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Wedding 101

Choosing Your Entertainment


     In this article, we are going to focus on wedding entertainment (which we know a lot about), and the things you should consider when selecting yours.  if you ask the right questions, and take the time to get to know your entertainers, you will find the best wedding entertainment.  When you do that, not only do your guests have fun, but they talk about your wedding for years to come, and that's the goal right?




     Live bands at weddings are great.  They have been playing weddings since weddings have been a thing.  Some are great, most are okay, and some are terrible.  Some things to consider:

     -Live bands all play many types of music well.

     -Live bands can bring tremendous energy to a room.

     -Live bands can do extensive jams and keep the good times and dancing going

      Live bands can't be beat when it comes to creating energy that gets people moving.  When the band sees their music getting people up and dancing, it usually gives them motivation to play better and longer.  The real good bands are great at extending songs and creating medleys that flow from one song to another.  Bands are also great at creating a certain type of atmosphere, be it jazz, rock, or 80s new wave. 

     One thing you definitely need to find out is how the band intends to play your special songs.  Every band has their own style of playing songs (even the best are cover bands).  Some bands cross over genres, and put different twists on certain songs.  Think about what influences your decision in picking your first dance song, and be sure that the band's style is consistent with the moment you are trying to create.  Whatever you choose, you need to be aware that your wedding band is not going to play your favorite songs exactly as you remember them being played.  It may be similar, but it will not be the same.  Ask to hear a demo or an audition of the special songs, make sure the style fits your taste.

     Find out what kind of range the band has.  How many songs and genres can they perform?  Do they have the talent to play the diverse range of music required for a fun, successful wedding reception?  You'd be surprised how many bands advertise for, seek, and book weddings, only able to play one or two genres of music.  If they know the classics but not the new hits, they may miss the young people at your wedding.  If they know the new hits but not the classic wedding favorites, then they will miss the older crowd. 

     Who will be making the announcements?  Just because a band has a good singer, does not mean that they are qualified to serve as your MC.  Like I said in earlier articles, public speaking is a science and art that takes skill, practice, and experience.  Most people don't have to be trained in public speaking to recognize someone who is speaking publicly without any experience or training (like many things, training gives way to experience here).  The best MC is going to make the job look natural and effortless, but that involves a lot of work that you do not see.

     Being a talented musician takes skill, practice, and experience as well, but it doesn't automatically translate to being able to effectively announce the grand entrance of your wedding party.  Be sure to find out what kind and how much training and experience the band's MC or spokesperson has.  Ask to hear them perform a sample.  Don't just focus on the music. 

     What's the band's break policy?  Playing music is tough, and it's usually done under warm lights while exerting a lot of energy.  Most bands use break time as a a respite from the rigors of performing.  Imagine a packed dance floor, and then the band takes a sudden 15 minute break (think it hasn't happened?) without notice.  Coordinate the breaks, and what happens during them, with the band.  The best bands bring along a DJ or additional musicians to play during the breaks.  This keeps the party going without a break, but it will most likely cost more.

     What is the band's meal policy?  Some bands require that they are fed at the reception.  Some places have 'vendor meals' which can be cheaper than guest meals.  Some bands insist on guest meals, which can lean on your food bill a bit.  Make sure you find out the food requirements, and what the band wants to eat at your reception.

     When it comes to a band, you one again need to establish roles.  What role does the band have in keeping on the timeline, and keeping the flow and pace of the night moving along?  Unless you have a good producer/director (see article), then you need to establish these roles clearly.  Who is checking the little details?  Typically, a band won't have the time to do all these things, so you need to make sure you have it covered.  If the band does say that they can control the pace and flow, ask them how they plan to do it.  If they do it enough to be experienced, then they should be readily able to show their plan to you.  They should be able to readily share their preventative measures, and do pretty much everything a competent wedding producer can.  If they can't do that, they are most likely telling you what you want to hear, and you should probably look elsewhere.

     Final thought on bands, make sure they are team players.  Be sure they are willing to cooperate with the other providers, and the guests (in terms of requests, adjusting the music volume, etc.).  Ideally, they'll have a go-to person who can take care of all that stuff.  But if they don't, they will most likely rely on someone else like the coordinator or the catering manager.  Don't wait until the wedding is happening to establish communication and roles.

     Keep these things in mind, and you will find a qualified band that stands out form the rest.


