music to your ears
By Robbin Montero
Swing or rock? Country or jazz? The entertainment at your reception has
to hit all the right notes with your guests. You'll choose between hiring a
deejay or a live band, a decision that will affect the cost and the tone of
your special day.
Deejays typically act as "masters of ceremonies" and usually cost a fraction
the price of a band. They generally offer a very wide variety of music on
CDs from which they will pre-select music suited to your tastes and
requests. Experienced deejays easily respond to the activity in the room
with appropriate on-the-spot selections, if you are comfortable with the
Many couples prefer the energizing effect created by a variety, swing or
jazz band. Any band accustomed to playing at wedding receptions will have
appropriate selections to accompany special reception activities.
Before you begin making telephone calls, have necessary information about
the site related to entertainment. If the event is outside, know the noise
ordinance restrictions and types of music acceptable to the site owners.
Ensure there is adequate space and staging for the size band you want and
check the availability of electrical outlets.
Now, let the telephoning begin! Whether the band self-books or uses an
agency, request tapes or CDs. Inquire as to upcoming public engagements for
the opportunity to see them perform. An appealing stage presence is as
important as a great sound. References are another important part of the
selection process. If possible, referrals from an acquaintance and/or three
recent booking references (ideally weddings) should be sufficient. The site
management may also have recommendations.
Playing your song
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can have more than one
entertainment during the reception. Consider having a background harp,
pianist or string quartet during the meal and a rocking band afterward. Or
the band can perform quiet ballads during the meal and change tempo
Use the band's repertoire to steer them toward the music you prefer and
request a song list so you can select numbers for your first dance as
husband and wife, the father-daughter dance, your last dance at the
reception and others you have in mind. It's a sweet touch to dedicate their
favorite songs to the grandparents and parents, but ask the band about
additional fees for learning a new song. By the same token, a deejay may
require that you supply a CD if requested music is not in his library.
Avoiding sour notes
In this business relationship there are numerous details to include in the
contract. Most bands require beverages, a meal and access to a changing
room. Others require that bridal couples arrange staging equipment and
lighting at their own cost. Whether you hire a band or deejay, be aware of
any travel, "load-in"or early set-up charges and ask about availability and
overtime charges, should you choose to extend the reception.
Get everything in writing and review your contract carefully before signing,
including the exact time the entertainers are to arrive for set-up. Provide
a contact (often the coordinator) telephone number so the entertainers have
someone to call in the event of a question or problem. I can't stress enough
the importance of reading the entertainment contract carefully.
Finally, phone your deejay or band contact one week prior to the wedding to
confirm and answer questions. Even if they think they know where the site
is, provide a map. You certainly don't want your band driving up and down
Fifth Street, while you're waiting on Fifth Avenue! With all the details
covered, look forward to kicking up your heels and dancing the night away.