Wedding Band Tips and Advice
Find Your Perfect… Band
Delighted to be posting my second article in the ‘Find Your Perfect’ series. This time it’s the band! There always comes a point in the wedding day where guests are ready to burn off all that food and drink and go a little bit wild on the dance floor. A good band will build the hits in a way that keeps as many people dancing and singing along as possible! I have witnessed countless great bands and have reached out to two that stand out.
The first is Richard Laws who runs Richer Music, an agency which provides wide variety of awesome bands across the South West and is also professional drummer himself playing with two bands: Stereo Jacks and Southern Sons. I photographed Rich’s wedding and have seen the man in action on his own big day! He has a great mantra for his bands, “give us a plug socket and we will give you a party!”
My second band who have answered my call to offer expert advice is Stav from the band The Money, who I have come across twice at weddings (check them out at Jo and Dave’s Cornwall wedding) and they have totally rocked the night! Their unique and crowd-pleasing performances see them playing hits from Queen to Kings Of Leon and with acoustic sets for earlier in the day, they have the versatility to smash it any wedding occasion.
How do most people find their band?
Rich: Clients that we work with are usually looking online and therefore find bands on agents websites. A lot of our work also comes through recommendations from friends, venues and people who have seen one of our bands at an event they have been to. We are also seeing a huge increase in people using social media and websites such as YouTube which are incredibly useful for getting to know what a band are really like as you can see pictures, reviews and live videos.
Stav: We get found a lot by word of mouth or people attending other shows we play! Always a great way to find a band being recommended as you know they have done a great job! Also online through our video and Facebook page.
What’s the best way to get a flavour for a band if I can’t hear them play live?
Rich: A lot of our bands cannot been seen doing events in public as they are often doing private weddings or corporate events so this is a great question. Although a lot of our acts do have live snippets from gigs, the bands main promotional videos give a good indicator as to the energy. If you mix this with their testimonials, song list and MP3s then this is a good indicator. We would also recommend giving the agent such as Richer Music a call. We can chat through what the client is looking for and we would only recommend bands that have great feedback and we know will entertain the client.
Stav: Always check out the band’s live videos as that’s a great way to see if they are as good as they look! Also check out if they have any testimonials. We have a page on our website for it and made a video of actual brides and grooms thoughts about us here.
Typically how many and what length are sets, and during breaks does the music stop?
Rich: All of our acts provide a full night of entertainment. Typically, clients ask for 2 x 60 minute performances or 3 x 40 minutes. The band will then put an iPod or laptop on when they are not performing with party music on so that guests can carry on dancing!
Stav: We pride ourselves on covering all the entertainment for the whole wedding! As well as the band we offer top class DJ and acoustic sets. We play two 1 hour live band sets with DJ sets in-between and right up until the end of the night.
How much setup time does a band typically need? Do you require anything else?
Rich: Usually we recommend one hour. Some larger bands (10-15 piece) can take longer but we can recommend on this. Venues usually require a turnaround time in the day to change the room from the meal into the evening so this is the opportune moment for a client to grab and drink and chat to guests whilst the band setup.
Stav: We are a self-sufficient band and all we need is two power plugs and around one hour to set up. Often it takes less time, but it’s always best to leave a little extra time to make sure the band has a great sound and looks great too!
Are there other options a band can offer besides music in the evening?
Rich: Bands can offer a range of options including acoustic performances during the day time and early part of the evening as well as bringing a DJ with their own DJ booth and lighting. Alongside this, Richer Music offers a full range of entertainers including String Quartets, solo musicians, duos, vocal groups such as gospel choirs and so much more!
Stav: We also play lots of acoustic sets in the day time as the guests arrive either before or after the ceremony. Also we have played a few people down the aisle to a song of their choice, this is great as it’s truly individual to them. We also learn couples first dances again so it’s a unique moment that only they will ever have!
I’ve come across sound limiters in some venues, what are your thoughts about them?
Rich: We work with Sound limiters all the time. I am a professional drummer as well as running Richer Music so sound limiters are a big thing for me. However, you have to work around them and it’s not impossible to do.
Typically, the sound limiters and venues with them are not unreasonable so a band just has to adjust accordingly. Some bands refuse to play with sound limiters but again, we can advise bands that are happy to perform with them.
Stav: Sound limiters are a part of a lot of newer venues nowadays but fine to work with. Some are set more sensitively than others, so we have an electric drum kit on stand buy in case we need to reduce the sound level drastically! We have never had a limit that we can’t work with and the bride and groom are always more than happy with the sound. That being said if there’s no limiter life is easier and we can perform at a good level for all to hear and dance to!
Anything other top tips?
Stav adds that all pro bands should have Public Liability insurance and all the equipment should have a PAT test certificate (like an electric yearly test of equipment). Always make sure you get a contract and don’t hesitate to dispute any clauses you think don’t apply to you! Also just ask as many questions as you want! This is a one off day for you but bands are highly experienced these days so can offer help with timings or how best to run the evening.
Rich gave me some other questions you should ask your band:
1) Can they perform your first dance?
2) Do they provide music before, between and after free of charge from an iPod etc?
3) Do they have a setlist that they prefer to play. Often, bands have a specific setlist that they know will get an audience on their feet. It’s great to ask for this it’s what the band know will work best but means you can then take a few numbers out and put some others from their repertoire back in.
4) Do the band require food and drink? - it’s often a part of the contract that clients overlook. Often a band have travelled for 2 or 3 hours to an event and will often not get back home till the early hours of the next morning so refreshments are a must for most bands.
5) Contracts and deposits are a good sign that your band are professional and experienced. You as a client need something to fall back on if things happen unexpectedly.
6) What does a band do that usually gets people on the dance floor? - seems an odd question but it’s something that is carefully thought about. My personal bands (The Stereo Jacks and The Southern Sons) often try to think about the ups and downs of the setlist and how to include the older generation, young generation etc.
Overall, it’s worth remembering that all musicians and entertainers want to do just that - ENTERTAIN!
Well there we have it some great tips and advice from my musical experts Rich and Stav! If you’re looking for an exceptional band at your wedding you can’t go wrong with either of them.
Here are their contact details again:
And, because I’m a wedding photographer, what follows is a just few frames of the many moments I have captured of bands in action at weddings, including Rich and Stav!
Looking for an experienced wedding photographer who can capture the feeling and atmosphere of your day? I cover weddings across the UK and would love to hear your plans. Head over to the contact page to get in touch!
Check out the other articles in the Find Your Perfect series: