It can be a very daunting thought of booking entertainment for your big day so this post by the Soul Avenue party band is designed to help you along your way.
How do I choose the right band? I could choose ‘Soul Avenue’ and they would cater for all your needs but this would not really help you or give you any guidance in making the right choice for you.
There are thousands of function bands on the scene and it can be difficult to know which one would be best. The first thing you need to do is work out your budget which will determine the size of the band you want to book. Once you have researched various bands and found ones you like, make sure you ask the right questions such as:
1) How long has the band been together?
This is quite an important question as it will give you a good idea of how much function experience the band you are booking has. The last thing you you want to do is book a band that has only played a limited amount of functions. Bands with experience know how to get the dance-floor packed and keep it that way. Also with any function from time to time the event can overrun, by booking an experienced band they can work around this to ensure minimal time is lost and maximum performance is achieved.
2) Can the band play a variety of musical styles?
When choosing your band it is important that you choose a band that can play all genres of music. Bear in mind, that your wedding will have a massive age range of guests; therefore not all the guests will have the same taste in music. As a bandleader, I like to describe this as ‘the spinning plate’s effect’. Basically as the band play a set, I will merge all styles and genres in such a way that the guests do not notice which makes the music enjoyable for everyone.
3) Can the band play the First Dance?
It is standard that all experienced function bands will play your First Dance so do not be afraid to ask. Alternatively you may prefer to use the original version which can be played through an ipod.
4) Can I see the band play live?
Most bands play public gigs so that prospective clients can hear them. As a client it is far more reassuring knowing that you have had a ‘taster’ of what the band actually sound like and how they work the audience. Also by hearing the band, it will no doubt give you more questions that you can put to the band. After all, it is your big day and you will want to ensure it is perfect.
5) Can I choose the songs that I want the band to play?
Most band websites will have a repertoire list that you can choose songs from. I would say though the best thing to do is describe to the bandleader what type of feel you want the wedding to have rather then choosing each and every song. The reason I say this, a good party band will know what works and what doesn’t. After all that is what you are partly paying the band for, their experience.
Also a good party band will run one song into another to avoid pauses on the dance-floor which keeps everything alive.
6) Does the band have PLI and PAT certificates?
All bands require Public Liability Insurance (usually between 5 and 10 million pounds) and Portable Appliance Testing certificates on their powered equipment which are standard electrical tests. To play in a venue, this is essential. If the band does not have these it is a safe bet that the band has little playing experience and probably no experience in managing events.
7) Make sure you get the right quote.
When bands give you a quote, this generally is for an arrival time of 6pm and finish time of midnight. If your event runs later, you could be faced with an extra charge so always mention up front. Standard is either 3 x 40 minute sets or 2 x 1 hour sets with DJ music in between.
8) Always check that a live band is permitted at your venue.
It is important to check with your venue that they are permitted to have a live band and if there are any restrictions with this.
9) The venue has a noise limiter; can I still have a live band?
It really depends what the noise limiter is set to. If it is very low, you would be better of with a smaller band or DJ. Most bands work around noise limiters so find out what decibel level the limiter is set to. The majority of noise limiters work on a traffic light system, where green is safe, amber is a warning and red more often then not will cut the power so if you have a limiter make sure the band you are booking has dealt with them in the past.
10) There is a big difference in price, which one do I go for?
To be honest, you do get what you pay for. If you book a pub band and pay £150 over a professional band that’s £1250 don’t expect miracles!
It’s always worth listening to the band demo recordings ( both live and studio) before you make your final decision. Also ask your friends and family which band they like If you cannot decide from one or the other.
11) How much space does the band need?
Standard is 2.5 x 3.5 metres for a small band.
12) Do the band provide lighting and PA (sound system)?
Yes should be the answer and this should be included in the quote given to you. In certain circumstances it may be necessary to hire in extra equipment dependent on the size of the venue.
It is always a good idea to speak to the bandleader over the phone just to make sure this is someone who is easily approachable. It will always make things a lot easier!
I hope this information from Soul Avenue helps and I wish you good luck in finding the very best in live wedding entertainment. There are many great party bands out there to make your big day extra special!
Andy Davies (Soul Avenue)