Wedding planning can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Will you decide on a buffet or plated table service? A pale pink or turquoise color scheme? Red velvet or vanilla wedding cake? There are so many details for you to consider to make it your own. Even once you’ve made so many decisions, there will inevitably be more planning that needs to happen. One of the biggest details to finalize, of course, is what kind of entertainment you want to book for the reception. If you decide to have a live band, there are a few things your wedding band wants you to know before the big day.
Throughout college and even after, I gigged with a wedding band. I was a lead singer for two years, a band manager for one, and a liaison for another year and a half after that. Throughout that time, I’ve worked on over 100 weddings, and have built up quick tips for couples I’ve worked with. Even though I no longer work in the wedding industry, I still enjoy weddings and always want couples to have the most memorable day of their lives. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of things that — at least, based on my experience — I believe wedding bands may want couples to know before the big day.
I consulted a few friends (and past coworkers) from the industry — Ben Higginbotham, Lex Cole, and Colin Jaros — to contribute their thoughts on these tips as well.
1. Bands Will Likely Be Working With Other Couples On Their Weddings In Addition To Yours
While your band is definitely hard at work trying to ensure that your special day goes off without a hitch, it’s helpful for you to keep in mind that they are also juggling the details of multiple other weddings at the same time.
"Being in a wedding band, especially during peak season (the summer), means that our minds are on so many details at once," explains Cole. "It doesn’t mean that one wedding is more important than another. We’re just trying to balance out a ton of details to make sure that everyone’s weddings are amazing."
"As much as this is a job, we try not to look at it as a job, says Jaros. "We really want to make each wedding as special as the last, Sometimes, it can be difficult to juggle everything at once, but we do our best."
2. It’s Difficult When You Make Last-Minute Changes To The Set List, But The Band Will Try Their Best To Accommodate Your Requests
A huge thing to remember about having a band play your wedding is that a band has multiple moving parts involved. To add a song to the set list, many people — including at least four or five instrumentalists and a couple singers — need to learn their parts in order for the one song to be successfully performed.
Cole says, "It’s always hard when a couple changes an important song — like an entrance song or first dance — because the band can’t learn it that quickly." She adds, "I’ve gotten a call on the way to a wedding to change a special request, and we tried to learn it in the car, but couldn’t figure it out in time. We’ll always try to make it happen, but it might not be exactly what the couple wants because it’s so last-minute."
While the band will do their best to accommodate any last-minute requests, keep in mind that it’s sometimes not possible. The band would much rather not play a song than play it poorly. As Higginbotham puts it, "I would rather do a great job than [do a subpar job on] a song that the couple really loves."
3. Every Band Is Unique In Their Own Way
If seeing a band at one of your friend’s or family member’s weddings is what inspired you to hire one for your own special day, keep in mind that, unless you hire the same exact band, bands are always unique in their own way. While many bands are similar — they may have the same instrumentation or some of the same songs on their set list, among other things — every band has their own vibe.
The personnel may be interchangeable and the songs may change, but how the band is run can determine the quality of service provided. So if you’re expecting something extremely specific, make sure you do your research to find the best band that meets all of your needs.
"Every wedding band has their own niche of what they’re great at. Not every wedding band is the same, even though we all try to play similar music that will get people out on the dance floor," says Cole.
4. A Band Wants To Hang Out And Be Friends With You On The Big Day To Make The Experience Personal And Special
As someone who has worked on well over 100 weddings, I can safely say that the most memorable ones were when the couple wanted to hang out with the band and me both during and after the reception. Building a real personal connection with the couple helps make the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone.
"My mentality going into every wedding is that I want to have a party, and that we are here to party with these people that we just became friends with. We really love making connections with couples," says Higginbotham.
"For example, I played a wedding last year, and just a few days later, they booked us to play their Fourth of July party this year — which we just did earlier this month," he recalls. "We hung out with them for an hour after the July 4 gig and they told us how much we brought to their wedding. It was really special to hear how much they loved having us share their wedding day with them."
5. Your Wedding Day May Be Stressful For You, But Your Band Might Be Stressing In Their Own Way, Too
I know that this one may be hard to believe, but it’s true. The couple definitely has a lot to take care of — from making the rounds and saying hi to everyone, balancing any last-minute details, and much more — in addition to making one of the most important commitments with someone.
The entertainment for the reception, whether that’s a DJ or a band, has a lot on their plate on that day as well. They MC the entirety of the night and have to keep the flow of the evening moving, which can be stressful. The job of the band includes not only performing the music, but also wrangling the bridal party for introductions, locating the couple, their family members, and the photographers for formalities, and much more. They also have the responsibility of making your wedding day awesome for you.
Jaros explains, "The first part of the night is the most stressful. Loading in, setting up, getting changed, [the] ceremony, [any] special requests, and introductions all vary from wedding to wedding. There’s so much pressure for the day to be perfect [and memorable for their clients.] But once the dance floor opens and people get to party, all of that stress is totally worth it."
While all of this is going on, they have to keep smiling and performing, and get the job done to perfection.
6. Your Band Really Does Want You To Have The Best Time Ever
Your band wants you to have the best day ever. Even though you might think that they look at your wedding as just a job, I’ve never met a wedding band musician who doesn’t care about their clients and making their wedding day so memorable. Weddings are meant to be joyous celebrations, and the musicians in wedding bands are there to make it fun for all.
"We want nothing more than for the couple to have the best night of their life," raves Higginbotham. "I’m never more satisfied with a performance than when they’re satisfied with my performance."
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