Music enhances whatever emotion we feel in the moment. That’s why it’s so important to curate your wedding playlist. To help us get started, musician Lucas Evans reveals his favourite songs to play at weddings that really sets the mood.

Lucas is the drummer and band leader of Orlando Combo, one of Melbourne’s finest jazz bands. The band regularly performs at the Australian Tennis Open, Australian Grand Prix, AFL Grand Finals, and of course, weddings!

In this chat we discuss:

  • About Orlando Combo
  • Orlando Combo’s jazz wedding repertoire
  • Setting the mood for the ceremony and reception
  • Music for guests of all ages
  • Building the ultimate wedding playlist
  • The perks of live bands
  • Rearranging songs for the wedding
  • Lucas’ go-to song for weddings

Before you start building your ultimate wedding playlist, consider the flow of the day. For the ceremony, you can have instrumental music or music with lyrics. If you choose the latter, make sure the message of the song suits the occasion. Typically, gentle melodies work best during the processional and then it’s followed by more upbeat tunes during the recessional.

The volume of music is also worth paying attention to. Guests will want to mingle and chat at the start of the reception, so light music should be sufficient. The music shouldn’t be at full blast the whole time, because it can make the wedding feel a little one note (pun intended!).

The perks of having a live band like Orlando Combo is that they’re skilled musicians who can read the room and adjust accordingly. Couples can also ask a live band to reimagine personally meaningful songs so that it’s included in their big day. Song choice does matter, but how they’re performed definitely affects the crowd’s engagement and enjoyment.

Links & Vendors Mentioned:

Orlando Combo

What Would They Know? Lucas Evans of Orlando Combo

Find Orlando Combo: 

On Polka Dot Wedding: Orlando Combo

On Instagram: @orlandocombo

On Facebook: Orlando Combo

On YouTube: @OrlandoCombojazzbandMelbourne

Find Dorothy & the Polka Dot Wedding team:

On Instagram: @polkadotwedding

On the website:

This podcast was produced by Polka Dot Wedding

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past & present.

Episode Transcript

Dorothy: There is nothing like a big warm hug and so our podcast today welcomes you with exactly that. If you are newly engaged or dreaming of it or a vendor, or dreaming of it, then the Feel Good Wedding podcast by Polka Dot Wedding is for you. Our mission is at Polka Dot Wedding is all about feel good weddings and our podcast brings that to life because although we love the details, we love the bouquets, the cakes, the sparkly things, we want to dive into the stories and we want to take you along for the ride. We’re having conversations with couples, with vendors and everyone in between and we really hope you’ll join us for this one. We have so much in store for you. So let’s get started.

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWurrung, Eora, and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land and we pay our respects to Elder’s past and present.

Wedding music has such a huge impact on your day. It really relates to how your moments on the day unfold. It determines the guest transitions. Those magical moments that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It sets the scene, and it’s such an important consideration that I don’t think we’ve put enough time into. So today we’re talking all about how to build the ultimate wedding playlist, and we’ve invited one of our favourite experts, Lucas Evans of Melbourne jazz band, Orlando Combo. Orlando Combo play all over the city and the state, and the country with their incredible jazz tunes, but not only that, of course they play weddings. Today we invited Lucas along to give us his insight into the differences between how you build a wedding playlist when you are using a live band, and take it from someone who has done hundreds if not thousands, of events and how does that work when you’re coming in having never built a wedding playlist before. Where do you start? So Lucas is our special guest today, and I’m really looking forward to you getting to know him and understanding a little bit more about the impact that music can have in your day. Let’s dive on in.

Dorothy: Hello, Lucas. Thank you so much for joining us today on the Feel Good Wedding Podcast. It’s an honour to have you.

Lucas Evans: I, likewise know it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. And yes, thank you for inviting me.

Dorothy: Now, we’ve worked with Orlando Combo at Polka Dot Wedding for many years, but I’d love you to introduce yourself and your band to our listeners and share how you got involved in the band.

