Congratulations! You're having a party, wedding or event and you want the finest live entertainment to help you celebrate. Here are some useful things you need to know.
What should I expect to pay for entertainment?
A good, experienced wedding band can cost anything between £900 and £2,500. Generally bands with more members will be more expensive (there are more people to pay!) However some extremely popular small bands can demand fees similar to larger bands. According to research by "The Scottish Wedding Directory," the average spend on a wedding in Scotland is £29,000.00 (Don't let your dad see this!) The average spend on evening entertainment is £1,250.00 which means that one of the three most important aspects of your big day (the others, again according to The Directory, being your dress and the food) constitutes only 4.3% of the overall costs - what a bargain!
What size of band should I book?
This one is mostly down to budget and venue. As mentioned above, larger bands are usually more expensive. Another deciding factor is how much space there is for your band to set up? If, for instance, your band play on the dance floor itself then there is less available space for actual dancing. Your venue will give the best advice on this but for advice from the band’s point of view, give Gaye or Janine a call for free on 0800 612 3320. We’ve supplied most of the popular venues and we’ll be able to tell you what the bands actually think in this respect.
Do all bands perform live?
Bands fall into two categories: Fully Live – meaning that everything you hear on the night is generated by the musicians on stage, with no pre-recorded music at all. This normally means that you’ll have at least three musicians but more likely four or five. An “all live” line-up can include drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals. Some bands include a brass section, taking their numbers up to six, seven or even more! Do you have the space? Remember, you’ll also have more people to pay so expect a higher price. Semi Live – these bands will have an element of pre-recorded music in their performance, generated by computer, keyboards or recorded on disc. Most duos for instance will use some form of backing track to give them the full band sound. This has the advantage of usually being less expensive, quicker to set up and demanding less space. The choice is yours – some people are very determined only to use fully live bands and that’s commendable but the fact is any good band should keep your guests on the floor. Once the party has started most people don’t watch the band, they’re too busy dancing.
Can bands play different styles of music?
Function and wedding bands have to appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences. You'll find the vast majority will perform a highly varied set with something for almost everyone. Always check with your band first to see what’s available. The Hireaband web site lets you see a bands set list and this is a good indicator of what you can expect. However be realistic, a traditional ceilidh band for instance won’t consider Coldplay’s latest. In Scotland for example, most good function bands will play a little ceilidh music as part of their normal set; a Gay Gordon’s being a sure way to break the ice. However, should you wish an extended ceilidh set be sure to check first as some bands bring in additional musicians at extra cost. There are a few select bands that are equally at home with ceilidh and pop tunes. They’re very much in demand with a resulting price premium and limited availability. If in doubt get in touch with Gaye or Janine first for the best advice.
How long will it take to set up their equipment?
Most bands need around an hour to set up. Some of the smaller bands can do it in 40/45 minutes. If access to the function room is difficult i.e. a long way from the band vehicles, you can expect a longer set up time. (Top tip – to help speed up a band’s set up at difficult locations why not ask your ushers to help them in with their equipment.)
For how long will a band perform?
This varies depending on where in the UK your event is taking place. For instance, the standard performance time for a wedding in Scotland is 8PM – Midnight with a half hour break (we Scots believe in value for money!). A break of 30/35 minutes will be taken at the same time as the buffet during which your band will play a pre-recorded playlist at reduced volume.
In England & Wales bands tend to perform a shorter show, typically of two separate one hour spots.
Very Important – Bands are not booked for a set length of performance i.e. four hours, but between set hours i.e. 8PM till Midnight. If you’ve booked your band for an 8PM start you should bear in mind that if they are expected to play in the same room in which you’re dining you’ll have to vacate the room for 7PM. If you’re running late for whatever reason and the band can’t access the room they will do their best to be set up as quickly as possible but are under no obligation to extend their performance past midnight. For example – the band arrives at your venue for 7PM but don’t gain access till 8PM they may not be ready to play until 9PM, you cannot expect them to play till 1AM. By all means ask the band to play past their contracted time but you may be asked for an additional fee or your request may be politely declined. We strongly recommend negotiating with the band at the time of booking to alter their performance time.
What about volume & sound limiters?
Volume is always at the discretion of you, the client. However it can be difficult to balance the dynamic required for a good performance against requests for very low volume. Also remember - drums have no volume control (other than the drummer,) therefore a band with live drums can have difficulty coping with requests for very low volume.
It's also worth noting that an increasing number of venues have sound limiters fitted. This is a piece of equipment that measures the volume in a function room and cuts the power supply to the stage area which results in the bands performance coming to a somewhat abrupt end! Many bands simply won't perform in venues with limiters but you need to be aware that this can cause a real nuisance to your guests and the entertainers.
In most cases the limiters are set at a reasonable enough level and don't cause too much trouble but some venues are having real problems with their neighbours and have the levels set at too low a level. We know of one band that were cut off in their prime on 12 separate occasions in one night! The limiter was set off by among other things, the guests stamping their feet during a vigorous Gay Gordon's! Check with your venue if it has a sound limiter - if it does the band can't be held responsible for any disruption it may cause.
Have a look at this handy Hireaband guide to sound limiters.
What if my band cancel or don’t turn up?
Hireaband only works with entertainers with a professional and courteous attitude. Every aspect of your booking is contracted and confirmed in writing. Bands cannot cancel a booking for any reason other than serious illness for which we require relevant certificates. We perform meticulous checks through the life of the booking right up to the week of the engagement. We are therefore aware of any problems before they become an issue affecting the performance. Worst case scenario would be if the band are involved in an accident or break down on the way to an engagement (this has never happened yet) in this case we would do everything in our power to provide some form of entertainment. Hireaband has access to an enormous pool of talented entertainers plus we also operate a genuine emergency phone number which is always manned - it's 07816 844 623. However no agency can guarantee to cope with every eventuality although every reasonable effort is promised.
