Overwhelm. Anxiety. Excitement. A few words that describe anyone tasked to choose wedding entertainment that is perfect for their big day.
Unless you happen to be a seasoned event planner (if so – hey!) it can be tough to understand what type of entertainment will create the perfect atmosphere.
We have taken some time to break down factors, entertainment options, and how to go about making a choice below!
What Should You Consider When You Choose Wedding Entertainment?
After you say “YES” to your new significant other, angels sing and you want to shout from the rooftops, or Instagram, that you’re engaged!
However, a few days later when the excitement wears off – the daunting task of planning an entire wedding starts to sink in.
One area that this often overlooked by newly engaged couples is entertainment. Although it might be tempting to choose wedding entertainment closer to your big day, entertainment vendors book their gigs way in advance.
After all, once you’ve spent your hard-earned money, hired all your vendors, and put your best foot forward – you’re going to want to have a rocking party to celebrate!
Below are a few factors for finding to consider before you choose wedding entertainment for your day.
THE B WORD
I am going to start with the big, bad “B” word – BUDGET.
Money is uncomfortable for anyone to talk about, therefore it is important to be aware of how much you’re willing to invest before you choose wedding entertainment.
I encourage you to do your own research in your area to learn what the average cost for entertainment is where your event is taking place.
To clarify, there are many factors that go into entertainment cost including location, day of the week, number of attendees, and performance length.
NUMBER OF ATTENDEES
This might seem like a weird piece of information that is needed, but it can make all the difference.
The equipment needed to perform for 100 people is a lot different than 1,000. Therefore, knowing how many people you are needing to keep entertained will help you narrow down the types of performers you should look for.
Do you know how many people you’re inviting, but still waiting on RSVPs?
No worries! Here’s a quick look at attendance rates:
The Average Wedding Attendance Rates
Local guests – 85% attendance rate
Out of Town guests – $55% attendance rate
Here is an attendance calculator that will help as well.
TIMEFRAME OF YOUR EVENT
Breaking your event down into blocks can be extremely helpful in finding out how many entertainers you need and what types of performers you need. Most importantly, you want to make sure any lulls or gaps in your wedding’s timeline are filled with ways your guests can engage with each other or will entertainers.
Let’s look at a typical wedding to see how blocks work:
BLOCK ONE | SETUP –
This is usually the morning/day of the event when vendors are arriving to set up. Typically, the bride(s)/groom(s) are getting ready, guests haven’t arrived.
No entertainment needed other than a mimosa or two…or six…
BLOCK TWO | GUESTS BEGIN TO ARRIVE –
The early arrival of guests can be stressful, especially if the doors haven’t opened or it’s not time to sit in your ceremony space. There is usually a lull during this time. A great entertainment option for this 2nd block is a solo performer. If you have already hired a ceremony musician, ask if they’ll play pre-ceremony as well to welcome guests to your space.
ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTIONS –
BLOCK THREE | THE CEREMONY + PICTURES
This is when you exchange vows and say “I do!” – It is also an awkward lull for your guests while you and your wedding party take pictures.
ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTIONS –
- String ensemble
- Piano or organ player
- Photobooth or cigar rollers
BLOCK FOUR | DINNER –
Whether it’s a buffet or a plated meal – it’s time to feed your guests!
ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTIONS –
- Party Band (note: make sure to find a band – like all KLF acts – that is mindful of volume. No one needs music screaming in their ear when they’re trying to enjoy their chicken!)
- Jazz Band
- DJ to play soft, upbeat dinner music
- Specialty acts (including a premium cigar roller, photo booth, or caricature artist) are a great way to keep guests who finish their meals early entertained.)
BLOCK FIVE | PAR-TAY! –
The last block is when attendees let their hair down and dance the night away. You want upbeat FUN party music to carry your guests into the evening.
ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTIONS –
- Party Band
- DJ to rock the house
- Brass Band
- Specialty acts | strolling magicians, jugglers, and stilt walkers keep your guests in awe! In addition, if you want to keep your dance floor packed consider hiring a dance instructor or dance act to keep guest’s entertained and inspired to cut a rug.
It is important to consider your venue space before you choose wedding entertainment or a wedding band. If your reception is in a small, confined room – you might not want to hire a 15-piece party band.
Venues can also help narrow down the vibe of your wedding. If your space is full of funky art and interesting architecture, filling it with brightly colored stilt walkers and contortionist would be on-theme.
Alternatively, if you have an elegant, refined venue a big-band style professional band would be a perfect fit.
GOOD VIBES ONLY
I always ask our clients, “What is the overall FEEL or VIBE of your wedding?”
