It doesn’t always have to be The Wedding Singer
If you were to believe every rom com you’ve ever seen, you’d believe that wedding entertainment was subpar and pretty poor, wouldn’t you? Embarrassing, balding DJs with whiny voices introducing songs for lovers to empty dance floors, or awkward bands comprised of middle-aged men who always wanted to be a rockstar but never quite had the pizzazz. Well, now that you have that visual – get rid of it. BIN IT. KONMARI THAT RUBBISH AND GET IT OUT OF YOUR LIFE. There are so many ace wedding bands and DJs out there nowadays that this is a thing of distant past and unnecessary future – you just need to know where to find such fantastic beasts. That’s where I come in. I’ve asked a couple of my favourite wedding entertainers to chat through the process of finding and booking wedding entertainment, both from a band’s side and a DJ’s side…
What different types of wedding entertainment are on offer?
There’s loads of different types of wedding entertainment available out there – variety is the spice of life, after all – but they tend to fall into two main categories. These two main categories are bands and artists, and then DJs. They have similar effects – an amazing atmosphere, a throbbing dance floor and loads of energy – but they’re quite different vibes.
DJs play songs as you would listen to them on the radio, but mixed expertly and with the killer playlist compiling skills you can only dream of. (See below why it’s NOT just like creating your own playlist on Spotify!) They tend to play for the majority of the evening do, staying until they play the last song – mine would be the dirty dancing song (complete with an elbaorate lift), if you’re wondering – although this isn’t necessarily always the case. For example, if you have a cocktail hour in between ceremony and reception and you want to keep things fun, DJs can provide a super cool rooftop bar vibe.
In comparison, bands cover songs live on their instruments. As Charlie from Heavy Beat Brass Band, a New Orleans style brass band, explains, they come in all sorts of varieties. “There are standard function bands that can play your favourite Funk, Soul, Rock and Pop tunes almost identical to the record. Then, there are more unique performers who try to stand out and provide an alternative to the standard wedding band. We’re the latter – as a New Orleans style brass band, we can play all your favourite tunes, but entirely on brass instruments. It’s all familiar music done in a fresh way.”
Although they aim for 2 x 50 minute sets in the afternoon or evening (with a break in the middle), bands are just as versatile and flexible with timing requirements. “We offer anything from the ceremony to the late night party.” Charlie says. “We can parade the bride down the aisle at 11:00am, then have her dancing on the bar at 11:00pm!”
What should couples be looking for when they’re booking their entertainment?
The Best Men, a Midlands-based wedding DJ collective, start off with some sound advice regardless of whether you’re leaning towards a DJ or a band. “It’s good to make sure your own tastes are catered for and that you avoid the cheese,” Arthur explains, “but also bear in mind the demographic of your guests and what will work for everyone too.”
If you’re looking for a DJ specifically, he then goes on to say, “A good DJ listens to the couple and plays to the room. We always sit down with each couple and have a long chat about their likes and dislikes to tailor their night to suit them, but the set is never pre-planned. The DJ should be able to think on their feet and read the room and shape the night as it goes on.”
Charlie has a hot tip on how to find an incredible wedding band, too. “When you’re looking for your wedding band or artist, you want to get someone who’s fun, engaging, unique and professional. Our top tip is to keep an eye out on smaller stages at festivals for some of the most interesting performers.” (Can booking festival tickets count as a wedding expense? I think it can!)
What are your top tips for getting people on the dance floor?
The Best Men pride themselves on being a non-cheesy DJ service whose purpose is to entertain the crowd and keep the dance floor packed all night – so I thought they’d totally be the men for the job. I was right! “We want to make sure your tastes are covered, but always make sure the songs are floor fillers.” Arthur says, “Having the skills and experience to read the room and adapt and steer the night to keep the dance floor packed comes from years of experience in mainstream alternative clubs. First and foremost we’re all music fans so we like to treat the wedding like one of our club nights, and not sticking to a rigid wedding playlist that seems to occur at lots of weddings.”
What do you wish all couples knew?
“Deciding not to have a DJ and make your own playlist can seem appealing on paper, but a set you pre-plan for your kitchen or car does not always translate to a diverse room full of people, and you have no capacity to adapt and change.” Arthur warns. “The last thing you want is frantically trying to make a new playlist on the night or people skipping songs on your device. Having someone with experience to shape the evening curated to your tastes is the key to success.” As personal curation is key, they also don’t offer out sample playlists. As no two weddings are the same, no two playlists should be either: “We are all about consultation, communication and listening to your needs. We cater for all sorts of tastes, funk, soul, indie, rock, metal and so much more so we firmly believe that there is no “one set fits all” playlist.”
And once you’ve booked them – look after them! Charlie says, “If you look after the band, they will look after you! Sometimes after long journeys to exotic wedding venues, a bacon sandwich can go a long way to keeping our energy at 110%.”
The Best Men are not your average wedding DJs – in fact, they’re about as far away as you could get. They’re a Midlands-based wedding DJ collective providing a bespoke, non-cheesy service for couples who love music and want their floor firmly filled. They’ve DJed alongside some super impressive names (hello Jarvis Cocker, Jamiroquai, Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys) – check out their website for more http://www.thebestmen.co.uk/
Heavy Beat Brass Band are a New Orleans style brass band, remixing modern Jazz and Pop with the sounds of a roaring Mardi Gras Band. Find their full repertoire list as well as videos, photos and FAQs on their website, and check out their latest adventures on Youtube: https://www.heavybeatbrass.com