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Monday, September 5, 2011

7 Things You Need to know about Your Wedding Band (Part 2)

Hi! This week's blog is Part 2 of some tips a wedding planner friend asked me to put together. In Part 1 we tackled 1.What kind of a band should I book?  2.Where do I find a band? and  3.I love the band at my local, can I just go up and book them?

4. How much do bands cost? 
The price of a band will vary depending on the size of the band itself, how long you will need them for, whether they need to provide their own sound system and how far they may need to travel.

Most wedding bands will give you a quote based on a five hour call. They usually play up to four  x 40-minute sets during this time but should be happy to stop and start when required, to fit in with your order of events.

Part of a band’s fee will also be based on the kind of sound and lighting system they need to bring with them. Roughly, the bigger the band, venue and the greater the number of the guests, the bigger (and more expensive) the sound and lighting system will need to be. Sometimes the venue will already have a sound system (PA)  – if so, ask the venue for the ‘technical specs’ and pass those on to the band. If the band is providing the PA, you can also ask them if they would mind you using their system and microphones for speeches and MC duties.

Is your reception being held at a beautiful but isolated winery out of town? Accommodation and travel costs will have to be factored in. An experienced events band will ask you all they need to know and give you a quote based on all those details.

You still want to get an idea of how much you’re going to be up for though, don’t you? Well, prices vary hugely from band to band, but for an intimate wedding, you may be able to get a duo with their own small sound system at prices starting from $1000. The higher end could be more like $10,000, or a lot more if you want to hire somebody famous.

5. When do I need to book them?
It’s best to book at least a year in advance to ensure you get the band you want – particularly if your wedding is on a Saturday night at the most popular time of year (October – February in Sydney, Australia.) Most bands will ask for a deposit of around 20% which will ensure they will not take another booking on that day. Of course bands do sometimes break up or get offers to play in Fiji for 6 months and if something like this happens, they should be professional enough to help you to find the perfect replacement.

6. Can I choose the songs they play on the night?
A good band will be able to ‘read the crowd’ and pick the best songs to keep your guests happy on the dance floor. Or just the tune to have everyone crying with joy into their champagne flutes as they watch you spin across the floor as man and wife. It is usually best to trust a band to use their experience to play what they feel will 'work' at the right time.

But just like a chef needs to know what you’re allergic to before he creates your menu, make sure you tell a band if you’ve got very particular musical tastes or there’s something you simply would never want to hear on your special day. For example, ‘Celine Dion brings me out in hives!!’ or ‘ACDC are my idols’.

Before you book a band, ask to see a song list to find out what kinds of music they usually play. These lists will usually change and be updated quite often and are more to give you an idea of the band’s range of styles rather than being an exact plan for the night. Most bands will choose songs as they go, moving and changing to suit the ebb and flow of the night’s proceedings.

If you have a particular song that’s special to you both but is not on their song list, by all means, ask a band to learn it for you. A professional band will usually be more than happy to do that and there’s nothing like a live performance of ‘your song’ to charge the atmosphere.

7.What else do I need to know about booking a band?
Don’t forget to factor in the band’s set-up time (usually from one to three hours depending on the size of the band) into the running order for the day. They also need to be given parking or loading dock access so that they can haul in their heavy gear and have it ready to go well before the first guest arrives.

The band members (and a sound engineer and possibly lighting technician or roadie for bigger bands) will need to be fed and seated during breaks – this can be backstage if there is available space. Some bride and grooms choose to include musicians on the guest tables which can really make them feel included in the festivities and be quite nice for the other guests too.

Really, it should be as easy as finding a band whose look and sound you like and getting in contact. Once that’s done, they will be able to lead you through everything else to make sure everything’s covered.

If you find the right band for your wedding, the best possible choice of music will happen at the appropriate time, from your first entrance as an officially married couple right up to keeping the last diehard busting moves on the dance floor.  And when you’re sifting through all those wonderful memories in years to come, each one will come with its own special soundtrack.

Amanda Easton fronts Function and Wedding band ‘Dance Little Sister’. She has performed at at least 150 weddings, great and small, all over Australia and overseas.

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