Common Answers From Our Clients:
- Fun and Light-Hearted
- Elegant and Formal
- Rustic and Charming
- Bohemian and Free-Flowing
- Quaint and Lots of Guests Interacting With Each Other
- Luxurious and Unique
Take time to think through what it is that you want your guest to take away from the event will help you finally choose wedding entertainment.
What Are Common Entertainment Options?
Now that you know what you should consider when choosing event entertainment, let’s chat about the elements of each option.
The most popular wedding event entertainment options are Party and/or Wedding Bands, DJs, or a combination of both.
Live Wedding Party Band
I am focusing on party bands first because they are the ones that know how to rock your wedding.
There is nothing like having live music and interactive musicians throughout your wedding reception!
But, If you’re anything like me (before I started in the music industry) I had NO knowledge of what exactly I needed for a party band.
By going through the anatomy of party bands I hope you’ll be able to clearly understand what it is that you’re looking for and book the band that suits your wedding best.
I’ll begin by breaking down each position in a party band after that, I will dive into configurations. Most bands are broken down into the front line, the rhythm section, and a horn section.
What Is A Band’s Front Line?
The front line of a band is typically the melody makers. For instance, in most party bands the front line is 2-4 vocalists harmonizing, however, in instrumental bands, it is three melody instruments.
The vocalists are less gender-specific, instead, it heavily depends on the vocal range of each singer.
In other words, it needs to sound good and be PITCH PERFECT. Thanks, Anna Kendrick.
What Is A Band’s Rhythm Section?
Another important part of any party band is a funky rhythm section. Namely, they are the heartbeat of the band and help to provide harmony.
In a party band, it is typically a bass player, guitar player, drummer, and keyboard player.
What Is A Band’s Horn Section?
The horn section of a band adds a wonderful, full-bodied sound. Therefore, a lot of party bands will add a 3-4 part horn section. In most instances, you will see a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone. However, sometimes, a tuba or clarinet will be added.
What Are The Possible Configurations Of A Party Band?
Although most bands have set configurations, oftentimes It depends heavily on if the band allows customization. If the party band is willing to work with your configurations, there are many options that provide stellar live music. The typical party band has three vocalists and a four-part rhythm section. A show band will usually add a 3-part horn section comprised of a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone.
Below I will dive into other configuration options and after that, I’ll share with you the best weddings to choose each configuration.
SMALL PARTY BAND
A smaller party band is typically 4 to 6 pieces – pieces = person – and has a few different configuration options.
Note – we always suggest at least 2 vocalists for a party band. However, if you are considering a jazz band or other musical entertainment, one vocalist is just fine.
Here are the suggested wedding types for a small party band:
- Petite Weddings – any event where there are less than 75 attendees.
- Small Venues – these venues usually have no room for a stage or only room for a small stage. A small configuration would be perfect for this.
- Shorter Wedding – If your wedding is under 2 hours in length.
MEDIUM PARTY BAND
A medium-sized party band is comprised of 7 to 9 pieces. However, this size party band has a variety of configurations possible.
Below are just a few of these configuration possibilities:
The best events for medium-sized party bands:
- Mid-Sized Weddings – any event where there are between 75-250 guests.
- Mid-Sized Venues – A venue that has a mid-sized stage (around 20 ft wide x 16 ft deep) or has space for this size stage and/or floor clearing.
LARGE PARTY BAND
A large party band is the ultimate live band experience for you and your guests.
That being said, the main configuration for a 10 piece party band is listed first with additional vocalists. Above all, with a large party band, you will have a full-bodied sound that echoes through any event space.
Below are just a few of these configuration possibilities:
As you can see, the vocalist additions are what make a band larger along with a live DJ mas-up. In addition, It is possible to have a second guitarists or additional horn players.
The best events for large party bands:
- Large, luxury wedding – If you are planning 250-350+ guests. Namely, a big BASH!
- 4 to 6-hour events – A longer event typically means more members needed to keep the party going. Strictly speaking, if you’re going to have guests around for more than 4 hours, plan accordingly.
- Large event space – A space with a stage sized 24 x 20 or a large room with plenty of space.
It is fair to say that any medium-sized event would be a great fit for a large party band. If you are wanting a fuller sound and a horn line, I say spring for a large party band if your budget and venue allow!
What Are Other Live Music Entertainment Options?
Below are other options to consider when putting together your live music preferences.
Let’s take a look at each to gather an idea of when they are appropriate to choose wedding entertainment for your event!
Named because they are made of brass (no, really!) – brass instruments offer a bold, orchestra-like feel to any event or party.
The big 4 in most brass bands are the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and tuba. However, you can add a percussion element and/or a vocalist.
Because there is little amplification with brass bands, they are perfect for the following events:
- Wedding venues that don’t allow amplification.
