BUDGETING FOR WEDDING RECEPTION MUSIC
By STAN WIEST
A.Stan Wiest Music
Member Association Bridal Consultants
The first thing I tell brides is there is no substitute for quality. Never go for quantity. It is much better to have a fantastic 5 or 6 piece band than have a poorly rehearsed, put together orchestra of 12 or 18 pieces for the visual impact especially one that reads charts.
The Music makes or breaks the function.
If a bride and groom are mainly interested in background music with little dancing a great trio can make the difference between a so, so affair and something really special. Consider a jazz trio for great background music.
Something we see a lot of is problems with performing student groups (from a music college for instance either they cancel at the last minute adding undue stress to the final moments before the actual wedding or ceremony or they (the students) substitute other players for those who cannot make your date. It is much more efficient and pleasurable to spend on a single violinist or harpist who does this professionally than to worry about a four piece student string group who may or may not be there. Again quality is the issue.
Avoid going to "Floating Showcases". These are showcases that are not hosted by a reputable catering establishment. Make sure you only attend showcases hosted by a reputable catering establishment (Fox Hollow,Chateau Briand,Westbury Manor etc)-that is presenting entertainment to perform at that establishment.
A "Floating Showcase" is where a company advertises a showcase at a different location each night of the week-the performers are not associated with that location. The bride will be paying an inflated band fee. The bands usually have to pay a fee of $500 to $1000 per night to perform at these locations. The cost is passed along to the bride in inflated fees. The entertainment company books the wedding at these floating showcases and then relinquishes all responsibility for the band or the performance of the band. There is no guarantee the band will perform what the client wants or even that the members of the band will be the same at the wedding. The entertainment company moves on to the next floating showcase expecting never to hear from the bride again - it is no longer their responsibility. When the band breaks up the bride is stuck with the cost of finding another band.
Another area for a bride on a budget is ceremony and cocktail hour.
An excellent string trio can basically perform the same literature as a string quartet. Slightly less sound but still excellent quality and no limitations on the literature performed.
It is exotic to have a steel drum band for a cocktail hour but also costly. For the bride on a budget a good keyboardist on synthesizer can produce the sound of steel drums, strings and a wide array of instruments. You will hear the instruments but not see them - all at a fraction of the cost. Remember a cocktail hour should be soft, background music to set the mood for the wedding reception.
Never hire a vocalist for a cocktail hour - it is a waste of money. No one will listen and guests will shy away since the vocalist will disturb their conversation. Strictly instrumental music for a cocktail hour.
If it is a choice between adding a 4th, 5th or 6th piece to the band for the reception or having music for the cocktail hour - go for adding the addition piece for the reception.
Brides are constantly pushed to hire 9, 10 or more pieces Many times
the ratio of musicians is too high for the number of guests attending or too large for the band area. With the technology of today's synthesizers a good 5 or 6 piece band can sound like 10 or 11 pieces without the cost.
Versatility is extremely important. A good 5 or 6 piece band that is extremely flexible in repertoire is much more effective than a 10 or 12 piece band limited to reading music charts.
Many bands add additional vocalists that specialize in a certain style but they only sing one or two songs each hour. For a bride on a budget this makes no sense.
Bands (and DJ's) who want to add an MC - an extra person just to handle the announcements and run the affair are not for the bride on a budget. Many times guests are intimidated by a MC on the dance floor. This is just as easily done by a member of the band-preferable the band leader. An extra person (MC) on the dance floor takes away from the elegance of a wedding. The MC is the featured attraction rather than the bride and groom who should be.
If a bride is on a budget rather than bringing in outside music for a church ceremony use the church organist and spend the additional money on the music for the reception. However if the reception is at a public catering hall - have one of the band members perform the music for the ceremony.
Every bride and groom should realize that at some point there has to be a cut off in the number of guests - select this number and stick to it. Keep in mind what you want musically and the costs as well as photography etc. Work out a budget in advance and set your priorities and stay within the budget.
Do not start going over the set number of guests. For those you cannot afford to invite send out wedding announcements. Each catering location has a minimum number of guests required for each room. Never book a room larger than your needs.
If a bride considers overtime for the music - remember it is not just the music. There will be a fee for the catering location, staff etc. If money is a factor continue the party after the set reception at the home of the bride or groom.
Buffet's are always less expensive than sit down dinners. This enables you to save in one area and use the money towards another. You can also have a cocktail reception without a main course but always let your guests know in advance.
For the couple who are very restricted in the amount of money they can spend there is also the option of a disc jockey. There is no substitute for a great band it speaks of tastefulness, panache and party ambiance but a DJ who really knows how to get a crowd going is a good way to save money.
But never get your DJ through a Pennysayver or card from a local bulletin board. So many times brides call us a week before their wedding date saying the DJ backed out for a better paying job or they are "sick" and cannot perform. When you deal with a reputable company - if there is a real illness or tragedy they will always be able to fill your affair with a DJ who is a professional.
STAN WIEST PRESIDENT
A.STAN WIEST MUSIC