Dance the Night Away
Tips from the pros to keep your guests on their feet
When planning a wonderful wedding day, one of the most important considerations is music. A great reception is accompanied by great music. So it’s best to think ahead about what music option is best for you and your guests.
As any New Orleanian knows, there is something to be said for live music. This is why many choose to go with a band for their reception. When picking the band, you should listen to them perform ahead of time. No matter how much friends or acquaintances may rave about them, music taste is subjective and you should make sure you enjoy their music.
Susan Zackin, owner and creative director at Z Event Company, said she has a litany of band-related questions she asks clients, ranging from “what is your budget?” to “what is the age range of your guests?” to “what venue will they be performing in?” and much more.
Jack Kane, director of operations for Sapphire Events, said you should communicate with your band ahead of time about any specific likes or dislikes you may have. Kane said he had a client who hated Bruno Mars. So, it was important to tell the band ahead of time to not play any Bruno Mars songs. This piece of advice is also worth remembering if you hire a DJ.
If there is a song you desperately want to hear at your reception for any of the big dances or just during the night in general, tell the band about it as early as possible. Your favorite song may not be one they regularly perform.
“But nine times out of 10, a band will be willing to learn to play a new song for the wedding at an additional cost,” Kane said.
Like many aspects of wedding planning, bands can be costly. It can be difficult balancing a budget without sacrificing quality for those who insist on live music.
“With bands, you get what you pay for and the best ones are at least seven pieces with their own sound and lighting and cost upwards of $4,000 to $8,000 for three hours,” said Carolyn Arthurs, owner of All About Events. “There’s an energy that’s unmistakable when you have a live band, though, and for some people it’s worth the expense.”
Some couples choose to have DJs play the original versions of songs through speakers. This is typically a more cost-effective option than hiring a live band. Arthurs said a local DJ will typically cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000. But Kane said some couples choose to bring in a prestigious DJ from out-of-state. If a couple does that, travel and lodging expenses for the DJ would nullify any savings from not hiring a live band.
The biggest appeal DJs offer weddings is that they play the classic version of the songs. In some cases, couples will want to hear the Beatles sing “Twist and Shout” instead of hearing a cover band play it. A couple’s music taste can also play into their decision. Kane added that if the couple is into hip-hop, then a DJ is usually a better choice than a live band.
There is a different option for those looking for the best of both worlds in the DJ versus live band debate. Fusion bands play a recorded version of the original singer, but with live band members playing the instruments. So you get to hear the voice of Elton John, John Lennon, Jason Mraz, or whomever while still enjoying the unique energy of live performance on the instruments.
“When space is an issue, this is a great option,” Zackin said.
Speaking of space, Zackin said this is an overlooked detail when picking musical options. Bands will have to fit multiple members, their instruments, and all necessary electrical equipment into a space.
“Making sure there is proper space for the stage a band requires and also to have a suitable dance floor based on the size of the crowd attending is an important detail to not miss with your venue,” Zackin said.
Whatever you decide to do, be sure to make your decisions well in advance.
“You never want to be scrambling two weeks before the wedding,” Kane said.