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Booking Your Wedding Band Or DJ {Advice From The Experts}

Finding a great live band or DJ for your wedding can be one of the most time consuming aspects of planning your big day. As well as actually choosing from the plethora of musicians out there, there are ALL the questions too. Should you take the plunge and book an act? Or should you save the money and curate a playlist? What type of music works best for the ceremony? And how about the reception? What happens if something goes wrong? What actually is gypsy jazz?!

With this in mind, we interviewed James at Sound Generation, leading music agency for weddings and events. As well as some excellent recommendations for musicians, bands and DJs for your big day, James sheds the light on our questions plus much, much more…

What music would you recommend for different parts of the day? What’s your favourite type of ensemble for the ceremony, post ceremony, dinner, dancing etc.

{Ceremony} This can often be quite personal to the couple as there may be specific pieces they want, and these pieces may translate better to a particular instrument or ensemble. Strings are always popular, whether that’s a Classical Trio/Quartet such as ESQ, or a soloist (Harp, Cello, etc), but I also think having a great singer at a ceremony can be really uplifting and memorable.

{Drinks Reception} There are so many options for this, but it’s always nice to have something that’s a little fun or has a slight twist; Gypsy Jazz (like the Nouveau Boheme band), Flamenco, and Cuban bands have been popular recently (especially in summer) and always provide a great, feel-good atmosphere. Case in point – the Havana Kings.

{Dinner} If you want live music through dinner, it generally needs to be something that can blend into the background. String quartets and Jazz bands, like the London Jazz Trio work well for this. If you have a band/DJ for later in the evening then there’s nothing wrong with having a playlist through dinner. Depending on your tastes, a nice selection of vocal jazz, mellow Motown, and acoustic tunes can work nicely.

{Evening} You can’t beat the energy and interaction you get from a live band, especially if they have an amazing lead vocalist like Briggs Street Players. But of course a great DJ is also going to mean a fantastic evening for all, and DJ’s have the advantage of being able to play almost any track from any era/genre.

Do you have a track/song that is guaranteed to fill the dance floor?

There are so many and it can depend on the crowd; No Diggity, 24K Magic and Call Me Al are usually sure-fire hits. More recently, “Maria Maria” by Santana has been going down a storm. I think it’s having a resurgence because the song’s hook was used on the DJ Khaled/Rihanna track, “Wild Thoughts”.

What’s the most memorable act you’ve ever booked or seen perform at a wedding?

Sound Generation booked a Flamenco Quartet for a wedding in the South of France. It wasn’t a big budget affair but the couple had found an incredible chateau in the mountains with the most stunning views. The band and dancer in traditional Spanish attire set against this backdrop was truly incredible.

How do you keep everyone happy – from teenagers to retirees?

A DJ is a good way to please everyone as their song selection generally covers everything from Elvis, ABBA and Bowie, through to Dua Lipa, Drake, and Stormzy. They would typically start a bit earlier than a band, often straight after dinner, so can accommodate a younger audience to begin with, before moving through the genres/eras for everybody else.

Why book live music over having a playlist?

The main drawback to a playlist is that you can’t play the right tune at the right time, and the playlist doesn’t ‘read the room’ or play to the dance floor. If you book a great band or DJ, they should be able to read the crowd and judge what tunes will work best and when.

The other thing I’d say is that a playlist at a wedding is never going to be memorable for your guests in the same way that a band or DJ would be.

Any top tips you’ve picked up over the years for emergencies?

I’m pleased to say we’ve never had any total disasters ☺ but in any kind of emergency the most important thing is of course to stay calm and not panic. The closest we’ve come to a disaster is instruments not making it onto an international flight. It took several phone calls to the airport and then to a taxi driver who didn’t speak a word of English. I was desperately clawing at my GCSE French to direct them to the band. Booking through a reliable agency like Sound Generation does mean that in the rare instance of any issues with like this, you will have a team working tirelessly to make sure everything runs smoothly on the night.

Sound Generation are members of our handpicked supplier directory, The List, if you’re looking for talented, friendly and reliable musicians for your big day, then do get in touch. Big thanks to James at Sound Generation for this interview, we hope you find it helpful 🙂

Author: Fern Godfrey
Fern spends most of her time dreaming about weddings and trying to convince her long-suffering boyfriend to propose. Lucky enough to live in sunny Cornwall, if you need her – you’ll find her at beach.

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