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Live Music & Your Venue: 10 Things You Need to Check

Wedding entertainment advice

Wedding entertainment advice

Before you put down the deposit on your venue, here are 10 questions we recommend asking your venue to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Live Music & Your Venue: 10 Things You Need to Check

We know how much time it takes for a couple to decide on the perfect wedding venue, but if they’re planning on live music too, there are lots of considerations to take into account.

1. Is there a sound limiter?

Council noise restrictions and noise complaints mean sound limiters are increasingly common in wedding venues across the UK. These can raise difficulties for bands - not only risking damage to expensive musical gear but also dulling the party vibe!

If there are restrictions, make sure the venue tell you exactly what these are – for example, there might be a restriction on how late the party can go on, or how loud the band can be.

A sound limiter or meter is a small device attached to the wall of the venue, designed to restrict the amount of noise a band can create during their performance. While most acts are happy to work with a sound limiter set at approximately 92db or higher, they always prefer these to be switched off during the performance.

This is because most sound limiters work by cutting off the power to the band when the band or the crowd’s applause exceeds a certain volume, which can damage band equipment.

If your venue's limiter is set lower than 92db, you may be better off choosing a smaller act such as a singer with backing or an acoustic band. Alternatively, if the live music is an important part of your big day, you might want to consider a different venue.

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2. Is there enough space for a band?

A typical 4-piece band will usually need a performance space measuring 4 metres wide and 3 metres deep at a minimum. This may seem like a lot, but bear in mind they'll have PA speakers at the front corners of the performance area and stage lighting behind and to the sides.

As a rough guide, add an extra metre's width for each additional member. Eg. allow 6 metres wide x 3 metres deep for a 6-piece band.

A raised stage isn't required, but it's important the stage area is level, and that there’s no risk of excitable guests knocking over equipment and getting injured.

Relay how much space you'll need to your wedding venue so they can plan their table layout around this, and also ensure there's enough space for dancing in front of the band.

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3. Is the room right for the number of guests?

There's an optimum size for the rest of the room too. Too little space and your guests will feel overcrowded, too much and it all starts to look a bit bare. While a large room may look spectacular, if your guests aren't going to fill it, the party atmosphere may suffer later on in the evening.

If some of your friends and family are hesitant to start dancing, a large, open room will make them feel even more exposed on the dance floor. Talk to your venue and take their advice on optimum numbers for the space you're booking, then invite as many evening guests as you can to fill the dance floor and get your evening party off to a great start!

4. What time do you have to turn the music off?

In our experience, the majority of venues tend to have a music curfew of either 11pm or midnight. If you're keen to carry on partying into the early hours, you'll need to make sure your venue can accommodate this. Their bar license may only run until 11pm or midnight as well, so make sure you're happy with this when you book.

All our bands know how to wind down a party – so if they say ‘it’s our last song’ but there are still ten minutes to go, don’t worry, they’re just leaving space for an encore so you’re not left with a sudden dramatic end to the night!

5. Where is the bar in relation to the dance floor?

If there’s one thing that’s going to keep guests away from the dance floor, it’s the bar, so it's very important to make sure the bar isn't too far away from the music or entertainment. There's only so much a band can do to fill the dance floor if all your guests are hitting the tequila in the next room.

It's best to have the whole reception contained in one room to keep everyone together and create a fantastic atmosphere for all. This also ensures no one misses any special moments like cutting the cake or the first dance.

6. How do bands load in?

Our bands have mastered the art of quick load-ins and set ups, but they’ll appreciate a venue that makes it as easy as possible. If your room is 50m from the nearest loading bay and there are stairs to navigate, setting up can take much longer than the recommended two hours – not to mention tiring the musicians out before they’ve even started!

Find out everything you can from your venue about the flights of stairs, quickest routes to the stage and how many parking spaces there are.

7. When can the band set up and sound-check?

Typically bands prefer to arrive and soundcheck from 5 or 6pm, as this usually coincides with the period between wedding meal and evening party, when guests leave the main room and the staff move in to re-set the room and clear space for the dancefloor. Most bands need about an hour to an hour and a half in total). Find out whether this is possible.

If you'll be using the room from this time, the band could arrive earlier, before any guests arrive. Bear in mind this would usually incur extra arrival charges. It's also worth clearing it with your venue.

If there's no chance of the band getting an empty room at any point in the day, as a last resort, the band could set up quietly during your meal, doing only a brief ‘line-check’. This is a simple test to make sure all their equipment is working, avoiding the need to make a disruptive noise.

Ideally there would need to be side side or back entrance close to the stage, so that the band could load in discreetly, avoiding the need to carry equipment between tables or through a crowd of guests.

8. Are there power outlets near the performance area?

We’ll be able to advise you on how many power outlets your band will need, but ask your venue about the stage area and what the socket situation is. Most bands will have extension leads, but not all will have 30m extension reels, so make sure to find out so they can make necessary arrangements. This is especially important if your evening party is in a marquee running off a generator or indoor power sockets.

9. Do the venue require public liability and appliance certificates from the band?

Many venues these days will require your band to present them with a public liability insurance (PLI) certificate before they will allow them to perform. This is so that if something goes wrong during your reception, and it’s the band’s fault (like faulty equipment giving someone an electric shock), the insurance will pay for it.

A venue might also ask for a PAT (portable appliance testing) certificate to prove that the act’s equipment is safe. Check with your agent as soon as possible, in case they need to be renewed.

10. Is there anything else the venue needs to provide for the band?

Most acts booked for evening events will have a "rider", which will be listed on your booking form. Typically this will consist of soft drinks, mineral water, tea, coffee and a hot meal for each act member. They will also request a room to change in, eat and get ready in.

If possible, the meal and refreshments should be served to their changing room or in the venue restaurant. The ideal time for the venue to serve this is immediately after the band have set up their equipment, or during their interval. The meal doesn't need to be the same meal as you give your guests, but they'll need something more substantial than sandwiches and crisps.

If you’re having a buffet, it’s fine to offer this to the band as well as your guests, but make there is enough time for the band to queue before eating.

If your venue can’t provide a meal for the band, you may will need to make an extra payment so that the band can buy food elsewhere.

All bands and DJs booked for evening performances need a private room where they can eat, change and prepare for the performance. Ideally, this should contain a mirror, chairs a table and a power supply. There should be toilets close at hand.


Checklist

  • Check for any noise restrictions
  • Check the size of the performance area
  • Check whether the room is suitable for a party
  • Check the venue curfew time
  • Check the location of the bar relative to the dancefloor
  • Check parking and load-in instructions
  • Check the optimum time for band arrival, set-up and sound-check
  • Check that the band have easy access to power
  • Check whether your venue requires PLI and PAT certificates
  • Check the band's technical and rider requirements