Posted: January 17, 2011 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: dance, first dance, introductions, pros and cons, wedding
For the last few years there has been a trend away from doing the big long introduction line at the start of wedding receptions. You know, the part where the band leader announces all of the bridal party, parents of the bride and groom, flower girls, ring bearers, third grade teachers etc. People have begun to ask me if they really need to do all of that. I say, if you have to ask, then probably not.
It’s one of those things that people do, because it’s tradition, but this is your wedding and it can be as traditional as you want it to be. If you need help deciding, here’s some pros and cons.
- The introductions can take a long time. That’s up to an extra 20 minutes between you and your first course!
- You have to get your entire bridal party lined up all over again. At this point they’ve probably had a couple of drinks, which makes them less like the responsible adults that you trusted to stand by your side on this most important day of your life, and more like unruly 6th graders… I’ve heard.
- No one remembers the order they were placed in for the ceremony.
- The bouquet bridge!
- There is no champagne in the staging area…
- Photo-ops a plenty.
- One more opportunity for everyone to see how masterfully you’ve outfitted your posse for the event.
- You won’t be totally alone out there when the first dance starts.
- You get a chance to show off your musical taste with another custom song selection.
- It’s a chance to break the ice and infuse a little fun into the room before the first dance.
Like I said, if you have questions about whether or not to do it, you may want to skip, just make sure you run it by your parents first, especially if they are footing the bill!
Posted: May 1, 2009 Filed under: Tips/Advice | Tags: band leader, bands, cake cutting, classical, dance music, dynamics, experience, first dance, jazz, live band, music, parent dance, set list, song list, speeches, wedding music
Today an online friend asked for my input on a Band vs. DJ blog. I was happy to help, especially since it is a topic I have covered here before. I read a post that was sent to her by a DJ, just below mine. This Dj was very diplomatic and sang the praises of live bands for the excitement they bring to any event. She then went on to detail some cons on bands. One was price. I can’t argue that. Bands cost a lot more than DJs. Then she said something about most bands being unable to play music from all eras and something about pleasing grandma. So not true! At least where I come from. Bands have to play everything. Ask grandma. she’ll tell you to get a band. Anyway, all of that got me thinking. Maybe people don’t know what a top level, professional event band should be capable of.
You band should be able to…
…play music that you can enjoy with your grandma, your dad, your niece, your sister and the lady from your mom’s tennis club that you had to invite, and play it well. Look for a varied and extensive song list. Then ask for recordings or video to make sure the songs on the list are recognizable as… well… the songs on the list.
…take requests for special songs like your first dance, parent dances, cake cutting, last song (if you want to specify – some people do, some don’t) or anything else that comes up. If you have songs in mind already while you are searching for a band, ask for them in advance. If not, the leader should be able to help you with those choices by giving you lists and suggestions.
…string the songs together so the action keeps going on the dance floor. Nothing is worse than a band stopping to select their next song while you are standing out on the floor ready to dance. That kind of thing sends me straight to my seat, or the bar! Make sure you hire a band with a strong leader that has experience. Leading a band is not an easy job. Choose someone you trust and can relate to. They will be reading you and your guests all night to keep the party on the right track.
…shift on the fly. There shouldn’t be a “set list” for the music at your wedding. The band should be able to roll with last minute changes to timing of food or speeches. Sometimes the best man has a lot to say. Aside from some basic needs (electricity and enough space for the equipment), your band should be able to set up just about anywhere in the room you (or your event coordinator) want them to be.
…provide music for your ceremony and cocktail hour if you want it. Ask what kind of additional services your band can provide. Don’t assume that because most of the night will be spent playing dance music that your musicians can’t also play jazz or classical. Most professional organizations have access to musicians outside of their main band as well. You may be able to book a specialty act through them and have just one person to deal with, which makes it much easier to stay organized.
…control the volume. It’s not as easy for a group of 6 to 10 people to turn down their volume as it is for a DJ (who has a master volume control), but real pros should have a sound system that is present and powerful without blowing Aunt Lisa out the back wall of the room. Bands play with dynamics. Slower, softer songs are supposed to be quieter than swing or classic rock. A good band should be able to start soft and ramp up to the louder stuff as the partygoers ramp up.
…dress for the occasion. Your band should find out how you would like them to dress before your wedding day. They should also be able to suggest attire for the band based on your event’s time, location and level of formality. If your reception is a luau on the beach, you don’t want a bunch of tuxedo clad musicians to show up to play.