Lucas Evans: Yes, certainly. It’s been quite a while now, really. It started, I suppose you could use organically, it’s probably a bit of a cliché, but that we were all studying music at the Melbourne, well it’s called the Victorian College of the Arts, but it’s now Under the umbrella of Melbourne University. It was a standalone arts school, Victorian College of the Arts, but then it’s in the last 15, 20 years come under the umbrella of Melbourne Uni as their arts and music part of their uni. We’re all there doing a bachelor’s degree in music performance, which is, we’ve got a classical music stream and an improvised jazz music stream. I was in the jazz stream and I met a couple of other like-minded people as it happens in the music. Then you start playing a bit, jamming, so that’s where it started in terms of an actual band. We’re gigging around late 90s, that sort of thing, but then we started, I’m just trying to think when we would have done our first wedding, probably quite early on, I would say, and just really enjoyed that part of playing as well. The nucleus started, I think ’96 officially, but then it took a while to actually become something formal, but yeah, it was myself, Lucas Evans, and I played the drums. Adam Orlando plays the guitar because he had the cooler name. Couldn’t come up with a name, so we went with Orlando Combo. Originally it was Orlando Trio because it was just three of us, but then sometimes we’d bring a singer in and other people and it got a bit confusing. We thought, if we go with the word combo, it can be a whole. It can be anything from a 2 to a 7. You know what I mean? So yeah, that’s where it started.

Dorothy: You’re still the original band then?

Lucas Evans: Yeah. It’s quite unusual really in the music thing. So it’s myself and Adam, and our main singer joined us –  actually, we were all starting together at that time, but he wasn’t really gigging with as much at that early stage. He was, sometimes, but he officially came in more probably early 2000s, but really, that’s the main bass players we’ve had. We still play with the original bass player,  but he’s not as full time as the other member. It’s quite unusual. It’s a very stable lineup which has been really good, and I think that just comes and gets back to the initial thing of coming together because you like the same music. Therefore, there’s not too much tension, art, what do you call it, artistic tension. You know what I mean? It’s just like the original thing, so that’s why it’s worked well, I think.

Dorothy: I’ve known and loved you for your amazing jazz repertoire, but what style and genres of music do you play and can you describe that repertoire and that inspiration behind what you play to our listeners?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, sure. So I suppose the main word around is jazz, but jazz is, I suppose in that you want to, there’s a lot of variation there, especially if you’re doing, that’s because we’re talking in a wedding context. Especially in a wedding context, if we’re playing jazz, we tend to try and play repertoire that’s fairly accessible. No, it doesn’t have to be so cheesy, but at least I think the thing with the jazz and even classical too, a lot of people don’t realise how much of that music they know. They don’t necessarily know the names of the song, but all those melodies are in their head from growing up, watching movies, and all that stuff. We tend to try and play repertoire that’s very mainstream. Probably the main term people will know is the The Great American Songbook – is all those old show tunes and standards that people like, let’s say, Frank Sinatra, all those old shows, Ella Fitzgerald, that sort of material there, and then a lot of people have since done – you would have seen all the pop artists – have done remakes of those like, you get people like Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé they all take that repertoire because it’s so well known, then do their versions of it. That’s the repertoire that’s most wedding appropriate and then within that, that’s The Great American Songbook and the swing material, so the big material from Count Basie and the swing era. A lot of people know those two and that works well in weddings because it’s very uplifting, happy, everything. That was pop music at the time. That really is dance music really – at that time. That’s really good for the wedding situation. Then you’ve got a style called lounge jazz, which probably people might know, just think of some of the Diana Krall, that sort of cool, smooth lounge jazz type of repertoire, which also works well weddings, probably more early on in the evening or the day, that’s that smoother, cooler sound. Then you’ve got the more sort of proper authentic jazz era, which is people like Miles Davis, which is more instrumental, which is still people relate to it, but it’s a little bit – because often it doesn’t have singing, it’s more instrumental. That’s the blue note record label era or so on. That’s that cool, that sort of style of music, 50s, 60s jazz. Yeah. That’s probably the main areas within jazz, but I’d say for, in a wedding context, it’s mainly that Great American Songbook, the standards and then the swing repertoire probably are the main ones. Some people even put under the jazz umbrella, like the soul, a lot of the soul and Motown repertoire, because that comes out of jazz. That also works really well in a wedding situation because they’re all the tunes-  like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, that soul Motown era is also very popular. You can all put that under the big jazz umbrella really, and then the jazz is a lot of jazz, is the more obscure abstract jazz, which is fantastic, but it’s not very accessible to a lot of people because it’s quite complex or a bit hard on the ear possibly to some people. Probably not wedding friendly. Sorry. Yeah. Just, yeah. Probably not. Yeah. So yeah.

