You’re here. You’ve made it. You survived the stressful planning. Overcame your nerves walking down/waiting at the end of the aisle. No one messed up the photos. The parental and Best Man speeches have gone without a hitch, even if the embarrassment factor has climbed up a notch or two. You’ve eaten, you’ve drunk and now it’s time to be merry. Cue the live wedding band.
But wait, what’s this? This, this, this… noise is not what you booked. The lacklustre mumbling into the mic sounds like it belongs at a high school Christmas concert when the understudy has been dragged in. These aren’t the songs on your playlist, and the guy on keyboards doesn’t sound like he’s ever had any lessons… In anything. That’s not what you want for your big day.
Live wedding bands should be utterly professional and compellingly entertaining. They should play the songs that you love, and they should play them well. They shouldn’t just get your guests dancing, but leave them buzzing, full of the adrenalin of a good time well spent. So, how do you make sure that that’s what you get? By asking questions.
What You Should Be Asking Your Live Wedding Band Before You Book
Have you played at a wedding before?
If so, how many times. Everyone has to start somewhere, but your wedding is not the place to do so. Although it’s tempting to think that a gig is a gig, weddings have different requirements, be that set up time and space or complying with venue noise regulations. You need a band that is used to dealing with these things, knows what to expect, can accept them cheerfully – and, ideally, guide you through the hurdles.
Can we see you perform before we book?
This is important because you want to know what you’re going to get on the night. It may not always be possible for you to attend a live performance – if the band only play weddings you’ll not want to gate-crash – but every live wedding band worth their salt will have performance videos to showcase.
Do you have contingency plans?
If their vocalist gets tonsillitis, or their guitarist’s partner goes into labour, is there someone else who can step in? Basically, you need to know that your night isn’t going to be affected by anyone else’s dramas.
Do you know ‘our song’?
If you have a song that is yours as a couple, and you’ve been dreaming of stepping out for your first dance to it, then you need to be sure that your live wedding band knows it, is happy to play it, and can perform it well. It’s perhaps an obvious consideration, but it’s easily overlooked until money has exchanged hands – and then it’s too late.
Can we choose our setlist?
No band can play every song there’s ever been, but they will all have a repertoire. That repertoire might just be enough to fill a standard two to three-hour wedding set. Or, it might be like ‘The Somebodys’, which spans six decades and has enough variety for you to pick your favourites – or, at least, discard your not-so-so favourites.
Can you be flexible?
The thing with weddings is that although some go like clockwork, most don’t. There’s traffic, so the cars are late. The guests get lost between ceremony and reception. Speeches run over… And over. Parents and/or best friends get emotional and need comforting in corners. Stuff happens. And this is fine – as long as your entertainment isn’t about to walk off stage after just 20 minutes because you booked them ‘til 10pm.
What do you need from the venue?
Venue requirements are usually only an issue if you’re planning an outdoor reception – marquees aren’t generally known for their power points. However, some bands do have fixed constraints, so check before you book.
Talk to the band.
This isn’t a question, but more of a guideline. And you’ll achieve it if you work through these points. Your live wedding band is an integral – and memorable – part of your day. And you want them to be memorable for all the right reasons, so you need to know if they have what it takes. They should be personable. They should be able to perform, not just play or sing. Can they interact with their audience, or will they just be background noise? Their website might look great, but you’ll never know the answer to any of these questions unless you actually speak to them.
Your wedding is going to be amazing. You’re going to have the best time. And you’re going to cherish every memory. But when planning in our polite English way, it’s hard to remember that your event is the main event. You’ve every right to ask questions. You’ve every right to nit-pick. Your live wedding band is there to provide you with a service. You’re paying them to be their very best for your very best day. So, go in prepared, and choose the best live wedding band for your amazing day.