Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

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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make it personal: dream day music

January 11th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

"beautiful female violinist posing with her violin, looking straight into you; ARGB color spacesee other similar images:"

Today on the blog we’re super excited to introduce you to our fabulous new Sponsor, Dream Day Music.

Based in the North West, Dream Day Music specialise in intimate daytime wedding music, providing the finest musicians in the region on vocals, saxophone, guitar, piano, violin and more, to create the perfect atmosphere for ceremonies, drinks receptions and wedding breakfasts.

As a collective of some of the top professional musicians and singers in the North West, Dream Day Music provide the best musicians with a personal touch, and to make each wedding at which they play truly unique, enjoyable and memorable.

Better still, the team at Dream Day Music have created four exclusive offers for Brides Up North readers, including fabulous discounts and packages, just click here for full details.

Now, here to tell us more about their premier service is Dream Day Music’s Entertainment Manager, Lauren Hemmingfield…

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To begin with, please can you give us a little background on Dream Day Music and the services that it offers?

lauren says: Dream Day Music was set up in January 2012. Some of our musicians, who worked together regularly on theatre shows, recording sessions etc, had been playing freelance at weddings for a number of years, and it made sense to pool everyone’s expertise and resources into one “collective” so that they could help to promote each other, offer a wider range of services to brides, and reduce advertising costs.

The main aim was to make it easier for brides to book top musicians that they could rely on to go that extra mile, without having to book through agents. That way, people could avoid the added cost of agents’ fees, which at the time could add up to 100% of the musician’s fee again.

We were able to provide a better standard of music to brides and grooms with a lower price tag. Providing the best musicians at a reasonable price has remained our mantra ever since.

What different types of musical entertainment do you offer?

We offer musicians, solo and in duos, on a range of instruments including piano; saxophone; classical and jazz guitar; acoustic and electric violin; church organ etc. We have a few sensational singers available too, ranging from classical opera soloists to our really popular acoustic or “Live Lounge” style covers singer, Kate.

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In your opinion, how can live music help to enhance a wedding day and why would you encourage couples to have live musicians at their weddings?

There are umpteen stats about wedding entertainment, but one key one is that around four out of five brides have said in the week following their wedding that they’d have made entertainment their highest priority (even over their dress!), and that they wish they’d given it more thought or a greater portion of that all-important budget.

Music contributes so much to the atmosphere and people’s moods. A live musician can adapt to the changing dynamic of your wedding day and create the ambiance that you want at all times.

The second reason – and the one that makes us so lucky to do what we do – is that, along with scent, music has a unique ability to create, and bring back, memories.

So many of our brides tell us that their chosen music made them so much more emotional than they expected, especially when they heard their bridal entrance music start. That might seem a strange thing to want to happen, but if you think about it, emotion is usually behind your strongest and most treasured memories.

Live musicians can even create a unique version of almost any song, or change it live to respond to what’s going on around them. The possibilities are endless, but it is so important to include music that is personal to you, and if you can have unique versions created by your musicians just for you, all the better.

You just can’t get the same responsiveness from an mp3 or CD playlist.

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stand out from the crowd: warble entertainment

June 1st, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Warble Entertainments (2)

As wedding entertainment options continue to grow far beyond the traditional pianist, string quartet and DJ, knowing which live act to hire for your big day can be a somewhat overwhelming task. But fear not, as an abundance of inspiration, advice and choice can be found at the click of a button via trusted online entertainment agencies, such as fabulous Brides Up North Sponsor, Warble Entertainment.

Keen to offer couples the very best talent in the industry whilst guaranteeing complete piece of mind, the team at Warble will ensure your wedding entertainment makes your big day truly memorable and unique.

Better still, Warble are offering Brides Up North readers an amazing 10% discount on their booking deposit, just quote ‘Brides Up North discount’ at the time of enquiry.

So to get you off on the right foot, we’re today quizzing Tracey of Warble Entertainment on how to hit the right note with your band or act selection…

Warble Entertainments (12)

Tell us a little about Warble Entertainment…

tracey says: Warble Entertainment is an agency designed to make booking entertainment for your wedding fun, friendly and efficient.

It was set up nearly ten years ago by husband and wife Matt and Tracey (that’s me!) who had a passion for live music, weddings, events and entertainment. They believed there was a lack of honesty and good customer service within the entertainment agency sector at that time and wanted to produce an agency that understood the importance of a wedding and took time to care about the both the customers and the acts requirements.