Dorothy: You never know though. People are picking unusual songs nowadays.

Lucas Evans: Yeah. We go with anything, but that’s just the main.

Dorothy: Yeah. Today’s topic is all about building your ultimate playlist. Let’s start with the ceremonies. The ceremony’s songs are really that introduction to the wedding day. What should we consider when we’re choosing a song for the processional and the reception? Should we go beyond just the song into what the meaning of that song and the emotion is?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, sure, no, terrific. Yeah, look, often it depends a bit on the ceremony, whether it’s instrumental or with vocals. Most of the ceremonies we do, it’s often, a lot of the time it’s outside. So often we don’t have power, we use more of an acoustic setup, in which case we often don’t have singing there. That means that probably picking, like if you’re going to have singing, you’ve got to think carefully about what lyrics. The lyrics, make sure it’s appropriate. You don’t want to be doing sort of end of a relationship type lyrics. You’ve got to think it through, but we picked, something like I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Fly Me To The Moon, let me think, The Way You Look Tonight, It Had To Be You. Those sort of melodies that everyone associates with a romantic situation. If it’s just instrumental, no singing, then the melody, as long as it’s for the recessional -I was getting confused, it’s probably something often a bit more slower, maybe even a slow bossa nova. Something a bit gentle. Yeah, that sort of thing and then of course and often for the signing something, if there’s a signing, then it often is a gap there and then at the end for the recessional. I always get them confused. Sorry.

Dorothy: Yeah. Processional down the aisle, recessional back up the aisle.  They’re very confusing.

Lucas Evans: Upbeat, festive, that sort of thing, celebratory at the end. In terms of tunes, just some of those tunes I mentioned are really good. Everyone recognises them. This is in a jazz context or At Last, the classic Etta James. That’s, another one that works really well. That’s a slow, if you want more of a ballad.

Dorothy: Is that still a popular one nowadays? I know a decade or so ago it was the song.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, it’s still yeah for us, it still comes up a lot. I think, yeah, you’re right, it did have a little spike there, but I think it’s just, it really broke through as just a really generally popular tune; because we’re a jazz band we used to get that even before it was hugely popular and still because it’s that jazz repertoire.

Dorothy: Of course. So receptions, we’re thinking of pre-dinner music and music during dinner. Does there have to be a continuous entertainment to keep that vibe going of the celebratory vibe or should we have different expectations around that for the reception before we get to dance floor?

Lucas Evans: Yeah. I think you want because often a wedding, it can be quite long in terms of hours, often in terms of, especially in the ceremony, pre-dinner drinks and reception, it’s all on the one side. It can end up being a, sometimes we’ve done eight hours, so you want to think of it, I suppose the mood changing throughout the night a bit. If we’re like, let’s say it’s a wedding that’s particularly lavish and they’re big budget and they have a string quartet for early on for the ceremony. Jazz for the next three hours and then pop for later. We don’t have to think too much because each one of those things offers a different mood, but if we’re doing the whole thing, we’ve got to think a bit about how we’re going to shift the mood a bit throughout the night. But using the same bands often. We might start as a trio, as you say, ceremony, instrumental, acoustic. Once you get to the start of the reception, probably thinking about creating a nice atmosphere, but there’s going to be a lot of chatter and catching up at the start of the reception. So thinking about volume, you certainly don’t want something to be taking over in that early part of the night and people to be ear bashed by the music. So maybe that, as I mentioned before, that sort of lounge jazz, that cool jazz. Maybe not too much singing in that early part, because people catching up and the singer tends to clash a bit with that. Also you’ve got another gear to go to later, once you bring a step in more vocal tune. So I think the main thing is the volume, I think. Not so much the song choice doesn’t matter as much, but it’s just the volume thing. You just don’t want a band, especially a lot of these venues now are aesthetically amazing, but they’re all glass, hard floors, very few soft surfaces, so they look amazing when they’re empty, but in terms of just the sound, sometimes even just without music in these places, just the talking, it’s almost like people sometimes need to adjust the volume being produced by people chatting. I think it’s really important that it doesn’t become a battle between people catching up chatting and the band, especially early on.

