Music is the soul of your festivities
January 22, 2006
Q: I am planning the entertainment for my wedding reception and I cannot decide if I want a DJ or a band. Do you have some comments on both forms of entertainment?
A: No doubt about it - music can make or break a wedding celebration. It's the heart and soul of a reception and can send your guests home with happy feet or pained grimaces.
The fact that you want to hire a talented band or fleet-fingered DJ is a given. Finding one is a matter of polling friends, surfing online, shopping around with fine-tuned ears and making a move quickly because top talent can get booked up to a year in advance.
The type of music you choose can set the tone of your wedding and solidify a theme. Remember, it's the thing people most often remember. Think about what musical genre best reflects your personalities and inspires the ambience you want to create: groovy funk or subdued string quartet? Swanky swing or kick-off-your-shoes-and-sweat zydeco?
How the music is delivered - by live band or DJ - also affects the ambience. The type of music you choose may dictate the choice; big band sounds are generally best live, for example.
In the price war, DJs generally cost less, and prices vary depending on whether it's a weekday or a weekend and equipment requests. A 12-piece band, for example, will generally be more expensive than a DJ because there are more people to pay. Band prices vary by the number of musicians, how long you want them to play, day of the week and what time of year it is.
Don't get your heart set on an eight-piece salsa band before you check whether the reception site restricts the number of musicians and pieces of equipment you may bring in and whether there are any electrical power supply or noise limitations. For example, a registered landmark reception site may not allow you to use large speakers. Ask these questions before you start scouting bands.
There's nothing like a live wedding band to get a crowd stoked and create a sense of sophistication. Music groups can synergize with the tone of your wedding and almost any niche theme, offering everything from accordion to klezmer ditties. A good band leader will play the master of ceremonies at your reception if you want, interact with folks on the dance floor, pay attention to the “feel” of the room and select music accordingly.
Don't fear the DJ. The days of disco fever and flashing lights are gone. Today's disc jockeys are artists in their own right, offering balanced and eclectic mixes of musical styles for all ages. The songs played will sound exactly as you remember them, encouraging sing-alongs and improvisation. And depending on the amount of equipment a DJ brings, he or she will take up less dance floor real estate and can be relocated with relative ease.
Ideally, you will want to see a DJ or band in action before you commit so that you can gauge firsthand the way they dress and work the crowd. If that's not possible, ask for a play list and look for songs you know and love.
If a band gives you a CD, cassette or video, be sure that the musicians you hear or see are the same musicians who will play at your reception. Also, ask for referrals from the last few weddings the band or DJ played. Consider your first-dance song as an audition. If the band doesn't know it and is unwilling to learn it, or the DJ doesn't own it and is unwilling to get it, move on.
Know that all professionals should be open to your likes and dislikes. Give them your personal request list, songs they must and - perhaps more importantly - must not play. Worried that you'll hear the “Macarena” at your once-in-a-lifetime event? Specifically prohibit the playing of a song you feel strongly about in your contract.
Today's Wedding runs weekly in Style. Bree Gianassi-Little is co-owner of the Yuba-Sutter wedding firms Mia Bella Designs, Always Elegant Bridal and Wedding Tulle. Write to her in care of the Appeal-Democrat, P.O. Box 431, Marysville, CA 95901 or e-mail her at bree@miabelladesigns .net.