     Wedding DJs haven't been around as long as wedding bands, but today they are

just as much of a staple.  They are seen (rightly so) as a cheaper alternative to

wedding bands.  DJs come in many varieties, far too many to explain here.  Just look

around, you'll find no shortage of DJs near you.  Like lawyers and other professions,

the overall perception of wedding DJs is generally negative.  They are often called

obnoxious or cheesy, and everyone thinks they can do the job better.  There is some

merit to it, as there are a ton of DJs who do not cut their teeth properly, but simply

buy a laptop with speakers and start advertising.  This often does result in cheesy

service and mistakes due to inexperience (we all make mistakes, the difference is

whether or not you know we did, and whether or not it has a major impact on the

reception.  With limited time to invest in their craft, they become mired in mediocrity.  That said, there are plenty of good wedding DJs out there if you know where and how to look for them. 

     Some things to consider when hiring a wedding DJ:

     -DJs can mix prerecorded music very well

     -DJs can play any music genre

     -DJs can keep the party flowing smoothly without a break

     A good DJ will read your crowd, and react to them with his/her song selections and announcements.  A good DJ will keep the fun going at your reception, keeping your guests informed, involved, and entertained.  Make sure you find how much influence you have in choosing the songs for your wedding.  Ideally, you should be able to choose all of the songs, but you will get different answers to this question.  Some DJs will only let you pick a certain number of songs, some will only let you pick the special songs.  I always let people choose their songs, but I do ask for autonomy.  If you are going to choose the songs and not let the DJ have autonomy, then save yourself some money and put a playlist on an iPod.  

     Your DJ should have, and be open to ideas to make your celebration more fun in a personalized way.  This is a great way to find out whether your DJ intends to just play music, or take a hands on role in the successful entertainment of your wedding.  A DJ that just plays music will treat your wedding as another gig.  A good DJ will seize every opportunity available to create a fun and personalized experience for you and your guests.  If a DJ can't readily come up with ideas to make your reception fun in a personalized way, look elsewhere.

     Like the producer and band, your DJ should have a key role in the pace and flow of the reception.  When the pace is too slow, guests become restless, leave early, and don't have fun.  Many DJs show up to a wedding expecting someone else to direct the pace.  To me, that's nuts.  The DJ should not only have a part, the DJ should control the pace and flow, keep everyone on the same page, and keep the night moving along.  Because a smooth flowing reception often leads to more fun on the dance floor, a good DJ will take part in the planning and implementation of your reception timeline.  A good DJ will work with you to prepare the timeline, and have copies on hand to share with other providers on the big day.  Hopefully, everyone has had a chance to go over the timeline before the wedding day, and therefore have a chance to iron out any conflicts. 

     Make sure you have a site visit with your DJ.  It's really important that your DJ is familiar with the layout of the room your reception will be held in.  This way, they can prepare for any extra speakers or unique challenges they may face.  You don't want your DJ to discover these challenges on the day of your wedding.  Your DJ should also be familiar with any unique loading requirements a venue may have. 

     What are their prices like?  below average, average, or above average, and why?  A DJ should be able to clearly communicate the reasoning behind their prices and the value that is provided.  If prices are too low, it may indicate a lack of experience and the need to offer low rates in order to attract customers.  In this field, you get what you pay for, so be careful.  A DJ's prices are directly tied to their level of skill.  The best ones have consistent demand, and can demand premium rates that they do not have to sway from.  Less skilled, less talented Djs will sway far from their rates because they need the work and don't get it consistently enough.  So many DJs in this business, my competitors, lower their prices in competition for local business. I think it's crazy.  I don't know about them, but a lot of time, money, education, and work goes into my company.  I do not readily compromise its value.        

     Lastly, and this is big.  Find out what your prospective DJ has done to improve his/her business over the last few years.  Check their Facebook page, check their website.  if they are inactive on Facebook and have a website that looks like it's from 1998, then chances are that they are not keeping up with the latest ways to improve their service, and may not know how to do so.  Maintaining a competitive edge in a field as competitive as wedding entertainment requires constant education, and commitment to comprehensive improvement.  Like with any small business, if you stop running, you'll lose ground.  No one, in any venture, ever becomes complete in their craft.  There is always room to grow and improve, and the best DJs (and any field) will chase that growth relentlessly.  The best DJs will readily be able to tell you what they have done over the years to improve themselves, their services, education, and in turn your wedding.  If they can't, then I'd go the other way. 

Experience is the name of the game.  Those providers who have it will stand out, take the time to find them.  Thanks!

The entertainment has the biggest effect on the desired outcome of your wedding reception.


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