Planning Your Reception with Live Music

Written by Tim Callihan
Manager of The Spectrum Band in St. Louis, Missouri

Planning a wedding is a major undertaking for anyone and there are myriad details that need to be addressed. You quickly learn that itís never too soon to begin thinking about the details and planning for the music is a significant part of the process. Most individuals have never coordinated music for a large event such as a wedding reception and arenít familiar with all of the features that an experienced band can provide to make the reception a success.

Having experienced musicians working for you is like having an on site wedding coordinator to make sure all of your details are addressed during the reception. When you provide specific details, the entertainers you hire can be much more than simply a source of music. They can perform emcee and additional functions such as:

Providing the following information to the band will go a long way toward making your wedding day as organized as possible. The items below address topics that will help eliminate confusion and misunderstandings for all involved:

Special Dance
Be sure to listen to all the lyrics of a song before choosing it for a special dance. Sometimes a song may seem like a good choice based on its title or the chorus, but if you listen to the entire song, itís more romantic in nature. Also, parents are usually not comfortable with up-tempo songs, so a slower song is preferable. Something else to remember Ė if you have a videographer, he or she usually captures all special dances. So if mom or dad looks uncomfortable dancing to ďThatís What I Like About YouĒ by the Romantics, it will look that way on video, too.

Guest Seating
You might want to give some thought as to where you will seat your guests. Some guests, e.g., older, may not prefer to be seated near the speaker system. An experienced band will adjust the volume to the mood of the audience on the dance floor, but some guests donít dance and would enjoy being able to talk during the reception. Placing some guests away from the main speakers, or off to one of the sides, will help facilitate easy conversation.

Your Musical Vision
What is your musical vision for the reception? Your tastes might lean toward jazz, swing, pop, Motown, rock, country, hip hop, R&B, or all of these styles? If you select a band that can only play a few of these styles ďauthenticallyĒ then youíll likely lose your guests early in the reception. Selecting a band with a diverse capability will ensure that all of your guests hear something they enjoy and they will want to stay all evening. Simply put, consider your guestís anticipated musical interests in addition to your own.

Know Who You Are Getting
Is what you hear on the demo CD representative of a live performance? Ask if the vocalists and musicians are going to be the ones that youíre hiring. Ask if all the instruments you hear on the CD are going to be part of the band at the reception. For example, if you like the sounds of Motown, R & B, and swing music then the band needs to have a great horn section. Some bands have a group of vocalists and musicians that play in different combinations so you donít want to be disappointed if the band that shows up isnít what you expected. You should also make sure the band is capable of playing any special ethnic material, e.g., traditional Jewish songs, if thatís something you will need.

The Vocalist
Does the band have a male and female vocalist? The repertoire of songs expands a great deal when there is both a male and female singer and songs can be done more authentically when you have a male and female vocalist. As good as a vocalist may be, it can get tiresome to hear the same voice the entire evening.

It can be helpful to learn of bands that friends had at their weddings, but donít let someone elseís insistence be the reason you choose a band. It may be a great band, but not the right one for you. Try to be openminded when you start your search.

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