Dorothy: Is that the benefit of having a live band in that you can adjust on the fly with songs and volume?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, we can definitely just pick it as it fits the mood. I suppose the one thing people like about not having a band is that you’ve got a volume switch. Some venues with really strict rules in a way find it easier not to have a band because it’s just one knob you can turn down. So I think it’s really important that whoever band you’re booking because really good musicians can play whisper quiet. We can do a gig in a boardroom with 10 people having a luncheon and they can still chat. Have the skill to be able to play super quiet, but still make with an intensity that’s really quiet.

Dorothy: And be aware of what’s happening around you as you play. That’s a multi tasking.

Lucas Evans: Oh, totally, yeah. Keeping a bit of an eye on, if people are straining a bit to talk, then you’ve got to be aware. It’s a wedding situation, the band’s important, but it’s not about the band. It’s really about just being really aware of who’s around you. If people are straining or looking like they’re being a bit ear bashed, then you’ve just got to back it right off.

Dorothy: Yeah. So the playlist, where do we start? Is the first step for the couple to decide the genre or the style of music that they want to include? Where do we start if we’re wanting music for our day and we’re choosing and planning our ultimate wedding playlist?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, I think depends a bit on who you’re booking. If it’s a DJ, I suppose they have an access to thousands of tunes. For us – people, when they come to us, they’re already interested in what we do because it’s very niche anyway. It’s we know if they want us, it’s because they want jazz. I send them a list and they’ll pick out a whole lot of tunes. Very rarely that happens actually. Normally they just say, “This is the mood we want.” And then we pick tunes actually as we’re playing that are going to fit what’s happening. If some people want to be really specific, they actually make us a playlist. The other thing too is also to put down a few artists that you don’t like or and a few that you songs that you don’t want. That really helps narrow down and we go, “Oh you’re into this thing you know this is the vibe we’re going for.” So that’s a good way – because some people are busy planning things, they don’t have to make a very specific set list for the band so they’ve got a good band and they might just say, “We trust you know what you’re doing. This is the vibe we’re going for.” You pick the songs as you’re going to match what’s happening in the room at the time, but if you can pick, include these five really important songs, that sort of thing, so it depends a bit on how specific they want to be, but sometimes if you’re comfortable with the band, just trust that they can play to the mood that’s happening in real time in the room. You know what I mean?

Dorothy: Yeah. So another vote for picking vendors that you gel with that you trust and trust in what they do.

Lucas Evans: Yeah. A hundred percent. That can be difficult, can’t it? You got to work with people. It’s a one-off thing, but if you can take time, do a bit of research and have a chat to them, just often just talking to people, you get the vibe pretty quickly if they’re going to be a good fit or not.

Dorothy: Exactly. I think something that comes up at weddings a lot is trying to strike that mix so that every demographic hears a song that they love and it lifts the vibe, and everyone knows – everyone is catered for, which I know is a little bit easier for jazz. How do you achieve that balance in your playlist curation when you’re trying to please people that are 70 or 80, also 20 year olds, and maybe even kids?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, totally. That’s the really unique thing and great thing about weddings, is that specific thing which you very rarely get in any other situation – but it’s also as you say, it is the challenge, of course it’s about the couple, they’re the priority in your play, but also they want to make everyone happy too as well. You’re right. It’s about picking music. It has a huge appeal and playing it in a way that’s engaging and fun, and festive. Then we find that there’s people that you don’t necessarily, are not even into jazz, but they really get into it on the day because of  -if you play it in a certain way, people relate to it. Even if they’re into, or maybe thought they didn’t really like jazz, but if you do it in a sort of party sort of way or festive way, people will really relate to it. It’s an interesting one, isn’t it? I can think of any of that, that’s why we are so good because of that range of people, but it’s also a challenge, isn’t it?

