Tips for Hiring Your Wedding Band
Live music can provide the soundtrack to unforgettable moments on your wedding day. It’s important that your choice of live band reflects your musical tastes, as a couple. Their musical style and proposed set list must also support the ambience you envisage creating on your big day.
Things to consider
Consider your wedding venue when booking a live band. Is there actually room for them to perform? Some venues have restrictions on entertainment; for example, groups that exceed 5 members might be banned. Does a band performing at your wedding require public liability insurance? Many venues will require proof of this as a statutory requirement; without it a live band will not be given permission to perform at your wedding.
Set a budget in advance for a live band at your wedding. This is an important consideration; different groups of live performers have widely varying costs.
Avoid a complete turn-off
Many wedding venues now feature sound meters, meaning that if the volume of music reaches a preset level, the power cuts out. Sometimes, these meters need to be reset by staff at a venue. Others feature a ‘timeout’ facility, meaning that they do not allow live music to restart for a set period of time. Avoid a wedding disaster! Prior to booking a live band, check with your venue if there is a sound meter, and if so, what decibel limit it is set to. It’s also necessary to determine what type; is it a hand held one or permanently wall fixed? There is normally greater flexibility with a hand held device.
Due to local council legislation, sound meters are becoming progressively common. Live bands are used to working within required sound level but it is essential that you are aware of the decibel limit before booking a band so that you can double check its suitability for their performance. A good live band will be able to accurately advise as to whether or not they can work with any restrictions that are in place, without it compromising anyone’s enjoyment.
How to find a live band
Chances are, you might have enjoyed a live band at a friend’s wedding, or seen one performing locally. Seeing a live band perform at an occasion similar to yours is a great way of checking out if they’re suitable to feature at your own wedding celebration. When researching bands, look for live videos of them performing online, and listen to tracks available, either on a cd or on their website. If you haven’t seen a band live, be sure to check out references or seek recommendations from your friends (ideally those with similar musical tastes, to avoid nasty surprises!)
Another great way to source a good live band is via a renowned entertainment agency. Again, seek recommendations, as with everything, there are the good agencies, the bad and the ugly; your wedding isn’t the day to find out! A renowned agency has great contacts on their books and will be able to find you a live band to suit your desired musical genre; ideal if you’re looking for performers who have a very particular style. Bear in mind that you’ll be paying a premium rather than ‘going direct’ if you’re dealing with an agency, but for peace of mind it can definitely be worth it. A band’s rider is the document that details the terms of your booking and establishes the requirements of the live performers. You will need to make sure that all terms are agreeable to you prior to signing a contract with a live band.
Usual details featured on a live band’s rider are:
1. Size of the band, including any sound engineers and/or roadies.
2. Their required size of stage area.
3. Requested power for the band; particularly relevant if they are performing in a temporary outdoor structure, such as a marquee.
4. Their changing room requirements and provision of security for their belongings.
5. The band’s meal requirements on your wedding day and their individual dietary needs.
6. Time needed for them to set up and sound check.
7. Options for early set up, and establishment of any extra costs for this service.
8. The band’s performance times and rough set lists. How long are their sets, and how long are their breaks in between?
9. Will they provide ‘filler music’ in breaks, or are you expected to do so?
10. Confirmation of their payment terms and a copy of their public liability insurance.
Consider logistics in advance
If your live band is going to be performing in the same room as your wedding reception sit-down meal, consider the space available and whether or not you’re happy for them to set up in front of your guests. If that doesn’t suit, consider hiring the band to set up and sound check prior to your wedding. Logistically, this can definitely work better, especially in smaller venues, where band members installing equipment and checking sound levels could potentially disrupt your guests as they are dining.
Check the designated performance area’s suitability. Does it have enough sockets available, as per the band’s rider? When you’re producing a plan for your wedding day, note the set times of your live band and plan when they will be having a meal (check this time with your caterer). If your live band will be introducing your first dance or the cutting of your wedding cake, make this approximate time clear in advance so that they are fully aware of the schedule. What’s next? Prepare to hit the dance floor!