Wedding planning is a lot of fun but can also become overwhelming with so many choices to make. One of the most important choices is finding the right entertainment to keep guests engaged throughout the reception. Although you might have something specific in mind, you want to be sure you are also considering what your guests might expect and enjoy. Here we explain everything you need to know about hiring wedding entertainment.
Allot Enough In Your Budget
At the very early stages of planning your budget, you will probably find you’ll have to make some sacrifices to cover all the costs. However, there are a few areas where you don’t want to skimp, including the quality of your wedding entertainment. Look at your wish list and do your research to determine how much each part of your wedding will cost. Then look at your budget and make sure you allot enough for your entertainment, so you don’t experience reception remorse.
Realistically you are looking at about $1700 for a DJ and upwards of $5500 for a live band. Your overall wedding cost for 135 guests is about $45,000. Do your maths and make sure you have enough to cover your costs. You can use our budget guide here.
Speak to an Entertainment Company
Start by speaking to a few entertainment companies to find out the options available and better handle costs. Consider the entertainment you enjoyed at some of the most recent weddings you’ve attended, and ask around for referrals. There might be a wonderful band, for example, that plays the type of music you love available for hire for special occasions. If you’ve chosen a venue, ask them if they can recommend entertainment and help hire them.
Consider Your Wedding Vibe
Every couple has a certain vibe in mind they would like to achieve at their wedding. It can be laid back, high energy, romantic or whimsical, edgy or traditional, etc. Your perfect vibe will help determine the type of entertainment you should consider. A jazz quartet might be ideal for a wedding where you’re envisioning quiet conversation and romantic cheek-to-cheek dancing as opposed to heavy drinking and high energy bopping all night long.
Live Music or DJ?
Live music vs DJ is a biggie because not only does it help create the right vibe, but it also ensures you stick to your budget. This is where you might also want to start thinking about your guests. What do you think they would enjoy more?
The right live band can add to your theme and help create a unique ambience. However, this isn’t always right for everyone attending. A DJ can be given a playlist, but you also want someone with a personality who will help set the right tone and keep things moving along. DJs often are happy to assist with announcements, so people know the food is laid out for the dessert buffet, you’re about to cut the cake, or when you are ready to toss the bouquet.
Keep in mind that not all DJs and bands have wedding experience. This can interfere with your wedding plans if their experience creates a less than pleasant atmosphere. Poor equipment set up, a lack of practice, bad etiquette, drinking on the job, no shows, or late shows, are all possible consequences of hiring entertainment without wedding experience.
So while you might be offered a great deal on someone’s brother’s best friend who is just starting on the DJ scene and they are used to playing nightclubs, you are taking a big risk compared to going with DJs who specialize in weddings. Both bands and DJs need up-to-date equipment, knowledge in how to set up and perform quickly, and an understanding of acceptable behaviour from making announcements to not swearing and not drinking to showing up on time.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Think of hiring entertainment for your wedding the same as hiring someone to work for you. You want someone you can trust with the right credentials and proven experience. Ask questions about past weddings they have played at, other events they have attended and whether they have videos to share. Some might even offer you the chance to stand in the background at their next gig, so you experience their performance first hand.
Read Online Reviews
The internet is a great tool to help you find just about anything. One of the most helpful things you’ll find online is reviews. Get a feel for what people experienced and whether they were happy. Look at the average star rating and steer clear of anyone with less than four stars.
Have Them Audition
Never hire anyone without having them audition first. You want them to play a few songs, get a feel for their style, check out their equipment/instruments and listen to them perform. This includes DJs. Be sure to ask if the equipment or tools they use for the audition are the same as those they’ll use for the wedding, as well as confirm that the band members auditioning will be the same musicians at your gig.
Cheaper Is Not Better
As with anything, remember you tend to get what you pay for. Less experienced DJs and bands will charge less to help make a name for themselves. But this goes back to experience. You don’t want your wedding to be a stepping stone for an entertainer. You want someone with a reputation for excellence who will be worth the extra money. Of course, you still have to be budget-conscious, so it might make more sense to hire an experienced DJ instead of a live band who seems to be too good to be true with their price.
Feel Comfortable with Them
Have a conversation with them, so you feel comfortable with their personalities. You want to feel you can trust them and make sure they understand what you are looking for. A good performer will know when they aren’t the right fit and will tell you so. For example, if you ask a band to perform a completely different type of music than their comfort zone, you will probably find it not a good fit.
Ask What is Included
Before you commit, ask what is included in their costs, such as:
- If they charge a flat rate or by the hour
- If a flat rate is there a time limit with that price
- If they are willing to make announcements
- If they provide all the equipment or expect the venue to do so
- What types of special set up they might need
- How many songs are included (is there a limit?)
- For live bands, whether or not they are willing or able to take requests
- For DJs, if they have a list, you can check to see the types of music offered
Understanding all associated costs and what you are getting for those costs will help avoid misunderstandings and disappointment.
These tips can help you find the ideal entertainment for your wedding.