Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

music to your ears: how to book the most professional wedding band

November 10th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Bands For Hire (3)

Here at Brides Up North HQ we’re the first to recommend using trusted and experienced suppliers to contribute to your big day, which should greatly reduce the risk of any aspect of the celebrations going wrong.

Through our ‘Suppliers We Love’ online directory, we highlight those from across the North that we know are talented, skilful and creative, and that will enhance, not hinder, your special day. One such supplier is entertainment agency Bands for Hire, who are here today to offer their top tips on securing a professional wedding band.

As providers of jazz bands, party bands and more throughout the UK, including Liverpool, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the North East, the agency team are well placed to reveal the best way to secure top entertainment for your big day…

Bands For Hire (1)

bands for hire say: Let’s face it – you’re pouring so much time and effort into all other aspects of your wedding that only the best and most professional band on the circuit will do. And although there are a lot of contenders out there for this title, there’s also quite a wide margin in terms of quality if you don’t know where to look or what to look for. The following is a quick checklist to help you identify and book yourself a band worthy of this happiest of occasions.

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How do they present themselves?

When trying to attract new clients, presentation is everything to a wedding band. This includes how they conduct themselves on the phone, how frequently they update and monitor their online presence, and the quality of the photos and videos they submit. Low production values suggest a lack of professionalism that you don’t need to be dealing with come your big day. You want a band that cares about what they do, and wants you to know it. In a tough and highly competitive business climate, a band must cover all of its bases, and if to you they don’t seem to be, you’ll soon be able to find another act that does.

Can you book them via an agency?

We always recommend going through an agency. While there are a lot of untethered wedding bands out there that we’re sure are fantastic, using a live music agency will give you the assurance that your chosen act has been thoroughly quality checked – plus, they’ll have all the requisite experience, so you can trust you’ll be getting hitched without a hitch. An agency is also a handy way to compare services and rates of a selection of wedding bands, so your search time would be cut in half.

You may think that the rates at which agency bands are available seem astronomical in comparison to your local pub band, but in reality you’re forking out for a far superior service you can rely on to deliver – and, at any rate, every agency will be vying for your custom, and will therefore be keeping their prices competitive. You may be fortunate enough to know a great wedding band personally – in which case, take advantage of those mates’ rates – but an agency is otherwise your safest bet. This way, your act is contractually obliged to both show up and entertain for the agreed fee. Heaven forbid anything should go wrong, but at least you’ll be covered for any eventuality.

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What’s their track record like?

Wedding and function bands will more often than not list for you their past gigging experience – most likely dropping the biggest client names they have in their arsenal. While these won’t necessarily be a sure-fire ascertainment of the standard of the service they’ll deliver to you, a band that can boast a recommendation from the BBC, Apple, Virgin or another major corporation will be able to perform at a certain level – and should at least be able to behave themselves. Bands worth their salt will also list any other achievements they’ve had during their careers, such as quotes from satisfied customers, prominent appearances or awards.

What services do they provide?

It’s one thing to book a band to play two 40-minute sets for you; it’s another entirely to receive a tailor-made service that follows you through each stage of the ceremony, from the cutting of the cake to the knees-up at the reception. Even a solo performer will have a range of music for you to pick from, and a real pro will know precisely what to put where. Bands should also clearly state what their protocol is when it comes to their own requirements – if providing their own PA and lighting rig is extra, this needs to be confirmed well in advance. Nobody wins if they just show up with nothing to plug into. Furthermore, if the band is expecting to be fed and watered, they should give you a heads up regarding any additional costs or dietary requirements.

It’s not unheard of to have live musicians provide the music for one part of the ceremony and for a DJ to provide the other. Often, bands will include a DJ set (or something similar) in their wedding packages, whether it be an additional performer or one of the band members themselves. It’s definitely worth sorting this out early on – you don’t want to get caught short with a spell of radio silence, or have to go on a mad dash for a last-minute DJ on the day. The best course of action is to have a clear idea of what you want from the outset, then clarify with the band exactly what it is they’ll be doing for you, then see if anything else needs addressing. A proper professional wedding band will most likely offer everything you could possibly want, and will be willing to work with you to maintain a tight ship.

