If you want a packed dance floor, a certain atmosphere and a ball of a night, then choosing music is a big part of planning your reception. Today we’re joined by Caitlin of Sydney entertainment agency Funkified Entertainment who offer all kinds of entertainment for your wedding – from quartets, to DJs and everything in between!
Please tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into managing live music acts?
I completed my Bachelor of Music (perf) on violin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, which the other director of Funkified Entertainment (Gus Stephenson) also attended as a jazz saxophone major. Whilst still at university, we started out managing groups we were directly involved in as musicians – booking them on wedding and corporate events, as well as recitals and recordings. As we became busier and busier, we started getting a reputation for managing and booking work, and a number of friends and music colleagues approached us, asking us to manage their bands and groups. So one thing led to another, and at present we manage fifteen different amazing acts exclusively, that span from jazz and classical through to soul, salsa and top 40’s pop.
What makes live entertainment so memorable?
Music is such an incredible force – it’s a medium that speaks to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or nationality. When performed well, music has the power to affect the mood and emotion of everyone in the room, whether it be evoking excitement, sentimentality, love – anything you want it to! Music acts as the soundtrack to your wedding day, and live performance makes this soundtrack all the more expressive.
Live music also serves the purpose of providing your guests with a show for the evening. Your band will do the job of entertaining you and your guests, and really does provide the catalyst to take your wedding from good to amazing. By choosing the right group for your reception, you go a long way towards ensuring that your friends, family (and most importantly the two of you!) have an unforgettable night.
What makes one live act stand out from another as a successful wedding entertainment?
There are a number of factors that separate a great live act from a mediocre one. The following are the most important
1. Whether or not the band contains full time musicians, or part time, novice musicians.
Full time musos are always going to be the better players and generally have tertiary qualifications in their field. They’ll also have much more performance experience under their belts, meaning they’ll be trained at reading the room, as well as knowing a far greater spectrum of repertoire.
2. If the band always performs with the same line-up.
Some bands book their musicians from a large pool, while others consistently perform with a set line-up of musicians. If a band always contains the same musicians, it means they will perform with greater synergy, musicality and interact more with your guests. It also means the musicians you see in promotional photos will be the musicians playing at your wedding!
3. How prepared the entertainment is for your wedding.
It’s important to meet with the band’s manager, or bandleader before the day, so they know exactly what you want for your wedding day. Your chosen entertainment will need to have an idea of the style of music your audience will respond to so they can prepare appropriate set lists, as well as learn your bridal waltz and any other requests you have. Remember, the more information you give us, the more tailored to your vision of the night the entertainment will be!
Can you please explain the consultation process you go through with a bride and groom?
Every bride and groom is entitled to unlimited one-on-one consultations with their personal entertainment consultant. These are used to plan the various elements of the evening, and generally get a feel for how the client wants to structure the entertainment on the night. We cover a range of both housekeeping and musical questions, and are always corresponding via email with clients in between consultations to ensure that the lines of communication are always open for our brides and grooms. Music is a very personal and subjective issue of taste, and as such we ask each couple to go through repertoire lists and select songs they love, and just as importantly songs they hate. This ensures that you only hear the songs on the night you want, and don’t emerge from the bathroom to find the band horrifying your grandmother with ‘Sex on Fire’ by Kings of Leon.
What should a couple consider when booking entertainment for their wedding?
You should always remember that a wedding will involve multiple demographics, and as such you should be looking to provide entertainment that will cater to a variety of tastes across multiple generations. Just because you think the Australian Bon Jovi Experience is the greatest live music idea known to man, does not necessarily mean that everybody else will! The best way to approach the act selection is to ask for a repertoire list, and listen to the band’s online samples to get an idea of their musical approach. If you look down at the repertoire list and find that 50% of the songs are regular appearances in your wedding nightmares, perhaps it’s not the right band for you.
How do you match the music to the type of wedding your client is looking for?
Generally a 5-minute conversation over the phone or a quick email exchange with the bride or groom will give us a great idea of the vision the couple has for their wedding, the atmosphere they’re trying to create, and the styles of music they have in mind. When people are after a vintage-wedding atmosphere for example, we put forward our swing jazz band Ellipsis, or if the couple are after lounge music to begin with followed by covers from the 60’s to current tracks, we know they’re after The Usual Suspects or Let’s Groove Tonight. It’s simply a matter of getting as much information as you can at the beginning of the process to ensure that the concept the couple have in their head translates directly into the wedding night entertainment they’ve always dreamt of.
What’s the best way of integrating music and performance with a wedding?
We always find that the best way to approach you entertainment is to ‘back-end’ it. By this, we are referring to ensuring that you have at least 2-3 hours of dancing at the end of the night, as this is generally why the majority of couples book a band in the first place! By scheduling a large block of time for dancing, you ensure that even if your run-sheet runs behind time, you will still have plenty of time for dancing at the end of your reception.
Almost as importantly as setting aside enough time for dancing at the end of the night, is making sure that there is live music as guests first arrive at the reception. The difference a lounge Sinatra standard will make to the first impression (and general enjoyment) of your guests cannot be overstated – it’s the perfect backdrop to conversation and instantly encourages your guests to slip into party mode.
By the same token, we often find that it is unnecessary to have live music over dinner, especially since most bands will operate on a 3 or 4 set booking. In the hierarchy of entertainment priorities, live music over dinner comes behind dancing and pre-dinner entertainment, so be prepared to simply have some tunes played via iPod over dinner if necessary. It won’t impact upon your guests enjoyment, is far easier to monitor volume-wise (the tables closest to the band will thank you!), and will allow you to allocate a set somewhere else in the night that will wield more impact.
From your experience, what works and what doesn’t?
There are no real across the board “Don’ts”, as every crowd will be different, however the best way to ensure that your entertainment is received glowingly by your guests is to consult them! Ask your guests to request their favourite song when they RSVP, and you’ll end up with an expansive list of different songs that will be guaranteed to please your guests.
Another great way to utilise your band is to have them play your entrance songs live. Depending on the size of your bridal party, this may mean grouping your bridal party entrances into segments (i.e. Parents – 1 song, Bridal Party – 1 song, Bride and Groom – 1 song) in order to ensure that your band is able to successfully count off and end each song in time with your MC’s announcements – remember, they’re human, not an iPod! By having multiple couples walk in to each song, it allows you to choose songs that can continue to be played at lower volume underneath the MC’s announcements, before cranking up the party as each couple enters the room.
Do you have a particular song that is requested more than others?
There are a couple of songs that seem to be requested at most weddings, regardless of style or band size, which are ‘Shake A Tailfeather’ (Ray Charles), ‘Living on a Prayer’ (Bon Jovi), ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ (Jackson 5) and ‘New York, New York’ (Frank Sinatra), as well as more recent additions ‘Moves Like Jagger’ (Maroon 5) and ‘Crazy in Love’ (Beyonce). They’re all great party tracks that aren’t too modern or alienating to any particular generation or demographic, which is definitely why the dancefloor is rarely more full than when the band cranks out one of these.
What do your performers love about performing at Australian weddings?
The beauty of Australian weddings is that they are a direct reflection on the multicultural and diverse community that we have as a nation. Whether it’s a Pakistani-Sri Lankan wedding, an Armenian-Australian combination, the ever popular British-Aussie liaison or a Lebanese-Italian extravaganza, every wedding has its own personality and approach to the time-honoured traditions, however they all share the same Australian determination to make their wedding above all, a huge party. Considering that in its essence a wedding is the biggest party you’ll ever throw, there’s no better attitude to have.