In September 2014, my cousin and built-in best friend was married and I stood beside her as a bridesmaid. I remember the way my cousin's wedding gown sparkled when the light hit it. I remember the look on her grooms face when she walked down the aisle. I remember the cool breeze I felt while celebrating on the outside terrace, but the thing I remember most vividly, is the wedding entertainment… and not for the right reasons!
In my last few months as an Intern at BVTLive, I have been asked many questions about the entertainment process and even asked my supervisor many questions of my own. Together, we came to the conclusion that some brides may not be aware of the importance in finding the best entertainment for their unique wedding. So I decided to take on the role of a bride searching for entertainment and interview BVTLive's President and Band Leader of Jellyroll, Kurt Titchenell about the important questions you may be asking when researching and booking your wedding entertainment.
How long in advance should a Bride research and make a decision on her wedding entertainment?
We recommend that as soon as a couple gets engaged, that they start thinking about their entertainment immediately. Especially if they have already seen a band in the past they really enjoyed. Some bands tend to book up as far as 18 months in advance. If a couple is open to suggestions and is not locked in to a particular group, we suggest that you make a decision about a year ahead of time. If a couple is dead set on a particular band, maybe even further ahead of time because the bands book up fast and we don't want you to be disappointed.
How do I know if I want a DJ or a Live band? What is the best way to narrow that down?
We recommend that people go see some of our live bands because most people have already been to a wedding with a DJ. However, there are a lot of people who have yet to see a high end, luxury bands like ours at a wedding. This is why we host showcases so that people can really see what a live band is capable of. One of the biggest things people like about DJs is that they play the original artist version of a song, but our live bands are able to replicate the song extremely close to the original. The better bands have more than one singer and if they are good enough they can typically come very close. However, if someone hires a live band but wants the original track played for the special dances (like the first dance or father daughter) we are not insulted and will be happy to play the recording. Although, I believe a live band will bring a higher level of energy and sophistication.
What if the entertainment I desire is unavailable for my wedding date?
Go to plan B! Go out and see some other bands and we will help to guide you in the right direction. If the band you love is booked, we will suggest the band closest in style and size. Just try to stay open minded and communicate and consult with the professionals that you're working with.
I know it is important to book in advance but what if something happens to the band or a band member and they are unable to play when my day finally approaches?
Well the first thing you want to do before booking, is make sure that you're working with an organization and band that is stable, that has a lot of experience, and a great track record. There is a lot that goes into a band, they need to have systems in place. They should be fully insured and know how to run a private event, so you probably don't want to book a band that was just thrown together. The more events that a band has scheduled, the less likely they are to change anything up on you. God forbid if something were to happen, the good thing about an entertainment company is that we have the resources and the contacts that allow us to find a substitute. We always ensure that if we need to substitute someone, it is a performer with similar talent, experience and even look. We don't like to do that and we very rarely do that, but if necessary we make sure things run smoothly.
Do I get to choose the songs that the band plays?
Absolutely! Our better bands have extensive song lists, so we have the couple go on our website, which is interactive, and we have them choose which of the songs they want. I always recommend that the couple lets the band/DJ know what their preferences are, and then let them take it from there. Be aware that they might not get to every single song on your list because they want to maintain a flow throughout the course of the night, so we recommend that you request the most important songs and they will be sure to play them. Remember that the reason you hire a professional is because you trust that they know what to do to keep the dance floor full. It's important to know that the better bands will always learn the songs requested for first dances and special parent dances, if they don't already know them.
Will people be able to request songs at the actual wedding?
Only the Bride and Groom. We don't take requests from anybody except the couple because we don't want someone to come up and request a song that the bride and groom don't want or specifically asked us not to play. By the time they perform, the band leader has already gone over things with the couple so the band knows the style of music they do and don't want to hear and came to a mutual understanding.
If I really, desperately want my guests to dance all night, how big of a band do you think we need minimum?
If you get a great band, I don't think that the size is really going to matter. Maybe I say this because all of our bands start at 7 pieces and go up from there, but there are smaller bands that can keep you dancing all night. It all depends on the quality of the band and the way they are trained, so don't rule anybody out until you see them perform.
If my budget is tight, what are some things that have effect on pricing?
The pricing is determined by demand. Demand is determined by popularity, the time of the year, and the day of the week. Saturdays in the spring and fall are the most in demand and more expensive. We discount pricing for the off season dates and I don't know that all companies do that. Fridays are where you're going to get the most for your money, so if you can get married on a Friday in the winter, that's when the price will be lowest. Though the prices change by season, the high quality of the band's performance will remain the same.
How often does the band or DJ take a break and how is music handled during that time? Is there silence?
For most 4 hour parties, our bands will play continuous music. Our bands are larger so we are able to stagger the musicians so that everyone gets a break without the music stopping. If it's more than 4 hours, we may take one break and that would be during the main course when everyone is sitting and eating anyway.
What instruments are most important for the band to have to make their performance worth my time?
There's typically always a rhythm section, which is guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard. Most clients want to have both male and female vocalists, and all of our bands have that because then the band is able to replicate just about anything easier. In addition, we are a company that definitely thinks the horn section is important, and all of our bands have those as well.
What are some trustworthy sites to find reviews?
Wedding wire and The Knot seem to be the most popular. But, if you go to any band's site, they should have plenty of reviews. As a Bride or Groom, you have to be careful, because some companies make up email addresses and post fake reviews on their sites. Try to look for reviews that have the name of the bride and groom and specifics of their reception like location, and date. It's very important for our clients to know that every single review on our site is genuine. On our website we have thousands of reviews; some from before wedding wire or the knot existed and also reviews that people email to us but don't post online.
As you can see, choosing your wedding entertainment is more than just a Google search. Knowing the questions to ask is very important before making a decision on your entertainment. Stay tuned for part two of this interview for more specifics on any questions we haven't covered!
Blog written by Brianna Haley