How to enjoy your wedding day music

We want you to enjoy the music on wedding day, so here are some suggestions to help ensure that the music during the evening reception goes like clockwork.

You certainly don't want any hassle on your big day, you want to savour every moment. Sometimes things may run behind schedule (though the venue should have planned for this), but some forward planning can make sure that things run smoothly for you so you and your guests can simply enjoy yourselves.

When should the band begin their set up?

When we send you your 'Confirmation of Booking' the time that the band will arrive and set up is given in the schedule. Check this out as soon as you get the Confirmation, and discuss it with your venue if necessary to make sure that it will fit in with their schedule. It is almost always OK, but should there be a problem, get back to us or the band straight away. It may be difficult to change things close to the date.

The band could set up after the meal

This is the normal thing for Jazz Bands, Ceilidh or Barn Dance Bands and the smaller Party and Covers Bands. Set up time is normally between half an hour to an hour before they begin their performance. Only the larger Function and Pop Bands, with large equipment and longer set up times, would set up earlier in the day. If you are having an unamplified classical music group, then set up is typically only 15 minutes.

After the wedding breakfast, if the evening entertainment is to be in the same room, the venue will need to re-setup the room in order to accommodate the evening party. While staff are clearing the tables, clearing space for the dance floor - you usually retire to a different room, the bar, or take a comfort break.

This is when the band come in and set up the PA system and it's the option that most customers choose. Remember, if you want background music as the band set up, you need to provide the sound system (usually a venue has one built in), as the band can't play music through their system until it is set up.

The band could set up in advance

Early set up
is often included in the price for the larger pop bands, but is an extra or something the band will not do, for the smaller bands. It is rarely necessary for small bands, who are able to set up quietly and discreetly. Where early set up is offered, this is to allow the band to set up their PA system and do their sound checks prior to your guests arriving, then get change, freshen up and relax for a few moments before their first set begins.

The larger covers and party bands can take 1 to 2 hours to set their audio equipment up and sound check. This could be done while you’re at the registry office or church ceremony, or having a drinks reception in a separate area.

Decide on one location for the band: Sometimes we are asked for the band to play in more than one location. Whilst a string quartet can move quickly, any ensemble with a PA system, can't. Once the audio equipment has been set up, the band won't be able to move location - so you need to be sure that you have chosen their performance location wisely. The big advantage is that if timings overrun later in the evening, at least the band are all set-up and ready to play.

Deciding when and for how long you want the band to play:

Most Jazz, Barn Dance and Party Bands will play background music through their own PA system during breaks in their live performance, unless you don't also have a DJ to do this. If you do have a DJ, make sure that any music they play between sets is in keeping with the mood created by the band. There is no better way to kill the atmosphere than for a DJ to blast out pop music between the sets of a jazz or barn dance band.

Don't have your start time too early. Often things run a bit late, wedding guests want a breather between meal and the festivities. They will enjoy the music all the more if they are not rushed from one thing to another.

Typical schedule option 1 - 2x1 hour sets

7.00 to 8.00:  Arrive and set up
8.00 to 9.00:  first live set
9.00 to 10.00:  background music during the buffet
10.00 to 11.00:  second live set
11.00 to midnight:  background music

Typical schedule option 3 - three 40 minute performances

7.30 to 8.50:  Arrive and set up
8.50 to 9.30:  first live set
9.30 to 10.20:  background music during the buffet
10.20 to 11.00: second live set
11.00 to 11.20: background music
11.20 to 12.00:  third live set
12.00 end

Typical schedule option 2 - 30 minute plus 90 minute performances

7.30 to 8.45:  Band set up
8.45 to 9.15:  first live set
9.15 to 10.15:  background music during the buffet
10.15 to 11.45: second live set
11.45 to Midnight:  background music

Having a number of sets might, with short breaks between might seem a good idea as it gives entertainment out for the whole evening. For groups like jazz bands or string quartets it is ideal. However for a barn dance or ceilidh and also for a full on covers band, the stopping and starting performances can destroy the atmosphere, killing the momentum that the band is working to build up and also tiring the guests out. Many bands prefer to perform two 60 minute sets so that the energy is more focused and the momentum and excitement on the dance floor can be sustained. If it is a Ceilidh or Barn Dance Band, then normally the evening includes two one and a quartet hour sets, with a half hour break between. That length is about right for the amount of energy the dancers [and band] can summon up. You don't want to overdo it otherwise it can spoil the evening.

Whatever the schedule you decide to go for, arrange the break for the band while the buffet is being served, so that you can offer them some food during the break and let your guests concentrate on their food.

Food and facilities for your musicians:

The band will have spent time loading their equipment, collecting band members, travelled to your venue (and will have to do the reverse at the end of the evening) so it will be a long day for them. They can't bring their own food, many venues won't allow it, and in any case it isn't practical to bring a 'meals on wheels' service along with all the instruments and sound system, so it's very important that are provided with food and drinks. Aside from being welcoming to your musicians, you need to ensure they have the energy to keep performing all night. It's exhausting! That's why it's part of the T&Cs of Midsummer Music that you provide food and drinks to your band.

Whether a band needs somewhere to change depends on the kind of band. A Ceilidh or standard jazz band don't need anywhere, but a pop band who perform in stage clothing would need somewhere. Make sure that you have organised for the band have a changing room if they need one. Only some venues have specific 'green rooms' for entertainers, but they will all have some unused conference room, guest room or similar that can be made available. The band will want to look good on stage, and after  travelling for an hour or more, humping heavy PA equipment from the vehicle to the reception room, it's exhausting - YOU will want them to have freshened up before their performance. Covers bands with stage clothes to change into will need a changing room with enough space and chairs for all the musicains to get changed comfortably at the same time, and be furnished with chairs and if possible a mirror. It is not acceptable to offer the band a toilet to change in. Ceilidh bands, jazz bands and string quartets don't normally need to get changed and their sound systems are generally lighter and more compact, so a changing room isn't normally an issue.

Packing up  at the end of their performance:

The end time for the performance is shown on our 'Confirmation of Booking'. If you wish the band to perform for longer on the night, the procedure is given on this same 'Confirmation' The band will take down their PA system and load it into their vehicle as quickly as they can so that the venue can so that you can move on to the next part of your evening seamlessly, (e.g. in the case of a Barn Dance Band, so that your DJ can go into action perhaps), or if this is the end of the evenings wedding entertainment, to let everyone else get packed up and go home, or