Wedding Reception Q&As

Answers to your questions about toasting, timing, and traditional reception rites and rituals.

Q: Friends of ours had a great band at their wedding, and my fiancé and I have decided to hire them for our wedding. Do you have any suggestions on what we need to discuss with the bandleader? 

A: Hiring a great band goes a long way toward guaranteeing a terrific reception—especially if you and your guests love to dance! And meeting with the bandleader gives you an opportunity to iron out all the details so he understands what you're looking for. Ask him if the band members who played at your friends' wedding will be the same musicians performing at your reception. Find out how many breaks they take (at least one band member should always be playing so there is no "break" in the entertainment). Ask what they'll wear and if they take requests from guests. Take a look at their playlist, and bring along a list of your own favorite tunes. (Make sure you provide the names of the songs you'll want for your first dance and for your dances with your parents.) Don't forget to keep the music varied to accommodate all your guests, young and old.

Of course, you also need to discuss costs. Does the band charge a flat fee, or per musician, per hour? What is their overtime fee? Will you be charged extra for travel time? (Unless they're traveling an especially long distance, you shouldn't be.) Find out what the reception site needs to supply for their equipment, such as the number of outlets, how much space is needed and the amount of time it takes to set up.

Even though you love the band, it's still a good idea to ask for some references (other than your friends'!) to find out if they were easy to work with, showed up on time, remembered to play all special requests, etc. Also, if the bandleader is going to emcee your wedding, be absolutely sure you like his style and personality - he'll be the one setting the tone and keeping the party going. Make sure all the details you discuss are spelled out in your contract; if not, write them in by hand.

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