Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

unique, unusual & unforgettable: wedding entertainment that wows

June 13th, 2017 | Julia Braime


Image source, photography by James Tracey Photography

This morning on our pretty pages we have suggestions on how to make your wedding entertainment both personal and poignant, courtesy of our guest writer, the lovely Carrie Marsden of our media partner Love Our Wedding Magazine.

carrie says: Your wedding day is a beautiful opportunity to play out your own personal love story. Now that you’ve found the dress, the venue, the caterer, the flowers, the transport (and, er, the man), thoughts may begin to turn to wedding day entertainment. But let this not be a final flourish, an add-on, or an afterthought. Here is where the magic of your story lies for you and your guests. Here is the place where the story unfolds in magical and memorable chapters. To that great, timeless, enduring and blissful love story – shared by many the world over – here is the chance for you to add into the mix your own unique experience.

The heart of your day belongs to the love you two share, but how that love is honoured, cherished and celebrated will find expression in your choice of wedding entertainment. Be authentic. The entertainment should reflect you both – what you enjoy, what you share, what makes you giggle, what moves you. Don’t be distracted by a ‘theme’, for how often is one person so easily defined, let alone two? Instead, go with what you love. Here are our favourite wedding entertainment ideas, which might just help inspire your choices:


Image source, photography by Peace Photography

love, actually

Inspired by our favourite Liam Neeson film (and a mandatory watch every December despite what that hubby says), we love the thought of making a grand entrance (or departure) in the ceremony itself. A regal fanfare troupe of trumpeters to walk you in or out will set the occasion off with a bang. Even better if your guests are the musical type and can surprise everyone and join in! (Don’t discount the groom’s talents either: one memorable wedding included the groom serenading the bride mid-way down the aisle after the service with a surprisingly pitch-perfect version of Bruno Mars’ I Think I Want to Marry You!).

line up, line up!

The traditional meet-and-greet line-up is making a bit of a comeback and I have to say, I love it. Whether you do or don’t go down this path (excuse the pun!), a common theme from guests themselves is that the wait around between the service and the breakfast can be, well, a little bit dull. Leaving guests the only option of drinking heavily, which is – and I speak from personal experience here – worth avoiding. So dazzle and delight to swerve a lull!

Perhaps a cocktail pianist tinkering away on the ivories, which lends the occasion a certain elegance, class and panache (even better if he or she will take requests).

Choose activities that work well inside or out: oversized Jenga, skittles and chess are great fun, weather-proof and age-appropriate. (I’d draw the line at Twister, though, unless you’re happy for things to take a decidedly eventful turn…)

Celebrity lookalikes who mix and mingle with the guests might liven things up, as will a caricaturist, although I’ve always thought a nice twist on this would be to employ a caricaturist before the event. Give him or her pictures of some of your friends/the wedding party and dot them around for people to giggle at! An organised and willing chief bridesmaid might be persuaded to rustle up baby pictures of the guests for a ‘Guess Who?’ board, too.


Image source, photography by Sally Eaves Weddings

for the kiddies (and the young at heart)

Children can be a wonderfully exuberant and joyful addition to your day, without whom, the day just wouldn’t be complete. But they can also become, a little restless. You want everyone to have an awesome time – parents and kids alike, so bubbles, face-painting and old-school sweet stalls with candy floss are brilliant ideas. Also consider enlisting the services of an older sibling (‘encouraged’, let’s say, by financial reward) charged with devising games, treasure hunts, making kids’ caves. If there isn’t a team of 13- to 16-year-olds out there offering this service somewhere, well, there should be (there’s a lucrative career here, one feels).

daytime fades into night

When the sun goes down, make sure nothing about your day fades away. The party is now in full swing and here’s how you keep the fire burning bright:

Send round a frameable card for your guests with the question ‘what should we call our kids?’ What a brilliant memento of the day for you and, when it comes to it, highly illuminating and informative! (Expect the exact science of alcohol-to-exotic-name-choice ratio, naturally).

For dancefloor fuel, hire an ice-cream van or ‘posh’ burger bar. Hog-roasts are also deeply satisfying in a very visceral way. Just think ‘meat’, and for all those 11.45pm munchers, you’ll fast become everyone’s favourite bride.

The stars should feature in some way. The thought of an outdoor movie screen on a warm summer’s evening – kids’ films on a loop as toddlers begin to flop, then a creatively designed ‘movie’ about the bride and groom, and even a late-night screening of, say, Casablanca, – warms the heart. Cushions, beanbags and blankets; popcorn at the ready. Whitewash a wall and set up a projector, or even a white sheet hung across a washing line. I’ve seen this done beautifully and cost effectively.


Image source, photography by Photography34

the end, or just the beginning?

Lots of newlyweds enjoy their quiet time together, retreating away at a sensible time in the evening, to reflect and bask in the warmth of the day. Others prefer the all-night approach and want to stay with their guests until the break of dawn. Whatever your choice, spare a thought to how you want your special day to officially ‘end’. Guests won’t be expecting over-the-top fanfare or a band of trumpeters to signal your departure, but it is worth thinking about how you’ll say goodbye. Should you want a grand farewell, have well-primed bridesmaids and ushers in on the plan to ensure guests are in the loop and where they are supposed to be.

No one will expect you to go out of your way on their behalf. Guests get that they are the guests. But arguably, they too have featured in this unique story that you and your partner share – and will continue to do so. They are celebrating you and you are acknowledging their role. Do it in style but do it your way!


Image source, photography by Amber Marie Photography

Love Our Wedding is stocked by hundreds of top bridal boutiques, venues and fairs nationwide. Visit to download or order your FREE monthly copy today!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

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…


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.


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)


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.

continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

get the party started: wedding entertainment at a venue

February 21st, 2017 | Rachel Parry /

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.


Jonny Draper


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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

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


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.


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


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.

continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

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…


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.


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.

continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone

more than music: introducing entertaina

September 14th, 2016 | Rachel Parry


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…


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.


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.

continue reading

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+share on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail to someone