Choosing a Band or DJ

Bill and Patty get down by Ethan Hein, on Flickr

Check that a live band or musician is feasible at your venue. You should check the following:

  • Does the venue allow live bands or musicians?
  • Is there a sound limiter at the venue? If so, what is the limit?
  • Is there sufficient space for the band and dance floor?
  • Are there sufficient power sockets? Most bands will require at least 3-4 standard sockets although you should confirm when you have chosen a band
  • Ease of access. Most bands will have heavy or large equipment. Accessibility might be an issue if they need to walk up narrow stairs or can’t park near the venue.
  • Given your wedding timetable, when could the band set up and perform their sound check.

Search for a live band.

Whilst the internet provides endless choice, recommendation should be your first point of call. Some bands manage themselves, and other acts will be managed by an agency who will arrange all the details. To make sure you find the perfect live act for your wedding, you should ask the following questions:

  • How long have they been playing together as a band?
  • How many weddings have they done before?
  • Have they played at this venue before?
  • What kind of music do they play?
  • How much do they charge?
  • What are the payment terms? How much do they require as a deposit?
  • How many breaks will they have and for how long? Do they suggest you do anything in the gap?
  • How do they flex their music to adapt to changes in the mood of the wedding throughout the day? A good musician will understand the different moods required throughout the day and will be knowledgeable about this.
  • Is it possible to hear a sample of their music?
  • When are they next playing live near you? Would it be possible to come along and listen?
  • Do they play requests? Most musicians will accommodate requests but usually require these in advance.
  • If you’re having a DJ – can you provide them with a song request list as well as a ‘Do not play’ list?
  • If the music starts late because the day is behind schedule, will you be charged an over-run fee by the band even if they only play their agreed performance time? A good band will be flexible to your needs and understand that most weddings to not run to schedule.
  • Do they have public liability insurance?
  • Is their electrical equipment PAT tested? Most venues will want to see a copy of the PAT certificate.
  • How much space do they require?
  • How many power sockets do they need?
  • Do they require a separate dressing room?
  • What food and drink will they require on the day? Try to avoid bands that place excessive demands. It is however reasonable to provide an unlimited supply of soft drinks, some snacks and perhaps a hot meal.
  • Can you see a copy of the contract?

Once you’ve asked the right questions and have decided on your choice of act – don’t delay in booking. A good act will book up quickly. Once you’ve booked the band you’ll need to ensure that everything is prepared as follows:

  • Check that food and drink has been arranged for the band
  • Check there is somewhere for them to change and prepare
  • Provide them with any song requests – especially your first dance
  • Provide them with details of the estimated start time and any scheduled intervals
  • Ensure the venue has contact details for the band
  • Ensure the band has contact details for the venue

No Freetime Tips

  • Start writing a list of songs you want played either during the day or the evening – you can add to this as and when you think of a song or hear one you like.
  • Provide the venue with any CD’s you want to play in advance of the big day. Make sure they check that the CD’s work to prevent any last minute problems on the day.
  • If you’re booking a live band, try and go and visit them in advance to see them in action at another event.
  • If you’re having a live band in the evening, ask whether some of the members would be willing to do a live set during the drinks reception. This should save you a bit of money in terms of travel and other associated costs.
  • Think about whether you have any talented friends who might be able to perform at your wedding. They might not be professional – but if they have a great voice or can play a musical instrument – you might be able to get some live music for a fraction of the price charged by the professionals.

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