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Now you’re a little more clued up on the subject, we hope you can make your choice with confidence. Remember – there are professionals out there who’ll do the hard work for you, so you can concentrate on the other aspects of your perfect wedding. It’s always going to be tempting to cut corners wherever you can when the budget’s hurtling through the roof, but with something as integral to the wedding experience as the music and entertainment, risking an anything less than excellent wedding band is not one you can afford to take.

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class acts: entertainment nation

July 24th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Entertainment Nation (5)

This afternoon on the blog, we’re catching up with our fabulous Sponsor Entertainment Nation, to hear their latest news whilst also getting some pro tips and advice on picking the right acts to enhance your big day.

Offering something for all, Entertainment Nation has an impressive choice of bands, musicians and performers to choose from, each reliable, professional and sure to delight and excite your wedding guests.

In this post, the friendly team are bringing us up to date with their wedding entertainment offering, but you can also find out more about their amazing services on their easy-to-use website and also via their fabulous Live Loft videos as detailed below. Take it away guys…

Can you give us an overview of the types of entertainment that you offer?

entertainment nation say: We offer a huge range of bands, performers and entertainers – including bands, soloists, duos and classical performers, plus tribute, themed and speciality acts. We provide anything from a rock and pop band, to a carnival show, a classical quartet to a DJ, a magician to a football freestyler! You name it, we’ve got it!

Do you have any exciting new acts or news to tell us about since we last spoke to you?

We are always hiring exciting new acts to our roster – so we encourage readers to go and check out the fresh blood we have on the site! We are branching out to all different kinds of acts at the moment and we can’t wait for them to head out and perform at our clients’ weddings

We’ve also had a brilliant start to our Entertainment Nation Live Loft series. A great range of acts have come in to perform in our live lounge style studio and we’ve loved hanging out with them! Every act performs two live acoustic covers, as well as taking part in an informal interview and a few ‘Guess the Intro’ games. There’s plenty more in the pipeline for the Live Loft, so keep an eye out for more videos!

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In your opinion, how can entertainment at a wedding enhance the day and make it more memorable?

Live entertainment is the only way to go in our eyes! If you book a professional live band, you are guaranteed a spectacular show that will wow all of your guests. Our bands are all very experienced performers, meaning your wedding is in safe hands. Our acts know what works for each event and can tailor their sets to cater for a particular audience. That dancefloor will be full until the early hours, for sure!

Wedding entertainment isn’t just restricted to the evening reception either – a classical string quartet or acoustic duo for your ceremony/drinks reception will add an elegant and romantic atmosphere. Trust us – there’s an act for every part of your big day!

How do you pick the bands and acts that you select and ensure that they are reliable?

We take the process of selecting new bands and acts very seriously. The acts we promote are a reflection of Entertainment Nation and we only want the best entertainment on our books. Acts are required to provide professional promotional material and accurate information regarding their act if they wish to sign up. Our expert team also read through the acts’ testimonials from previous clients – which tends to highlight anything that we might have missed.

Entertainment Nation (1)

What do couples love about your service and what sets you apart from other entertainment companies?

Entertainment Nation stems from a background of experienced musicians who have played at thousands of weddings. We know how weddings work and can see both sides of the process. We bring the personal touch and will take time to answer every email and discuss every last detail of a couple’s wedding entertainment, to make sure it’s perfect on the day. During our many years of experience in the wedding entertainment industry, we have seen what happens when things aren’t done properly and we don’t want anyone else to suffer that experience – we do it right.

One of most attractive things about booking with Entertainment Nation is that we are available from 10am until 10pm, seven days a week, meaning we are always there to answer any questions or queries about the act you’ve booked.

What are your top five tips for couples when choosing their wedding entertainment?

Book early – We can’t emphasise this enough. We advise that clients book at least 12-18 months in advance to make sure they get plenty of choice when it comes to booking their entertainment. You don’t want to find the perfect wedding band and then be told they were snapped up six months ago!

Talk to your venue – Most venues know exactly what to tell a client regarding live entertainment. However, you need to ask the right questions. You need to know: if the venue allows live entertainment, if they have a sound limiter and how big the performance area is.

Explore the options – When searching for an act, make sure you look at different line ups, different genres and different styles of entertainment. We advise that clients explore all possible options to make sure they don’t miss out on their ideal act.

Watch promo videos and listen to demos – most bands and acts provide professional promotional videos or demo tracks on their profile. They are a great representation of what the act will be like on the day.

Book with an agency – Booking with an agency means you have someone to contact at all times as well as the security of a contract. We oversee everything from initial enquiries until the big day itself, and are on hand in case of an entertainment emergency.

