WHEN it comes to booking entertainment for your wedding it’s hard to please all of the people all of the time.
And if you get it wrong, the party could be over before it’s even started on your big day.
One performer who’s all to familiar with the do’s and don’t’s of wedding entertainment is BAM’s wedding expert Elayne Mutch.
She’s seen it all.
Having been performing at weddings and special occasions for nearly three decades there’s not much Elayne and the team at The Collective Wedding Band don’t know about getting it right on the big day.
Here are Elayne’s top 10 tips for getting the right entertainment on your wedding day:
1. The right act for you
“A poor wedding band or DJ can make the difference between a wedding to remember, where the guests dance all night and are left with fantastic memories and sore feet, or a wedding to forget where the guests slowly but surely leave two by two and remember your wedding as a washout after the meal” said Elayne.
“Therefore, it is important to get the right entertainment that will make your wedding a day to remember – for all the right reasons.
“There are multiple avenues available for you to source your wedding entertainment, from wedding fairs to entertainment websites, Facebook and even referrals. Don’t be afraid to explore every avenue when searching for the best act for you.
“Most entertainment websites or individual band FB pages will have videos and/or sound cloud bite size snippets of songs for you to listen to. This will give you an opportunity to hear the variety of music they provide.
“It is also the best place to read reviews and see the band/DJ in action at other weddings. Once you have made your decision, you will need to pay your deposit to secure the date. Summer months are very busy for weddings and your date can only be held for a short period of time so pay your deposit promptly or you may lose out.
“Don’t be fooled by thinking that because you are not getting married for another two years that you are safe, you are not. Good bands and DJ’s have bookings up to two or three years in advance.”
2. Bands & DJ’s – things to remember
“If you are having a band and a DJ you need to think about your venue” said Elayne.
“Can the DJ get access to the stage with minimum disruption to your guests? You don’t want a band carting equipment out through your guests at 11.30pm or a DJ carting his equipment in a half hour earlier.
“Can the DJ get set up the same time as the band or before? Some bands provide the DJ as part of their set up, ask in advance. This could minimise any change in sound or lights and you might well get a discount.”
3. Remember you’re in charge
Elayne warns: “It’s important to remember that the act work for you and not the other way round.
“If an act cannot adapt to your timescale then don’t book them, no matter how good they are. Weddings never run to plan, you may have asked the band/DJ to play your first dance at 8.30pm but chances are, half your evening guests have not arrived, the ones that have want to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over your dress and give you presents and you haven’t even had a chance to talk to half the day guests yet.
“Tell the entertainment to play music in the background and you will let them know 15 minutes before you are ready for your first dance.”
4. Forward planning
“Find out in advance what time your meal is at and if the top table is directly on the area where the entertainment set up” explains Elayne.
“This information will greatly reduce the likelihood of your band or DJ arriving too late or too early. Depending on the size of your wedding party the wedding breakfast will last between 90 minutes to two hours not including speeches.
“Providing your act with this information allows them to be at the venue just as your meal finishes and prevents them walking in (usually through exit doors) and freezing guests in the middle of dessert or worse still bumping into the backs of chairs of dining guests.”
5. Getting the time right
Elayne advises: “Allow adequate time for the act to set up. There’s nothing a band or DJ dislike more than having to rush to set up their equipment.
“They know how important the day is for you and they also want to make it special so forcing them to set up equipment inside 20 minutes that normally takes an hour creates an opportunity for something to go wrong (electricity trips etc). Not cool if it happens in the middle of your first dance.
“If your wedding venue tell you it will only take 30 minutes to prepare the room for the evening’s entertainment, tell them to allow 45 minutes before calling the guests back in. You won’t notice those extra 15 minutes and neither will your guests but they mean a lot to your act.”
6. Location, location, location
“If the meal is in a different room from the evening entertainment, see if there is an opportunity for the act to either get in the night before or during the day of the wedding” said Elayne.
“This allows the act to sound check their equipment in order to provide you with the best possible sound for your venue. Let the act know in good time so they can adjust their travel arrangements to suit.”
7. Your first dance(s)
Elayne said: “You can have as many or as little as you want. Traditionally it is the Bride and Groom, the Bride and her Dad and then the Bridal party, however this is not the rule.
“If you or your partner get easily embarrassed, it is perfectly acceptable to have only one song and ask all the guests to join you halfway through.
“If you or your bridal party have a choreographed routine make sure your act has the music in advance, chances are you will be disappointed if you ask for Thriller 30 seconds before you’re about to do your dance routine.”
8. First dance music
“If you have booked a band, do not under any circumstances get them to play your first dance songs unless you have specifically heard them play/sing it before” warns Elayne.
“The last thing you want on a wedding DVD is the bride and groom staring at the band with puzzled expressions because they fell in love to Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together only to have your band rock out the Tina Turner version.
“It is perfectly acceptable to get the band to play your songs on DVD, ask them to download the songs, they will not be offended, or you can bring a CD yourself, make sure it is not a copy as it may not play on their CD player.”
9. Family karaoke
“If you want a family member or friend to get up on the stage to sing, ask the band in advance don’t ambush them on the night just because Uncle Frank is brilliant at Sweet Caroline and Auntie Madge is pie eyed and does a mean Rose Garden” said Elayne, warning: “They will most likely say no. They are not being rude, it’s a health and safety reason.
“You will be surprised at how many Auntie Madge’s and Uncle Franks find a solicitor because they have tripped or fallen over wires and equipment. Check in advance if this is something your act permits.”
10. Your own music
Elayne said: “A good DJ or band will be delighted to get a playlist from you.
“Songs that remind you of the first night you met, the first holiday or your parents wedding song, all only serve to make it a more memorable day for you and your guests to enjoy.
“Email the song list in advance and your act will do the very best to accommodate you.”
By sticking to Elayne’s advise and making sure you have planned everything you can well in advance and followed it all up with a confirmation email, you can chill out and relax on your big day.
Remember, you aren’t the organiser…you are the star attraction. If things need to be checked with the band on the night – send someone else, preferably someone who knows what they’re talking about and has been well briefed in advance.
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