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wedding gig -- kind of a (predictable) disaster

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bolophonic, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    My band was booked for a wedding gig this past Sunday. We are an all-original band, kind of funky dance music with a big jazz skronk thing going on... i.e., not very appropriate for crowds who aren't expecting that type of thing. The event was massive -- 500 people at the reception, multi-room space with outdoor areas, food trucks. We were asked to start precisely at 7pm, which was then bumped back to 7:15, 7:30, even later, depending on who you asked at any given time. One of our members (normally rock solid) was late and barely showed up in time. One of our percussionists decided to inexplicably turn every song into an extended, arhythmic bongo solo, a few tempo problems cropped up due to the monitoring (15 guys on a huge stage can't always hear what is going on 20 feet away.) None of this affected the end product terribly... we gave them an excellent show, but it was harder than usual.

    The worst part was that the majority of the crowd was just not ready for a very loud, niche concert in the middle of the wedding reception, so at least 3/4 of the crowd disappeared by the middle of the set. There were some very dedicated dancers who got the opportunity to get down like crazy, but we knew going into it that 99% of the people there just wanted to hear Kool and the Gang and Jungle Boogie.

    Afterwards, we packed up and they brought out a special guest band -- a Talking Heads tribute band that everybody loved. Some gigs are harder than others. I think this is the last time we will accept a wedding gig... people ask us all the time, but we are just not appropriate for those events, no matter how hip the crowd is.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Hey man. I have played a gagillion weddings right in your area.

    There is no such thing as a band that pleases all, or even most of an NC wedding crowd. It is one of the hardest things to do. You have everything at an NC wedding from rockers to 80s lovers to beach music and oldies people to old farts who think all of it is too loud.

    Just make sure that if you are asked again that you make sure the BRIDE understands that most people won't go crazy for your music. But, first and foremost, you are playing to the bride and groom. As far as I'm concerned, if the bride and groom have a good night dancing with their friends, anyone who enjoys the show is a bonus. Anyone who doesn't needs to remember it is not their day.

    If the bride and groom and their closest friends have a great night, cash the check and don't worry about it. Trying to please most of an NC wedding crowd is like trying juggle elephants. You might pull it off, but you're a bad bad man if you do.
  3. Interesting - I’ve never done a Sunday wedding gig before, every weekend wedding gig I’ve ever done were on Saturday's.
  4. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Big in NYC where the venues are more available/affordable on Sunday than Saturday.

    Also popular for those who Saturday is a "holy day".
  5. Oh okay. Yeah it's rather rare here - but, I’ve never done any Jewish or Seventh Day Adventist wedding gigs either.

  6. DJs have pretty much cornered the wedding market in my area with good reason. They can play a wider variety of wedding / dance music plus MC the first dance / dollar dance etc ceremonies. At some point you just learn to turn down some gigs that are not going to be appropriate for the band......like some weddings and retirement home gigs. As already stated ....nobody wants to hear original jams at a wedding. The girls in the short skirts that have spent all day working on looking hot want to dance to Jungle Boogie, Get Lucky and Blurred Lines. Should have throw in 6 or 8 dance covers and you probably would have killed it.
  7. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    We did ours on a Sunday, it was way cheaper.
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    You have to match you're band's repertoire to the gig.
    If not, you suck.
    Been there & done that.
  9. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have not seen a live band at a wedding in over 20 years. That was also my 1st wedding.
  10. if they want you enough to hire you and stuff, then don't worry about it, like someone else said, if the newlyweds are smiling, you are doing your job.
    I love playing weddings. I like to ham it up and do the emcee thing, it really helps the event flow a bit when someone does that.
    Always good to communicate with the wedding planner person before the event as well, to make sure there are no surprises on either end.
  11. Matching the band's repertoire to a wedding gig means playing what the bride and groom want to hear.

