Music is often one of the last services to be planned by brides and grooms for their weddings – often coming after venues, food, flowers, and even chair covers. But it is the music that makes a wedding become magically etched to memory. When a wedding is videotaped, the day’s moments come to life with the original music in the background.
So when and how do you choose the music? My clients tell me that this can be a daunting experience: deciding on the style of music, instrumentation, number of players, repertoire, and then finding reliable players to create just the right atmosphere. What happens if musicians forget or just do not show? What if some of them get sick? Will they play outdoors? If so, will they be heard outdoors?
What is the best and easiest way to avoid the unnecessary anxiety in booking live music? If possible, try to minimize the number of steps you have to take to secure your music. Locating one source to fill your entire musical requirements will not only help to coordinate all the components and styles of music, it will actually save you money. You will not be faced with numerous administrative costs and sound equipment duplication and you will keep contact with one person only. This person/agent should offer free of charge consultation, be willing to meet with you without any preconditions until you are satisfied that all your questions are answered.
There are a number of agencies capable of searching out qualified individual musicians and bands. Do not hesitate to inquire about any idea that may cross your mind regarding music, musicians, repertoire, anything. If you already have a favourite player or a dance band in mind, this person can negotiate the best financial arrangements for your consideration.
You are the only one who knows what kind of budget you have to work with. There is nothing wrong in negotiating the best deal possible, within reason. If your agent knows what the working amount is, s/he should be able to present you with the best options to fill all your musical needs. A good agent should be able to tell early in discussions if s/he is able to make recommendations to fit your budget.
One detail that is often overlooked is quality sound equipment. In a controlled environment, such as a church, guests are relatively quiet and acoustic music without sound reinforcement sounds beautiful. However, playing for the same number of people outdoors is not advisable. If getting married outside, ask for musicians who own or have access to quality sound equipment. They should be able to provide one or more microphones, wired and/or wireless. These are necessary for officiates and readers to be heard easily by all in attendance, even under noisy or windy conditions. The music itself, although not overpowering, should be heard and enjoyed by all.
A price quote should be provided early in the planning process. Unless there is a last-minute increase to the length of the performance, or the number of players there should be no additional charges to the agreed upon fee. Your agent should advise you if HST is applicable and provide you with a business number.
A written contract that includes the date, venue, time, number of players, names of performers, etc. is advised. Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) use a legal document drafted by their legal department covering everything mentioned above. They also are equipped to provide suitable replacements for musicians who cannot perform due to any unforeseeable circumstances, such as illness.
If you choose your music provider(s) wisely you should not have to worry about anything after you finalize all the arrangements. The first sounds you will hear as you enter the ceremony will be those of beautiful harmonious tunes that will accompany you throughout the day and the night.