In Big Tuna’s 10 years of playing gigs across Scotland, including numerous Scottish weddings, we know the drill pretty well and we are pleased to offer a few simple hints to brides and grooms as they begin the search for the perfect wedding band for their big day.
1. When you set the date, book the band ASAP.
Good wedding bands tend to be in demand especially in the Spring and Summer months so once you have a date set and you know what you want then get the date in the band’s diary. You may have to pay an advance deposit but it’s better than being disappointed. While most people tend to book 12 months before the date, it is not uncommon for us to get bookings as far as two years in advance.
2. Try before you buy
While bands will often showcase video and audio on their websites I would always advise that you see them playing live before booking them for your Scottish wedding. It may involve driving across Scotland or sitting outside a hotel when they are playing at another wedding party but it is worth making that effort to ensure they are as good as you think (and as good as they claim to be!)
3. Who do you want to please on the day?
This may seem obvious: it’s you and your spouse-to-be, right? Of course it is but often weddings are a gathering of diverse people with differing tastes and age ranges. You may want to ensure that your band appeals to the wider cross section of guests rather just your own musical preferences.
4. If you want, ask.
Don’t be afraid to ask the band if they can play a variety of styles to suit the age/taste ranges of your guests. While Big Tuna is primarily a rock band, we will often play lighter, more mainstream songs early on at a wedding saving the heavier, rocking tunes for later in the night. Of course, if you want a rock fest from the word ‘go’ then that can be arranged as well!
5. Can I negotiate on costs?
Bands tend to charge a premium for weddings because there is much more preparation and set up time involved. Not all bands will be flexible on cost but with some there are ways to negotiate a better fee. One sure fire way to reduce all wedding costs is to have your reception on a weeknight – band fees are usually more competitive then as there is less likelihood of a rival booking. Ensuring the band can get access to set up just prior to your evening reception (rather than having to set up many hours earlier in the day) will reduce their time and, potentially, their cost. If wedding finances are tight you could also negotiate by asking the band to play 1-2 sets early on and then, while they pack up, finish your reception with an iPod disco, for example. Of course, given this is your big day you need to consider carefully if you want to compromise a great reception just to save a couple hundred pounds – but it is an option.
6. Direct your band
We have a policy that we will play our set with some formal introductions of the bride, groom and wedding party at the start of the night. However, like most wedding bands, we are happy to make special announcements, call out toasts to specific family members, or even have a bride/groom sing a tune with us on the night. To ensure you get the right tone don’t be shy to tell the band what you want and don’t want on the night. That also includes your song selection. Most good bands, Big Tuna included, will publish a list on their website so feel free to tell them what songs you especially want included and those you’d rather not hear on your wedding day. After all, you are the client.
7. You get what you pay for.
You may think there’ a touch of self-interest here but I only make the point because it is true. Great wedding bands are usually busy and will therefore command a higher fee. While we always aim to charge a fair price you have to bear in mind that there is a much greater level of work involved in playing a wedding in terms of preparation and the length of performance on the night. By all means do cast out the net and get quotes from a few bands that you like but before settling on a cut-price band, make sure you check them out so you are not disappointed on what everyone calls the biggest day of your life.