The music is one of the most important elements to set the tone for your wedding reception. A great band will create exactly the mood you desire, while a lame one will make the party a flop. These are some tips on how to pick the perfect band for your wedding.
First of all, keep in mind that there are plenty of great wedding musicians out there, but not all of them are right for the style of wedding you prefer. The hot samba band that kept the crowd jumping on the dance floor at your cousin's wedding might not be a hit with your husband's conservative family or make sense for your venue. Personally, I have always thought that people in formal attire look odd dancing wildly to contemporary music, so for my wedding, I chose a band that specialized in standards like Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter. It fit well with the overall classic style of my wedding, which ran to lace, pearl bridal jewelry, and all white flowers. It also helped that we had a lot of guests who were fans of the standards, not a young crowd filled with people just out of college.
Once you have given some thought to the style of wedding music you want for your reception, it is time to start researching bands. Without a doubt, word of mouth is a great place to begin. The time to start looking is as soon as you get engaged, because hot bands can book up 12 -18 months in advance. In every area, there are also entertainment companies, which manage the bookings for bands, d.j.s, and other musicians. Your wedding venue should be able to recommend a few such booking agencies whom they trust. It is always easiest when the band, or at least the entertainment firm, is familiar with your reception site, as they will already know about any quirks of acoustics or electrical outlets in the space.
Most wedding performers will have CDs and other promotional materials they can send you to help you get a sense of their style. That is a great place to start, but try to avoid booking a band based on that alone. You should definitely speak directly with the bandleader to be sure that you mesh, since he will be the one directing the band during your reception. Some bandleaders are reserved, while others can be quite boisterous; be sure to get the right fit for your wedding style. Whenever possible, it is very smart to go see your top band perform live at a wedding or other event (oftentimes, arrangements can be made for prospective clients to peek in at a reception for a few minutes after the dinner and cake cutting are complete).
Hopefully, the band will look and sound even better live than they do on their CD, but if they don't, you will sure be glad to have avoided a huge mistake. I once attended a wedding which had a talented band, but their speakers were terrible, and the sound quality was very poor. This is something you would never learn from hearing music produced in the perfect conditions of a sound studio. Check out the appearance of the band, as well. If you are having a very casual reception, the attire of the band may not concern you much, but if you will be having a traditional wedding and wearing a very grand bridal gown with heirloom pearl jewelry, a bunch of tattooed guys up on the stage will look incongruous, to say the least!
When writing the contract with your favorite band, be sure to address the question of breaks: how many, when, and the duration of them. Will a few musicians stay to play background music, will they put on an iPod loaded with your favorite songs, or will there be silence during the breaks? Also put into writing your obligations regarding feeding the band, the number of musicians and which instruments are to be included, and overtime rates. Then make your deposit to reserve your wedding band, and rest easy knowing that when the big day rolls around, your guests will be treated to beautiful music.