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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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.

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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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more than music: introducing entertaina

September 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

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So the venue is booked, the flowers are on order and you’ve found your dream dress – but have you given any thought to the entertainment for your big day yet?

If not, no need to panic, as this afternoon we’re introducing a new Brides Up North Sponsor to the blog who can help make your wedding day even more memorable – say hello to Entertaina.

Operating via an easy to use website, couples can search for bands, singers and musicians, as well as more unusual acts, such as jugglers, caricaturists, silent discos, all at the click of a button with no need to fill in laborious forms or register.

To explain more about the fabulous talent on offer we’re handing over the blog to the friendly Entertaina team…

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Tell us a little bit about Entertaina and the services that it offers to wedding couples…

entertaina say: The website is an entertainment directory that launched in 2015 and is run by professional musicians, passionate for live entertainment. Our aim is to make finding an act for your wedding quick, simple and hassle-free. There’s no need to sign up or register any payment details with the site. You simply view entertainer profiles, save your favourites, and contact acts directly through their profile to make an enquiry. Our directory is completely free to use and we do not charge or take a cut from any bookings made. Payment is made directly to the entertainers, ensuring you get the best possible price and do not incur any extra charges.

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What different types of entertainment does Entertaina offer?

We have a whole host of entertainment, from bands, singers and musicians to jugglers, magicians and comedians! One of our latest acts is one of the world’s top foot jugglers. Educated by Juan Liu (Chinese State Circus, Cirque du Soleil), she uses her technical perfection and theatrical skills to create something unique and breath-taking.

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

To us, live entertainment is everything. You really can’t beat it, from a magician performing the impossible and breaking the ice with your guests, to an eight-piece band getting your guests dancing all night long. Live wedding music can really add something special to your day. Nothing resonates louder than hearing your favourite melodies on an instrumental piano or quartet as you walk down the aisle, or a live band playing your first dance at the reception.

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entertainment experts: say hello to seventh second

August 11th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Seventh Second (9)

If you’re currently on the search for top wedding entertainment that’s a breeze to arrange and a joy to experience, this morning’s post will be of extra interest as we’re introducing our new Sponsor, Seventh Second.

Set up and run by talented and knowledgeable musicians, those behind Seventh Second pride themselves on proving a professional and fuss-free service by connecting couples directly with the band that they’d like to book.

From acoustic duos right up to big party bands, there’s an act on the books to suit all styles of weddings and tastes in music.

Here to tell us more is one of Seventh Second’s managers and musicians, Jon Stephens…

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When was Seventh Second set up and what services does it offers to wedding couples?

jon says: Seventh Second was set up about two years ago. We are a group of lifelong friends and professionally trained musicians who decided that after more than 15 years of touring the world and entertaining wedding couples, we should create a website for our various bands with a new approach and a direct, truly personal link between wedding couples and the bands they hire for their unique day.

Bands are expensive and through traditional booking agencies, couples are booking blind, only ever talking to sales people and not really connecting with the band themselves. We think that’s just not good enough, so with us, you talk to members of the band when booking! A simple but important distinction as it guarantees quality, value for money, honesty and a truly personal approach to your big day entertainment.

Tell us about the different types of entertainment that Seventh Second offers…

We are always looking to add and expand our roster but we are very picky about who joins our website and we have to have a close connection with the act for them to even be considered.

At the moment we have some fantastic wedding, party and corporate bands available to book with popular examples including The League of Gentlemen, The Usual Suspects and Night and Day. Visit our website for more.

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Why would you encourage couples to consider live music for their wedding?

There’s not really a substitute for a talented live band – it just adds something truly special to a wedding or event that you can’t quite put your finger on. On many occasions we’ve spoken to couples who only booked a DJ as their live entertainment and found that they were disappointed. DJ’s have their place, but for a truly memorable party, you need live music too. We’ve had countless wedding couples truly grateful and ecstatic that their guests danced and partied because of the amazing energy a live band provides. We’ve even been shocked at how much we’ve blown people’s expectations out of the water.

What are the benefits of couples arranging their wedding entertainment through Seventh Second and how does this set you apart from other music agencies?

At every stage of the booking process, you are dealing with someone who performs in the acts we promote. Unlike other entertainment websites, you aren’t dealing with a sales person who has no connection to the hundreds of acts they promote daily. You are speaking with a band member who’s part of a very select family of bands and cares about what they promote to you and knows everything they possibly could about our acts. This guarantees excellent, honest customer service and a bespoke band that is truly designed for your needs.

Also, because we don’t need sales people, commission or sales targets, we can offer bands at a price that can’t be beaten. Plus, we obviously know our bands inside out, so we can vouch for them 100% and make you feel safe in the knowledge that they will deliver a special performance on your special day. Couples can feel uncertain booking a band via a website so we hope our unique approach solves that issue.

Finally, unlike other websites, we keep our site clean, clear and as simple as possible so it’s easy for clients to pick the act they want.

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shine bright: engagement ring advice from beyond4cs

August 3rd, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Image by Melissa Beattie Photography

Melissa Beattie Photography

All wedding journeys tend to start with a ring that will remain on the bride’s hand from the engagement to the ‘I dos’ and throughout married life that follows. As such it’s important that the chosen ring will last a lifetime and offers the most sparkle for your buck.

To help you and your partner pick a winning rock, we’re handing the blog over this morning to GIA Diamonds Graduate Paul Gian. Keen to ensure that couples are clued up on the clarity, cut, color and carat of diamonds before making their ring purchase, expert Paul has set up handy website Beyond4cs.com and is here to share some of his gems of advice with you today…

Images from real weddings featured on these pages and not provided by Sponsor. Please see image credits for photographer details – we love these talented folk! 

Image by Paul Liddement Photography

Paul Liddement Photography

Can you tell us a little about your background in the diamond & jewellery market?

paul says: My story began back in 2012 when I needed to buy a proposal ring for my fiancée. It started months of frustrating online research as there was a lack of reliable information. As I started reading up, my interest in gemstones and diamonds grew. Since then, I’ve completed the GIA Diamonds Graduate program and built up my own gemstone collection.

When and why did you set up Beyond4cs.com and who is it aimed at?

A diamond engagement ring is possibly one of the most expensive purchases someone would make in their lifetime (besides a car and home). Beyond4cs.com was started in 2014 and it is targeted at fellow consumers to shed light on the engagement ring buying process.

Image by Chloe Grayson of Fox & Owl

Fox & Owl

What are the most important elements that should be taken into consideration when shopping for a diamond engagement ring to get the best quality diamond for the budget?

The cut quality of a diamond matters the most because it directly affects how much sparkle the diamond will have.

What would you say to those who have quite a modest budget, what types of diamonds should they be looking at?

It really boils down to personal preferences and needs. There isn’t a particular shape, color or clarity that’s going to appeal to everyone on the same level. In the current market, the most popular diamond shapes are round, princess and cushion.

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