Most people have never hired a band before, so we’re sure you have a lot of questions. Provided below are some helpful tips and suggestions regarding wedding formalities, timelines, and musical choices. Our suggestions are based upon years of experience, however, there are many variations and possibilities. Feel free to talk to the band manager about other ideas. That’s what we’re here for. We are open to just about anything!
The band’s sound engineer will be the first to arrive onsite. He will set up the bulk of the equipment (Speakers, monitors, mics, mixing board, drums and various backline). Two hours is usually a sufficient amount of time to set up and test all sound system equipment. The artist(s) arrival time on the contract is the earliest time the artist will be able to show up at your event and begin setting up. Earlier set-up times, if possible, must be arranged with Murray Hill Talent in advance of the engagement and may include additional costs. Please understand that having the band play an iPod or laptop through the sound system prior to start time will incur more costs because it will increases the engineer’s contracted arrival time.
The artist’s performance time is the time at which the artist will begin the actual performance. Performance times are consecutive and cannot be uses intermittently or “banked.” Any changes in performance, starting, and ending times should be made as soon as possible. Due to possible scheduling conflicts, artists may not be able to alter performance times, set-ups times, and/or overtime.
The band generally introduces the wedding party as couples enter the room while playing upbeat energetic music in the background with no lead vocals (so that guests can hear the introductions). Most often parents are included in the bridal party and are introduced first. Grandparents are often acknowledged directly from their seats instead of walking in with the bridal party. The bandleader will get everyone in order and lined up before the announcements, and go over name pronunciations, leading up to the grand entrance.
A great time to do your first dance is immediately after any formal introductions upon entering the main room. After the Bride and Groom have been announced and the applause has died down, the band can go into a first dance song. Options include the band performing your song or us playing the song on MP3 thru the bands sound system. For clients looking to keep it short, the 2-3 minute mark is a good benchmark for the band to end it.
*Tip : Many clients opt to play a pre-recorded version of their first dance song. This part of the night has a lot of focus and can be a great option to ensure the exact version (tempo/form & feel) that you are familiar with. Especially helpful for choreographed dances or more obscure songs and songs with high emotional attachment.
Go through the band’s song list (found on your band’s page on our site). All songs are fair game but you may find the songs in the “Dinner & Slow Dances” section most helpful. The band can also learn a song if so desired. Wedding websites such as theKnot and Weddingwire are great resources for current specialty dance ideas and trends.
We’re into it! (As long as it’s OK with the catering staff). Occasionally a couple will request that the dance party begin immediately after the first dance. Although this can be a fun idea and set the great tone for the night, it often interferes with the catering time-line and service, throwing off the natural flow of the evening. It is important to discuss this thoroughly with the caterer before asking the band to go right into dancing.
- Tip: Motown or classic party favorites work best for this option as those songs tend to get all ages on the dance floor very quickly.
A great time for toasts is after your first dance and prior to dinner service (or during/between early courses). You definitely don’t want to put them off until too late in the evening, when it’s difficult to keep guests’ attention. We recommend this order: Welcome speech, any bridal party toast, blessing (if any), then dinner.
*Tip – for best sound, projection and to avoid feedback, try and remind toast people to hold microphone right up to their mouth (not down by their chest ) and to avoid standing right in front of speakers.
For seated dinner service, the band will usually perform lower volume (non-dance party music) until the main course is served (depending on how many courses you are serving).
Most volume concerns take place during the dinner portion of the wedding. It’s important for the band to play at low volumes during this time (background tunes, acoustic songs, instrumentals, etc.)
*Tip: When working on your seating chart, avoid seating older guests directly next to the bandstand and/or near the band’s speakers. Older guests are often most sensitive to volume.
In order to ensure maximum dancing and keep the break to a minimum length, we recommend that meals be immediately available to the band as your guests begin eating the main course. When your guests are finished eating their meals, they will usually want to start dancing – this is a bad time for the band to be sitting down eating their meal. All of this should be arranged with your catering manager prior to the wedding. We will also do our best to convey this to the catering manager.
This is normally done after guests have finished eating, or towards the end of dinner. Most couples like us to announce the cake cutting but not make a huge spectacle out of it (It’s up to you though). Optimal cake cutting music is a soft, but upbeat tune that will segue into the parent dances.
These usually follow the cake cutting/after dinner, and serve as the best transition from dinner to dancing. These songs may be shortened as well, depending on the dancing prowess of the bride, groom, and parents. If you’re having a hard time choosing two separate songs, consider incorporating both the bride/father and groom/mother dances during the same song. This will provide enough time for the photographer to take pictures of each couple. A couple minutes into the song, we can invite all guests to join in (optional), which leads nicely into dancing.
