Performing Music for Weddings and Events
Over the past week I have performed in a number of musical set ups including solo, quartet, full band and DJ live. Each event was completely different to the next including a corporate do, a 70th birthday, a Bat Mitzvah and a wedding. Each event was located at different venues from Oxfordshire to Rickmansworth and each client was looking for different things. So how is it possible to get the music just right for weddings and events?
What does the client want?
For me, it’s about finding out exactly what the clients are looking for. My initial meeting and the follow up call a month prior to the event are really important for understanding a client’s needs. In those meetings I try to find out what sort of guests will be at the event – age and personality, how large the venue is and what they want from the me.
For example at Gillian’s 70th birthday, I was asked to perform a mix of ambient background music to create a relaxed mood for her friends and family. The venue was a small hotel in Rickmansworth and I was asked to perform in their restaurant. The size of this room was relatively small and for the 30 guests of ages between 65 and 85 it was important I played appropriate music to their taste. Because I had all of this information I could prepare a mix of jazz, motown and acoustic songs to set the right mood.
Also it was important to allow her friends and family to talk without having to shout over the music. Often singers and musicians have their volume way up as they want everyone to hear them. But this can be detrimental to the ambience of a room and can heavily backfire if you need to perform background music.
Knowing the venue
It really helps to know what a venue is like. I mean this in size, shape and equipment provided. On the weekend I performed with the function band DJ live at the Northbrook Parking Wedding Venue in Surrey. Because I had performed there before I was aware of things like sound limiters, sound restrictions for music in their courtyard, where to park for loading, how long it would take to get there etc. Having this knowledge before performing at weddings and events is so helpful. If I haven’t played at a venue before I will often do a reckie of the site. It helps not to have surprises on the day of the event.
Being able to Improvise
Some times things happen at weddings and events that you’re not expecting. When this happen it’s important to be able to improvise and think on your feet. Two examples of this happened at the two other events I performed at over the past week. The first was a quartet at Soho Farmhouse with a great bunch of musicians. The client had decided that during our second set she wanted to set up a karaoke machine for her co workers to sing to. We were asked to join in and help the singers out. What actually happened was the words came up but the music couldn’t be heard. And so as a band we turned ourselves into a live karaoke machine performing requests with the guests. Luckily we knew the songs thrown at us and the night went well.
At the Bat Mitzvah there was a delay to the food coming out which meant that the client asked us to extend our Israeli set. It was then down to us to keep watch for a signal as to when the food would be ready so we could wrap up the music and let the guests sit down for lunch. Having a good group of musicians around you is really important when these sorts of things happen.
Highlights of the week
Some of the highlights of this week’s events include:
- A helicopter taking off during the middle of an acoustic set – 50 yards away from us
- Performing live karaoke
- Finding and playing a song for a guest who had been searching for it for over 15 years
- Having a great gig with the Cocktails and Dreams band
- Inviting an 85 year old man to join the Function Band Dj Live on stage to sing ‘Mack the Knife’
- Bumping into Northbrook Park’s resident peacocks