I’ve been feeling a lot like Paula Abdul recently. Not because I’ve been practicing my early 90s dance moves or because I’ve been taking crazy pills. (I have done neither.) It’s because Sean and I have been trying to decide on a band, and it feels a lot like the audition process for American Idol.
I’ve been to weddings with both DJs and bands, and see that each experience offers its own advantages. Originally, Sean and I had planned on booking a DJ, until we talked it over with my dad, who is very pro-band. So we immediately widened our search to include bands. Some initial searching lead me to a few local agencies, such as Brandywine and EBE. I called these agents to find out whether they had any bands available for our wedding date, and what the pricing was for them.
I learned that bands come in lots of different sizes (or pieces, as they are referred to in the biz) with a variety of styles and instruments. Knowing we wanted a band that included at least one singer, guitar, drums, and brass, I was told that we’d need a seven-to-nine piece band.
Ok, so that was a start. I next learned that there are these “showcases” where bands will play a 25-30 minute set of song excerpts that you would most likely hear them play at your wedding. Bands and their agents really encourage brides and grooms to attend these showcases so they can get a real feel for the experience the band would bring to their Big Day. Ok, that makes total sense. However, the tricky part is that these showcases typically take place once a month, in the evenings, on weeknights. And with both of us working nowhere near the showcase locations (or each other), it has been difficult for us to go check out them out.
Some band websites will have YouTube videos of the band in action. So, thinking that this would be much easier that going to a showcase, we went online and checked some out. Unfortunately, I found the bands in the videos weren’t what we were looking for and decided that we’d really need to see them live to make our decision.
The first band we saw had us meet them in a recording studio housed in a dark industrial park. The place didn’t look like much on the outside, but was set up like a real concert stage on the inside. There were four chairs set at the base of the stage, one for each of my parents, Sean and me. As we sat and watched the 30-minute set, I felt a little awkward, as if I were a judge in a contest (hence my AI reference). Despite the pressure of being the only audience members, though, I really enjoyed the private show. We left the showcase feeling very positive about the band, and felt like they might be a good fit for us. Might being the operative word.
See, my dad is a minister, and for that reason, has been to more weddings than the average person. So, he’s seen a lot of bands, DJs, etc., and swears by a band with a brass section. And the only problem with the first brand was that they had no brass.
We decided that we’d attend an upcoming showcase for another ban—one with brass—and compare. So we marked our calendars for February 5th, and decided to move on to other items on our wedding to-to list until then. However, at a party last weekend I was talking with a recently married friend about this whole finding-a-band process, and she mentioned having attended the wedding of a friend with a live band that was awesome. She texted the friend for the band name, and I resolved to call one more on Monday.
I immediately liked the agent, who, it turns out, is also a member of the band, when we talked on the phone. He told me a little about the band and invited me to their showcase, as luck would have it, the following night. Bonus: the showcase would take place only 15 minutes from home! Unfortunately Sean had the flu, but my dad was free, so we trekked across the Walt Whitman to see Cheers the Band.
They. Were. Awesome.
The showcase really did give us a great taste of all the different types of music they could play. The singers were fantastic, and—my dad was right—the brass really added something special. I left with the same feeling I’d had after visiting the Down Town Club for the first time: This is it!
I called the next day and booked the band! We will have two pieces at our cocktail hour and the full nine-piece band for the reception. I’m so excited to hit the dance floor at my wedding, and am also thrilled to have this big item finally crossed off my wedding to-do list!
How did you decided on whether a band or DJ was right for your wedding? And then how did you go about choosing them?