Dorothy: Is that why it’s so important to choose a band that has that experience so they can read the room and they can go, “Okay, look, we’ve got someone who’s 80 over there and they’re sitting and looking bored.

What can we bring in that makes everyone happy?”

Lucas Evans: Yeah. Your experience is so important, but it doesn’t mean, I suppose everyone’s inexperienced at some point, too. It’s a tricky one, but yeah, if you can see something  -evidence that whoever you’re booking, whether it’s music or whatever, the other suppliers, evidence that have done it before and can do it. Whether it’s videos or their portfolio, then it’s not a risk. You can see the evidence that they’ve done it before, got a track record.

Dorothy: Yeah. The dance floor itself is a tricky one to curate because you can’t just have upbeat songs all night long where everyone gets exhausted, which – you need some ebbs and flows in there.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, exactly.

Dorothy: Where do we start with choosing a dance floor playlist? Do we start with slower tunes and build up to live video? Do we leave it to the band? Do we include songs of personal significance with the dance floor? Where do we start with that?

Lucas Evans: Depending on the type of crowd it is, if they’re a bit of a reserved crowd that need a bit of a…..often the point where the couple do, if they’re going to do a dance, that’s often the cue that really gets things going. Even if couples aren’t really into the idea of a formal first dance, sometimes, I try and say, look, encourage, maybe that can be whether it’s important to you or not, but there can be a really good icebreaker then because everyone will want to then join the dance floor because to support. I think that if there’s a formal tune that gets everyone up, that could be the first dance, that’s really good. Once you’ve got everyone up and dancing, it’s important to try and keep at least for about four or five tunes…. because sometimes the dancing, it can be only one burst that everyone gets up, and then some people don’t necessarily want to dance all night. Sometimes you’ve only got a 15 to 20 minute window that everyone’s up on the dance floor to just keep them up there for a bit, and then that might be it for them for the night. There’s other crowds or just keep raging all night. Now I suppose you’ve got to think about, as you say, often if you do a dance set, depending on the lay, there’s a dessert often that’s served, often there’s another that sort of lulls a bit there, and people will go have tea and coffee or dessert, after that, depending on the crowd, they’ll either stay chilled after that or it will start going up again. So if you have another thing after that, it could be some other dance, or not so often now that it can be like a father daughter dance. Occasionally people do that. That can be another way of getting everyone up. Then that kicks off a whole another set of dancing. Again, it gets back to that sort of reading the crowd a bit.

Dorothy: Yeah. So is it about those moments or is it about the songs that you choose that will get the dance floor…if it’s died off a bit, get the dance floor reignited?

Lucas Evans: Yeah. It’s a bit experimenting too, to see what’s going to work with a different crowd. Will we go up a notch or will we bring it back down a bit, and do more of a ballad or a swing thing, and then you find that niche. There might be people really into swing. A lot of young people now into the swing dancing… that thing. Then suddenly we find we’ve got all these young people really raging to this style that we thought might have been a bit daggy 10 years ago. That sort of works better than almost the pop thing, for us anyway, because we use double bass notes, so it’s a bit different. Stylistically we look the part of that because of the instrumentation though people go, “Oh, there’s a …… let’s dance to this.” There’s even the popular culture. There’s that film Babylon is out at the moment. It’s that really hot swing music that has reignited that a bit with the younger crowd. It’s not just finding it. Is it going to be like rock and roll stuff? Is it going to be soul stuff? Is it going to be the swing stuff and see what works for different people? I think it’s a bit different for us than a pop band because we don’t do the modern pop really, we hardly do it at all. So it means that it’s a bit different for us.

Dorothy: Of course. We talked a little bit about moments, but there are very important moments during that reception generally, where there’s like the couple’s first dance, the father daughter dance and mother son dance? How do you choose the perfect songs for these sentimental and significant moments? How does a couple begin to choose?

Lucas Evans: Yeah. Often people will pick something from our repertoire that jumps out at them. Normally if it’s a particular tune that’s important to cover, it’s more of a pop genre that’s not going to sound that good if we do it. We’ll put that through our PA. Then we’ll go straight in after that and get everyone up dancing.

Dorothy: So you know your limits.