Now Warble consists of a strong team of 16 who are just as passionate about the company and its core beliefs of honesty, reliability and great customer service, whilst providing the UK’s most exciting entertainment…which is exactly what wedding couples receive when they book via Warble.

What different types of entertainment do you offer?

The most exciting thing about Warble is that we can literally offer any kind of entertainment to suit any style of wedding. So whether you are looking for a traditional and romantic theme and are looking to book a harpist for your ceremony, a jazz band for your drinks reception, a magician during your wedding breakfast and a DJ for your evening reception, or, you require something a little more alternative with a vintage twist, so maybe a barbershop quartet for your ceremony, a mime artist for your drinks reception, a 1920’s jazz singer for your wedding breakfast and a full live funky swing band for your evening reception – we can bring your ideas and theme to life!

Warble Entertainments (8)

How can live entertainment help to enhance a wedding day?

Live entertainment is so important to have at weddings for so many different reasons! Here are just a few of these:

It helps bring your theme to life – as mentioned above, entertainment can augment your theme, for example if you’re having a festival theme it’s a no brainer than you’d have a fantastic headlining live band!

It helps break the ice it’s well known that at weddings there is usually lots of different groups of people that don’t know each other and well placed and timed entertainment will help bring them all together. For example, a magician during the wedding breakfast can provide a great talking point for the table.

It fills the gaps the best example here is the drinks reception, where the bride and groom are often busy having their professional photographs and so if you leave the guests with a caricaturist and perhaps some live music to lift the atmosphere, they’ll never know you were gone!

It makes your big day stand out from the crowdAlthough your big days is obviously extremely special to you and your nearest and dearest, it is inevitable that it won’t be the only wedding many of your guests will have been to that year and so why not make sure it’s the one to remember for all the right reasons!

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Ear Candy: AMV Live Music

April 6th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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Brides Up North does like to feature the best Northern talent… and my, my the musicians represented by AMV Live Music are just that.  Officially.

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Between sets, Brides Up North chatted to Michael of AMV Live Music about their superior service and what makes for a great wedding score.

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AMV

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What and who is AMV Live Music?

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AMV Live Music is a new music agency in Newcastle with a difference. It was set up by myself, Michael Forster and Andrew Garner and between us we have over thirty years experience in the entertainment business both on and off stage. We only sign high quality bands and musicians and over 80% of our artists have either Bachelor’s or Master’s in Music degrees.

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How can AMV Live Music make my wedding day memorable?

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We can provide almost every type of music imaginable and for every aspect of the wedding day. For instance during the ceremony we have the two best Classical String Quartets in the North East and unlike many Quartets they are willing to alter their repertoire to suit your taste. We have Classical guitarists and Soprano’s to welcome you into and accompany you out of the church. For receptions we have some of the finest pianists, guitarists and saxophonists offering everything from Classical music to Jazz to Rock and Pop to entertain guests whilst they wait for the wedding breakfast. We also have some of the finest male and female vocalists who can accompany all of our solo musicians. For the night-time festivities we have what we believe to be the finest choice of "non-cheesy" bands that there is in the North East. You won’t find any "cabaret" vocals with our bands, just extremely tight musicians with vocals that make a difference.

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AMV

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What sort of acts does AMV Live Music represent?

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We represent Bands, Soloists, Duo’s, Jazz bands and musicians, DJ’s, Céilidhs, Classical String Quartets, Sopranos, Harpists, Classical Guitarists & Pianists, Saxophonists, Pipers and Traditional Folk Ensembles.

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What sets AMV Live Music apart from other agents?

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We have worked at some of the highest levels of the industry and will only put our name to the highest quality musicians as we could not sleep at night knowing that someone’s biggest day of their lives might be upset by a sub standard musician or band. When setting the agency up we were told by some of our peers up here that the average person doesn’t recognise quality over price. I dispute that enormously, when such care is taken over the smallest of details of someone’s wedding then the same care should be applied to their entertainment as it is probably one of the main parts of their day their guests will remember. We know we are competitive on price and we know we supply the best live music there is here in the North East.

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How can Brides Up North hear demos before booking?

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By visiting www.amvlivemusic.com -  all of our artists have demo’s on the site and an example of their repertoire, many also have video’s of live performance and we are encouraging them all to invest in getting a video produced. However we have personally been to see all of our artists and can vouch for their demo quality being the same as their live performance. We have refused to represent some artists who had fantastic demo’s but when live were awful.

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Can Brides Up North see a video of an act playing another wedding?

