BVTLive! was proud to have been a part of Cescaphe Event Group’s University Series (CEG) last year at the beautiful Downtown Club in Philadelphia, and with the Spring wedding booking season upon us, we thought it would be helpful for our couples to have this as a resource. Our goal that night was to help inform couples on how to maximize their music experience, with a guide to “choosing the right band”. A high energy performance by Big Ric Rising started the night out with a bang, and our very own Kurt Titchenell addressed the do’s and don’ts of making the musical experience for your wedding the best it can be. To bring it home, violinist Brian Fitzgerald, and one of Scratch Weddings’ DJs collaborated for an amazing successful performance of some new and old hits.
Here are some of the most important tips of choosing the right band for your wedding that we shared with couples at the CEG event:
1. What to Look for in a Live Band
Knowing the experience, stability, and reputation of a band will make the process of picking the right group much easier. These three ideas should be in the back of your mind while weeding through various choices in order to decide what is best for you.
• How long has the band been together and how often do they perform?
o The more a band works and the longer they have been together, the better
• Has the band performed at your venue?
o Bands who have performed at your venue will be more comfortable with the space and know how to perform to that specific room
• Is the band I see, what I can expect to get?
o Turnover: How often do band members change?
o When was the last time a band member left?
• How often does the band work at weddings or high-end events?
* Busy bands attract and retain top talent!
• Look for bands and entertainment companies with multiple solid reviews
o A trustworthy review will include names, dates, and venues
• Ask for referrals from venues, friends and other professionals
o Look for awards the band has received: “Best of the Knot”, Wedding Wire’s “Couples Choice”, and other local or national awards
—Look for a band that performs at least 35 weddings annually. – The top bands perform at up to 80 weddings a year. —
2. Understanding Pricing
One of the first questions you may ask when talking to a band is “How much do they cost?” In order to see what works best with your budget, take some time and take these aspects of pricing into consideration.
Pricing will vary based on many factors:
• Size of band (number of musicians)
• Time of year and day of week
o Saturdays in peak wedding season (April through December) are priced highest
• How often does a band want to work?
o Bands that are happy working 35 dates a year may price Fridays and/or Sundays higher with less flexibility
o Full time bands with dedicated musicians may offer more flexible pricing on nonpeak dates, with the goal of keeping everyone busy
• —DEMAND— The most important factor in determining pricing
o Bands that are busy, are so because they do a great job and couples want them for that reason. The elite bands that are most sought after are able to ask for a higher fee. At the same time, an elite band that is able to ask for a higher fee, but wants to stay busy on off peak dates, will still be somewhat flexible.
o The best bands are referred by venues, clients, and others that have seen their performances. The demand is high because they can be depended upon to deliver consistently great performances.
—Consider that an elite full time band MAY be up to 35% less expensive on a Friday or Sunday, as opposed to a Saturday!—
3. Experiencing and Making an Informed Decision on Your Band
When it comes to your live entertainment, you don’t want any unpleasant surprises. In choosing your music you should enjoy the process of finding a band that is right for you. It should be fun, and a great band will offer a number of different ways for you to learn about and see their group.
• Bios, Song Lists, Videos, and Reviews
o A good website should contain everything a client needs to make an informed decision, especially if a couple cannot attend a showcase
• Most bands offer the opportunity for you to see them either at a showcase or other live event
o Attend events and showcases and enjoy the process!
o Be sure that what you see is what you get. The best bands consists of musicians dedicated to their specific band’s success, and don’t typically use substitutes.
• Review song lists and make sure your band will learn your special dances if they are not already part of their repertoire. Most bands will learn your first dance song, and a couple special dance songs.
• A band should value your requests as this is a key way that better bands stay in touch with their clients’ preferences, and music trends
—Don’t feel rushed – The best bands and companies do not need to use pressure! Until you know you want a specific band, or if your wedding is on a very sought after date – do not hurry!!—
Every couple is different, and as soon as we think there is a trend, other requests are made. We are seeing more requests for old school funk, yet our couples are still requesting certain Top 40 songs, you never know! Keeping up with different trends is a fun way to keep your guests excited.
For song ideas and to see some of our most requested wedding songs, visit the #1 “songs for weddings” page in the world.
Keep formalities to a minimum, maximizing dance time
• Introduce Bride & Groom only, or bridal party as a group
o Remember that while a band leader is lining up your bridal party and reviewing pronunciations, you are missing your own party
• If you decide to have the full bridal party introduced, recruit someone (perhaps best man?) to keep everyone together
o Distribute the line up order to the bridal party in advance
Minimize toasts & speeches
• Use your rehearsal dinner for extra speeches and toasts
Consider silent cake cuttings
• More and more couples are eliminating the announcement for cake cutting, as it interrupts the dancing
Bouquet and Garter
• Very rarely do we see bouquet tosses, and almost never see garter removal and tosses
—Use the song that you are introduced to as the last song of the night with the band performing the entire song, as opposed to just the part used for your intro.—
There is no reason why your wedding should not run smoothly, which is why production is essential. Your band should have all the necessary equipment and procedures prepared and ready to go at all times. Making sure your band is updated and informed on all logistics is a sure way to make everyone feel comfortable.
Sound and lighting
• Your band should be “self contained.” That is, with all of the instruments and sound equipment necessary to provide the music for your wedding. It is not a bad idea to have a clause in the contract stating that a sound system will be supplied.
o Ceremonies: The sound for the celebrant is often overlooked. Be sure to discuss this with your band leader and venue event manager. Most bands will supply the sound for your ceremony at little or no extra charge.
• It is important that your band leader is aware of load in procedures, storage policies, etc. Your venue will probably have a vendor welcome letter so please be sure your band leader receives this.
• If your ceremony is in the same room as dinner and dancing, let your band leader know in advance as they may need to set up everything during the cocktail reception. This is not unusual, and bands familiar with the venue will be prepared. Bands new to the venue should know if a quick set up is involved as they may need additional personnel.
—Be sure your band or venue will provide sound production wherever necessary and that they will have access to the necessary electricity.—
6. Other Considerations
• Be sure your band has at least a one million dollar liability policy, and ask for proof in the form of a certificate
• Ask band leader for itinerary to be developed and shared with your event planner prior to wedding to ensure that everyone is on the same page
• Choose a band that uses the best technology to minimize loud stage sound. A great band is not necessarily loud!!
• Don’t assume that your band will dress appropriately. Be sure to discuss this. Professional bands will dress in tuxedoes, with the ladies in elegant dresses or gowns.
—Communication is critically important so don’t take anything for granted. Discuss these considerations with your band in advance.—
We want to thank our friends at the Cescaphe Event Group for inviting us to be a part of the Cescaphe Event Group University Series. We look forward to having our bands continue to play at your beautiful venues!
Left to Right: Michael Erace (Cescaphe Maitre D’), Tim Sudall (Allure Films), Big Ric (Big Ric Rising), Bill Handy (BVTLive! consultant), Joe Volpe (Cescaphe CEO/Founder), Kelli Coyle (Cescaphe VP of Client Development & Marketing), Kurt Titchenell (BVTLive! President), Brian Fitzgerald (BVTLive! Violinist)
Photography by Philip Gabriel Photography
– Blog adapted by Juliet Schmid –