Working with a Band

Band Mary Fields Photography

Photo by Mary Fields Photography

Using a band for your reception?  Should be awesome!  Bands are a wonderful way to get all of your guests on the dance floor as well as reflecting your taste in music.  Here are some key ideas to consider when you’re hiring a band or working with one to create a plan for your reception!

1. Their Playlist Should Match Yours

The first thing you need to consider when choosing a band is the style of music.  If you love Motown, choose a band that has a lot of Motown on their list!  If you dig the Sinatra era, there’s nothing better than a full band with brass to bring that distinctive sound to your dance floor.  Be careful to select a band that does what you love, though – asking a great Motown band to play Sinatra all night makes the band unhappy and ultimately leads to a less fabulous party.

2. Equipment and Lighting

Bands need a lot of space, so be sure your venue has enough room for your guest tables and a dance floor plus a stage.  During the hiring process, you should check with your band on whether or not they need a stage and what the dimensions are for their set up.  Bands mostly have dance lights, but not so much the specialty lighting you might find through a DJ.  Definitely ask up front if their set up includes lights, if that’s something you want!

3. Set Lists

While you don’t want to dictate every song for your band to play during the evening, be sure to go through their materials and highlight for the band any must play or do not play songs.  Also, feel free to ask your band for set lists a few weeks prior to your wedding.  That’ll give you an idea of how their transitions will go, and if they’re hitting the right blend of fast and slow for you.  Finally, be sure to give the band any songs they might need to learn for special dances (first dance, father-daughter, etc.) well in advance of the wedding.  That way, they have time to learn them and practice together prior to your wedding!

4. Breaks and Filler Music

Bands tend to have very specific time periods that they like to play, and it’s going to differ from band to band.  Band breaks may have a large impact on your agenda for the evening, so it’s worth knowing when you hire whether they prefer certain set lengths, a particular number of breaks, dinner at a certain time, etc.  That will help you decide when to cut your cake and when to keep the attention focused on the dance floor.  Many bands will specify that they include a DJ to play during band breaks.  Do a little digging to see if this is really an emcee and DJ that will be present, or just a playlist of recorded music that will play in the background while the band disappears.  If your budget allows for it, hiring a DJ to act as emcee and keep the dance floor hopping during band breaks is a wonderful investment.

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