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Live Wedding Bands – 10 Tips For Choosing the Perfect Entertainment For Your Wedding

There are hundreds of live wedding bands advertising their services so here are 10 points to consider when choosing a band.

Musical Ability. This is arguably the most important factor when booking a band, and is also probably the only factor that will be recognised by your guests. Many good bands will have backgrounds in top music schools or performing with ‘big name’ artists. This does not guarantee quality but it is a very safe bet. It is the band’s ability to cover your favourite tunes in a musical way that will make or break the performance.

Repertoire.  A good wedding band should have a broad repertoire, and be flexible with it in order to be able to cater to a variety of styles. Bands that can cover a bit of everything (soul, pop, rock, modern chart, 70s, 80s and even jazz/swing) will be the most flexible as they can tailor their performance to the exact specification of the client.

Experience.  The ideal band will have played at many (possibly hundreds) of weddings before and will have come across most situations. The band will then be able to adapt to a last minute schedule change and they will know when and how to change the set list to cater for the audience. There is no point in playing a set of 60s rock ‘n’ roll if everyone wants to hear ’80s pop!

Professionalism. This is paramount at a wedding as this will be the biggest day of their life for most clients. It can’t just be treated as “another gig” to get through. Most people who book a live band for their wedding will never have booked one before, and will probably never book one again, so the band should guide the client in all aspects of the booking including schedule, equipment, repertoire, size of band etc. No two weddings are the same and a good band will understand this!

How do you choose a band from the hundreds on offer?

The most important thing is to DO YOUR RESEARCH. The first place to start is the internet. A good professional band should invest in a good website, good demo recordings and good advertising, so they wont be difficult to find. Ask the band where they have played before and how many weddings they have performed at. Speak to the band manager on the phone too, or even meet in person. This will give you a good idea into how professional they really are.

How do you compare prices between the bands?

You should ask for a FULLY INCLUSIVE quote from all bands and ask them to list what is included. In addition to the musician fees they should always include a PA system, stage lighting, background music between sets and travel expenses. Always check how much live music you actually get for your money too as some bands will quote for 120 minutes (2 x 60) and some will quote for 90 minutes (2 x 45).

Can you view a band live before booking them?

Unfortunately most professional wedding bands do not have live public performances that you can view them at. It is always worth asking though as you may be able to view them at another wedding or possibly a public showcase if they have one.

Should you book through an entertainment agency or direct with a band?

Entertainment agencies are a good way to find bands as they will work with bands on a regular basis and will know exactly who is good at what. You will usually pay a little more (20% on average) for a band from an agency though, so if you are on a tight budget it may be best to book directly with a band. If booking through an agency always make sure that they clearly state the commission they are charging and ask who the contract will be with; the band or the agency. This could make a big difference to how your booking is dealt with and the level of come back you have should something go wrong.

How much should you expect to pay?

Most well established, PROFESSIONAL wedding bands will fall into the region between £1000 and £2500 and the price will depend on the size of band and the distance they need to travel to your event. Bands that charge a very small amount may be inexperienced, have no contract or insurance, and are probably not full time professional musicians. You should always ask what is included in the package and what level of protection the band’s contract gives you.

Why should you choose a live band over a DJ?

A live band gives much more of a ‘wow factor’ than a DJ and will often make or break the evening party. DJs are definitely useful at what they do, and in some cases will be more suited to a wedding than a live band, but nothing can beat a live band for the energy, crowd interaction and sheer enjoyment factor!

Buying a Sale Wedding Dress

When you order a new dress if it has beading/embroidery on the hem it should be provided in the exact length to fit you to avoid costly and very difficult alterations. You will need to wear your wedding shoes for the fitting. Ask if the shop assistant is experienced in measuring and fitting. A lot are not!

If you buy a sale dress that has beading and embroidery on the hem and you are too short for the dress you will need to get a definite quote from the shop for the cost of alteration. You could be looking at well over £100 plus for the hem alone and if you are looking to save money by buying a sale gown you do not want to spent a fortune on having it altered.

A tip here if you are ordering a new dress. When yours arrives examine it very carefully as if you were buying a dress from the rail. Check the inside of the bodice for marks and look under the hem for wear and dirt. Unscrupulous shop owners will try to sell as new their sample of gowns that are not getting many orders. This happens a lot in the bridal industry. If a shop has a sample dress that does not get many repeat orders the shop owner will try to get rid of it to the first person you likes it!

Check every inch of your dress and be sure that it is a new dress and not just the shop’s sample. Other signs of the dress having been tried on are a crumpled label, fraying on lacing and scuffed fabric on the hem, especially on the train.

If you are suspicious ask to see their sample (the one you tried on when ordering) If they haven’t got it hanging on the rail the chances are they are selling it to you as new!

Br brave and say that you are not happy with the dress and ask for contact details of the designer who supplied the dress. They will tell you if the shop have actually ordered you a new dress. I know it will be unpleasant but how much worse would you feel if you knew that dozens of other brides had tried on your special gown.