- Mobile band – they can easily march/walk around your reception. Second-line parades, a traditional new orleans-style where brass instruments lead the bride/groom and members of the wedding party. Use this to add a fun and interactive element to your reception.
A string ensemble (named this because the instruments have strings…you’re welcome) typically includes a violin, viola, cello, and upright bass in most cases. These provide a classic, calming sound in the background of any wedding moment.
They are perfect for:
- Pre-ceremony and ceremony musicians
- A brunch wedding without a formal, dance-party reception
You may only want some live music sprinkled throughout your ceremony and reception. If that is the case, a solo performer is the ticket!
The best instruments to have to perform solo are:
Non-Typical Wedding Music To Consider
Now, you may be asking…
When Should I Hire A DJ For My Wedding?
There are a couple of reasons why hiring a DJ might be the best option for you. First, if your budget doesn’t allow for a live band. Second, if you want a completely custom playlist for your wedding.
Although bands can learn a new song or two, especially if it’s your first dance song, they very rarely take full playlist requests.
Most of us understand the configuration and details of a DJ, so I won’t bore you with those details. Most importantly, make sure you find a DJ that is both entertaining and has a lot of positive reviews. Similarly, you want a DJ that can “read the room” and play some music that will keep people upbeat and dancing all night.
How To Up The Ante With Your Wedding DJ
If you want to add a little something extra to your DJ, there is a special entertainment option that not everyone is aware exists.
A DJ and Live Musician combination!
It is the perfect way to incorporate the sweet ambiance of live music with a party-rockin’ DJ.
How Does a DJ and Live Music Combo Work?
This musical hybrid consists of professional musicians – a mix of guitar players, drummers, horn players, and vocalists – that perform alongside a DJ for an ultimate live mash-up.
In this case, the DJ element takes the place a band’s normal rhythm section.
What Are Speciality Entertainment Types For Weddings?
I often refer to the band and DJ at an event as the “pizza crust”. Although the crust is tasty and perfect on its own, it is even better with some toppings.
So, what are the event toppings?
Specialty acts are the pepperoni, sauce, cheese, and more on top of your pizza. In other words, they enhance the existing entertainment at your wedding. Here are a few of my favorite acts I have mentioned above. Below are some more details that will allow you to sprinkle them throughout the night to create an unforgettable event.
Remember going to the mall with your significant other and have pictures of you drawn with exaggerated features?
You can bring that same nostalgia to your wedding! A caricature artist is a unique party favor and has a new 21st-century spin available.
Opt for an old school caricature artist with pretty pastels and hand-drawn renderings, or feature a digital caricature artist at your event.
Digital artists use tablets, printers, and other tech magic to create a social-share worthy drawing for you and your guests.
A sophisticated topping for a wedding is a premium cigar roller. When looking for a cigar roller, make sure of a few things:
- You are getting premium tobacco.
- There will be someone there to help distribute cigars. You don’t want any guest running off with 20 new cigars.
- Custom white labels are available. If you don’t have a “wedding logo” per se, opt for monogrammed!
White labels are the wrappers that encompass your cigar. Therefore, If you have a wedding logo you can add it to the label, similarly, you can use you and your spouse-to-be initials. White labels add an elegant touch in addition to creating a usable wedding favor.
DANCE INSTRUCTION OR PERFORMANCE
Are you worried about people not dancing at your wedding? Then, I would look into hiring professional dance troupe and/or dance instructors to liven up your party.
To clarify, dance instructors come in a variety of styles including Bollywood, salsa, and hip-hop dancers. Similarly, dance troupes come in a variety of genres.
I would personally love to see my grandmother on the dance floor learning how to swag surf, but that’s just me.
In addition to dance packages, you can also ask for a short dance performance (3-5 minutes) to create an unforgettable magical moment in your night.
JUGGLERS, STILT WALKERS, OR FLAME EATERS/THROWERS
Some of my personal favorite event toppings are similar to what you’d see at a carnival. These independent performers bring a fun and lively aurora to any wedding. If you are opting for any fire element, be sure to check with your venue first.
We don’t want your wedding that kind of “lit”.
Now, Go Forth And Have The Best Wedding Ever!
In conclusion, there are many factors involved when you choose wedding entertainment. However, now you are a wedding entertainment expert! Go forth and have the most exciting wedding yet! As always, consult your entertainment agency as they have plenty of options and answers to any additional questions you may have!
Lastly, let me ask – do you live in North America? Consider using KLF Pro Entertainment for your wedding! We have never received less than a 5-star review on Google and have been featured on Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Martha Stewart Weddings Online.
We can’t wait to create unforgettable magical moments for you and your guests!