Booking Live Entertainment

London wedding planner
London wedding planning by, Grant Morgan gives some advice on booking live entertainment for your wedding…

So, the nuptials are complete, the wedding breakfast has been duly enjoyed, the best-man has stopped his pre-speech shakes and the bride and groom are ready to let their hair down. It’s the finale to a wonderful day.

In this blog post I am going to discuss and dissect the options available when booking live entertainment for your wedding reception.

In the UK we have been blessed with decade upon decade of world-leading, class-defining musical output and the quality of artiste available for weddings these days is truly no different. Popular ensembles give way to niche acts of all flavours…the question is, who to pick?

Style

Style is, our course, subjective; one man’s 1D is another man’s Rolling Stones. However, there are certain considerations worth taking when booking live entertainment for your wedding. Ask yourself the following questions:?

  • do I want my guests to dance?
  • will I have to balance the music I love with what will be popular with guests?
  • will the artiste take special requests?
  • do I want an artiste to perform the first dance? If so, choosing the right act is essential – they must be able to execute the track perfectly so all eyes (and ears) are on the couple.
  • what current musical trend is popular? The rise of artistes such as Michael Buble and Jamie Cullum saw an increase in ‘Rat Pack’ style groups. Much of the naughties were dominated by female solo and group artistes. In 2014, 9 out of the 10 top selling artistes in the UK were male*. These trends play a part in how the listener reacts to music, albeit subconsciously.
Timing

Most wedding bands/artistes will be well versed in the logistical aspect of the booking. That said, it’s important to check these details from your end.

  • Set-up – at what time will the band arrive and set-up? Can you keep your guests away from the area whilst the artiste is setting up and sound-checking?
  • Running order – at what time do you want the entertainment to start? Is there a curfew?
  • Sets – How many sets? How long should each set be?
  • Contingency – if your wedding runs over and the entertainment has to be cut short, do you have a list of songs you definitely want to hear in the time available?
Should I book through an agent?

One of the major advantages of booking through an agent is that it gives you choice. Any agent worth their salt will have a number of varied artistes on their roster and will be able to advise you based on your penchant.

On top of this, well-run agencies will only take on decent, reliable acts for their roster – after all, it’s their reputation on the line, so peace of mind is also a factor.

The flip-side is that the agent will be taking a fee. The percentage may or may not be broken down for you but 10%-15% is usual.

Feasibility

Whilst you may have imaged the entertainment at your wedding resembling something not dissimilar from the main stage at Glastonbury, it is crucial to be realistic. The following considerations
are a must:

  • Space

– will the band you want fit into the space available? Stage plans from the artiste and floor plans from the venue/marquee company will help  you determine.

– ensure the ratio between available dancefloor and stage area is balanced to allow guests to dance whilst not being cramped. (The reverse is also is important; a dance floor that is too big can leave the event feeling empty).

– is there enough room for the artiste to work, enter the stage and store cases and bags etc?

  • Power London Wedding Planner

– is there enough power for all of the artiste’s equipment?

– do you have to provide all or any 4-way adapters?

– will they require 3-phase power?

– how far away is the nearest power point?

– will you require a generator?

  • Noise

–  make sure the location of the reception will not draw attention from neighbours in the event of the music being too loud.

– draw up alternative options which will still get the crowd going in case a full live band is not suitable.

– does the venue have a noise limiter? If so, be sure to inform the artiste in advance.

– equally important is to make sure the entertainment is not too quiet as this results in a loss of atmosphere. A general rule is about 5 watts per  person.

– is the sound system sufficient. If not, will you have to bring in extra amplification? Will there be someone to operate any auxiliary equipment if necessary?

Rider

Normally, the artiste will require a hot meal some point prior to stage time. What to eat, where to eat and when to eat are important considerations. Amy Syed-Jones of Soul Education Artist Management and director of top function band The White Keys [visit] explains,

“These days artists are very careful about what they eat. A lot of musicians follow vegetarian or vegan diets for health reasons and a good, healthy diet directly benefits their performance on the day. We have to be on top of our game night in, night out. So, it’s important that the band get the right meal at the right time – going on stage feeling bloated is not good!”.

Soft drinks throughout the day should also be made available to the artiste.

And the rest…

Aside from traditional ensembles, there are a host of alternative options available, depending on the nature of your wedding. Here are a few:

  • Ceilidh – an interactive experience for your guests to enjoy. Gaelic traditional dance with folk accompaniment (usually accordion, fiddle, drums, flute and guitar). A great choice for marquee or ‘barn’ weddings. See here for more info.
  • Acoustic duos – perfect for more low-key weddings. Good choice for drinks reception or background music during the wedding breakfast.
  • Band-e-o-ke – Karaoke but with a band. Becoming more and more popular, very interactive and lots of fun…as long as your guests are willing to take to the stage!
  • Tribute acts – normally a very high level of musicianship as the players are likely to have a real love for the artiste they are covering. However, it is worth asking yourself whether the lack of variation would be an issue to other guests.
  • Singer/duo with backing track – this is a viable option where noise levels are potentially contentious.
  • Steel drums – a very simple but effective set-up which can be used throughout the day to entertain guests. Worth thinking about the weather when considering this option; steel drums = sunshine!
  • Dance music ensemble – an increasingly popular trend of DJ, guitar, saxophone and bongos performing everything from funk anthems to chill out.

* Source: Official Charts [visit]

London wedding planning by, Grant Morgan gives advice on what to consider when booking live entertainment for your wedding.