You swore you’d make your wedding plans as stress-free as possible. After all, the most important thing is the love you share for each other, right? But your wedding day is looming and preparations need to be made. Among them, what kind of music to go for?
It’s tempting to ignore everyone else and base the decision on your own personal tastes. After all, it’s your wedding. But, if your elderly Grandma Joan is attending, is it wise to have an Eminem tribute band playing? Of if you know Uncle Peter can’t wait to get down to Abba’s Dancing Queen, is it sensible to book that techno DJ friend of yours who always ignores requests?
Over the last ten years I’ve sung at hundreds of weddings and even launched my own business (Blockbuster Bride) in the field. As an experienced professional, I’m going to note down a few points to keep in mind when booking wedding music for your big day.
What’s the style of your wedding?
Rustic, Bohemian, Shabby Chic, Sophisticated? Choose a performer that goes well with your chosen theme. For example, acoustic acts are very popular and are great for the lawn before or after the ceremony. Or perhaps you’d like a string quartet to play at the champagne reception. If you have a large hall to fill with many guests maybe you’d prefer a function band or DJ?
As a performer, I sing Jazz and Motown. But not necessarily at the same event. Jazz goes down well at sophisticated, intimate weddings while Motown is a popular choice when there’s a wide range of ages and tastes to keep happy. Everyone can dance – from teenagers all the way through to grandparents. Once, at a wedding where I’d just sung my Motown set, I had a mother approach me in grateful tears after seeing her nineteen year old son dance in public for the first time in more than ten years. That’s the power of choosing the right music!
Next, what are your personal tastes as a couple?
Is music vitally important to you? If so you might spend a few months scouting around for local indie bands you love, maybe even ones that play original music. If you’re more interested in a particular genre, say pop or rock, then go ahead and book an appropriate function band with good references and a playlist of popular hits.
What do you know about your guests?
Will you be inviting mostly your friends from college? How about your coworkers? Family? Are your guests more conservative or radical? Do they seem to prefer contemporary party hits or more traditional music? If you invite your little cousins, will the music be appropriate? Maybe you want to invite people of all ages. In that case, booking a DJ might be a more versatile choice. Usually they can play a wider range of musical styles. You want to like the music as a couple, but you also want to make your loved ones happy!
What’s your budget?
It’s easy to forget that your budget is important when choosing wedding music. Booking a solo performer is usually best with a smaller budget. A band/DJ usually serves to a bigger budget (and venue size). If your budget is very high, you may even be able to book one of the contestants from a TV pop show like Idol or X-factor. They could be fairly affordable and a great talking point among your guests. If you do your research ahead of time hopefully you’ll be very happy with your choice!
Also, if you find a band you like but their price is a bit out of your range, ask them if they can perform in a stripped down line up. For example, I sing Motown as a solo with backing tracks, and also as a girl duo or trio, all the way up to a 10-piece band. That way I can keep my act accessible and affordable and still suit most budgets. You should keep in mind that many contracts ask you to provide the band with food and drink. This might be an expense you hadn’t reckoned on.
How big is the venue?
Venue size is something people often overlook. I’ve been at venues where a full band has been booked to play but the reception room is tiny. If there are no alternate spaces for people to relax in you might end up blowing Granddad’s ear drums out! If space is limited but you’d still like to dance, you may want to consider booking an artist who performs with backing tracks. That way all they have to bring along is their compact PA system and iPad versus a whole raft of musical instruments, sound monitors and large speakers.
Most artists who perform solo, as I often do, are great at getting the audience involved and have enough presence to fill the stage. So don’t worry that a solo act won’t have enough charisma to entertain your guests.
And if you’d like music written just for you?
These days, very few couples want a cookie cutter day so weddings are becoming more and more customized. This also applies to wedding music. I believe that every love story is unique and deserves to be shared, so I started a company called Blockbuster Bride. My team and I create specially written music that tells your love story. You can also use lyrics from this bespoke song in your wedding stationery or have it as the soundtrack of your wedding movie or slideshow. This personal experience can be a great way to remember your wedding forever!
Your wedding is a happy celebration for you no matter what. But reduce your pre-wedding stress to a minimum by asking yourself these important and you’ll keep your guests happy too. Booking the right band will make your special day unforgettable!
Listen to Shola being interviewed about wedding entertainment here: http://savethedatepodcast.com/2015/03/wedding-music-get-it-right-to-make-your-night/
Shola Kaye is a London-based Jazz and Motown singer who performs internationally in a variety of line-ups. She’s sung support for Florence and the Machine and Andy Abraham (UK Eurovision contestant and X-Factor runner-up). She’s also the founder of www.blockbusterbride.com, creating custom wedding songs for brides and grooms worldwide. Find out more at www.motownsinger.com and www.sholakaye.com