Jonathan Babak and Joe Priddle of Essex-based The Shakedown Function Band give us their top planning tips...
We're of course biased – but for us, you simply can't beat the sound of live music, along with the energy and interaction that a band can bring.
All professional function bands should have a variety of promo material, from videos and photos to live recordings and reviews. Once you've shortlisted a few bands that suit the look and style you're after, go through all their available promo material to make sure they fit the bill. Use Facebook, Instagram, the band's website etc. and you'll start to get a good feel for whether they're right for you.
Seeing and meeting the band
As with most wedding suppliers – those with good reputations and lots of positive reviews get booked up well in advance, so get in there quickly! A busy function band often won't play too many (if any) public shows like pubs or social clubs so getting along to see them can be tricky. If this is the case, don't be afraid to ask to go along to one of their rehearsals. This is a great way to meet the whole band and of course see them play live.
Check with your venue if there are any sound restrictions. Many venues now have noise limiters built in that will cut power to the band for a few seconds if the volume hits over a certain decibel level and this can really kill a vibe! Some bands like us have gone down the route of a fully digital setup, which gives 100% volume control over every single sound made, right down to each individual drum and cymbal, so noise limiters will never cause an issue. Just be sure any band you're talking to is aware of and able to deal with such noise limiters if your venue has one.
Services and lighting
Be sure to check out the full range of services a band can provide. Some will only cover your evening reception whereas others can provide live ceremony music, acoustic or jazz sets and DJ packages for before, between and after the live band to cover your whole day.
Also be sure to ask about lighting and effect rigs. Some venues may have some built in lighting but more often than not, it's entirely down to the band and a top end lighting rig can really set off the atmosphere for the evening reception! If you're lucky, they may also provide extras such as smoke machines, confetti cannons, glowsticks etc.
You've done your research and picked a band with a broad repertoire, now to get the set list just right. A band will typically play two sets of an hour each while their full repertoire will be significantly longer, so don't hold back on telling the band which tunes you want included! And even if they're not in the repertoire, ask if they can learn it. A good function band should be able to take on a variety of requests and make sure you're getting what you want to hear on the day.
If your band provides a DJ service, they may also be able to add any requests that can't be played live by the band in to the DJ sets - so always ask!
Always make sure a live band can be accommodated by your venue. Sometimes a venue will say they can have live music but only up to a four-piece band for example. So don't get over excited and book a seven-piece band to find they can't all fit at your venue!
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best wedding receptions are those where the couple get stuck in and have a good time on the dancefloor as your guests will always gravitate towards you - so get involved and enjoy the energy and passion of a live band!
Jonathan Babak & Joe Priddle | The Shakedown – Function Band | www.theshakedown.co.uk