Lucas Evans: I think it’s sometimes good to know your limitation because we used to try and tackle some of that stuff and it just never sounded…. because we don’t have keyboards and as pop music is progressing because we’re getting well into the middle age now. We’ve noticed the change in pop music too, and it’s getting harder for us to replicate that because it’s become so electronic, a lot of it. In some ways I’ve noticed just in the last year or two, a massive shift now where we most of the time don’t play the whole night, we often now just do the first three or four hours and it’s almost DJs at the end. A lot of people now booking a jazz band is the live jazz thing, and we do that as a, not a novelty, but it’s a very clear, specific thing. Which can be really a good idea if you’ve got the budget for it because then it covers both authentically, and then we handle the DJ and then everyone can see there’s a DJ there so they can enjoy the jazz band knowing that they can really go, really rage on to the DJ later.

Dorothy: That’s something I don’t think people have considered that you can actually have the best of both worlds. You can have an amazing live band and switch to a DJ when you want a bit more dance floor, classic stuff.

Lucas Evans: Totally. We find it now quite a relief when that happens. We’re happy to play  and party all night as long as people are into that. We don’t want a situation where people sort of feeling like we’re not doing, so as long as everyone’s clear that the couple booked the jazz band to play all night, but it can be a bit uncomfortable if people think they’re going to hear the modern pop. We don’t do it. If someone’s got a big budget, sometimes we do a jazz band and then I’ll have a full on proper pop band after us, which is great too. But it gets very expensive.

Dorothy: Yeah, and a very full night of dancing and movement, I suspect.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, and that’s awesome, but it’s a bit out of reach for a lot of people because it gets really expensive because you’re booking like 15 musicians.

Dorothy: How do you handle song transitions between different parts of the wedding? You’ve got your ceremony, which often leads straight into a cocktail hour, depending on if you’re at the one venue, dinner and dancing, etc. Because you’ve got to somehow maintain that smooth and seamless experience so that it’s not jarring for guests.

Lucas Evans: That’s a good one. The change in the ceremony and the drinks, that’s often in a different spot or if the weather’s good outside normally, so just that in itself is already a change because often we’re moving from one spot to the other, so it’s almost takes care of itself in a way, that sort of change of mood. Probably you’re right, you want to make that quite a clear shift from when you’re going from that dinner music, whether it be a cocktail or a sit down, but a clear shift that we’re going now from that to the next step, which is dancing. I suppose the main thing there is a volume shift is the most obvious thing. There’s that clear, “Okay, the band’s playing loud and it’s obviously more of a party mode.” I think the volume is a really clear way of signalling that and so that’s why often we try and play quieter than we need to early so we’ve got somewhere to go. I’d say that volume thing or sometimes even you can change the size of the group is another thing. Visually you might have just instrumental music for the first half and then the singer arrives and the horn players or something so it’s clearly a shift in. There’s a different sound, there’s more yeah you know what I mean so visually and sound.

Dorothy: Time to party.

Lucas Evans: Yeah exactly. That can be another way so you’ve got a couple of levels.

Dorothy: Are there particular songs or genres that you’d say to couples, “Do not pick this. It will kill the vibe. It will kill the mood.”?

Lucas Evans: Yeah, that’s a tricky one because if that’s what they’re into, I’ve done a couple where there was some unusual music played – it was a little bit the mood. It seemed like it didn’t really match a wedding, I can’t remember what tunes, but.

Dorothy: I think you’re right though, it’s important to keep your own personal style, but also perhaps recognise where your guests are at and meet the two together without completely going off the rails.

Lucas Evans: Exactly. Just having some awareness that the occasion and the effort everyone’s going to and that sort of thing. In some ways you don’t bring the vibe down, but that’s tricky because music and stuff like that can be very personal. Maybe I’d suggest, but I certainly wouldn’t say. Often that would be if someone wants to play recorded music, we would. If it’s something out of our drum, we’d probably just say, “We’re not going to do it justice – pop it through our PA.” But I’d say, “Isn’t that going to make the mood a bit dark.” Something like that, but without actually saying, “Don’t do it.”