All bridal shops have dresses that are reduced in price. You may find the perfect dress for you in your size and be happy to buy it. Before you do so ask if the shop will have it cleaned for you because many customers may well have tried the dress on. I can tell you from experience that not all brides who try on wedding dresses bother to shower first!

If they refuse then examine the dress carefully, especially on the inside of the bodice and under the hem especially the train. Remember customers may have walked around the shop with the train dragging on the floor. Also look for loose beads or threads and ask to have them sewn on. Look for any marks and if it is not absolutely spotless then ask for a reduction to allow for you to have it cleaned. If the shop agree to have it cleaned ask to see the drycleaners bill because if the dress you buy is satin it can be stuffed into a washing machine and washed very easily!! This is done all the time.

It may cost as much as £80 for a specialist dry cleaner to clean the gown. Remember that silk gowns will cost more to be cleaned than satin. Be prepared to offer less than they are asking for the dress. It should be no more than half the usual price – it has been tried on and as a shop sample is not a new dress.

The wholesale price of the dress will be no more than a third of the retail price so if they are charging more than half price you are being ripped off. It is not a new dress!

The shop owner may try to persuade you that they can take in a dress for you. No wedding dress can be taken in more than two sizes before it shows. Bust seams will be ‘off’ and straps and sleeves will not be in the correct position. Unless the bodice of the dress is totally remade which will cost a lot of money do not accept a dress that is more than two sizes too large. A dress can be let out by a professional dressmaker by up to one size (2″) with reasonable satisfaction.

Another trick played by a few shops is to take out the netting (which holds out the skirt) from the dress and then sell you a hooped petticoat at an inflated price. All full skirted wedding dresses come with netting so if yours doesn’t then ring the designer whose number will be on their website and ask if the dress should have netting in it. Don’t be afraid to ask because this is a very mean trick played by just a few shops.

There are a lot of pitfalls for the bride to be who is unsuspecting of the many sneaky tricks which some unscrupulous shop owners will use. Of course many bridal shop owners would never dream of trying to cheat their customers but it is not easy to know which are the good and bad shops since no one knows if their dress was new or just a tried on sample.

Choose the Right Wedding Music For Your Reception

The idea of booking wedding reception music may seem simple, but there are a few details to consider. The process is simple enough: You should choose a band based on your musical tastes and what you think will appeal to the widest variety of guests. The following topics will help you narrow your choices to make sure you and your guests have a great time!

NARROW BY GENRE: If you like a certain style of music (rock band, jazz band, blues band), then it’s a good idea to search for that style of entertainment. Trust that your family and friends will like the type of music that you like – while keeping in mind age range and different backgrounds of your guests. Most good bands are experts in a certain type of style, but can occasionally throw in a special request to make grandma happy or switch to an iPod on a break to keep the kids dancing.

NARROW THE POOL: After you get an idea of the genre you are looking for, try narrowing your selection by websites that are designed for live entertainment, such as Gigmasters or Gigsalad. These sites will help you compare and contrast bands from similar genres in your areas and can often deliver more of what you’re looking for than a generic Google search. No matter how you narrow your selection, use other web resources like YouTube to get more information about what the band actually sounds like live.

WHAT WILL THEY ACTUALLY PLAY? Remember that bands range in approach to playlist as much as they vary in style and size. Some bands offer many different styles of music. Others come in with a strict “set list” (the list of which songs they’ll play in which order) because they do it that way every time, and that’s what people love them for. Other bands pride themselves on being able to read the mood of the crowd and are flexible moment to moment. All of these styles have their strengths. You can work with the band depending on how much input you want to have about specific songs, or how much you want to relax and let the party ride. (Tip: If you have a special song you definitely want to hear, it helps to let the band know ahead of time so they can prepare.)

MAKE AN OFFER: Inquire about the price of the band but remember you can make an offer based on your budget. There are no firm and fast prices out there, and a good band will negotiate with you based on your needs. See if there are additional details you may need to provide for the band (staging, electricity, a dressing room also known as a green room). If your offer is accepted, the band should provide a detailed contract and may ask you to put down a deposit. If you and the artist accept the terms of the contract and pay a deposit, then you are contractually obligated to go forward. If the artist declines, then there is no further obligation and your deposit is yours to keep. Be careful. Once the contract is signed and the deposit is received by the band, it’s like saying “I Do!”

ON THE BIG DAY: Make sure your wedding planner’s contact information is available to the band well before hand. There are often last minute questions about set-up, entry to the space, electricity, etc. that are best answered by someone other than you! You’ll have enough to think about on your wedding day, so even if you don’t have a wedding planner, it’s a good idea to assign the task to a member of the wedding party or close family or friend so that you can concentrate on getting married. Coordinating music between ceremony and reception can be a tricky spot, so make sure there is clear communication between the bands, you, and/or wedding coordinator about exactly how that transition should go.

Above all, remember to have fun! It’s your special day, and you should be able to enjoy the reception along with your family and friends while having the wedding you always dreamed of.