7 Things You Should Know About Wedding Entertainment
By Sam Browne

10 June 2015

Does the band take requests? Do you have to provide them with dinner? Can the bride sing a song?

1. Requests

Bands will usually play a song request if they know the song.  They may opt to ignore a request if it is unsuitable for the guests (for example a Metallica song early on in the night might not work too well) though generally, if the bride, groom or their parents ask for something, the band will do whatever is asked of them (after all, the client is always right).
DJs will play requests wherever possible so long as they fit within the format of the musical style being played - see above.
If the band don’t know a song that you really love, ask them well in advance of the wedding if they can learn it for you.  Some bands will do this at no additional cost though many will require additional payment to learn a song - after all, it will take several hours of working out the song and rehearsing it before it’s ready to perform for you, and time is money.  
A DJ can usually download any song they don’t already have from iTunes so let them know in advance what they’ll need and expect them to be prepared for your wedding.
2. Audience interaction

A long day, a chance to let down their hair, live music and of course alcohol can mean that audience members will become increasingly keen on performing with the band.  As a general rule, just getting on stage with the band and grabbing a microphone is very bad etiquette and will annoy the band.  Imagine a drunk person coming into your workplace and messing with your things - this is pretty much what it amounts to.  If an audience member is musical and wishes to perform either with the band or using their equipment, it is best to arrange this prior to the performance so the band can accommodate that person in terms of timing and equipment required.
3. Musical brides and grooms

Sometimes, one of the people getting married may be musical and would like to incorporate that into their wedding.  This is generally a really lovely moment and if the bride or groom wish to perform, the band will do everything they can to make this happen but giving the band some notice will make this easier for everyone.  
4. Food and beverages

As a general rule, supplying dinner and beverages (including access to alcohol) is a great way to keep your entertainers happy.  It is obviously not acceptable for your band or DJ to become drunk or unruly.  Strictly speaking, both meals and alcohol are optional but your performers will appreciate your generosity.
5. Setup and pack down

Generally speaking your band will need 60 - 90 minutes to set up and test their equipment (sound check).  If the band are from the same city as where your wedding is being held, generally they won’t mind setting up in the afternoon (usually while you’re getting your photos done elsewhere is a really good time for them to set up) but if they are from out of town, setting up in the afternoon means they have 5 - 6 hours of downtime between setting up and performing, so in that case, a later set up may be preferable.  A DJ set up is generally more like 30 minutes and does not require noisy testing so this can be done during dinner without being a problem.
6. Equipment

The band and DJ will typically own all of the equipment they require and will usually include this in their price.  Check with them to get clear on exactly what they have, and ideally go and see them live to make sure their equipment is suitable for your wedding. 
7. Performances and breaks

Bands will usually perform for around 40 - 50 minutes and then take a break of not more than 20 minutes (15 is standard).  So if the band starts at 9pm, they will typically play 9 - 9.45 (15 minute break), 10 - 10.15 (15 minute break) etc.  This is mainly for the vocalist, whose job is physically demanding - without a break they may lose their voice.  DJs may not require a break and may play through the entire night without one.