    If the bride and groom want to book a death metal band for their wedding, thats up to them. I wouldn't then expect said metal band to bust out Mustang Sally and Sweet Home Alabama just so that more guests dance. The B+G get what the B+G want...
  12. I was kinda thinking the same thing. I haven't played hundreds of weddings, let's say dozens, and I played what I was told to and took their money.

    I was wondering who made the decision on hiring you for a 500 peeps reception.

    Was the dinner-menu also decidedly non-mainstream?
  13. Only if the B+G are paying the bill, which is seldom.
  14. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Exactly. What would have really sucked is if our band had showed up and done something that we hadn't been hired to do. That said, the consensus amongst the band is that we are not taking any more wedding gigs. They are just not very compatible with our whole deal.
  15. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Wow! You don't hear of many originals bands doing weddings. The cover bands I've been in, we've always consulted with the wedding party as to what they want to hear along with special requests. we then tailor the set-list to their needs. No surprises. I'm glad y'all made it through the gig but yeah.......awkward!!
  16. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    That's a mature approach. I've been in one original band that did the same thing after a private corporate gig (really awkward). I've also been in a cover band that took the opposite approach and just decided to learn as much motown, jazz, eazy listening, etc as we could to be able to play any room.

    Typically, we have to start out playing the Mustang Sally and Midnight Hour stuff for the old people; but by the end of the night when the old folks have filtered out and the younger crowd is libated we are hitting Float On and My Own Worst Enemy.
  17. Dondabass


    Feb 25, 2005
    I have to disagree with some of what has been said here. I have played weddings with a top-notch and much requested band for years. I also play in a classic rock trio. Both are great bands, but the business needs to be approached differently.
    The wedding band is there to create an event that will be remembered forever by your audience. We do extensive consultation with the bride and groom before hand, as well as the person who may be paying (daddy?). We learn about likes and dislikes, who is coming, listen, and when appropriate, advise. Doing hundreds of weddings gives you a perspective that is very different than let's say the bride, who has been to a few weddings, got drunk, and danced with her friends. When someone shells out a lot of money, they deserve a FULL experience, not a nitchy one.
    On the other hand, the classic rock band is geared for what we like. Fortunately, a lot of other people like our song choices.
  18. Hmm. You were hired to do what you did and you got paid to do what you did - I’d take the money and be happy. But yeah, if you think wedding gigs should be more about the band then you’ll never be happy, so it probably would be best for your band not to book anymore wedding gigs.
  19. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yuck... it's never fun to lose half the room in your first set. Sometimes it just happens though and then the challenge shifts to still putting on your best show for whoever is left.

    My band is sometimes approached at a bar gig or street dance about playing somebody's wedding and our BL is always really up-front with them basically saying that the show they're seeing right now is pretty much what they'll get if they hire us for the wedding. Of course we're willing to learn a special request song or two and we'll flex with their schedule and the BL will do MC'ing duties as required (he's pretty good at it)... but we make a pretty strong distinction between being a variety/party band that's available to play weddings, and a "wedding band" per se. Sometimes after our BL puts that out there, the potential client does decide to go with a different band or a DJ and so we do occasionally lose a gig that way but we also rarely if ever find ourselves in the awkward situation of not delivering what the client thought they were gonna get.

    In fact, a fair number of our wedding gigs have come from people seeing us at a wedding and saying they want "exactly that" for theirs. There's one family that we've played three weddings for in the course of a couple years and the last two gigs came directly from the first one.
  20. It was a mis-match. Don't beat yourself up over it. The bride/groom/planners goofed. They should have anticipated the needs of the guests and client better. Surely they checked your web presence, videos, sound files, and knew what you would do coming in, right? Or, as Dondabass said, you could have asked a few questions to help determine their true needs and whether you were a good fit.

    Yeah, you got paid, so that's all good, but there's much more to such an important event, like knowing you helped the newlyweds have the best day of their lives, and the all-important referral (if you intend to do more upscale events).

    Live and learn.

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