Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I’m With the Band

If U2 plays your wedding reception, you're probably
going to need more amps. 

Selecting the music for your wedding reception requires making numerous decisions, the first of which is whether to hire a band or DJ. Now, I’m not going to lie, couples that choose the DJ route often have fewer subsequent decisions to make. For those that choose a band, well, the work pretty much doesn’t abate until the moment the band starts to play.

This doesn’t mean that one option is better than the other. Despite there being more work associated with it, a band can bring a higher level of energy and uniqueness to music that a DJ might not be able to match. What it does mean is that couples wanting a band to play at their reception must be more involved in the band’s selection and operation.

When investigating and interviewing bands, consider:

Whether you have ever seen or heard the band before. Hiring a band that you haven’t seen in action is pretty risky: you never know how the members will act or what music they will play.

Whether you’ve seen the band working a wedding reception. Wedding receptions require a unique level of energy; the music played at a reception must be upbeat, fun and energetic without verging on being out of control or offending anyone (risqué lyrics are a no-no in our book). Although there are always exceptions, hiring a band that has worked wedding receptions means that the band not only understands the mood they need to set, but has actually set that mood in the past.

Whether your venue allows a band to play. Some venues in locations with restricted noise levels may prohibit bands. Also note that some venues may require that any music, including that created by a band, stop at a certain hour. This will affect a band’s contract: if you hire the band for five hours, but they can only play for four because of noise restrictions or cut-off-times, you’re paying for an extra hour and getting nothing.

Whether the venue’s electric system can support the electric and amplification requirements for the band’s equipment. The instruments, speakers and other electrical equipment a band brings with them often require additional voltage, wiring or other electricity needs. A venue lacking these capabilities may mean that hiring a band just isn’t possible.

The band’s demands. Does the band require a hotel room to stay the night after they’re done playing? Do they need a special-sized loading dock? Do they request a private changing room, food or drinks? Where are they willing to store their equipment? All of these considerations affect the band’s operation and, hence, how you must accommodate them (meaning more decisions) and possibly that you must spend more money on them then what is included in their fee.

Whether a manager accompanies them while they play. Recently, I was impressed by the fact that 39 Mariner arrived at C&M’s wedding reception with a manager. Not only did the manager take care of all of the band’s needs, but he also saw to the electric requirements and ensured that the band sounded their best at all times by changing the equipment tune and volume through an iPad. Although band members or a wedding planner can often handle these tasks, the presence of an on-site manager provides unparalleled caretaking of the band and ensures that the music sounds the best it can.

In the end, do what makes the most sense for your budget, schedule and needs – and then make sure to have fun dancing the night away, regardless of what or who produces the music at your reception.