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ask the pros: say hello to warble entertainment

July 18th, 2017 | Julia Braime

Warble Entertainment (7)

Whether you want to book a simple string quartet, a rocking live band or Britain’s Got Talent finalist-worthy entertainment for your wedding day, it’s helpful to know a place you can browse and book online with pro advice and tips to hand.

Our fabulous Sponsor, Warble Entertainment, offer one such easy-to-use service and have more than 1,000 acts on their books making them a must-look-up company when planning how to set your big day scene and wow your guests.

From musicians to comedians and look-a-likes to sword swallowers – you’re bound to find a fitting act when browsing their site and will have peace of mind when booking through the experienced and trusted business.

Here to tell us more about Warble Entertainment’s fabulous service and selection – and to offer our readers a 10% discount from the booking deposit when quoting “Brides Up North” – is founder Tracey Warren.

Warble Entertainment (18)

When was Warble Entertainment set up and how has it grown since that time?

tracey says: Warble was established in 2007 by myself and my husband Matt. Ten years later we have a brilliant team of 14 who are all just as dedicated and passionate about providing exciting, fun and professional entertainment for more than 6,000 weddings each year, as we are!

What does Warble Entertainment aim to bring to the wedding industry and what types of services does it offer?

Matt and I set up Warble to help couples find the perfect wedding entertainment for their big day no matter what their budget, style or theme. We wanted to make the whole process easy and enjoyable as we understand how busy couples can be and how stressful planning a wedding can get.

We literally provide any entertainment you can think of, from live bands magicians, caricaturists, string quartets, fire jugglers, walking trees, photo-booths and so much more!

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In your opinion, how can live entertainment help to enhance a wedding day?

The first thing I would do is encourage couples to look at the feedback page on our website. There are literally thousands of references from genuine couples and they explain perfectly what entertainment brought to their big day. For example: “This band were one of the best things that could have happened to our wedding. They were incredible. They bought life and soul to the evening and everyone wanted the music to last forever.” Booking the right entertainment will elevate a wedding from being lovely to absolutely amazing! It can also augment and bring your chosen theme to life as well as making the day flow easier and it can take a lot of pressure off the bride and groom from having to entertain their guests.

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What are the benefits of couples arranging their wedding entertainment through Warble Entertainment and how does your website help to make the process simple?

First of all we have literally thousands of acts to choose from that have all been through a vigorous vetting process so you know whatever act you book will be professional and do exactly what is expected of them. This saves the couple so much time and worry of searching and vetting acts themselves.

We make the whole process simple, easy and fun. You can enjoy browsing acts on our friendly and easy to use website and we’ll make sure all the important bits are sorted including any paperwork your venue may require such as insurance certificates etc.

We have a 24 hour emergency helpline. Acts and entertainers are only human so occasionally they may fall ill or be unable to make your wedding for some reason. If this was to happen and you booked an act direct you would most likely be left without a band or the entertainment you booked or having to spend part of your day calling round trying to find an alternative. If you book via Warble we would take any of this worry away and ensure a suitable alternative is in place – in most cases without you even noticing!

Lastly, we are experts in booking wedding entertainment and so have so much invaluable advice and tips and will be able to answer any questions you or your venue may have.

What sets you apart from other wedding entertainment companies?

Our customer service. We absolutely understand this is the biggest day of the couple’s life, that it can be stressful and it is likely to cost a lot of money, so we do everything in our power to make sure the entertainment they book from us is not only perfect for them and their big day but the whole process is fun and easy. There are never any strings attached. We are passionate about weddings and entertainment and it shines through in everything we do.

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How do Warble Entertainment select the bands and acts that they represent?

We have a full artist liaison team in place who will respond to our customers’ requirements. If there is a gap in our roster they will fill it. They have a full process to vet and sign-up acts and we would never work with an act that didn’t fully meet our requirements and also share the same passion and outlook on weddings and customer service as we do.

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the big debate: live band vs dj

April 5th, 2017 | Julia Braime

Earcandy (1)

It’s an age-old debate that many couples come up against when deciding on their wedding entertainment – whether to hire a live band or DJ to keep the reception dancefloor full all night long.

