With the knot firmly tied, rings safely in situ thanks to your trusty best pal and not a dry eye left in the house courtesy of your blinding hat-trick of speeches, it’s time to get cracking on the post-nuptial knees-up. More specifically it’s time to put together the soundtrack for the occasion. No two ways about it, wedding music can make or break the occasion. But with a little expert guidance, not to mention a truckload of talent across the nation, you’ll have the pick of a blinding bunch. So we’ve put together a brief guide to help you in your search for the very best.
Wedding music – where to begin?
As a general rule you’ve got three options up for selection on this one;
- Wedding band
- Wedding DJ
- DIY (PA system / ipod)
Whether you opt for the same method for both your wedding ceremony and reception, or pick ‘n’ mix for maximum effect, you still need to bear in mind the same few basics along the way. Essentially the main difference between the three (aside from the number of bods, smart arse) is going to be the amount of space, preparation and moolah you’ll need to throw their way. But everything from budget, logistics, vibe and variety plays a part, so it’s all down to the homework on this one. Unless of course you happen to be best pals with the likes of Calvin Harris, or boast direct access to unlimited funds (lucky sod), in which case forget the six figure nightly sum and you’re onto a no-brainer.
How to choose your players
‘Music is one of the vital ingredients of the day…. it is essential that it appeals to the majority of guests, as well as enhancing the style and theme of the event’ – Debrett’s
And with recent surveys revealing a massive 60% of couples are worried about getting it wrong on the day, it pays to be fully clued-up before signing a fair old chunk of your budget away on the dotted line.
So no pressure then.
That being said there’s a truckload of top notch wedding entertainment out there. Superb for finding the right choice for you. Massively mind-boggling in knowing where to begin.
So chaps, a few essentials;
First up you need to consider the vibe you’re after. Sure you might be the biggest Spice Girls fan on the planet (hey, it’s your party, we’re not here to judge) but if you’ve meticulously planned a vintage English affair, right down to the old school wheels (transport) and finery, you might have a job convincing the masses that yes, the Downton Abbey collective really did get down and ‘zigazig ah..’ with the likes of Ginger, the blonde one and Beckham’s missus. No two ways, the wedding entertainment goes a huge way to setting the right tone for the day.
Keep in mind your suppliers’ scope and limitations.
- DJs almost certainly reign supreme for sheer range of wedding music available (yes, right down to the obscure Whigfield ‘B’ side your night just can’t do without) and if specified can often step in as an upbeat Master of Ceremonies for the event.
- Loading a sound system with your own ipod gems guarantees the exact mega-mix of your choice, and works extremely well if you’re looking at a smaller budget. And if it’s all about the gizmos and gadgets, a top notch crew from across the pond have even come up with a novel way of adding your first class speeches to the mix. But bear in mind you’ll need at least one bod tasked with keeping an eye on the set-up.
- When it comes to live bands, the world’s your music lovin’ lobster, gents. Whether you’re on for a swingin’ sixties type of gig, a ‘big easy’ affair or a bang up to date modern occasion, you’ve got the pick of a huge bunch of live talent out there – jazz, blues, soul, swing, rat pack, tribute bands, rock, pop, r ‘n’ b, folk… you’re virtually guaranteed to find a cracking group for pretty much any style you can think of.
Your wedding venue holds hefty sway when it comes to the battle of the bands. Everything from space and logistics to legalities can affect your options, so it’s worth getting a heads-up on the small print before checking out who’s available.
Wedding venue checklist:
- Space and facilities
Be aware of the space you’ve got up for grabs. Take into account any additional rooms needed for band storage and breaks, check out access to power points and bear in mind dance floor dimensions. If you’re on for a marquee event you’ll need to factor in a solid surface for your musical set-up, as well as taking into account how far you need your tunes to carry. Guitars and amps, no sweat, but if you’ve opted for a PA system it’ll need the clout to reach everyone from the top table to good old Aunty Ethel by the bar.