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We are working with all of our bands to video their performances, some have videoed a public gig and some have done so at another wedding but the best way to confirm what you are going to get is to go along and see them perform at a public gig. We try to get our bands public gigs at Mr Lynch and As You Like It, Jesmond on a regular basis.

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Why book through AMV Live Music rather than approaching an act direct?

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Most bands work through the day on another job and then perform at night and this often leaves some of the arrangements to the last minute. This is our day and night job, we are professional to the end and we make sure that each bride gets what they ask for, for instance a first dance or a specific set-list. We also make sure all of our bands are insured and that they are PAT tested which every venue will ask for. We do not charge the bride and groom for this, we charge the artists, so for the happy couple it’s a win win situation of once it’s booked we take care of everything and any extra requests.

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Does live music really make that much of a difference?

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Absolutely it does, a good band can judge the mood of the crowd and can engage with it making the night go as best as it can. Recorded music can’t do this and it just doesn’t have the same atmosphere as great live band in the evening or a string quartet playing in the chapel. It adds a dimension to your day and night that can not be replicated buy just having recorded music. Go to any live gig and watch what the audience are doing when there is a DJ and what they are doing when the live band is on, the difference is huge, live music stirs something inside of us all, as long as it is done well!

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What would be your top three tips for choosing live music for a wedding?

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1. Go and see the band play live
2. Have a look at their repertoire list to make sure they play the right kind of music for you
3. Enquire about the reputation of both the agency and the act you are wanting to book from other sources.
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What type of music would you recommend during drinks/ dinner/ for dancing?

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Drinks: A pianist with accompanying vocals or a saxophonist
Dinner: Pianist, String Quartet (they don’t have to play purely classical music)
Dancing: A live band with a great front man/woman who can engage the audience and follow their mood.

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AMV

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How can Brides Up North find out more about AMV Live Music?

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By visiting our website or by contacting us directly. We will provide a step by step process of making sure that they get exactly the right music for their wedding, no matter how long it takes.

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How much can Brides Up North expect to pay?

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It varies hugely on what it is you are after, from £150 for a saxophonist to play for an hour, up to £1000 for a big six piece band to play for over two hours. We have everything in between, what we can guarantee is that you won’t find better quality at better prices anywhere else.

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Anything else to tell Brides Up North?

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We are running special offers at the moment where you can book seamless music throughout your day at a discounted rate compared to booking them separately.

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Why do you like and sponsor the Brides Up North blog?

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As we are a new business also we have approached the wedding industry from a different angle to the established providers and we feel that Brides Up North has too. Brides and Grooms are usually young and are therefore social media savvy and so is Brides Up North. We like what you’re doing!

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Why, thank you! :-)

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AMV Live Music is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Supplier Showcase: Spirits High DJ

January 14th, 2011 | Julia Braime

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This Featured Supplier lifts Brides Up North’s spirits on a daily basis with his amusing tweets! Rumour has it he’s quite nifty with decks and dance floors too! 

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Introducing, Spirits High Entertainments.  Brides – get him booked pronto, this man is in demand!

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Spirits High

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Tell us a bit about Spirits High Entertainments, what services do you offer ?

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I offer a Dj service individually tailored to each client where they get the exact music they want and Dj’d in a style they want. If they want "No chat, no cheese" they can have it. Musically I have over 25,000 tracks in  digital format ranging from 1940’s right up to pre release tracks that are currently being played on the radio. It’s all done via the client area on my interactive website where the client makes a list of "must" plays, play "if possible" and "do not" plays! They’re also given a link for their guests to login and choose some songs. However, the beauty of the system is that it emails the Bride & Groom when a guest makes a request and if they don’t like it they can delete it!

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What about dance floors and uplighting?

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As well as Dj’ing I can also supply starlight LED dance floors, full 70’s style LED floors and even a black & white chequered floor. Something that looks really special is the venue uplighting service where I can
match the colour of the room to the colour theme of the day. Uplighting can make such a difference to a room – you wouldn’t believe it was the same place and for a lot less than you’re probably thinking of too!

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Before and after the Spirits High Entertainments treatment…

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Spirits High Spirits High

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Do you offer any additional products?

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Yes, more on the venue dressing side of things where I can supply LED starcloths in black  or what does look good is the Ivory "twinkling" starcloth to go behind the top table. If you wanted to go for the WOW factor then I can also get ice sculptures. I don’t make these personally (!) but have some very good contacts within the industry to get the best deals.

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How did you get into this industry, what is your background?

