Questions & Answers from various "Ask the Experts" columns we've written for wedding magazines.
Question: My 55-year-old Uncle, who is the singer of a cheesy (and unfortunately, terrible) live covers band, has said that he’d like to provide our wedding reception music as a gift. I love my Uncle dearly, but the thought makes me cringe! How can I include him in our wedding day without him taking centre stage all night, and without offending him?
We answered: Why not approach him from the angle that weddings are a rare opportunity for families to be together and catch up with each other. (If your Uncle were a brilliant caterer, surely you wouldn’t want him in the kitchens all day). You don’t want him to miss out on seeing and catching up with the rest of your family and vice versa. Don’t forget, if he were to perform with his own live band then he’d also lose valuable time setting up and sound checking. You can still book the live band or disco of your choice and your Uncle can still have the honour of singing to you as most wedding bands and discos are happy for a guest to sing a couple of songs. If he were introduced as a special ‘guest appearance’ with a big announcement, then everyone would cheer and get behind him. By making this a feature, your Uncle would feel he has made a big contribution. Then (secretly to yourself) you know you only have to endure him for one or two songs (but I didn’t say that).
Question: In terms of types of live wedding entertainment, what is popular at the moment?
We answered: As a predominantly wedding music agency, we notice trends in music popularity immediately. It only takes a new ‘romantic comedy’ in the cinema to rapidly change what brides ask for. This can affect the choice of musicians as well as the repertoire performed. A classic example being ‘Love Actually’, where a gospel choir suddenly stand up to sing ‘All You Need Is Love.” After this film we noticed an increase in demand for gospel choirs for weddings. The continuing popular choice for daytime music is harpists and string quartets. However we seem to be keeping vocal/instrumental duos busy at present performing laid back versions of modern tunes. (King’s of Leon rather than the classical Queen of Sheeba). As far as evening entertainment, many couples still book a wedding DJ, believing this to be the ‘safe option’ and are often closed to any suggestion that live music can make your wedding even more exciting, personal and memorable. In many instances the venue can influence the choice of evening party entertainment as many offer their resident disco as part of a ‘package’.
Question: What music would you recommended for a traditional wedding, and what would you recommend for a more modern style wedding?
We answered: For a traditional wedding it’s nice to keep the daytime music in keeping with the theme of the day. For instance if you are getting married in a period venue why not have music from the same era such as a harpist or string quartet. As Essex has castles and period buildings we often are asked to supply baroque and classical music. For modern weddings you have more scope as no music is really out of place. A live jazz duo or band is very popular at modern weddings. I would recommend a piano or guitar/vocal duo performing a modern/mixed repertoire. This way they perform the popular tunes you actually know but in a more laid back style that’s appreciated by the older generation as well. Regardless of your wedding being traditional or modern, usually people want to party in the evening so you have carte blanch as to your musical choices.
Question: Are certain types of entertainment better suited to particular venues?
We answered: Space has to be the main factor in deciding your musical entertainment. You can’t fit an 8 piece band in a tiny alcove. You don’t need a big band to fill a big room as of course no band or DJ should attempt to fill the whole room with sound as you woudn’t be able to hear yourself think. Any music should play for the dancefloor area so people have the choice to dance or be able to talk if they wish. Again, period venues lend themselves to daytime music from the same era such as harpists or string quartets.
Question: If people are looking for something that little bit different, what options are out there for couples?
We answered: There are many musical acts out there who can fulfil the role of daytime background music. A popular ‘alternative’ being a saxophone quartet. These can play all the music a string quartet can play but are much better for outdoors as the sound carries without the need for amplification. For the evening, a barn dance band is always a good option for something different. They really bring the two families together, even if you don’t know many people there you can still have a great time. In fact getting tied up in knots and it all going wrong is half the fun! Surprise tribute singers are also a great idea especially if the bride or groom is a particular fan. To have a Kylie Minogue, Michel Buble or even a Take That tribute do an hours spot in the middle of the disco creates an atmosphere that’s unforgettable.
Question: Have you any hints/tips for couples choosing their entertainment?
Question: As this is for the Autumn/Winter edition of the magazine, do you know of any Autumn/Winter/Christmas types of entertainments that couples can opt for?
We answered: Most musicians would naturally add a few Christmas songs to their repertoire to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Over the festive season we do get an increase in demand for gospel/modern choirs as they can sing many Christmas songs/carols which is a nice touch as background music for a mulled wine drinks reception or wedding breakfast.