Five questions to ask your band before you book.
"I'm sorry if this is a stupid question but..." If I had a penny for every time one of our lovely couples uttered those words, well, I'd have a whole bunch of pennies! And what I always tell them is this; When you're booking a band for a day as important as your wedding, there's no such thing as a stupid question! Most people organising their big day will never have booked live entertainment before, and it's natural not to have all the answers. Here are a few things we think you'll definitely need to know, to help you on your way..
What do I need to check with the venue?
Most wedding venues will of course, allow their couples to have live entertainment at their wedding, but not all venues can take a full band. Before you book your musicians it's important to find out if your venue has the following-
A power source for an outside performance - With social distancing meaning many wedding parties are currently taking place outside, it's important to check your band will have something to plug their equipment into!
Space to accommodate a full band/ drum kit - If you're working with a smaller venue, or a social distancing restriction, its worth finding out how much space your band will need to set up and running this past your venue to avoid any difficult situations on the day.
Any noise limit or restrictions that will affect the way the band need to play - Some venues in built up areas or even listed buildings have a sound cap applied to their events. This means that the band cannot go above a certain noise level when performing. While most groups will be able to work with this, it's really important to let them know before hand so that they can come prepared.
A minimum insurance coverage provided by the band- Almost every venue will require your band to have Public liability insurance before they come and play. They will also require your band's equipment to be PAT tested ahead of the day. Again, most bands will already have this covered, but do double check to avoid any disappointment.
2. How Long will the band be playing for, and what will happen in between breaks?
When you get a quote from your band it's important you're both clear on what you're getting for your money! Most bands will start with a basic quote for say 2 x 45 or 60 minute sets, and work up from there. If you want your band to play for an extended duration, or for more than one section of your day, make sure it's included in your package before hand.
Remember that no band will be able to play solidly for your full 3 hours etc without a break. They'll need to stop for half an hour or so between sets to take a drink and a rest. If you want to avoid a lull in the music or don't want the hassle of switching to the venues sound system while the band are off, check if they are happy to provide background music through their PA system for you between breaks. This applies too to when the band goes home. They will of course be taking their equipment with them, so if you haven't booked entertainment till the end of the night, make sure your venue has a speaker system you can plug your music into after your act has left.
3. What about the set list, will you play my special requests?
I've talked a lot in previous posts about curating your set list, it's a very tempting thing to try and micro manage, and while it's wise to trust the band to do what they do best, it is important that you get what you want on the day! Have a look at your entertainers set list ahead of booking if you can to make sure they are right for your day. Any band worth their salt will adjust this to suit you, especially if they don't already know how to play an important song to you, like your first dance for example. Some bands however, will charge extra for songs learned, so do check in advance to avoid any surprise costs! If you are going to ask your band to play a song that isn't already in their set list, try and make sure you do so at least a couple of weeks in advance so they have time to learn it and practice a few times- you both want it to sound the best it can on the day!
4. Is my deposit refundable?
With uncertainty hanging over many weddings taking place in the next 12 months due to the ongoing pandemic, it's vital to understand how your act's deposit system works. Most entertainers take a non refundable deposit to secure your booking, so if you have concerns that your date might be cancelled or moved due to the virus, ask them to give you confirmation that your deposit will be refunded or moved to your new date too. Even with covid-19 out of the picture, it's a good idea to know where you stand with any money paid out ahead of your day.
5. But do you DJ?
One question that I get asked all the time is what the difference is between background music through our PA system, and a DJ set. And with many acts charging extra for one or the other, it's good to understand the difference!
As mentioned above, most bands will put on background music through their PA system during breaks to avoid a lull in the music. During this time they won't be available to you, as they are eating/resting etc, and the music will be a pre-recorded playlist, adapted before hand to your tastes. When you pay extra for a DJ set either during or after your live performances, at least one member of your band will be manning the equipment at all times, adjusting the music to suit the mood of the party and taking requests, just like a normal DJ would do. If your band offers an add on DJ service, it's likely to save you a good deal of money on a separate vendor.
If you have any other questions about hiring our band before your big day, hop on to the chat box and ask away. We're always here to help and we're so glad to get involved. And remember- There's no such thing as a stupid question!