Wedding Music & Entertainment
Wedding Music & Entertainment
Nothing sets the scene like music. It can create emotion, joy, happiness, sadness…the list is endless. Music isn’t just for the dancing, the entire wedding will need music. I actually found this pretty intimidating at first. The crisis was averted however by my husband’s Uncle Matthew - Wichita Falls Wedding Photography - offering to play during the ceremony and as the guests arrived. We then hired a DJ as I was worried about losing my iPod or it cutting out. I would also have had to buy certain music that I wanted and have someone watch the iPod and make sure the right song was played at the right time. This was all possibly but the DJ was ‘only’ £350 and this seemed reasonable to make sure everything went smoothly. Even more so as a family member was kind enough to pick up the bill.
DJ or Band?
That is the question. DJs are cheaper and take up less space but live music has its own ambience. The band may get funny about people requesting songs but the DJ won’t. The band may want to be fed and watered as well. A bored DJ can ruin a party however, while a good one will create a great atmosphere. Let your preference, and your budget, decide.
Take your venue into consideration when deciding. While a DJ can fit into a small space, an orchestra will drown out a small venue and deafen your guests.
Choosing Your DJ
DJs can be very underrated. Okay a band is live music but a DJ can really create an atmosphere and get a party going. As for choosing a band, get recommendations. The venue will probably have their own or at least a preferred one. It may even be cheaper this way as many venues charge extra when you use outside suppliers. Our DJ was £350 in London. We thought this was quite reasonable. It is obviously still a lot of money but you may get a cheaper DJ if you do not live in London or are getting married off-peak. Make sure that the DJ has his own equipment or that the venue has some. This will avoid any extra hire charge fees on top. Many people are also DJs now. It is a popular thing to do so if you ask around you may have a friend, or a friend-of-a-friend who will do it for mates rates. Make sure you get along with the DJ and that he has good recommendations. Don’t be scared to ask for feedback from former clients. The DJ will want a playlist, either an entire list of songs or just some suggestions and likes and dislikes. Also let him know what to play and when. You don’t want to get the first dance song wrong.
Check to see if your DJ has played at your venue before, ask if they have any lights and how big their equipment is. Check whether or not you need to supply anything like a table.
We had a DJ at our wedding which went down a treat. I spent days putting together a playlist via Spotify. I then copy and pasted it into a word document. There are many wedding playlists on Spotify you can browse and then you can easily add the ones you like to a wedding playlist of your own. It is very easy to do and you can get a Spotify account for free if you don’t mind the adverts. You can also do this on YouTube.
Being Your Own DJ
Most venues will have a sound system that will allow you to plug in an iPod or another device like a computer or an MP3 player. You can just load all of your favourite music onto your device or use Spotify which allows you access to lots of music either free with adverts or advert-free on a subscription basis. You could also use your iTunes and set it to automix so you get a transition between songs.
Put together a specific wedding playlist though so none of your cheesy guilty pleasures play during the wedding. You may never live it down. If you are using the venue’s sound system then ask them how to work it. The sound is important and it will have to be decent. Make sure that you have good speakers, bought or hired if the venue does not have a sound system.
You can just make a playlist and plug your iPod in. This is a great way to save money. You will want to allocate a wedding party member who you trust to work the iPod and make sure it does not stop playing. You could ask people to do it in shifts and make sure that someone remembers to take it home at the end of the night and return it to you. If the mood changes you could get people to skip songs.
Spotify is a music streaming service. It has a large library of music. They even have playlists which you can follow and there are a number of wedding ones there, as well as many ones on love and romance. Although the free version has adverts they give a free one-month trial so you know when to take it.
You will probably have to choose a lot of songs. You will need between fifty to eighty songs for four hours. That is a rough guide. On average a song lasts between three to five minutes.
Choosing Your Band
Live music is always great and will really get people up and dancing. Choose your band carefully. Ask for recommendations from friends.
The best thing to do is see them live, find out where they are playing and go see them. They should let you see them for free if you are thinking of booking them. If you cannot see them live then ask to see a video of them playing live. You don’t want to be disappointed on the day.
Tracking Them Down
Word of mouth is one of the best ways but you can always check out bands on YouTube or go to some concerts. Popping ‘wedding bands’ into a search engine may also bring up the band of your dreams. Referrals are always good but make sure the band is to your taste.
As ever, recommendations are key. Ask around. After you have gotten some recommendations make sure you do a good amount of research. Search for the band, watch them perform on YouTube and check out their Facebook and Twitter profiles. They may also be on SoundCloud and that is a good way to hear some of their music. Make sure there are no negative comments about them anywhere. The internet makes the world a small place. If possible, go and see the band live. The band should be accommodating. It will also greatly help if you get along with the band. Make sure you won’t have to deal with a jerk in the run up to your wedding and on the day. Make sure the band is approachable and that getting in touch with them is easy. Make sure you get everything in writing and have a contract. Don’t pay a deposit until everything is agreed. Make sure you contact the band just before the wedding to go over everything with them. Make sure they have the phone number of a member of the wedding party in case they get lost or need to know anything. You don’t want to be bothered on your wedding day.
