Music for your reception – take note!

Photo by  Alvin Mahmudov  on  Unsplash

Sorting the music is probably not at the top of your to do list but it does need some serious thought.  The right band or DJ can really get everyone up and having a great time but the wrong one can have your guests heading for the door.  Getting it right actually takes a bit of hard work on your part and, like so much else, is a bit more complicated than you might first imagine.  In this post we highlight some of the main do’s and don’ts.

Setting the mood

You need to consider the style of your wedding and the kind of atmosphere you’d like to create.  For instance, if you are having the reception in a rustic barn and the style is Boho and whimsical you’ll want the music to reflect this – something folky, hippish or even a ceilidh band.  Here are some ideas:

Formal: Jazz band, string quartet, classical ensemble, solo or duo guitar, singer or choir, piper

Traditional: Irish band, ceilidh band, bag pipes, classical ensemble, singers or choir

Fun and dancy: Rock & pop covers band, soul & R&B band, rock n' roll or swing jive band, tribute band, 70's disco or funk band, Latin & salsa bands

Light background music: Jazz band, classical ensemble, solo or duo guitar, vocal guitar/piano duo

Something different: Steel band, Irish band, Latin & salsa band, swing jive band, world music ensemble, interesting tribute artist, barber shop quartet

Smooth & sophisticated: Jazz band, swing jive band, latin & salsa band, classical ensemble, piano and violin/sax

Formal: Jazz band, string quartet, classical ensemble, solo or duo guitar, singer or choir, piper

Photo by  Mitchell Orr  on  Unsplash

Consider your guests

When selecting your band or DJ you will also need to give some thought to the tastes of your guests, their age group and whether or not they will want to dance or listen.  Some bands can be quite loud and it is well worth taking the trouble to ask your friends and family what they'd like.

Check with the venue

If you want a live band make sure your venue permits this – most have no problem, but it’s worth checking.  Also, consider the size of the room and the area the band will be playing in to ensure everything is going to work. 

Also discuss with the venue if there are any restrictions on arrival and set up times for the band.  Also make sure there are no issues with sound levels.  At Clevedon Hall this is not a problem as you have exclusive use of the property – but many venues host several events on the same night so there can be issues with sound levels and timings.

Think budget

The DJ option will almost certainly be less costly but if you have your heart set on live music then it rather depends on things like the number of musicians, how well established they are, length of performance

Band fees vary considerably depending on the style of music, how many musicians will be playing, how successful they are and how long you want them to play for.  A good string quartet might cost you £500-£700, a decent tribute band could set you back £700-£1800, a jazz band can vary from £550 for a duo or trio to £1500 for 8 or more musicians, while you’d expect to pay £900 - £1700 for a pop rock band. 

Just to put that in context, Elton John has charged £1.5 million to play at a wedding, Mariah Carey will set you back about £2.5 million and the Rolling Stones won’t rock up for less than £5 million.

Photo by  Elliot Sloman  on  Unsplash

Sound check

Make sure you see your band or DJ perform before you make your final decision.  They might give you a CD or video but you need to get a real feel for the way they work the crowd.  Also, make sure the line-up on the CD or video is the one that’s going to turn up for your big day!

Plan ahead

Don’t leave it until the last minute to book your band or DJ.  Good quality wedding entertainers will be booked up around a year in advance, especially during high wedding season.  As soon as you’ve paid a deposit for the venue start to do some serious research.

Work out a song schedule

You’ll want to choose specific songs for significant parts of your reception.  Think about the song you want for cutting the cake, the first dance, the father daughter dance, and the mother son dance.  Make sure the band or DJ knows what songs you have chosen and ask them to introduce each event before playing the tune. 

Photo by  Omar Lopez  on  Unsplash

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

You’ll also want to think about alter the music to speed up or slow down the tempo of your reception.  For instance, upbeat swing music for your drinks reception, followed by instrumental classical music or jazz for your wedding breakfast, and finally a full-on disco for the dancing – the important thing is to work out a plan in advance with your entertainers. 

Having said that don’t be too prescriptive and give an entire playlist for the whole event that they must stick to.  Give them the freedom to read the crowd and use their creativity to keep the party swinging.  With a DJ it is, however, a good idea to provide a list of songs you’d love to hear, as well as do-not-play list.

Final note 

If you want any further advice about DJs, bands or anything else “music” the team at Clevedon Hall are happy to help - we’ve seen (and heard!) a lot of weddings and are happy to share our experience.


Jim O'ConnorComment