Consider accessibility for the band or DJ. Check out parking arrangements and restrictions beforehand (top notch blokes though they might be, odds on team groom will be more than a bit miffed when they find out they’ve got to lug a few tonnes of recording equipment across the 300 acres of stately grounds you chose). Also keep an eye out for any obstacles in getting equipment and bods to the main stage (narrow staircases etc) – some groups will ask you to cough up more moolah if it’s not an easy run.
Check the fine print for any restrictions on number of musicians or equipment allowed onsite, and more importantly (especially in the case of registered or listed buildings) check your chosen venue has a license for live gigs in the first place.
Find out if the venue has any rules in place for noise control. Check music cut-off times and confirm whether or not the site uses sound limiters. At best they’ll give you a heads-up on whether or not you’ve got a rowdy bunch on your hands. At worst they’ll kill the whole sound system – and likely half the band’s instruments – if levels get mightily high. Not good for the party or your wallet, gents.
Expert entertainment bods Hire A Band suggest setting aside anywhere between £500 – £2500 of your hard-earned cash for a good quality experienced wedding music supplier. This one’s firmly down to personal preference and your cracking spreadsheet set-up (budget) though, gents. Head out with a maximum budget firmly in hand and you’re golden. Be aware seasonal demand and distance can both push prices up across the board, so it pays to be on the ball and get your act booked as early in the game as possible.
Of course, if you’ve got the ballsy attitude and funds to match, you could always go for one of this lot…
Top 5 most expensive wedding acts on the planet
- The Rolling Stones (£5.9 million)
- Sir Elton John (£2.4 million)
- Kylie Minogue (£2.4 million)
- Christina Aguilera (£1.8 million)
- George Michael (£1.5 million)
Finding your wedding band / DJ
Once you’ve agreed on a budget and the type of wedding music you’re after it’s time to get cracking on finding the right bods for the job. Recommendations from friends and family always make for a solid starting point. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience on this one, so if you get the nod from a few close pals or relatives you’re golden.
When the worldwide interweb comes into play head for national databases to search out names in your chosen area, check out band and DJs’ own websites, blogs, galleries and YouTube/Vimeo channels to get a handle on fees, personality, quality and style, and head to their social media (GoGroom Twitter?) to review feedback and testimonials.
Useful online resources
If you can see the guys in action before you commit, even better (but please note; GoGroom strongly advises against a tag-team Wedding Crashers approach… we’ll help you plan for every pre-nuptial eventuality under the sun, but bullets in best man unmentionables falls firmly south of our jurisdiction, sorry chaps)
Don’t forget to check out the legal bits on this one. The majority of venues require performers to carry their own public liability insurance and up-to-date PAT certificate as standard.
With availability, fees and small print confirmed, it’s time to get started on the essentials;
Wedding music playlist
As a general guide, when it’s time to get cracking on song choices keep in mind the theme and tone of your wedding, and the audience in question. Ideally you’re looking for a well-balanced mix of inclusive tunes the entire collective will enjoy and hopefully get moving to.
Draw up a playlist well in advance of the big day so your band/DJ can get to grips with, or seek out, any lesser-known tracks, or give you a heads-up on any problems with the selection. A well-equipped, experienced wedding band will be able to read the crowd and mix and match from your list as reaction dictates, so give them a heads-up on your best man and ushers in case of a problem, but by and large you should be able to leave the evening in their capable hands.
That being said, there are a few songs you need to stipulate without question:
- First dance
- Father / daughter number
- Mother / son number
As well as:
- Must haves
- Must NOT under any circumstances hear
A few ideas from entertainment gurus Gigmasters to get you on your way:
Top 10 Must have wedding songs (2013)
- ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ – Journey
- ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ – King Harvest
- ‘Everything’ – Michael Bublé
- ‘Call Me Maybe’ – Carly Rae Jepsen
- ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ – Van Morrison
- ‘Paradise’ – Coldplay
- ‘Love Story’ – Taylor Swift
- ‘Better Together’ – Jack Johnson
- ‘We Found Love’ – Rihanna
- ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ – Miley Cyrus
Top 5 … just noooooo!
- Chicken Dance
- Electric Slide
- General Rap/Hip Hop and Country
If you think we’ve missed any top tunes or absolute shockers, give us a shout and we’ll put together GoGroom’s very own wedding music hit-list.