After you have booked your band brainstorm with them. Ask them what they think will work and swap ideas. They may have some great song ideas but will also know if a song you have chosen is actually about a break up. Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You (actually written by Dolly Parton) is a song most people want but it is actually a song about a break up. Pick some songs that you will want played but you can also let the band play whatever they think will suit the atmosphere. Giving them an idea of your tastes and ideas should be enough for them to get it right.
Providing a snack and some drinks for your band is a good idea but they should be coming in the evening so providing them with a meal is not usually done. Especially since they are not usually cheap and catering is expensive. It will also put them in a good mood and they will have more energy.
Find a band via wedding fairs, wedding magazines and blogs, the internet, pubs and clubs, suppliers and music agencies. Hiring music students is also an option. They will have less experience but will be cheaper and just as talented. Make sure they have insurance and good equipment. Also make sure they have some good recommendations.
Make sure the band does a sound check. A good one will insist but it is important to get the sound and volume right.
Most bands will want to be paid in full and will then charge after the wedding for any overtime. If you don’t want to pay any overtime then make this clear with the band and have it in the contract. Otherwise you might leave and your friends might ask them to keep playing, leaving you with a big bill.
Choosing your wedding playlist can be stressful, with lots of choice and little time. So to help get you started here is a starter wedding playlist. There are some really good songs here. Funnily enough, while researching wedding music I found out that ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ by The Temptations is one of the most popular wedding songs. Hmm.
How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
All Of Me – John Legend
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You – Elvis Presley -
When A Man Loves A Women – Percy Sledge
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
We Found Love – Rihanna & Calvin Harris
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
Ed Sheeran – Kiss Me
Adele – Make You Feel My Love
Marry You – Bruno Mars
Just Like A Star – Corinne Bailey Rae
You’ve Got The Love – Florence & The Machine
Rule The World – Take That
Everything I Do (I Do It For You) – Bryan Adams
You Do Something To Me – Paul Weller
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
Just Say Yes – Snow Patrol
Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
Your Song – Elton John
At Last – Etta James
Come What May – Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman
The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
So Here We Are – Bloc Party
Iris – The Goo Goo Dolls
We Have All The Time In The World – Frank Sinatra
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Happy – Pharrell
Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
You And Me – Lifehouse
Sex On Fire – Kings Of Leon
Truly, Madly, Deeply – Savage Garden
Heaven – DJ Sammy & Yanou
When I Fall In Love – Nat King Cole
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
I’m Not In Love – 10cc
Your Song – Elton John
Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips
What a Difference A Day Makes – Dinah Washington
My Baby Just Cares For Me – Nina Simone
I’ll Stand By You – Pretenders
I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston (Do keep in mind that this is actually a break up song)
Moon River – Audrey Hepburn
Take My Breath Away – Berlin
You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing – Aerosmith
Just The Way You Are- Bruno Mars
Marry Me - Train
Diamonds - Rihanna
Save The Best For Last - Vanessa Williams
Come To Me - Goo Goo Dolls
My First, My Last, My Everything - Barry White
Baby, it’s you - The Beatles
When Loves Takes Over - David Guetta Featuring Kelly Rowland
Adore You - Miley Cyrus
Home - Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros
Just as important as the playlist is the Don’t Play list. Songs that are associated with an ex or a bad memory should be avoided at all costs, even if requested by a guest. Make sure you both put a list together and give it to the band/DJ.
Your guests will probably make some special requests. Most people will have no problem with this and we certainly didn’t. It can add to the evening and make people feel included. If one of the songs is on the ‘don’t play’ list, just get your DJ/band to politely say this.
Your first dance song should have meaning to you. It should be your song or one that has meant a lot during your relationship. Pick it carefully as it will be then forever associated with your love for each other and your marriage. Choose something classic that you don’t think you will get sick of. It would also help if you choose something that you can actually dance too. You don’t have to choose one
song. You can start off with a slow ballad and then break out into a jazz routine. YouTube is full of videos of couples doing impressive first wedding dances, sometimes with the wedding party joining in. One where the bride and groom recreated the famous scene from Dirty Dancing went viral a couple of years ago and they ended up in all of the papers and a number of magazines too.
Don’t worry too much about making a fool of yourself. Even if you just do a slow shuffle and then get the maid of honour and the best man to join in. If you are really
nervous then take some lessons or hire a dance teacher. Just practicing around the house with your spouse-to-be in a pair of shoes similar to the ones you will wear on the day will help. Take into account your dress too. You might not be able to move very much in it.
Choosing Your Song
Many couples already have a song but if you don’t it can be a little daunting. In fact, you may want to choose something different anyway if your original song is not easy to dance to, or just too personal. Listen to lots of songs and choose something you both like which has no negative connotations.
You might want to take a couple of lessons if you have two left feet or even just having some anxiety. My husband and I kept meaning to practice and watch some YouTube videos but we never found the time.
Dancing With Parents
There is a huge trend right now for extravagant first dances that are then uploaded to YouTube. Another trend is brides dancing with their fathers and less common is grooms dancing with their mothers.
