Del Cotton, managing director of Hireaband, one of the UK’s largest entertainment booking agencies, gives us his expert advice on booking wedding entertainment.
“A wedding, for most couples, is a series of firsts. You’ll find yourself considering things you’ve likely never had to before: wedding venues, professional photographers, flowers on an industrial scale and the icing on the (wedding) cake – wedding entertainment.
In fact, most people, if they ever book entertainers at all, only do so for their wedding. It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime task. The enormous choice of options available and your probable lack of experience in booking them can make it seem daunting.
Get it right and your wedding day will culminate in wonderful shared memories of an intoxicatingly happy atmosphere and huge amounts of fun. Get it wrong, and even if everything else on your wedding day is perfect, the finale could be a damp squib.
Here’s my five great wedding entertainment tips to ensure your big day is memorable for all the right reasons.
1. MAKE IT OFFICIAL
Make sure there’s a contract in place between you and your chosen entertainers. The vast majority of wedding entertainers are semi-professional. They’ll have day jobs, performing in bands only at weekends.
Make sure the entertainers you book treat your booking professionally. Your contract should agree the basics – the date and venue for your wedding (you’d be amazed how often bands double book themselves due to poor record keeping), the performance schedule and the agreed fee.
Contact your entertainers a month in advance of your wedding date to go over the details one last time.
2. STAY CLOSE
Try to use entertainers based as near to your wedding venue as possible.
This has three main benefits: it’s likely they will have performed in your venue before and know their way around it, you’ll save money on transportation costs and finally you’ll reduce the risk of any unforeseen breakdowns or lateness if the band has less distance to travel.
3. TRUST THE EXPERTS
Don’t micromanage your entertainers. An experienced band or DJ will know what songs to play and when to play them. Giving them a rigid playlist will restrict their ability to ‘read the room’ and respond to the audience.
Before choosing a band in particular, make sure you see a sample playlist in advance. If your wedding has a specific theme then it’s at the booking stage that you should ensure the band is appropriate.
Once you’re satisfied with that, leave the rest to them. They know what they’re doing.
4. GO PRO
Performing at someone’s wedding is a massive responsibility. There are no second chances. The skills and discipline required, not to mention the level of musicality, is of a far higher standard than your average pub band.
Wedding bookings are lucrative and the best bands will be fully booked for months, if not years, in advance.
This does raise an issue with how to see a band before you make a booking. It’s not possible to crash some other poor couples wedding just to audition their band and because the best bands rarely play gigs open to the public, you will have to rely on recommendations and online video demos to make your choice.
5. USE AN AGENT
An established wedding entertainment agency will take most, if not all, of the risks out of the booking process, not to mention that they have the best all-round knowledge of bands, DJs and entertainers.
They’ll be able to recommend local artists that know your chosen venue. They’ll take into account your musical preferences and your budget to help narrow down your search.
The final decision will be up to you, but your agent’s reputation will depend on making sure everything, including your choice of entertainer goes smoothly, including the issuing of contracts and all the pre-event checks that are essential to a successful wedding reception.
This may be the first and last time you ever book a band or DJ, but an established agent will be doing it thousands of times every year.