Wedding Band Advice
For every rush of excitement and anticipation we experience in the run up to a wedding, there's an equal surge of stress and tension.
Whoops! What Went Wrong With My Wedding Band?
For every rush of excitement and anticipation we experience in the run up to a wedding, there's an equal surge of stress and tension. This is why it's so essential to get the reception right – the culmination of all the hard work and heartache is one big happy party, with everyone laughing and dancing together. Here are a few things that can go wrong when choosing, booking and dealing with your wedding band, and how to handle them when they do.
You've Chosen the Wrong Band
Now, it's your wedding, so from one perspective, no one should be allowed to tell you that you've chosen the wrong band. But – and this is a big but – you're not going to be the only person there. You're going to be responsible for everyone's enjoyment for the entire evening, so it's important to take your guests' musical leanings into account. Your grandparents, for example, may not appreciate death metal or hip hop, and your younger cousins may not give a monkey's about jazz or classical music. This is of course a huge generalisation, but the crux of the matter is: you need to know your audience. As important as it is for your wedding and all its aspects to reflect your relationship, it's just as important to give everyone an equally good time; otherwise, you'll end up with a few die-hard stragglers giving it their all on the dance floor, and a landslide majority sitting uncomfortably around the tables, unable to hear themselves think.
Luckily, wedding bands – even those purists who rarely venture outside their preferred genre – understand that they'll usually be faced with a mixed bag of an audience, and deal with this by throwing in a few crowd-pleasing surprises. Make sure you get a good look at your wedding band's set list before you book them – sometimes, you'll find a string quartet who'll play 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', or a rock band who'll play 'Poker Face'. What's not to love?
You've Booked at the Wrong Time
This can be a tricky one to pull off, mainly because if you try to book a band too far in advance, you're unlikely to get them commit or be able to give you a quote, and if you book too late, your choice will be severely limited. You'd be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to booking your wedding band, the earlier the better, but in reality most wedding bands won't accept bookings for events more than 18 months away. This is because, in the fast-moving world of music, 18 months is a long time – members could quit, more lucrative opportunities could present themselves, they could have a complete change in direction – so you're better off leaving it a little closer to the big day.
On the flip side, taking the 'last minute dot com' approach may well save you some precious pennies – but at what cost? All the best bands may have been snapped up by more conscientious couples, and you'll be left to sift through the dregs. There's also the mounting pressure as you hurtle towards your wedding day knowing you've not got everything sorted out. Is this looming dread really worth the chance of maybe shaving a few digits off that sizeable fee? You might get lucky and find a band who's had a cancellation, but with something as important as a wedding, it's perhaps best to save up your luck for other areas and book your band around 12 months in advance.
You've Booked the Wrong Size Band
There are few things that can make your heart sink lower than booking a wedding band you really dig and have them show up on the big day, Marshall cabs in hand, only to discover there's no room for them in the small space set up between the bar and the bathroom. Equally, seeing a huge stage area occupied by a single classic guitar player – who'll in all likelihood be sitting down to play – is a bit of a letdown, and will leave many a guest unimpressed. The best course of action here is to have a plan in the back of your mind, find a venue that can accommodate that plan, check out the venue so you can visualise and map out that plan, then hire a wedding band
that's the right size for your venue. And for your audience, for that matter – you don't need a 10 member function band for 20 guests. It is, however, always worth checking with your band – if you really, really want them still – if they ever perform with different lineups, be they greater or smaller in numbers. Plus, make sure the seating area and dance floor are situated in accordance with the stage, so those of your guests who want to dance can hear the music, and those who want to sit out aren't overpowered by it.
You've Got The Timings Wrong
First off, you've got to be a bit forgiving when it comes to your wedding schedule. Bear in mind most of you will have partaken in some liquid refreshment, and everyone's going to be terribly excited and anxious. But it's important to have some sort of structure in place, even if it only ends up acting as a guideline. Sure, delays are bound to happen – the caterers could have some sort of kitchen-based catastrophe, the best man could've left his speech in the hotel, the bride and groom could get caught in traffic on their way to the reception – all of which will impact on the rest of the day's events. This may sound hideously beyond your control, but if you keep in contact with your wedding band and let them know how the plan's panning out, you'll most likely find them to be very understanding. Just don't let it get to the stage where they're set up and ready to play, but all the guests are outside for the photos – your band is still on the clock, so you'll end up being charged for a service you didn't get to enjoy.
Your Music's At the Wrong Volume
There are a couple of checks you need to run before booking your wedding band. First of all: check with your venue and see if there are any volume restrictions in place. Some venue actually have physical sound limiters which trip the power if the volume exceeds a certain level – which would really tick your band off, as well as confuse your guests. If you've got your heart set on a venue that won't accommodate louder volumes, choose an acoustic act to avoid confrontation. Acoustic acts are also a good shout for more low key ceremonies with fewer people – your guests will have the choice of focussing on either the music or their conversations, and be able to move between the two without much difficulty. Conversely, if you're expecting a packed room of rambunctiously drunken friends and family members, go for a larger venue and hire a band that'll blow its roof off.
You've Picked the Wrong First Dance
Again, this is a highly personal subject – no one else should pick your first dance song for you. Even so, it's down to you to choose something your guests won't mind sitting through – so nothing too offensive, too boring or too long and drawn out. You want your guests to be happy and excited for you, and to enjoy watching you enjoy yourself, not sit fidgeting until it's their turn. Spare them a thought, as they'll be itching to get their boogie on with you. And as for the band themselves, make sure you've chosen a first dance song to which they can realistically do justice. Don't choose something that's completely at odds with their own style, or beyond the limitations of their instrument (though it would be impressive to see Master Of Puppets played on a harp). Also, let them know that you'd like them to learn this song for you in good time, as it'd be embarrassing for everyone if they got it wrong. To be on the safe side, have a prerecorded version of the song on standby, just in case they can't get it down.
You've Handled the Money Wrong
Chances are you'll have found your wedding band online, quite possibly through an agency. If this is the case, then they should have an estimated quote for their services displayed clearly on their webpage, which means there shouldn't be any nasty surprises when the invoice eventually comes through your letterbox. Things that can affect a band's fee are usually along the lines of exceeding the agreed time slot, i.e. your band expected to finish at midnight, but everyone was having such a good time that things didn't start fizzling out until 3am. Understandably, if your band continued to play, they'd expect to be paid extra for their troubles. Equally, if your band shows up on time, but everything else has been delayed and you still expect them to stay until you're ready for them, that counts as more hours on the clock for them. Wedding bands who know their worth will have prepared extensively for this event, and will expect you to respect that and pay them their dues. Often, it'll be the policy of the band or the agency to take a deposit, and you'll be advised when to pay the full amount by, so honour these stipulations and everything'll be hunky dory. Of course, if you are unsatisfied with your wedding band's performance, it'll help to have an agency acting as a mediator – they'll liaise between you and the band, and help you come to some sort of arrangement.