These can be fun but take into consideration your dancing skills, a lack of time to rehearse and nerves on the day. However, if you want to set yourself a challenge, then go for it. Just make sure it does not upstage the bride or groom, they are who the entire day is supposed to be about.
You could hire some dancers or if it is a themed wedding, some performers to set the tone, flapper girls for a 1920s wedding for instance.
Scottish dancing is always fun. Even people who are generally not good dancers can manage a fling.
Some super-sized games could be fun and break down social barriers.
Photo booths have become very popular in recent years. As are keeping some props in the booth so guests can let their hair down and get a bit silly. You could also set one up yourself if you cannot afford a proper one. Just ask a trusted friend to work your camera or bring their own and do it for an hour as a wedding present. You could also set up a little area with props and a backdrop and have disposable cameras everywhere. This might cost you a lot of money to develop the film but could leave you with a lot of wonderful memories.
Unlike the magicians of old, today’s magicians like Dynamo really add a whole new dimension and level of fun to magic. Far from being cheesy, the right magician can make your wedding fun and memorable but the wrong one will just feel flat and cheesy. Get one from www.themagiccircle.co.uk
A caricaturist always goes down a treat. It also leaves guests with a rather amazing keepsake. A friend of mine, Rich Nairn, is the most talented caricaturist that I know and has drawn everyone from Ricky Gervais to Martin Scorsese. Oh, and me. If you hire him you won’t regret it and I am not being biased. I interviewed him and his biography and answers are below.
Rich Nairn was born in 1975 and has been doodling away as long as he can remember. What used to get him in trouble with his teachers is now his full time profession. Rich has been drawing cartoons, illustrations and caricatures for a living now for 15 years and hasn't looked back. You will find Rich at events throughout the UK drawing caricatures, and can follow him on twitter: @richnairn, where you will find him posting all sorts of random doodles and artwork.
Tell us about what you do.
I travel across England drawing caricatures at events and most of these are weddings.
Basically, I attend a wedding for up to four hours, drawing the guests. This provides the same sort of entertainment and laughs you would get from a magician with the added bonus that the guests have a memento to take away with them.
How many weddings have you done?
I work roughly 60 weddings a year and have been doing this for about 17 years. In 2007 I realised this was taking over my life so started full time. An exact number would be over 1000, that's all I know.
What is the best thing about being a caricaturist?
It's great when you get people that really enjoy a caricature. At most weddings I attend there will be one group of people that I remember as they laugh so hard. A reaction like this only serves to boost my confidence and therefore makes the pictures funnier.
How do guests react? I imagine most people want their portrait done.
With nearly all it's different degrees of laughter, with the occasional shock. Some are scared, maybe from a previous bad experience with a caricaturist and it's nice to change their opinion. Caricatures are supposed to be fun, not offensive.
What are your packages?
For most weddings I work a 4 hour time slot, and price packages differ depending on the county. A google map on the bookings page of my site gives a price for these packages.
What questions should couples ask you before the big day?
They should make sure times have been confirmed with me, and discuss with me the best time slot for me to work. I can work most parts of the day and depending on the venue, amount of guests and generally how their day flows a different time slot can make all the difference.
How many drawings can you do at a wedding?
In a four hour slot I draw between 30 to 50 caricatures. Obviously the amount depends on the amount of people in each drawing.
What kind of things do the bride and groom ask for?
The bride and groom will ask some of the questions listed above, with the addition of "can I keep hold of the pictures and hand them to the bride and groom at the end?" This isn't something I often do, as I find handing the caricatures out creates a buzz as people pass them around. One option is for me to take photos of people with their caricatures which I then add to a gallery on my Facebook page. The bride, groom and guests can then take a look at everyone’s pics in the days following the wedding.
What is your favourite wedding you have ever done?
That's a tough question, there's been so many different themes and crowds over the years. Every one has something unique. For myself, if the crowd is great and they love what I do then that becomes my favourite wedding ever, for that night. Then a week or two later I'm thinking the same once more.
Describe an average day at a wedding for us.
An average day varies on what time slot I'm there for. Generally, my process is to arrive at the wedding a few minutes before I start to get my bearings. Then I introduce myself to the bride and groom and begin drawing them as they wander among their guests. After that it's picking good faces to draw. Once a few pictures are circulating it then becomes a race to get round and draw as many as I can get through in my time.
What is your favourite thing about doing weddings?
It's just the most wonderful way to earn a living. To be a part of the biggest day of someone's life is such an honour and to watch the smiles on people's faces as I reveal their doodles. I couldn't think of anything I would rather do.
Can be an expensive option but will certainly start (or finish) the night off with a bang. Literally. The fireworks you can have will obviously depend on where the wedding is held.
Hiring a lookalike for the party part of your wedding can add some fun. It can be quite unusual to have Brad Pitt walking around your reception! The guests will certainly have something to talk about and have their picture taken with. This may be too ‘party’ or glitzy for some people but go ahead if it is what you want. It would certainly be fun.
Your venue might not have a licence for karaoke so check first. You can hire a karaoke set if your venue doesn’t have one or you are getting married in a ‘dry’ space like a marquee. This will certainly make your wedding fun and memorable, if not a little embarrassing for some.
If you have the technology for this it can be a wonderful touch.