Music for my party – where do I start!!

There is so much to think about when planning a big party – whether it be a wedding, an anniversary or a big birthday – and if you aren’t used to dealing with suppliers, it can all be a little daunting.

Here are a few tips to help you choose and organise your music.

Firstly, what style to choose. Here you do need to thing about your guests.  If it’s an occasion like a wedding with lots of older family, or people you don’t know well (lets face it – you still haven’t met your other half’s cousins from Scotland!) you’ll want to try and please everyone.  You can’t go wrong with cool, smoochy, quiet jazz as a lovely background during the early part of the party when everyone wants to chat. You could even have classical music. After the meal, is there going to be dancing – and if so, are modern covers an option or were Gran and Grandad Lindy-Hop or Jive champions? Is Dad-disco-dancing just too embarrassing? What about the couple’s first dance?

So, you may have ended up thinking ‘oh no, I need three bands, or two and a disco – that’s going to cost a bomb!’

Not if you are clever! – I’ll come to that later.

Secondly, what  is your chosen venue like? How much space is available for a band? Does the venue have a piano? Actually, these questions may well influence your choice of venue.  Is there space for a full sextet (bear in mind drums and keyboards are BIG)? Or is there really only space for a trio in a corner?  Is there a raised platform or a stage? How high is the ceiling (a low ceiling will affect the acoustic)?

A professional band or group will want to see the venue (they may already know it) and can assess it and advise you.

Thirdly, what is the programme for your party – is it just a party with dancing, or are there different phases – drinks reception, meal, speeches (can you borrow the band’s microphone?), dancing later (is the dance floor in another area?) Think about timings and whether the audience will differ (eg, at a wedding, will the older people leave earlier, and are there more guests arriving just for the evening reception?)  All these questions may also influence the types of music you choose.

Lastly, (probably not!) What is your budget? How can you get the best value and the most impact?  Bear in mind that most musicians are self employed, don’t have nice day-jobs, so they need to maximise earnings when they can. You are paying for experienced people who rehearse their setlists, maintain instruments and equipment, practice, help you organise, visit your venue, eat, sleep, put petrol in a car…..There’s a whole lot going on in the background that the audience doesn’t see.

So: solutions! 

Try to avoid the cross-over between day and evening if you can’t afford the ‘whole day’ rate (similarly with photographers). If they can work for you in the afternoon and go on elsewhere in the evening, you’ll get a good deal. Midweek may be cheaper, so might lunchtime.

Can the band also play another style?  We can play a couple of sets of relaxing melodic ballads, by which time the meal is over. Then if you want Swing/Latin upbeat dance music, we can up the tempo and get the party going!

You may want a completely different act for the evening, in which case we will finish at teatime and the disco can take over – time it right and it’s often more economical (discos often do children’s parties in the afternoon).

In my next blog I’ll give you some tips on how to choose your act – what questions to ask, and things like getting your  favourite songs in the set list.

Do ask me questions, or post comments below (keep them clean and relevant please!)