Today’s lovely guest post comes to us from Joe Hoten at Bands For Hire, based in London, England! Enjoy:

You’re understandably going to want to leave as little to chance as possible when it comes to hiring wedding entertainment – you won’t want to risk it being anything other than a huge success. Unfortunately, the majority of wedding and function bands perform exclusively at the events for which they’ve been hired, so it can be tricky to get the measure of them unless you’re attending the wedding or function in question. If a trusted friend or family member can give you a recommendation, then great, although that rather limits your options. Don’t be deterred from booking a wedding band you’ve not yet had the pleasure of watching – here’s a few things to think about before you take the plunge:

Read the full post after the cut!

Have the Band Presented Themselves Well Online?

These days, it’s easier than ever to build an online presence, and with a video camera in nearly every smartphone, it’s fair to expect a wedding band to have provided some preview material. With so much competition from other acts, any self-respecting wedding band will make sure they’ve marketed themselves properly. Take a while to look through their photos, watch their videos and listen to any recordings they’ve uploaded onto whichever platform you’re viewing them on.

Established wedding bands will have recognised the importance of appearing professional – if the footage looks and sounds as if it’s been recorded in a garage on a cheap phone, then prospective customers are going to lower their expectations and maybe not even consider booking the band. Also, keep an eye out for details when reading through the band’s bio – if they sound like they don’t know what they’re on about, or haven’t bothered to spell check what they’ve written, they just won’t seem serious about what they’re doing. If everything online checks out, then by all means take a chance on them, as you can be sure that other people will have done.

What Are the Reviews Saying?

Just like when you’re purchasing any expensive online product or service, it’s important to check out the customer feedback before parting with your hard earned cash. The comment section is a somewhat unfiltered platform for reviewers to voice their opinions, and some may be unnecessarily harsh, but if a lot of them are saying the same thing, then there probably is a fire causing the smoke.

Even just the amount of feedback a band has on their profile can be an indicator. If they don’t have many reviews, it’s possible they’ve had less bookings. If they’ve had less bookings, it’s possible they’ve had less professional gigging experience. It’s not a concrete truth, but it’s solid enough when you don’t know the band.

Is the Set List Suitable?

It’s commonplace for a wedding band’s online profile to feature – and keep up to date – an example playlist. This is essential information, as it’ll give you an idea of what kind of era their heads are in and what kind of vibe they’re therefore peddling. If you’re after something modern and up to date to suit a younger audience, then you’d expect this example playlist to feature chart music from the last couple of years; equally, if you’re aiming for a more retro feel, or if you’ve invited more mature guests, then you’d hope to see listed the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s or whatever your chosen period may be.

You’ll be more likely to go with a wedding band who plays your favourite tunes – that goes without saying, as it’s your big day. But, even though there are many fantastic wedding bands out their whose repertoires do span the decades, cohesion is an important factor when considering the overall effect the music will have on your guests. If you want a little something for everybody, then see if the playlist the wedding band has given will provide this. If you want a more specific tone, then check that the playlist doesn’t stray too far outside its boundaries, and that it’s in keeping with how the band presents themselves. Think of the band’s name as the label on the tin, and the play list as the ingredients.

What Are They Bringing To the Party?

Speaking of something doing what it says on the tin, it’s vital you should confirm what services your chosen wedding band actually provides. A professional wedding or function band – particularly one hired via an agency – comes with certain guarantees that an amateur or unaffiliated band may not come with. For example, if the band you wanted suddenly becomes unavailable, you can turn to the agency for assistance. If there’s no agency, there’s no assistance. Also, in order to have been picked up by an agency, a wedding band will most likely have been through various safety and quality checks, so you can trust that they’ll deliver an excellent service (and will behave themselves).

Another issue faced when hiring an amateur wedding band is one of equipment. You wouldn’t want your wedding band to show up only to find that they were expecting you to provide them with a PA or drum kit, so read through the band’s description to see if they come as a ready-to-go self-contained unit. Many professional wedding bands now offer additional services, such as extra lighting, a free DJ for in between sets, first dance requests and more, in order to compete for your custom. Read carefully what they say they’re offering, and feel free to make any inquiries if you’d like to have anything clarified, to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.

All in all, it’s probable that you won’t get to see the wedding band you go with before your wedding, but this shouldn’t be a problem, because most people go through the same thing. Be careful to get a sense of the band through their videos and photos, as well as what they write about themselves and what they’re promising, and get recommendations if you can. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to go with your gut – though not so much if you enlist the help of a live music agency, as they’ll have done that for you already!

Joe Hoten is an avid writer of songs and wedding related content, and is a regular contributor to Bands for Hire. Bands for Hire are a live music agency offering a wide range of live wedding bands – acoustic acts, string quartets, jazz bands and more – across the UK.

To learn more about Bands for Hire, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.