Dorothy: I know there is some really good, I know, Vitamin C, a string quartet’s one, and there’s another jazz band that does, in America, that does recreations. Is there ways that you can, I know you said you outsource that to the actual song and play the recorded ones, but if there is a song that we really want to play, can you re imagine that song for us?

Lucas Evans: Yeah. Oh, totally. We can. We have done. We’ve definitely done that. I just can’t think of the top of my head, but yeah, we can do a swing version of something that, and people really react to that because it’s something different and the live band is there and they’re doing it, and it can create a bit of a link between people that may not be into jazz and get them on side because you’re doing something that they recognise, but in a jazzy way. With that situation, just matter how much groundwork we have to put into pulling it together. We try not to, if it’s stuff in our genre, we don’t charge people to do it, but if it’s something that’s going to take a bit of work, then normally we have to deal with some prep work there and just work that out with the couple.

Dorothy: I think it’s a nice way too, isn’t it, to incorporate those, as you say, you love heavy metal, but heavy metal is not particularly appropriate all the time to walk down the aisle to, but you could reimagine something in a really beautiful way that becomes more wedding appropriate while not losing that essence of that original song.

Lucas Evans: Absolutely. That’s a novelty, but it also can sound amazing as well. Definitely.

Dorothy: Definitely. What in yours or the band’s minds should the ultimate playlist look like? What tunes do you always include? What tunes do you always make sure that are part of a wedding playlist and how modern do you go?

Lucas Evans: We probably, probably tunes, I’d say almost all when we end up doing tunes like Fly Me To The Moon, I’d say some of those jazz standards like The Way You Look Tonight, Night and Day, all of these, some of those really well known tunes, probably I’d say not necessarily, but we just end up doing them in some shape or form. For the dancing, tunes like Sway we often do. In terms of the modern material, we do tunes like Happy. There’s a few modern ones Uptown Funk that we do, but we normally only do them if people ask us to. We do tend to stick more in that. If we’re doing party music, more into the real swing material or even into some rock and roll, like Chuck Berry. People when they’re partying really relate to that stuff. The sort of proper rock and roll material, blues, rock and roll rhythm and blues, the old school rhythm and blues stuff.

Dorothy: Is playing music at weddings for a live band, obviously we know this, but it’s a question anyway… much more than just picking up your instrument and playing. I feel like this is goes to every wedding professional. It’s so much more than the work that you see on the day. What other things do you do to prepare for a day as a live band and what other things do you have to consider during that gig?

Lucas Evans: It’s interesting because we’ve done it so much now that…

Dorothy: You’re on autopilot.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, but you forget how much goes into it. The first weddings we used to do where we just had no idea in terms of the music. The playing was fine, but as you say there’s so much more to that.

Knowing what to do and when to do it, and interacting in the right way with people, setting up, looking the part, all that other stuff that when you study you don’t think about, but I think that’s a massive difference. People are just going to say, “Oh, let’s rock up and do this wedding.” Or people actually know how to really make the day just totally seamless and without any sort of hiccups for anyone. Sometimes you forget and then you see, I see other people that doing their job, other suppliers, and you can just see how switched on some people are and you can see why they could charge five times as much as someone and it’d still be worth it because they’re just so knowledgeable. They’re so switched on, so adaptable. I think it’s that just thing of doing it over and over again and enjoying it and wanting to do a good job is the other thing. Not being a bit grumpy or a bit over it. It’s just you’re in the wrong thing. If your stats start creeping, best not be involved I think.

Dorothy: You can’t get away with a bad day at work if you’re a wedding vendor really can you?

Lucas Evans: No. It’s spot on. I just think it’s your best not to do it. Everyone has bad days, but you just got to push on, and just make sure that this is a real one-off event for someone. So you’ve just got to really sometimes remind yourself that you just got to go fully, a hundred ten percent above and beyond to make sure it’s really good. That’s word of mouth too, and then it pays off for yourself. You’ll enjoy it more if you do it, but also the benefit too is, that gets around too if you do a really great job, word of mouth is really.

