For the Love of Dance: Tips for Assessing Wedding Musicians

April 23, 2024 Jessica Stewart

Music plays a vital role in weddings, from the ceremony to the reception. Good music sets the tone and reflects the personality of the couple, but you'll also need to find a balance between innovation and tradition. It's not just background noise; it creates memorable moments guests will remember for years.

In fact, 81% of guests say they remember the entertainment at weddings more than anything else. As a wedding event planner, helping the couple select the right music and musicians is crucial for a successful wedding. This article lists some top ways to assess potential wedding musicians, ensuring your special day goes off without a hitch.

The Importance of Wedding Music

The right tunes can make the big day unforgettable for the couple. How you pick the music may depend on the background and culture of the spouses-to-be.

For instance, Indian weddings might feature Bhangra, while US weddings often have classics like Wagner's "Here Comes the Bride." It's up to the couple to choose what fits best, but don't skimp on this crucial detail. Bad music can be a real bummer, and guests will definitely expect some tunes.

Picking From Different Styles

When picking wedding music, know your options. Classical music is popular for its elegance and formality. If you're having a traditional ceremony, classical musicians might be perfect.

On the flip side, a modern event might call for pop and contemporary tunes. It's less elegant but creates a lively atmosphere.

A wedding could mix both styles. Keep it formal with classical music during the ceremony, and then switch to pop at the reception. If you're not into tradition, feel free to walk down the aisle to a contemporary hit.

The couple could also consider incorporating their cultural heritage. It honors traditions and adds authenticity. This can be tricky but interesting in an intercultural marriage.

Imagine an Irish groom and an Indian bride. Their musical traditions don't mix well.

You could create a memorable (and funny) experience by blending the two styles or hiring separate musicians for each culture.

Know your guests and what they'd appreciate. Some might find a deliberately bizarre musical fusion funny, but some might be offended. It's up to you and the couple to find the right balance.

Increasingly Contemporary Styles

Wedding music has long been traditional, but times are changing. Couples now swap the classics for contemporary tunes that hold meaning for them. They used to avoid playing "their song" due to tradition, but attitudes have softened.

Now, non-traditional ceremonies are more accepted, so you might just get away with playing various styles and songs during the ceremony and reception.

Assessing the Expertise of Wedding Musicians

When hiring a wedding band or DJ, make sure they're musicians with wedding experience. Skilled musicians without wedding expertise may miss crucial cues or ruin the atmosphere. Weddings require versatile musicians who can play different genres for various guests and phases.

Look for musicians who engage with the audience and adapt their performance based on mood and response. The right band can create a memorable evening, while a pre-planned setlist without considering the room's atmosphere could lead to a dull reception.

In short, wedding musicians should have specific skills for weddings, as they're not like club or bar gigs. They should play for the couple and their families, not just their own preferences.

The best wedding bands will give impassioned performances of songs they absolutely hate if that's what the wedding party wants to hear.

Soloists vs a Wedding Band

So your clients want live music at their wedding? Well, you've got options: a soloist or a band.

A solo musician, like a violinist or cellist, brings intimacy and class. This is perfect for smaller, formal weddings. It's not unusual for a soloist to play the bride's walk-down-the-aisle track and then have a full band take over at the reception.

A full band is what people expect at a big reception. Wedding receptions are usually dance-focused, so it makes sense to have a band with high-energy tunes.

But beware, bands don't come cheap. Soloists are generally more affordable.

Think about the budget and how much of an impact live music will have. Most guests expect a lively reception.

Hiring a DJ vs Live Music

Do your clients want to energize their wedding reception without footing the bill for a live band? Consider hiring a DJ. While not as impressive as a full band, DJs have some strong advantages, making them great choices.

One main advantage of a DJ is they don't need to learn songs. They can play anything, as long as they have the song file. This means DJs can offer diverse playlists catering to various ages and tastes.

With a DJ, customizing the playlist is easier; just provide the music file, and they'll play it whenever you want.

Being a good wedding DJ isn't easy. Unlike other events with specific music styles, weddings have mixed-age audiences. A skilled DJ reads the room and adjusts music based on crowd responses, and they will keep people dancing all night long!

Balancing the Budget

Budgeting for wedding music involves many factors affecting the cost of a band or DJ. If you want experienced bands and DJs, you'll probably pay more. Hiring famous musicians or a DJ can make an impact, but expect it to get pricey fast.

You'll need to consider the equipment musicians will use. For example, if you hire a DJ, is the sound system already set up at the venue, and they just need to plug in their mixing desk and turntables?

Or do you expect the DJ to provide the complete wedding sound system? If so, this will increase the cost significantly.

A live band faces similar issues. They may want specific amplifiers, meaning they'll likely bring equipment that could affect the price.

A common mistake when budgeting for wedding music is not allocating enough money. Often, people underestimate the cost.

Couples can avoid these problems by planning their budget early. Negotiate with musicians and DJs for the best value, but beware of suspiciously low offers.

Being a wedding DJ isn't just about transitioning between songs; they need to understand wedding procedures, select popular music for diverse demographics, and have the emotional intelligence to focus on the bride and groom.

If you hire the cheapest DJ possible, you might end up with someone lacking these crucial secondary skills. Given music's importance at a wedding, it's important for couples not to skimp on their wedding entertainment budget.

What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

The golden rule of weddings is that anything that can go wrong, will. Coincidentally, this also applies to live music. So wedding music can be a potential disaster waiting to happen.

Always consider the technical aspects of wedding music to prevent mishaps. Development failure is common, so ensure high-quality sound equipment is available.

If hiring a DJ, choose a venue with the necessary equipment, so they don't have to bring their own. It simplifies logistics and allows you to verify the equipment beforehand.

Consider the venue's acoustic characteristics too. Non-musicians often overlook this, but it can greatly impact sound quality.

For example, playing live music in a church may result in excessive reverb, affecting certain genres negatively. Consult your musicians if unsure about acoustics.

When selecting musicians, look for bands and DJs with a reputation for solving logistical problems during gigs. Experienced wedding bands usually have amusing stories about overcoming challenges at weddings. However, some technical issues can't be easily solved.

For instance, if your drummer gets into an accident on their way to the venue, it's tough to have a high-energy reception without that backbeat. In this case, have a playlist ready to play through the PA system as a backup.

When planning for potential mishaps and unforeseen circumstances, chat with your musicians. They've likely seen more goofs at these events than you can imagine. This will help with contingency plans for stuff you wouldn't have even thought of.

Attitude Towards Rehearsal

When planning a wedding, it's smart to have at least a partial rehearsal with the musicians. Good wedding musicians know that weddings can be full of surprises, and they'll appreciate the importance of a dress rehearsal. DJs may not need to rehearse like live bands, but it's still a good idea to go over key events with them.

These rehearsals should be on top of the musicians' own practice, and wedding planners should be involved too. If musicians say there's no need for rehearsals, be suspicious. That's rarely true for weddings.

Now You Know More About Hiring a Wedding Band or DJ

Planning a wedding music experience takes work. Playing personal tunes for the couple reflects their story and tastes. It also creates lasting memories for everyone involved. The key is finding the right wedding musicians.

Planning a wedding is complex, so working with the best musicians and other event professionals is crucial.

To meet top-notch event professionals, check out The Event Planner Expo. This New York-based expo is the premier destination for event planners in 2024, so you can't afford to miss out! Get involved by reserving a booth and be sure to network with the best wedding planners in the biz.