That said, not once in our 18 years in business have we left a wedding with no entertainment.
What if my band change personnel or split up prior to my booking?
Our bands don’t work for us. In fact we are employed by them to negotiate contracts on their behalf. As such we have no control over line up changes or a band’s decision to split up. Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence, but even if this does happen it’s our duty to inform you straight away and we’re normally in a position to offer alternatives. If a line up changes drastically or if a band splits you are entitled to cancel your booking with a full refund of your deposit. Please note though that in the case of illness a band has the right to use a qualified dep. (stand in) to be able to fulfill their booking.
What is the band dress code?
Most bands are dressed in a smart casual manner. It gets very hot on stage so ties are unusual, however if you have a particular requirement please let us know and we’ll negotiate with the band.
Can we view before booking?
Hireaband does its best to arrange viewing before booking whenever possible. However the opportunities for this are very limited. We only represent bands that perform at the top level of private and corporate events and these are rarely open to the public. As such we need to make sure that the privacy of our clients is respected. We were the first agency to introduce our famous wedding band showcases, allowing people to see and hear a number of bands on the same night at the same location. If you can’t make a showcase all of our bands can be heard online on this web site. When possible (and only with the prior agreement of the bride and groom) we may be able to arrange for you to discreetly view a band at an actual wedding, however this is not always possible. Rest assured, if a band appears on our web site they will have been thoroughly vetted by an entertainment professional and you can book with confidence.
Can I choose all the songs I'd like the band to play?
The best bands have learned over very many performances exactly how to fill a dance floor. No event has a more varied audience than a wedding; there are guests from 8 to 80 and the job of your band is to give them all at some point something to dance to. It would be a huge mistake to insist that a band plays only the songs you like and want to hear. If your wedding is going well, you’ll be too busy to notice every tune the band plays – but if the floor is full most of the evening, your guests are having a great time.
Bands need to be flexible when choosing what songs to play and just as importantly when to play them. They need to be able to flit between styles if one section of the audience isn’t responding. In part, this expertise in reading the room is what you’re paying them for. Just because you love Megadeath or worse, Justin Bieber, doesn’t mean your guests will. By all means tell the band your favourite songs and then leave the rest to them. You’ll have a better night and so will your guests as a result.
One really valuable piece of advice is not to give the band a long list of songs you DON’T want played. We’ve seen an increasing number of occasions where this is happening. Some couples hate really popular songs because they’re sick of hearing them, but those songs are popular for a reason so even if you’ve heard Mustang Sally a million times (and most bands have played it twice as often as that) it almost never fails to fill the floor. Trust your band and get busy dancing – the best way to create a great atmosphere at your wedding is for you and your new bride/groom to get up and lead the way.
Should I provide food & drink for the band?
To answer this question, I should perhaps give you a little run-down of a band’s evening when performing at a wedding:
- Band members will generally start to get ready for a wedding booking at around 4pm in the afternoon (earlier if the venue is more than an hour from their home base).
- They will get together all their equipment, load up the van, drive to the other band members houses, collect their equipment then head to the venue.
- Most bands will aim to be on-site around 6.30pm-7pm.
- After the physical exertion of bringing in their speakers, amps etc they will dance around a stage for hours.
- At midnight (if they are lucky), they will strip down all the equipment & load it back in the van, getting home around 3am - 11 hours after they left home.
Therefore if you can include the band members in your evening buffet numbers or even provide them with some sandwiches in their break & make sure they get some soft drinks through the evening, it will be very much appreciated.
Probably by now you've flicked through the wedding journals and been to a few wedding fayres or you may have surfed the net and noticed the vast number of band and agency web sites that exist today. Maybe you've talked to a few bands and entertainers and it's likely that every one of them has told you they're the best, top, most in demand, favourite band/entertainer in the known Universe! It's human nature and entirely understandable, but who to believe, who to book? Wouldn't it be great to have an expert in the field who has knowledge of the entire industry, that can give you an independent, unbiased opinion based on previous performance and volumes of customer feedback? Well now you can.
Since 1999 we've been working with the hospitality industry, private clients, large corporations and thousands of engaged couples, helping them find and book the best possible entertainers.
Hireaband are unique in that we have our very own wedding specialists, Karen Cunningham and Janine Marriott . Janine & Karen spend every day helping future brides and grooms (and "in laws" for that matter!) find the best entertainers available for their big day. From the ceremony itself, pre-reception entertainment and the evening reception our staff have unsurpassed access to the cream of wedding entertainers to suit any budget.
We also have an experienced team of corporate entertainment experts in Del Cotton, Irving Walker, Matt Cherry, Ken Pointer and Lee Walker. With offices strategically placed across the UK, you're never far away form the free expert advice that we've become famous for.
At hireaband we specialise in entertainment only. We don't know a thing about flowers, decor, cars etc. All we know is entertainment. We spend all of our time in this fascinating field and we like to think we're rather good at it. Fortunately so do our clients.
So what do you need to know to make selecting the best possible entertainment for your wedding or event easier? The following is a list of frequently asked questions which will hopefully ease the process.
Finally, Hireaband are full members of the Agents Association of Great Britain and as such are bound by a code of conduct governing our relationship with both clients and entertainers. For your own peace of mind only deal with members of the association. Membership requirements are very strict and not everyone can meet the high standards demanded.
We sincerely hope these points are useful to you. We would be delighted to chat with you on a one to one basis about any aspect of entertainment for your wedding. Please feel free to call our team on 0845 226 0494 or start searching.