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The A-Z of wedding entertainment by Jamie Goddard and Harriet Lowther from Wiltshire based band The Zoots. Photo courtesy of Debbie & James Sanderson of http://www.debbiesandersonweddingphotography.co.uk/ (we met these two at Liz and John’s beach wedding, their photos are amazing!)

When searching ‘wedding band’ on the Internet, Google churns up over 6,640,000 in just under 0.7 seconds…Here we’ve written an A-Z guide for what to look for when choosing a wedding band and having live music at your wedding or event.

* Act now! Good bands and Djs get booked up very far, sometimes 2 years, in advance…

* Booking Bands and DJs directly will offer more value for money as there are no added fees/commissions. It’s a more personal experience and you can be in contact with them as much as you like, fine tuning your special day.

* Changing room. Does your venue have one? Most bands will have outfits or suits to perform in. A changing room is essential to ensure they look their best. It is also an ideal place for them to warm up, recharge and relax during their breaks. It’s a good idea to check your venue has somewhere suitable, with heating, it can really make all the difference to their performance. 

* Delegate a responsible adult to liaise with your band or DJ to check they have everything they need and know where to set up when they arrive.

* Equipment needs to be fully PAT tested and of the highest quality. Quality equipment can make the difference between a good night and and an “I-can’t -believe-how-amazing-this-sounds” night! A professional band or DJ will have high quality, reliable and presentable equipment and transport. If there is a large difference between quotes from bands, quality equipment is likely to be one of the reasons.

* First Dance. With enough notice, your band might be able to learn the first dance of your choosing. Have a think about which song and ask! If it suits the style of your band and they have the right instruments, they will! Still undecided about which track is right for your first dance? Ask your wedding band! They will have performed lots so may be able to shed some light on what would work best.

* Get it in writing. As with all wedding suppliers, ask for everything in writing. This isn’t being demanding, but common sense. All bands and entertainers should provide you with a contract detailing arrival times, finish times, their requirements and cancellation policies. Read the contract fully before signing.

* Honour. It is always an honour to be asked to perform at someones wedding. If your band doesn’t think so, then perhaps they aren’t the right band for you.

* Information. Provide the band or DJ with as much information as possible, let them know your favourite songs and also the ones you don’t like. Tell them what makes certain songs special and anything that can help the entertainment more personal.

* Jamie is the lead singer of The Zoots he has performed all around the world. Ask him for any advice you may need.

* Keep it live. Booking and having a live band at your event is a real experience. Check your band is 100% live by asking if they use backing tracks.

* Limiter. Does your venue have one? A limiter does what it say and ‘limits’ the level of the sound at your venue, meaning the power will cut out if the sound goes about their set level. If your venue does have a limiter, discuss this with you band prior to their arrival. It would be a good idea to watch another band perform there to see how sensitive the limiter is. The sensitivity of a limiter could dictate what size/type of band would be best for you, and may affect the atmosphere on the night. 

* Money. It is always best to get a contract and pay the band before the big day. It is one less thing to worry about for both parties! Ask your band for an invoice if you’re not sure about payment details.

* No drinks on the dance floor. There’s a reason venues and bands suggest this policy. It’s for you and your guests safety and also minimises the risk of damage to equipment. Its slippery when wet.

* Order of the day. Make sure you discuss the itinerary with your band or DJ. A band will need around and hour to set up and sound-check, which will need to be scheduled in. Be prepared for things to run over. It may be cliche, but speeches do, more often than not, run over. Discuss a start time with your entertainers. In the summer, a later start for the band is recommended as guests usually prefer to enjoy the last of the summer light with friends and dance later, once the sun has gone down.

* Public Liability! Make your entertainer has this, most venues will stipulate that entertainers have this before performing. All reputable bands and DJs will be able to provide this no problem.

* Questions. Ask your band or DJ lots of them them! Often this is the first time you will be booking entertainment, experienced acts understand this and will be happy to help.

* Requests. Don’t be afraid to ask for your band or DJ to play some of your favourites. Don’t dictate the entire song list though, the band really does knows best.

* Something for everyone. Make sure the band or DJ perform music which suits all the age groups. Have lots of children at your wedding? Let your band know as some bands may be able to offer something extra to help keep them entertained. Remember the older guests too.

Testimonials, a good band or DJ will have lots of these from a range of high quality venues and clients, do ask to see them!

* Upstairs. Let your entertainer know if they will be performing upstairs (or indeed downstairs) as they may need to bring an extra pair of hands and arrive a little earlier in order set up on time. The more information a band has about the day, the better. 

* Venue. Depending on location, your band may be able to view your venue before the big day which really helps, allowing them to see where to load in and where they are performing ensuring things to run smoothly on the night.

* Water. Make sure your entertainers have access to lots of this. They may have travelled a long way to be there, so refreshments and snacks will definitely be appreciated on the night especially as there might be long queues at the bar. Summer weddings can be hot too so keep them hydrated!

* eXperience makes all the difference, has your band or DJ got an impressive CV?

* Yes! Found the right band? And they are available? YES! Now the real fun begins, choosing some songs and discussing first dances…!

* Zoots. One of the most experienced and successful independent bands in England. The Zoots have toured over 30 countries, performed at over 300 weddings throughout the UK and Europe. 

Have a question? Contact band leaders Jamie and Harriet from the The Zoots, they’d be happy to help.

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