Here to give their expert opinion and advice on the subject today, is entertainment agency Earcandy. With some impressive record industry credits and a fabulous collection of live entertainment and bands on their books, these guys know exactly what it takes to make a wedding rock…

earcandy say: You need music at your wedding to break the ice and create an atmosphere that provides for conversation and lots of fun, but what do you choose; a band or a DJ? While the best option would be to hire both, you may not have the budget to make that happen, so if you have to decide on one or the other, here’s a few tips to help you make a solid decision that you and your guests can be happy with on the big day.

Things to take into consideration…

style

The genre of music that you decide on should enhance the theme of your reception. What’s your favourite? Rock/pop, classic jazz or soul music? Settling on the right genre is important, think about the guests you have invited and what they might enjoy, as well as your own preference.

A DJ can play anything you like and they have an extensive archive of any song you could want. On the other hand, a band is locked into one style and rarely crosses over to include multiple styles and sounds.

When it comes to the impact of the artists, live bands will always be the best. A band is able to engage the crowd in a way that a DJ simply can’t. Live bands provide an audio and visual experience that provides so much more than just music. A live band will have experience on stage and with handling crowds to get the best engagement from them. They are constantly watching the audience and they have their fingers on the pulse of the crowd’s reaction to their songs.

budget

The critical factor that will determine your choice is the budget. DJ’s generally cost a lot less than a live band. Live bands have a few members and everyone needs a piece of the action, including their agent. The season also determines the pricing, summer is the most popular time for weddings, so you can expect to pay premium rates for either a band or DJ.

Earcandy (4)

season

If you are getting married in the summer or spring, then make sure that you enquire well in advance and secure your booking, or you may be disappointed as good live bands and DJ’s tend to get booked up six months in advance during the summer season.

The winter is a different game, you may be able to secure a better rate at this time of year. This is handy for those with a tighter budget and you may be pleased to discover that you could hire both a live band and a DJ for your reception for the same price as just one of the acts in the summer.

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get the party started: wedding entertainment at a venue

February 21st, 2017 | Rachel Parry

www.gemmamcauleyphotography.com / www.facebook.com/gemmamcauleyphoto

Gemma McAuley

This afternoon, we’re talking entertainment, and in particular, how certain elements of a wedding venue can affect the performance of live acts and musicians.

To ensure the advice is coming directly from those with excellent experience in the field, we’re welcoming our wonderful Sponsor Seventh Second, back to the blog. Set up and run by talented and knowledgeable musicians, those behind Seventh Second know exactly what is required to secure professional, reliable and talented musical acts that will help to make a wedding day truly unique and memorable.

Following their previous guide on how to pick the right wedding band, the agency is taking over the blogging reins once again to advise what elements of a venue need to be considered to ensure you can have your desired choice of wedding entertainment.

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Jonny Draper

budget

Seventh Second say: This is the number one consideration as your wedding venue is going to most likely be your most expensive purchase. Hidden costs can turn your dream wedding venue into a huge expense. I think most of us would agree that a venue means nothing unless it’s filled with beautiful decorations, happy guests, fantastic food, service and entertainment, so consider what else you want at your chosen venue and plan and budget accordingly. You may have to compromise on a few little things so that you can afford the venue, entertainment and extras that you want.

Darren Irwin Photography

Darren Irwin

opening hours

Most of us Brits only really let loose once we’ve had a few beers and we’ve noticed over the years that by the time we get close to bedtime most people have only just plucked up the courage to dance, and so just as we finish the night’s entertainment, the party is getting started! We therefore suggest thinking about what kind of guests you have, what kind of wedding atmosphere you want to create and checking the opening hours whilst selecting your dream venue.

space and layout

Many clients ask us, how much space does the band need? We typically say a minimum of three by four metres for a three- to four-piece act is best and ask any act bigger than that. All our acts know what they need for any situation and band size, so just ask us for more information. Most wedding acts out there should know what they need if they are professional.

There’s also stages, plugs and power requirements. If the venue has a stage and its free, use it. If you have to rent one in, it will make the whole performance area look better.

Plugs and power-wise, a minimum of four standard plug sockets is usually fine but again, check what the venue actually has and then chat to the band. If you are running a generator, check its specifics. Don’t forget that you want a nice big space for dancing so chat to the venue about that too.

Miki Photography

Miki Photography

sound limiters

Ask venues if they have sound limiters, what decibel limit they are set to, and if acts have to use them. As a guide, any limiter that’s under 100 decibels is going to affect their performance a lot and anything under 90 decibels is only advised for acoustic acts.

filling the dancefloor

Wedding acts perform to their max when they have a packed dancefloor.