…help you through the planning process. Like every vendor you hire, the band should be professional and experienced. They should be willing to take your phone calls when you are freaking out because your fiance wants your first dance to be “Bootylicious”. They should suggest ways to enhance your day and take some of the stress of planning away. Make sure you get trustworthy people all around, but especially when it comes to the band. They end up running so much of the party and music sets the tone for the whole evening. The band leader should be able to work well with the staff at your venue and be in communication with photographers and videographers so you don’t miss out on capturing any priceless moments. Like one of your bridesmaids getting drunk and dirty dancing with your Uncle Frank. I’m just saying… I’ve seen a lot.
Posted: March 10, 2009 Filed under: Rants, Tips/Advice | Tags: break ups, Coldplay, country cross-over, Dido, drugs, first dance, happy couple, infidelity, listen, lyrics, mass murder, moody pop artist, porn, White Flag, Zero 7
This is something I have been wanting to address for a very long time. This issue has been near and dear to my heart since the first night I stepped onto the bandstand to rock a wedding. The first dance. This moment can be terrifying or exhilarating for the happy couple. Choice makes all the difference. The styles can be as varied as the couples themselves. Some are sweet and touching, some are down and dirty and others are tried and true. From Let’s Get it On to I Wanna Grow Old With You, I’ve seen the gamut. I say if you can bring a tear to this hardened professional’s eye (or make me laugh, for that matter) you’ve done a good job at choosing.
On the subject of laughter however, you want to have people laughing with you, not at you! My biggest and best piece of advice when choosing a first dance song? Listen to the lyrics. All of the lyrics. If this seems like a no brainer to you, good, you are well on your way to a moment that will be memorable for all of the right reasons. If not, then listen up. I will give you some guidelines for song choice that should help you avoid any songs about infidelity, break ups or mass murder.
Listen extra carefully to the lyrics, especially if the song you are considering is sung by a moody pop artist, i.e. Dido, Zero 7, Coldplay or U2. “White Flag” is not a love song, unless your idea of love is crazy stalking. “With or Without You” has too many options, for both of you, and you want to avoid any references to porn and/or drugs. You can do this by paying special attention to the verse, that’s usually where these references are inserted into pop music. Even if the chorus proclaims love and unending desire, you want to be sure these proclamations are directed towards a human being and not a motorcycle, turtle, or humpty-back camel. In fact, avoid any form of the word hump! You are probably on the safer side if you are looking at a country cross-over ballad or anything your parents might have had at their wedding.
OK, another important aspect of a first dance is that you are supposed to actually dance to it. Danceability is a big factor that should inform your decision. For this, there is a sliding scale, directly related to your ability to dance. If you have “Dancing With the Stars” style moves under your belt, or your fiance attended the Alvin Ailey School you are in the clear here. I’m guessing you can throw down to just about anything. For the rest of us however, try dancing to the song before you fall in love with it. Even the most confident person can be shaken by flying solo on a dance floor. At my wedding, people were just not getting the message to join in and my husband and I just kept cracking up. It doesn’t matter if it’s slow or fast as long as you are comfortable doing whatever dance it is.
So in the end, it’s up to you. Be as creative as you want, and mindful of the pitfalls. It is always better if it is a song that means something to the two of you, but if you want some examples (based on experience) of what not to do I’ll give you a few…
- White Wedding, Billy Idol – Yes this song references a wedding, not the kind you want to have.
- I’ll Make Love to You, Boyz II Men – Making love is beautiful, but this song’s almost porn! Maybe it’s those sexy Boyz voices.
- Pretty much all Rolling Stones songs.
- She Will be Loved, Maroon 5 – You’re gonna want to check out that verse…
- Kelly Clarkson, she’s just angry.
- The Sweetest Thing, U2 – not so sweet really.
- Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol – Beautiful song, but if you can hear it without thinking of death you’re a better man than me.
There are a lot of good choices that are off the beaten path, no one wants to be cookie cutter. Some of the first dance highlights of the last few years include…
- Crazy Love, Van Morrison – Classics never die!
- I Would Walk 500 Miles, The Proclaimers – This one is fun for everyone, and has a great message.
- She’s Got a Way, Billy Joel – Again, a classic. More about the bride than the groom though.
- Like I Am, Rascal Flatts – A great and catchy country ballad that we don’t come across too often.
- More Today Than Yesterday, Spiral Starecase – OK, my husband wouldn’t want me to give this one up. It was ours. Retro good times for everyone!