Images courtesy of Bands for Hire
When Wedding Music Misfires – Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
A wedding is a feast for all the senses – a beautiful dress for all eyes to see, a delicious cake to tickle all taste buds – so it’s imperative to not overlook what you’re pumping into your guests’ ears. You might think you can’t go far wrong with your wedding music choices, but if your aim isn’t true, you can make sitting through your ceremony and rendezvousing at your reception an unbearable chore.
Here’s what can go wrong, and how to prevent the worst from happening during your ceremony and reception.
Resounding Silence: The prelude is as much of an integral part of the wedding as the cake cutting. This is the first taste of your wedding that your guests will get, so don’t welcome them with stony silence. They’ll feel awfully pressured, not knowing if they can talk amongst themselves, or even breathe too audibly. Also, if your ceremony is taking place in a building with more than one function room, it’ll take a while for your guests to even find you unless you’ve got some wedding-themed tunes blasting out.
Hiring Amateur Musicians: This is particularly important to avoid during the ceremony – you don’t want your bridal procession to walk down the aisle to the screech of an out-of-tune violin, or to have your vows interrupted by the twang of a guitar being knocked over. No, a sense of propriety is what’s needed during the ceremony – professional wedding musicians will understand that mistakes are not acceptable. If you can’t afford professionals to provide you with your processional and recessional music, consider instead pre-recorded music to be operated by a trusted friend or family member – and if a young relative has been promised a chance to play at your wedding, keep this for later on at the reception when everyone’s hair has already been let down.
Booking the Wrong Band: You’d be surprised how often this happens, considering it’s so easy to preview a band nowadays thanks to the advent of the internet. A friend’s recommendation is all well and good, but do your own research too – don’t just book a band on the strength of their catchy name or your friend’s enjoyment of them. After all, this is your special day, so make sure you watch plenty of videos of a wedding band and have a proper look at their repertoire before booking them; otherwise, you might find out too late that ‘the Angelic Hordes’ is an ironic name for a death metal band!
Not Leaving Room For Performers: Unless you’re around performing musicians in your day-to-day, you can be forgiven for not knowing precisely what’s required in terms of space – so make sure you educate yourself before the big day is upon you! There’s nothing worse than the awkwardness of excited wedding guests trying to squeeze past a struggling string quartet – every time a fiddler’s elbow is knocked, a bum note will be forced out of them, much to the dismay of everybody present. Plan a separate area for your musicians to set up and perform to avoid unwanted collisions – it can also be quite unpleasant for your guests if they have to sit too close to a speaker, so map out the room carefully before anyone gets there.
Letting Your Budget Run Away: We’re sure you don’t need reminding of this too emphatically, but it doesn’t hurt to keep telling yourself not to go too overboard with your expenditure. Yes, many of us have a dream wedding with Elton John playing you in and David Guetta playing you out, but, unless you’re prepared to remortgage the house, you’ve got to be realistic. Always be on the lookout for where you can cut some costly corners. You might not need, for example, to hire a separate string quartet for the procession, a separate jazz band for cocktail hour and a separate wedding DJ for the reception – which would be financially crippling. These days, wedding entertainment often comes in an all-inclusive package which you can tailor to your own tastes. The guitarist of your wedding band might also double up as a DJ, so, for the sake of asking, you could save on money, space (since they’d be using a lot of then same equipment) and time (since they’d already be there).
Offending the Officiant: Common sense will probably help you to avoid this particular mistake, but you can’t be too careful. Even in these modern, liberal times, it’s probably a bad idea to play Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast’ or pretty much anything by Black Sabbath if you’re marrying in a church. The safest thing to do is contact your officiant and your venue for a banned songs list, and stick to it religiously.
Choosing an Overlong First Dance: While we’re all for you milking your moment in the spotlight on your wedding day, spare a thought for your guests before you choose ‘Stairway to Heaven’ for your first dance number. When you take into consideration the fact that your guests, as happy as they are for you, will all want to get up there on the floor with you, you probably won’t want to go much further than the three minute mark.
Not Choosing to Soundcheck: With a schedule as busy as yours is today, you might think you can get away with skipping a couple of things. A soundcheck is not one of these – you need things to sound just right for maximum enjoyment. Too quiet, and your guests will feel too awkward to dance; too loud, and they’ll be forced outside to hear each other talk. Also, you wedding band will feel much more comfortable if they know they can hear themselves – this way, you won’t get any out-of-tune singing or out-of-time drumming.
Failing to Diversify: Choosing a theme is not the same as sticking doggedly to a single style of music. If all you’re playing is trad jazz, and some of your guests don’t like trad jazz, they’re not going to have a good time. If you vehemently detest cheesy disco floor-fillers, you’re not going to get your auntie dancing. A wedding band worth their salt will know the importance of musical diversity, and will gladly play songs outside the confines of their preferred genre. Heck, if you do hire a jazz band to keep things classy, have a word with them in advance and see if they know any ABBA, or Beatles, or Coldplay – you may well be surprised, and your guests may well be delighted!
Not Communicating with your Wedding Band: This says it all really – not maintaining a close correspondence with your wedding band will serve as the root of all you wedding music problems. It’s mutually beneficial, not to mention reassuring, to know you’re both on the same page. You know what kind of band they are, they know what kind of band you’re expecting, you know what they play, they know what you want (and don’t want) them to play – no nasty surprises come your wedding day. And even on the day, make sure you keep them in the loop – if there are any delays, or any last minute changes, make sure your band are among the first to know. Not only is this a matter of courtesy, but, since your band are ‘on the clock’ for the entire time they’re at your wedding, it may also help you to avoid some extra charges later on.