If you can help it, don’t serve food when a live band is performing. Try and coordinate with the band so their break coincides with your food service. No one dances with a wad of cake in their hand or a freshly filled stomach.

If the bride and groom are on the dance floor (i.e. you!) then your guests will be. Stay there and get your guests comfortable strutting their stuff and they will stay there too.

Pick great live wedding entertainment! Guests can tell if a band is not really putting their all into a performance. Read our guide on picking a wedding band or talk to us to get all the advice you need.

Not a must, but we often notice that the more freely available alcohol there is, the more dancing there is!

Andy Gaines Photography

Andy Gaines 

sound system and lights

If a venue has equipment the wedding band either has to use, or can use, it’s worth checking for sound limiters and making sure your wedding band has all the technical details of the sound and lighting system. Built in sound systems are becoming common as venues struggle to deal with noise complaints so if a venue has its own PA and lighting system this is probably for the best and any live act should be encouraged to use them. Regardless, all our acts follow a self-contained philosophy so they always have all the sound and light equipment you’d need for a great wedding.

To find out more abut Seventh Second and their acts and service, visit their website

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don’t stop the music: top tips for picking a wedding band

January 16th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Image by Mark Newton Wedding Photography

Image by Mark Newton Wedding Photography

When it comes to top wedding entertainment, we think it’s hard to beat the atmosphere created by live musicians and singers, and so would always say to consider hiring such acts for your big day. That said, there’s a lot more to consider when booking a band than merely how they sound.

As such we’re getting some expert advice on the subject today, courtesy of our wonderful Sponsor Seventh Second.

Set up and run by talented and knowledgeable musicians, those behind Seventh Second know exactly what is required to secure professional, reliable and talented musical acts that will help to make a wedding day truly unique and memorable.

Here to give us the agency’s top tips on picking a wedding band is one of Seventh Second’s managers and musicians, Jon Stephens.

Image by Rachel Joyce Photography

Image by Rachel Joyce Photography

budget

If you are planning a wedding, you should have a rough budget in mind before you start looking at any bands.

Most weddings go way over budget because of hidden costs. With us, the prices you get quoted are 100% exact and always include vat and all the rest. There are no hidden fees or extra payments after the act has performed either and you should check this also rings true for any other band or agency. Make sure you get full, honest quotes, and with organisation and planning you will keep costs down and stay on target with your budget.

availability

Many live acts, including ours, get booked six months or even years in advance, so check a band’s availability as soon as you have your event date booked in.

We don’t recommend paying special/one-off fees to reserve a date with a band as things can often go wrong and it guarantees nothing. Any band or agency that tries to get you to do this should be avoided.

If you have picked a live act that’s free for your event and you are happy with the quote they give, that’s when you can safely put a deposit down to reserve their services. Always make sure there’s a fair, legally binding contract involved.

If you can’t get hold of your chosen live act, any website worth their salt can recommend sensible alternatives. Check their suggestions as some agencies can offer any old act to you in the hope of a quick buck.

Image by Neil Jackson Photographic

Image by Neil Jackson Photographic

style

The musical style/genre of a band is important but budget can get in the way. You find your perfect act but when you see the final price it smashes you budget to bits. Naturally, the sales person will suggest other bands and a fantastic “one-size-fits-all” act is usually picked. This can be fine but more often than not, you don’t quite get what you wanted.

One solution is to up your budget or more realistically, do some research before you even have your wedding booked and get a good understanding of how much all the different styles/genres of live acts cost.

Shameless plug alert! We’ve dealt with this problem a lot and we solved it by being in the acts we promote. This means we can make truly bespoke bands and advertise acts that are willing to try and cater their music to your needs. Having bespoke bands also means that nine times out of ten, we design bands that fit the exact stylistic sound and look you want but also fits into your budget. We are pretty unique in this aspect compared to other websites so ask us more about it.

band or dj?

Both! However, if you don’t have the budget for both, we’d say live band – plus some live bands can offer a professional DJ service to save you money. Ours do and many of them will offer it for free if you book them.

If you are thinking about booking one or the other be honest with yourself. Will the act you choose really play the songs you love convincingly? If you want a club vibe, book a DJ. If you want live music covering all the hits, book a band.

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