A great time to start the dance party is right after dinner, after the parent dances. And remember – nothing helps fill the dance floor more than when YOU dance!
*Tip: Dipping the lights down low sends the signal that it’s time to party. Ask your onsite manager to dim the house lights after dinner/parent dances. Our production crew does our best to also notify the venue to do this.
Most often the band is able to perform for additional time. Consult your contract for the exact rate. Payment needs to to be sent in advance of the wedding or given directly to the bandleader in the form of cash at the wedding. Overtime availability of your artist should be determined prior to your event. The overtime rate on your contract is not a pro-rated band rate based on the full band cost.
*Tip: It is best to let the band know your intentions of overtime as early as you can. This will help the band pace the dance sets and not perform a “big finish” too early.
The band will learn one song not on their repertoire list for your event (as long as the song is within the band’s instrumentation capabilities and general style). We must receive your specialty song request at least 4 weeks prior to your wedding date, in order to adequately prepare the song for performance. For best performance quality, we suggest that you choose any special dance songs from the band’s song list. This will ensure a strong, well seasoned performance instead of being the first time they will have performed the song live.
You might also consider having the band’s sound engineer play the original recording through the sound system. The original version is what people and clients are more accustomed to and stirs up more emotions than having a band perform a song that is relatively unfamiliar to them (especially for key moments such as first dances, parent dances, etc.).
We do NOT recommend going through a band’s song list and hand-picking songs for the band to play, as if the band were a juke box. While a band’s song list contains hundreds of songs that they have played before, and could potentially play, it is not necessarily representative of their strongest material. Bands know which specific songs they play best and sound strongest. Repertoire varies from season to season based on the band’s chemistry at that point in time and what is working well at the events. Bands often formulate sets in regards to tempos, song keys, lead singer interchange and set pacing. Many bands feature segue-ways, solos, and extended parts that have been carefully planned & rehearsed. For a strong, tight and powerful performance, we recommend you keep a general approach to letting us know your likes and dislikes. Give us a handful of specific songs you would rather not have the band play, as well as a few general styles and songs that you would love to hear. This will be a helpful tool for the band to use, while allowing the band to play to their strengths.
Our bands require a hot nutritionally balanced meal for each member plus one crew member. The group doesn’t need anything fancy and it doesn’t need to be what your guests are having. Venues will often have some type of vendor meal available. The group may request a few vegetarian options if available. Water, juice and soda should also be made available to the band if possible. That is always appreciated. It is also recommended that you consider a “break area” for performers. This may be a designated “green room”, table or unobtrusive area away from guests.
The band members travel separately but also do a little ride sharing. On average the band will travel in 4-5 passenger cars and one large van.
Two, 20 Amp 110 volt dedicated circuits within 25 feet of the band (preferably). These dedicated circuits should not be shared with catering, lighting or other power needs. For outdoor functions a GFI circuit (ground fault interrupter) is required for the safety of the artists during rain and thunderstorms. If one cannot be provided, please be aware that performance may be interrupted until the threat of electrical shock is over.
When using generators, a 6000-watt generator with two 20 amp 110-volt duplex outlets is recommended. Total distance from power source (generator) should not exceed 25’.
If you must run extension cords to the performance area, use heavy cords (12 or 14 gauge). Never plug more than two 50’ cords together. Total distance from power source to stage should NEVER exceed 100’. Long extension cord runs greatly reduce the power.
*Important tip: Lighting, heaters and portable cooking devices take up a lot of “juice.” It is imperative that you do not share these type of devices with the power source designated for the band.
We do not require a stage, but we do need a flat, level, dry performance area. Raising the band onto a stage does help the band members visually connect with more of the audience, so it is a nice touch. If you do decide to rent a stage, the recommended size is 12′ deep by 16′ wide.
For outdoor events: The performance area or stage should be level and should be covered to provide shelter from excessive rain, wind, sun, etc. Keep in mind that if proper shelter is not provided for band, the band and crew must stop performance and tend to protection of their expensive gear and instruments.
Most Common Wedding Band Reception Timeline:
- First Dance
- Dinner Courses
- Band Break (during entrees)
- Cake Cutting
- Parent Dances
- Dance Party!
- Short Band Break
- Bouquet/Garter toss (optional)
- More Dance Party!
- Last Dance