The music plays a very important role in any wedding; it helps set the tone for the entire day - from the walk down the aisle to the first dance. So whether you decide to go with a DJ, live band or instrumental group you need to be certain that they can deliver what you want.
Check out our Questions to Ask about the entertainment.
First thing you need to do is sit down with your partner and figure out what type of entertainment you want. These days you have a wide variety to choose from and you may decide to have a violinist at the ceremony and the DJ at the reception or prefer to have a professional entertainer throughout the whole day.
A good place then is to start by looking at the supplier’s background and experience. You want to determine whether they are a well-rounded, successful entertainer who can bring a level of expertise and versatility to your event. Naturally you can feel confident that someone with many years’ experience in the industry will be able to provide this; however, keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere and a newly started supplier may not have as much experience but may still be able to give you what you want and this as a cheaper rate.
The best way to figure this out is to see them in action. Naturally they can’t invite you to someone else’s wedding to see them live but perhaps they perform at other occasions like at a bar or club. In the case where it is not possible to see them live they should be able to give you a DVD or CD of a performance - if you are interviewing a live band find out if the CD/DVD has been technically enhanced, if so it will not be an accurate representation of what they will sound like live.
You should also ask them for a couple of references, so you can speak to other couples and get a better insight of how it is to work with them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the entertainment business usually goes hand-in-hand with late night hours. Find out from the supplier how many events they usually do on a weekend - if they’re performing round the clock all weekend, their performance might suffer at your wedding.
Then lastly, many entertainers offer additional services from MC, coordinating to photo booths. If they have certain extra services that you require it may work better to have 1 suppliers do it all that have 2 or 3 different ones which you will have to manage separately.
Whether it’s a band, DJ or instrumental group you need to find out what genres they cover and how extensive their song list is to make sure they have the variety you require.
Find out if they can help you decide on the special songs (first dance or father-daughter dance), if they are willing to adapt their playlist to include specific songs and how they handle song requests. A proper entertainer will be able to accommodate all of this and should request that you provide any requested songs ahead of time so they can ensure they are well prepared and the event goes down without a flaw. Some entertainers will accommodate requests on the day, for this it is important to have a ‘do-not-play’ song list to avoid those songs you really don’t like being played (even if requested).
Another important aspect is to keep the party going and the entertainer you choose needs to be able to do that. They need to be able to read a crowd, build up the energy and then keep it up - some performers will teach the latest dance or verbally encourage guests to step onto the dance floor, while others will just select songs that will naturally get people moving. You need to choose someone who uses a technique that you like - for example, if you want minimal conversation from a DJ or band, one who uses the mic to amp up the energy isn't going to be a good fit. They should also be able to seamlessly blend all sorts of genres together to accommodate everyone and keep them on the dance floor
Pricing and Payment
The price tag is one of the biggest factors in deciding which entertainer to choose so to avoid any surprises when you receive the final invoice you need to make sure you know exactly how the pricing works and what is included/excluded.
Make sure you are clear on how their rates work, it may vary based on the day or season and clarify how many hours it includes. You also need to find out if there are any additional costs like for example travelling costs, extra equipment/overtime fees, etc and how all of this (based on your needs) will affect the final invoice. Many suppliers have different packages available that may work out more cost effective for you.
Also find out if they offer a payment plan (if they are maybe a bit above your budget), how payments work (deposit & final) and how their cancelation/refund policy works. Life is full of unforeseen surprises and you never know if you might be in a situation where you will need to cancel their services - it’s always better to be prepared.
So, now that you have determined whether the supplier is a good fit for you, you can look at the finer details.
Start off by discussing any restrictions (noise limits, music curfew, availability of electrical circuits, space restrictions, etc) with your venue. You can then confirm with the supplier if they can work with what is available (especially if they plan to use lighting or any other special effects) - it is always a plus point if they have performed at your chosen venue before as they will then know the in’s and out’s.
Then find out what their backup plans are regarding equipment malfunction, sick-days, how they handle a difficult guest who insists on requesting a song every 10 minutes or any other problem that may occur. You need to know that they are capable of handling these situations so you can have peace of mind that if something happens they will take care of it - one less thing for you to worry about.
Lastly you need to know how many members will be present on the day (as you will most likely have to cater for them) as well as what they will be wearing. Any professional entertainers will have access to formalwear; however, you need to be specific about how you expect them to dress and if you have any extraordinary requests you may have to carry the costs.