Dorothy: Of course. As a band you’re doing initial consults, you’re practicing, you’re working on your skills all the time, I presume. What else are you doing beyond the actual day that goes into making an amazing wedding band and what we’re actually paying for when we book? Apart from the endless hours you spend at the wedding.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, it’s probably that thing sometimes you forget. It’s often looking at your photographer or something, the amount of work they have to do after and so on. Once the wedding is finished, for us that’s done. I think with a musician, the thing that you’re getting is thinking…. if you’re going to be a concert violinist or pianist, or top level, you start that at age five, it’s not like you start that when you’re 18 or if you’re going to be a surgeon, you start going to uni or VCE, you start getting high marks, but to play an instrument really well, you have to start somewhere. That’s what you’re putting into every wedding without even realising. I suppose it’s just all that years of experience, all that practice is actually going into the couple’s wedding. Then of course, on the day, you want to also have the right attitude and the professionalism, but also the skill to execute on the instrument which is going into the wedding. It’s all those years I suppose, on the day.

Dorothy: From what you’ve said as well, not just playing, but reading the crowd, understanding what to play next, being able to pull that song out of, none of us would be able to do that, pull a song out of nowhere because you know that’s going to get the crowd going, adjusting the sound, all that knowledge that you must have that makes, goes into it.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, you’re right. That’s only come from years and years sort of thing. I think that’s probably what you’re putting into it. People say that it’s an expensive wedding, but people have really put a lot into it and the musicians will, as you say, on the day, they’re playing a 100% just for you and your event.

Dorothy: What are your top tips for ensuring that the wedding playlist sets the right tone and leaves a lasting impression on both the couple and their guests?

Lucas Evans: I suppose the key moments are those, if there’s a ceremony, those key moments that everyone’s attention is drawn to what’s happening, they’re the key moments really. At ceremony, if you’re playing music there, and then of course, if there’s a first dance later or something, or when the couple enter the room, that sort of… those moments. I suppose they’re the moments that are really going to be memorable, and all the background music and so on, people won’t remember as much, but I think they’ll remember if it was bad. For us, it’s not so much the tunes we play, I’d say, but with jazz, I’d say particularly, it’s not so much the tunes we play, it’s how we play it. If it’s played in the right way, people will engage with it and react to it and have an amazing night. I don’t know if I’ve really covered that one very well.

Dorothy: No, I think that from what I’ve learned from you, it has come down to not just what you play as your band, but the skill that you have in reading everything so that you can adjust and use that skill to make sure the event’s really amazing.

Lucas Evans: Yeah, it’s just pretty very much what jazz is. It’s improvising and taking that approach to just always making what you’re doing totally relevant to the situation. Probably the best. That’s the difference between if you have a live band, you can adjust, on the spot.

Dorothy: We’ll end off with something light and fun for you. What is your ultimate favourite song to play at a wedding? What is your best ever, much loved?

Lucas Evans: On the spot, jeepers. Let me think. Normally we open the dance floor with Sway, so that’s probably one. I just find it’s a really good crossover tune from jazz to dancing because it’s got the horn lines and so on, so I’d probably just say that’s a great one to just have to kick off into the dance thing, it’s a good transition from jazz into more the dance music, so I’d say that’s a really good go to tune.

Dorothy: It’s a good upbeat classics way too. It’s just got the best of everything.

Lucas Evans: Yeah. Everyone from all ages ever will dance to it. Without notice, I’ll go with that one at the moment.

Dorothy: That’s a good favourite. I approve of that one. I think it’s a good one. Thank you so much for joining us today and letting us into the behind the scenes of Orlando Combo and all your wonderful knowledge. It’s been such a great chat with you.

Lucas Evans: Absolute pleasure. It’s such a good resource, Polka Dot too. All the articles. It’s really a privilege to be on.

Dorothy: It’s a privilege to have you. Thank you so much.

Lucas Evans: Pleasure.

Dorothy: The biggest thank you to Lucas for joining us in today’s episode. If you would like to find out more about Lucas’s work with the amazing Orlando Combo, head on over to or We have everything over there, including all the links to Orlando Combo. Of course, a full written transcript of today’s episode. Now, we’ll be back in your ear buds very soon, but in the meantime, drop us an email, send us a message, whatever you’d like to do because we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the podcast. We do this for you, and we would love to know what you think. Send us a message, and we’ll be back very soon with another episode.