What to ask your wedding venue before you book

Mike Paul-Smith

“Welcome to our Event Planning Advice articles.

This is a series of articles written by me – Mike Paul-Smith, the Company Director of Mike Paul-Smith Music and Down for the Count Ltd

I’ve been running music at events since 2005 and have learnt a lot of lessons along the way. More than anything, I know that having live music at your event can be a significant investment – and I want to make sure that you make the most of it.

I hope the tips in these articles help you plan having live music at your event – whether you book one of my bands, or someone else’s. And if there is anything not covered in these articles you’d like to see, just let me know.”

When you’re planning your wedding (or indeed any type of event), choosing your venue is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make. 

Mike Paul-Smith Music have performed at hundreds of weddings over the past 18 years and have performed at every type of venue – from country houses to luxury hotels, tipis, marquees, and more!

With the experience we’ve gained over the years, we’ve come up with a list of things to check before you book your wedding venue, if having live music is important to you.

1. Are there any restrictions on live and/or amplified music?

Sadly, we’re finding that more and more venues are either banning live music; or banning amplified music.

It’s obviously vital that you check this before you book, because most party bands simply cannot perform acoustically. 

If your venue doesn’t allow amplified music, we do have some bands that are available for you:

For the party: Get Brassy

For the ceremony, drinks reception etc: The Vintage Strollers | Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Some venues also have restrictions on having live music outside, so do check this if you think you’d like some outdoor music for your drinks reception. 

2. Are there any restrictions on the band size?

We find that quite a few venues now restrict the size of band which is allowed to perform. (As an aside, we don’t think this is really fair – a 4-piece rock and pop band takes about as much space as our 10-piece swing band, and is also much louder – and swing, soul and Motown music doesn’t sound “right” with fewer than 6 musicians, which is why that is the size of our smallest party band, The Get Downs Lite).

If your venue does have a restriction on the band size, ask them to give us a ring – we’ve been able to persuade several venues to relax their rules in the past.

3. Is there a noise limiter at the venue?

Noise limiters are definitely becoming more and more common – find out about these devices here

A noise limiter doesn’t necessarily prevent you having a band, however it’s vital that you know at the time of the booking and that you inform your band when you enquire with them, so you know if they will be able to work with the limiter. 

We’re not interested in “venue-bashing” however, we know for a fact that some venues don’t disclose the fact they have a noise limiter before you book unless you specifically ask the question – so please do check!

4. Is there a live music curfew?

At a recent wedding the bride and groom were surprised and disappointed to be told by their venue – literally on their wedding day – that live music had to finish by 10pm. Therefore please do check what time your venue will allow the band to perform until if you want a party band.

5. Are there suitable changing facilities?

When you book a venue, it is also useful to think about the logistics of having a band there. Part of our performance is the way we look, and we therefore need a suitable space to get changed and get ready for the performance; it’s also useful for us to have somewhere to relax between sets. Like most bands we do expect to be fed, so it’s worth making sure that the venue can cater for this.

Any questions?

Let us know if you need any more advice when booking your venue – and also let us know of any other questions you wish you’d asked your venue before booking!

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