6 Essential Wedding Entertainment Hacks
A wedding, for most couples, is a series of firsts. You’ll find yourself considering things you’ve likely never had to before; wedding venues, professional photographers, flowers on an industrial scale and the icing on the cake – wedding entertainment.
In fact, most people, if they ever book entertainers at all, only do so for their wedding. It’s literally a once in a lifetime task. The enormous choice of options available and your probable lack of experience in booking them can make it seem daunting.
Get it right and you’re wedding day will culminate in wonderful shared memories of an intoxicatingly happy atmosphere and huge amounts of fun all adding to the specialness of your big day. Get it wrong and even if everything else on your wedding day is perfect, the finale could be a damp squib.
Here are 5 great wedding entertainment hacks to ensure the entertainment on your big day is memorable for all the right reasons.
Make sure there’s a contract in place between you and your chosen entertainers. The vast majority of wedding entertainers are semi-professional. They’ll have day jobs, performing in bands only at weekends. Make sure the entertainers you book treat your booking professionally. Your contract should agree the basics – the date and venue for your wedding (you’d be amazed how often bands double book themselves due to poor record keeping), the performance schedule and the agreed fee. Contact your entertainers a month in advance of your wedding date to go over the details one last time.
Try to use entertainers based as near to your venue as possible. This has three main benefits; it’s likely they will have performed in your venue before and know their way around it, you’ll save money on transportation costs and finally you’ll reduce the risk of any unforeseen break downs or lateness if the band has less distance to travel.
Don’t micro manage your entertainers. An experienced band or DJ will know what songs to play and when to play them. Giving them a rigid playlist will restrict their ability to ‘read the room’ and respond to the audience. Before choosing a band in particular, make sure you see a sample playlist in advance. If your wedding has a specific theme then it’s at the booking stage that you should ensure the band is appropriate. Once you’re satisfied with that, leave the rest to them. They know what they’re doing.
Don’t book a band you see performing in a local pub or club. Performing at someone’s wedding is a massive responsibility. There are no second chances. The skills and discipline required, not to mention the level of musicality, is of a far higher standard than an average pub band. Wedding bookings are lucrative and the best bands will be fully booked for months if not years in advance. If they have to fill out their diary with pub gigs, chances are they’re not as in demand as you’d want them to be. This does raise an issue with how to see a band before you make a booking. It’s not possible to crash some other poor couples wedding just to audition their band and because the best bands rarely play gigs open to the public you will have to rely on recommendations and online video demos to make your choice. However, even if you're considering booking a band that you've seen before or that someone recommends to you, how do you know there haven't been changes that you're unaware of? What if the singer has changed, or the band has more or fewer members than previously? Significant line up changes can have a massive effect on how a band looks and sounds.
There are many great bands out there that have been around for so long that none of the original line up remains. How do you know if that's the case with the band you're considering? Well, there's one way to avoid pretty much all the pitfalls and issues that can arise when booking live entertainment, and that is ...
Consider using an entertainment agent. An established agency will take most if not all the risks out of the process. A good agency will have knowledge of the best bands, DJ’s and entertainers. The best agencies have very close relationships with the bands and musicians they represent. They'll know if there's been a line up change or if a line up change is imminent. They’ll be able to recommend local artists that know your chosen venue; it may well be that your venue has a sound limiter for instance and if the band you're thinking about booking can handle the challenges sound limiters present. They’ll take into account your musical preferences and your budget to help narrow down your search. The final decision will be up to you, but your agent’s reputation will depend on making sure everything, including your choice of entertainer goes smoothly, including the issuing of contracts and all the pre-event checks that are essential to a successful wedding reception. This may be the first and last time you ever book a band or DJ, but an established agent will be doing it thousands of times every year.
Attend a Wedding Band Showcase. You can taste samples of cakes, try on dresses and kilts, go for a drive in a limo, even eat a meal at your chosen venue, but traditionally, getting to see a band live was really a matter of catching them at someone else's wedding (or crashing a total strangers wedding). Showcases are the solution and are now a very popular way of getting to see bands play live before you book.
Nowadays wedding band showcases allow you to turn up with friends and family and catch several bands in action - all in one evening and at one location. In fact we've written an entire blog on how to get the best from a wedding band showcase that you can read here.
Here are the top tips from the article;
- Never pay to attend a showcase - they should always be free
- Make sure you're allowed to approach the bands and speak to them direct
- Make sure the bands are using only their own equipment, not some fancy gear that make them look and sound better than they will at your wedding reception (this is very common indeed)
- Make sure there's a cooling off period so that if you change your mind within a set period of time, you can get your money back with no questions asked
- Make sure the agency behind the showcase is a member of the Agents Association of Great Britain - that way you'll be guaranteed a level of service and avoid rogue agencies (anyone can set up an entertainment agency in the UK so this is your only quality guarantee)
- If you see a band you love, don't hesitate. Your wedding may be months or even a year or so away, but the best bands book up years in advance - usually at showcases!
Del Cotton is the founder and Managing Director of Hireaband one of the UK’s largest entertainment agencies. He spent years performing in bands specialising in weddings and now represents many of the countries busiest wedding bands, DJ’s and entertainers.