere, and visual impact
that live music, and great vocals can offer to your special night
.... compared to a part time DJ who fantasizes he's down at the
Dockyards spinning for thousands of "part E goers"! Sorry guys! You
just can't compare the two.
The 'Melbourne Bride' magazine, Melbourne's biggest and best for
Bridal Wear, Venues, Photographers, Jewellery and advice, says you
should expect to pay between $1200 to $2000 for your wedding
entertainment (march edition 2001). Some acts are cheaper, but
remember the old monkey's and peanuts proverb. (you know the one!)
It may or may not always apply, but keep it in mind!
(7) How much music should you get for your money?
is always a hard question to answer, as reception formats vary, and
venues and people quite often run behind schedule at weddings, and
this inevitably effects the amount of 'dance floor time'.
If a band charges so much, and then tells you they will only play 3
half hour or 40 minute sets..(like... no exceptions) be a little
concerned. Past clients have mentioned this to me in the past
regarding other acts. The rule should be this. As much music and
partying as time will allow. That may very well end up being three
40 minute sets, but if there is time for more, you should get more
for no extra cost. Remember at the same time, it is not the bands
fault if their second or third set is only 20 minutes long because
the speeches dragged on for an hour and a half. (don't laugh....that
happened once!) Singers do need a break, so unless time has really
run short, it is more than reasonable to expect a band to take a
break after a 45-1 hour set. The breaks however shouldn't be any
longer than 20 minutes, usually less, unless its during speeches or
main course, and cd background music should be provided when
appropriate during their breaks. I never advise live music during
the first part of the evening (ie entrée) Guests wish to talk catch
up with relatives or friends they may not have seen for some time,
perhaps discuss the ceremony, and how beautiful the bride looks
without shouting. They wish to relax a little before the music
begins (remember for the rest of the night its party, party) . Soft
live dinner music is appropriate, (i.e. main course) obviously being
considerate of tables particularly close to speakers. (put the
teenagers and younger couples here if possible or any rellies your
not particularly fond of!). The band is there to play, not hover
outside chain smoking for hours on end!
Some venues are not always considerate of the entertainers. Always
insist the band is looked after in regards to food and drinks by the
venue...its a long stint for them too...... and a happy band usually
means the best performance...although I'd refrain from supplying a
bottle of scotch per performer!
(8) Music Tips
Always listen carefully to the lyrics of a song you are considering
for your bridal waltz. Many times brides choose a song because they
like the chorus of the song and focus on that rather than what the
song in it's entirety is about......for example if I may ......
I will always love you...well maybe...but I'm leaving regardless
because I'm not good enough for you, basically I stink.......... I
can't live, if living is without you...but you're leaving me anyway
you ba#$@d so I may as well slash my wrists!!!............ My heart
will go on ....do you really want to jinx your honeymoon cruise??
Leave this one on the bottom of the ocean where it belongs .........
Saving all my love for you......you're a married man but I'll sleep
with you anyway, even though your family is waiting at home for you,
and all we have is A FEW STOLEN MOMENTS TO SHARE!!..........and one
more for good measure.........Throw your arms around me (you know
the hunters and collectors song) this is about a one night stand and
we're not talking about the wedding night either! Need we say
anymore. If you really like a particular song but the lyric content
is questionable, there is no problem having it played during the
night, just not for the bridal waltz.
Don't try and select all the songs yourself for the evening. You may
choose songs you love that just don't work at a wedding, or exclude
songs because you don't like them, however they may be really
popular with your guests. A good bad will know what works. Pre
request some of your favourites but leave the bulk of the song
selection to the band, they are experienced and should be able to
read an 'audience' so to speak. They should also be able to take
requests from your guests. The above may not apply if the bands
repertoire is mostly made up of inappropriate pub type songs, in
which case you may have chosen the wrong band to begin with. A
professional wedding band should have a vast array of music and
styles to entice most of your guests to the dance floor.
THE LAST WORD
Weddings are a very special occasion.........like you need to be
told! Most people these days want a relaxed, fun, party atmosphere
for their celebration. Gone are the days of the over formal, stiff
and stuffy affairs. You want to show the world how happy you are
that you just tied the knot, and your guests want to show you how
happy and honoured they are to be a part of your special day. Lets
face it. Most of us have been to a boring wedding where we
constantly looked at our watches, wondering how early one could
leave without offending the Bride and Groom.
Now if you really think about it, more than likely it wasn't the
venue or the food that bored you to tears, but rather the music and
the lack of atmosphere. Too many times, people underestimate just
how important the right choices for entertainment is to the overall
success of the evening. People won't be so rude as to tell you the
band really stinks, but you'll soon know if that's the case,
especially if half your guests have already disappeared before you
throw your bouquet. If they loved the band they will tell you both
during and after the evening, make no mistake of that, and the bride
and groom certainly always let us know!
Now let me say at this point, that I understand budget restraints.
If this is what is dictating or limiting your options then keep this
in mind. This is hopefully a once in a life time event. Plan well in
advance, and save longer if you have to.....believe me when I say
the extra few hundred dollars is better spent on your entertainment
than on that extra fancy, four tiered wedding cake that once cut up
and parcelled, usually gets sat on and lost in between your guest's
car seat upholstery on the way home, only to be found several months
Wouldn't you rather dance and party the night away, and for many
months if not years to follow have people raving how wonderful and
memorable the night was. Perhaps even commending you specifically on
your choice of entertainment, because they had so much fun? I think
I already know the answer.....
CHOOSE WISELY....HAVE A WONDERFUL WEDDING DAY, AND CELEBRATE IN
Sue Jones - HITZONE