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Well, I spent 24 years in the Army, leaving in April of 2009 as a Sergeant Major! The way I got into Djing is a great story. Whilst serving in Northern Ireland in 1992 I was the Squadron Barman for a month (everyone did it!). Our disco night in the bar was a Friday where we’d have a DJ (again another Soldier) play and it would be a great night. Unfortunately one Friday night I got a call from my DJ at around an hour before opening time saying that he had to go to Belfast and defuse a bomb so couldn’t gig tonight! I thought it couldn’t be that difficult so would do it myself. I do have a passion for all types of  music so this made it a bit easier but that first night was "manic" to say the least as it was still in the days of vinyl and turntables. It
just grew from there really. I had a bit of a DJ’ing break for a bit that saw me go to such exotic locations as Bosnia, Iraq & Germany, then in 2005 I was posted back to Northern Ireland and decided that I wanted to get back into it so Spirits High Entertainments was born on a part time basis around the day job. I gigged some great venues in Northern Ireland including the Europa Hotel and a few on the North coast. In 2007 I moved to Derbyshire and went full time from April of 2009 and have never looked back.

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Spirits High

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What song is guaranteed to fill the floor at a wedding disco?

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I could name a few…in fact I will! Currently “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas is a banker.  As a definite 100%er The Killers and “Mr Brightside”. If you’re looking for something a little bit older then I’d say Robin S with “Show Me Love.”

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What song is guaranteed to clear the floor at a wedding disco?

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That’s actually a tricky question as by the time I get to do the gig I’ve already spoken to the Bride & Groom and found out what they do and don’t like so don’t really have any floor clearers. Although you do get
the occasional request from the drunk uncle that can sometimes do it, the trick here is to get the uncle’s name and tell  the guests who requested it!

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Spirits High

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What is the most popular first dance song at the moment, in your opinion?

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In 2010 it was definitely Michael Buble’s year so anything by him!

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(Brides Up North currently cringing since my first dance song was indeed a Michael Buble number!)

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What was the most spectacular wedding that you have provided dance floors/ music/ products for?  Why?

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Two spring to mind both from last year. I did a wedding at Ringwood Hall where the client had hired me for Dj’ing, uplighting and a 14×14 white starlight dance floor but also had a Bangra dance troop, two breakdance crews and a Michael Jackson tribute act, that was some night! Then this NYE just gone I was at Shottle Hall for a Winter Wonderland  themed wedding where I put in ice blue uplighting and again a 14×14 white starlight dance floor an absolutely lovely couple who’s guests didn’t stop dancing all night. 

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Spirits High

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Spirits High

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What celebrity wedding, past or present, would you like to provide your services at?

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Think it would have to have been Ant McPartlin’s wedding as I could imagine that would have been some party!

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Any advice on a first dance song for Kate and William?

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Choose whatever you want, not what you think your guests want to hear it’s your special moment that no one can take away from you.

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Any amusing wedding Dj stories that you want to share?

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In the days when payment was cash on the night at the end of the night  the Groom came over to say "thanks" and asked if the Best man had paid me. He looked a bit concerned when I said no and went off to find said Best Man. It turned out that the Best Man had been buying drinks for everyone all night with my cash!  The Brides father had to dash off to a cash machine to get my money!

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You are getting a reputation as a bit of a comedian on Twitter @spiritshighdj – tell Brides Up North a gag…

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Really? Ok, it’ll have to be a fairly clean one though! Did you ever hear about Neville the brown nosed reindeer? He was the one behind Rudolph who’s brakes were not quite up to scratch.

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Spirits High

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What areas of the UK do you cover?

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I’m based in Chesterfield right near the M1 so can get to just about anywhere, I tend to try and limit my travel time to 1hr 15 minutes max so that’ll probably take me as far as York, definitely up through Manchester but I’ll always quote each event individually so will travel further if need be.

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Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?

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As a ball park figure prices go from £395 for the disco service. Dance floors and uplighting depend on sizes etc but if you’re looking for an all in package of Dj, dance floor & uplighting then it’s from £1250 depending on location, floor size etc.

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Spirits High

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How far in advance should Brides Up North book?

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As soon as possible! To give you an idea I’ve got 48 weddings booked in for this year so far and 5 for 2012 so don’t hang about.

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How can Brides Up North get more information/ contact you?

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The best way is through the website, there’s a lot of information, photos & videos on there to let you see what you’ll be getting and the service I provide. I’ve also got a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/spiritshighuk that gets regularly updated with photos and info and of course Twitter – @spirtshighdj

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Spirits High Entertainments is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier

Contact Brides Up North to submit your business as a Featured Supplier

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Brides Up North Logo

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