Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Step 33 - Interview and Book your Wedding Reception Musicians
After the bride's wedding dress, the wedding cake, the meal, and the decor of the wedding reception hall, the music played at the reception is high on the list of what guests remember from the wedding too. If the music is good, it adds to the likelihood the event will be deemed a rousing success.
As you begin your search for your reception wedding music, just remember the best musicians get booked early, so if you are going with top notch performers, at least call to find out how far in advance must you book the performer. To find musicians, you might first check with relatives and friends, check with wedding related websites, and check in search engines. You want to put in the city you are in and put in the type of musician you are looking for, such as "musicians", "string quartets", "jazz band", "pianist", "violinist", "dance band", "bag piper", "harpist", "flutist", "guitarist", "big band", "vocalist", "singer", or other type on instrument you may be interested in performing at your wedding.
Another place you should find musicians is at Gigmasters, www.gigmasters.com or you might try your local university's Music school. At the music school you might find an aspiring musician looking for their big break and would love to add performed at a wedding to pad their resume. You want to contact the head of the music department of the school and ask if they have any outstanding musicians who would like to perform at our wedding. You possibly might end up with a string quartet, violinist, or pianist, to play at your wedding and get them a lot cheaper than from a professional business. The stipulation is though, you want to hear them in person before making a booking decision and they dress in a suit or dress for the wedding. Another place to try is to look for top notch musicians for select cities, found elsewhere in this blog.
You should identify and listen to the work of a number if musicians before deciding which ones to book. The cost for musicians are all over the board, on the lower end of the music spectrum you can find vocalists, church organists, guitarists, and flutists can range anywhere from $100 to around $400. In the middle of the music spectrum, you can find pianists, violinists, and harpists from about $400 to around $700. On the high end are your stringed quartets, and brass, jazz, dance and rock bands can charge anywhere from $400 to $800 per person. Before booking anybody, be sure you have checked out the musician's background and you have listened and loved their music.
If you have really fallen in love with a dance band, you might find dollars to add to your budget. Maybe you had money for a ceremony site, but are having a less expensive church wedding, maybe you decided that you don't need hotel expenditures or are not renting much equipment such as tables and chairs and can move those expenditures over for high quality music. Be careful with some music groups too. They might sound great on tape but you find they hardly play, they play a couple of songs and then take a 45 minute break, they might play well but dress sloppy. Try to see any musicians at a gig and see them in action and also check them out on their website or on any video sites such as youtube or get a sample performance of them in action on DVD, CD, or MP3. Be sure to get references from other couples who had the musicians play at their weddings also.
Before you choose your musicians you need to find out if the reception facility has any restrictions or guidelines. The reception hall may have size limitations or might have an approved performer list. If you have a musician you would like to play at your wedding, it doesn't hurt to ask the venue, on how might your musician can get on their preferred list. Make sure you inform the musicians on the date and time of your reception, to be sure they are available and be sure to inform them on the amount of guests you are expecting.
Decisions, decisions, what type of music should you have for your event? Remember, this is your wedding, you should choose the music that you enjoy and is within your budget. Some suggestions, if you are looking for music for a formal atmosphere, you might think of having a singer, a singing group, a string quartet, a jazz band, guitars, classical ensemble, or a harp. If you want a fun and loud atmosphere you might consider a rock band, swing live band, popular music or dance band, also ethnic bands including latin, klezmer, polska, irish, mariachi, or a bag piper.
If you want a sophisticated atmosphere, maybe you should hire a jazz band, a classical ensemble, a harpist, a pianist, or a pianist & violinist. If you want background music, you can hire a string quartet, a jazz band, a pianist, a pianist & violinist, or a pianist and a saxophonist, a classical ensemble, a solo singer, or a classical guitar.
You might have two different types of entertainment, have a string quartet playing for a pre-reception wedding party in which you serve beverages and hors d'oeuvres while the wedding party is out getting photos and have a big band music group after the formal wedding reception. If you have a large wedding you might consider two music groups, one geared to the older crowd and one geared to the younger crowd. If you have only one entertainment group geared to an older or younger crowd, you are better off starting the group later in the reception so that an older crowd would not be forced to listen say a rock group or a younger crowd would have to listen say to Tommy Dorsey music. You always want guests to leave on a high note, so the great event is not spoiled, the music is not of their generation. Most good music groups are cross generational.
Good musicians will work with the couple and review their repertoire and come up with music the wedding couple likes. The best musicians try to gear 40% of the music to the wedding couple, 30% to requested music from the guests, and 30% of music directly from the music group showcasing their best music. If the music group can do it, they should show a catalog of music to share with guests of what music songs are their specialties to play. A good music group is good at keeping the excitement and entertainment going, making sure the dance floor is always occupied, if it ever be empty they can cut the song short and move on to play another arrangement of music.
As you meet up with musicians, try to get a business card for every musician in the group. Missed communications and opportunities are lost if you can't make contact with members of music groups. Maybe the guests are impressed with one musician and know a group that needs a violinist on occasion, maybe the musician and a guest were talking and both know an individual, or maybe the musician accidentally left their music sheets behind, or maybe the venue is being moved because of foul weather, or maybe just to check each individual's website out. Collect each musician's business card, just in case.
When you talk contracting with a music group, be sure the music group is not planning on advertising at your wedding. You want no banners, electronic signs or other visible advertising at your wedding. You don't want signs in front of your guests, or showing up in photography or videography. Groups try to promote themselves and that's fine at public events, just not at your wedding. Music groups might even offer a big discount for allowing them to advertise. Just say no! What you can do is midway through their performance, you can let them advertise a little. Guests can pick up the musician's business card, or sample CD, or buy their CD. Just make sure their business cards are kept neat in an index box, not spread over speakers. Two quick advertisements are fine one at mid break and one at the last break. You don't want to ruin the ambiance of the wedding with musicians advertising over and over again.
Make sure everything agreed to is in the contract, and you have review the contract with them thoroughly. Make sure everything is accounted for, how long is each gig, how long are the breaks, how is travel handled, and how is overtime handled? Get back from them, what is the last day they can be booked for your wedding day? Is there a three day cancellation clause? Are they insured? Do they have a backup plan if someone in their group gets disabled? What happens if we have to cancel? Are they expecting a meal? Be sure to see them in action before booking with them! If everything agreed to is not in the contract don't book with them! The contract is your protection against non performance.
Make sure they agree to check back with you on the music selections, and touch base with them just as a reminder and to be sure everything is okay, about a week before the wedding. Make sure they are easy to communicate with and be sure to check them out with the better business bureau and other places to check if anybody has ever had any problems with them.
That's interviewing and booking your wedding reception musicians, see you on the other side!
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