I love to dance. Being an 80’s baby, I will forever love Dirty Dancing and Footloose. So, it’s no surprise that when the tunes start at a wedding, I kick my heels off and don’t stop for the rest of the night. But behind the scenes and before all the fun can happen, choosing entertainment for your wedding can be quite a challenge. Should you have a band or a DJ? What should you look for when hiring entertainment? How much should you budget? Jonathan Wiegratz of Boston Common Band is here with us today to answer all of those questions and more. So put your dancing shoes on (or kick them off!) because your wedding should be a party you’ll never forget.
SMP: Tell us a bit about Boston Common Band. What do you do and why do you rock?
BCB: Boston Common Band is a multi ‘Best of Boston’ award winning wedding band serving all of New England. Comprised of recently graduated musicians from the prestigious Berklee College of Music & Northeastern we have shared the stage with artists from John Mayer, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, Ben Folds, The Deftones, and many others.
Our trend-setting style and approach to performances always deliver a high-energy, heart-racing, booty-shakin’ experience by blending a perfect mix of Pop Rock, R&B and Dance music. Our professionalism and creative talent will energize your guests and ensure that your event will be the success you always dreamed for it to be!
SMP: What is the advantage of having a band vs. a DJ and vice versa?
BCB: This is the age-old question about what type of entertainment to have at your wedding. A DJ’s strength lies in the fact that they have a nearly unlimited play-list. A DJ is only limited by the amount of songs on their hard drive and skill at seamlessly beat-matching song mixes together.
Where a DJ can certainly “bring it” to the party, having a Band brings a different element all its own. The aesthetic appeal of a band, combined with the stylistic flare they put on a song can take a party to a whole other level.
Having said that, Boston Common Band has revolutionized the wedding entertainment industry by offering a “Band & DJ” package with a real DJ as a member of the band. This gives Brides and Grooms the best of both worlds, in that they have the flexibility that a DJ provides, combined with the excitement and energy that only a band can bring.
SMP: What qualities should a couple look for when choosing a Band or DJ?
BCB: When speaking to a prospective Band or DJ, get a sense for their style and approach to weddings. Ask what type of genres they perform and does that line up with your favorite genres. Perhaps most importantly, get a sense for your entertainer’s personality and pride in their work! When looking at diamonds, you have the “4 C’s”… in the Entertainment industry, we have the “3 P’s” : Performance – Professionalism – Production. There’s a huge distinction between many bands that bring their “A-Games” to every performance, versus some of the other bottom-feeder groups.
Furthermore, top-quality entertainment does more than just perform songs. Band’s and DJ’s who will make your party successful act truly as your host for the evening, keeping guest where they need to be according to the agenda, managing the energy level effectively, and ultimately ensuring that everyone is partying all night long. Things to ask or look for…
MC / Host — Does your entertainer understand your vision for the evening? What’s his/her personality on the mic for introductions and for guiding the evening along? Have they spent time working with you and the event coordinator, planning the evening agenda?
Sound System — Does your entertainer have scalable sound systems that can cover small spaces as well as large venues? IE; A small boombox won’t be enough for your 400 person ballroom… just the same as a 2000 watt speaker system is probably overkill for cocktail hour!
Lighting — Does your entertainer have intelligently controlled lighting… or is it just set to ‘random’ flashing? IE; Do the lights change tastefully and fluidly with the music, or will there be random blinking lights while you’re having your “First Dance”?
SMP: What other factors should couples consider when choosing entertainment?
Other factors to consider when looking at Entertainment are the logistical items. Make sure your chosen venue has enough area for a Band or DJ to setup. For example, a seven piece band would not be able to fit into a 75 sq ft area, yet a DJ could. Also, make sure the venue has sufficient power for speakers and lighting. A DJ will typically ask for two circuits, whereas a band will require three or more. Lastly, be sure to ask about any travel policies, if the wedding is not local to the area. Many entertainers have a certain distance they are willing to travel before an overnight stay will be required.
SMP: How much should a couple budget for a great band or DJ?
BCB: Entertainment budgeting is possibly the most overlooked and under budgeted item of all in weddings and other private parties. Ask yourselves about what the major things are that have the biggest impact of creating the party atmosphere and having a great time. You’ll likely find most people will say: The Band/DJ & The Booze! Add to that, it’s your DJ/Band who will be MC/Hosting (running) the reception. Therefore, nothing is more paramount than making sure you have true professionals to keep the party running smoothly.
Having said that, one of the biggest items considered and budgeted when it comes to planning a wedding is the food and other decorative pieces. This is not to diminish the importance of a phenomenal food – we’ve certainly had some amazing meals at weddings we’ve performed at. Although, consider the cost of entertainment on a level playing field with the cost of the other major expenses. For a Saturday night in summer, take into account that most wedding plated-meals will cost $70, $80, or even up to $100 per person. Then consider the cost of a great band – $6000 (in New England), dividing by an average sized wedding hosting 150 people, equals to around $40 per person for the entertainment. That’s a pretty big difference, less than half the cost in most cases… clearly visible, once the math is on the table!