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Ceremony PA System Q&A: Why You Need More Than “Just A Microphone”

“How will people hear us during our ceremony?”

Most of us imagine a microphone being the “thing” that makes our voice louder. But for a microphone to broadcast your voice through speakers, it must work in conjunction with sophisticated equipment known as a “PA.” A sound engineer will orchestrate this set-up including speakers, stands, mixing console, wireless receivers, and the number of microphones you require. This engineer will monitor the PA throughout its use. The labor involved is roughly 2 hours in terms of additional time for arrival, set-up, and execution.

Let’s do a little question & answer on this critical subject:

Q: Will people hear my officiant? My vows? My readers? Do I need a microphone?

A: Perhaps. It depends on the location, number of guests and your own comfort level.

Amplifying the voices in your wedding ceremony is especially worth considering for outdoor receptions. Sound travels poorly outside. And the greater your guest count, the further sound needs to travel. At some point, your venue, event planner or family is probably going to recommend a Ceremony PA System.

The next most logical question would be:

Q: How much does this cost?

A: More than you think!

… Just kidding, a typical ceremony pa system is more like the following:

Typical microphone arrangements include the following:

1) Clip-On Lapel Mic for the officiant. This works with a small battery pack attached to the belt. Your officiant will be familiar with this.

2) Omni Directional Mic on a straight stand set at waist level for vows. At waist level, the microphone will not interfere with chest-up photos, does not require you to use a belt pack, and will amplify your voices sufficiently.

3) Wireless hand-held mic for readers, which can be passed amongst readers.

Access to Electrical Power is necessary.

Q: Enough already, what should I expect to spend?

A: $400-$600….if you want it done right.

We’ve heard quotes from wedding venues that even exceed 1K. But asking your band to provide this service is usually the most cost effective and reliable route.

I know, I know …it’s a costly service. You’ll definitely find less expensive quotes in the $150-$250 range for a “speaker and microphone.” But buyer beware; low-cost dental surgery isn’t a good thing, and neither is a bargain on a PA for your wedding ceremony.

We suggest you take the ceremony amplification as seriously as everything else in your wedding. It’s not just a microphone and a speaker. It’s arguably the most sensitive and memorable part of your celebration.

First Dance Songs 2019

Picking the perfect song for you and your future spouse’s first dance can be anxiety inducing… to say the least. It can be hard to pin point a song that captures a lifetime of memories, past, present and future, into a single moment. We all know the classics. You know which ones I’m talking about. Who hasn’t been to a wedding where the first dance was “At Last” by the late-great Etta James. Or heard countless renditions of Al Greens classic “Let’s Stay Together.” To help on your search for a more modern and current first dance song, we’ve compiled a list of TEN songs on our radar for the 2019 wedding season. At the very least, maybe these songs will spark some inspiration as you make the final touches on your special day.

1. Dan + Shay – “Speechless”

This follow-up hit from country duo Dan & Shay was literally made for weddings. No. Literally. Check out the video featuring footage from both of their weddings to the special women in their lives.

2. Leon Bridges – “Beyond”

Recalling the magic of classic soul and Motown, “Beyond” stands out as an unexpectedly obvious choice for the couple who wants to stick to that classic sounds while also catering to the modern crowd.

3. Lady Gaga – “Always Remember Us This Way”

The movie A STAR IS BORN was an absolute smash with the soundtrack’s lead single, “Shallow,” topping the billboard charts after it’s Oscar win. But it is the more subtle “Always Remember Us This Way” that gets us in our feels for wedding season.

4. Florence + The Machine – “The End Of Love”

An unconventional choice for the unconventional couple. Dealing with love from a different angle, it’s not an expected first dance song but will move everyone just the same.

5. Jason Aldean – “You Make It Easy”

Quintessential and reliable. This Jason Aldean #1 country song will most definitely join the ranks of Rascal Flatts “My Wish” and even Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.”

6. James Bay – “Us”

Equal parts soul and early 2000s Coldplay. The build of this power ballad is perfect for the bride and groom who wants to milk the drama of the moment.

7. Calum Scott & Leona Lewis – “You Are The Reason”

Originally released early 2018, this duet holds up as a stunning first moment between the newlyweds.

8. Kacey Musgraves – “Butterflies”

What would be more 2019 than a romantic country ballad as a first dance sung by a female star? (A GRAMMY winning female star at that)

9. Kelly Clarkson – “Move You”

This stunning cut from Clarkson’s latest album, Meaning Of Life, successfully marries old with new and country with pop without being cliché.

10. Mariah Carey – “With You”

Known for painting pictures of unrequited love, Mariah’s “With You” is the perfect twist on a romance meant to be.

Band Turnover; What Are My Options?

We’ll let you in on a not so little secret:

The band industry is rife with turnover!

We live in a society that is continually moving and changing, as are it’s people. Many performers will move on to opportunities with original artists, record deals or writing positions, while others will re-locate in pursuit of their own dreams. As such, no band or company can guarantee the appearance of any one performer or vocalist at your event. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being disingenuous.

Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to protect your interests…

1) Ask about a band’s policy regarding member changes, specifically, vocal turnover. What you want to hear is:

A) you will be notified in the event of a vocal change and

B) you will have the option to opt out with a refund in the event you are unhappy with the changes.

2) Consider the band or company’s ability to maintain the integrity and success of their bands, over time. Think about it; if a provider has been successful for 15+ years, they didn’t get there by using the same personnel for 15+ years! This would suggest they have the juice and network to recruit, train and place top-tier talent. Here we find another instance where tenure really matters.

3) Go in with your eyes open. You are not buying a person or persons, but instead, an experience; the guarantee of an incredible party. This can be achieved with different personnel, if necessary. And if you are emotionally prepared for the possibility of turnover, it will help you make a more informed, less emotional decision as to whether the band is still right for you.

Lastly, there is also the possibility for performers to experience physical or personal emergencies. It should be the responsibility of any provider to ensure a substitute of equal or greater talent in the event of an emergency.

The more you know, the more you grow.

-The BWB Team

Wedding Music; How To Sift Through The Noise

So it’s time to get serious about vetting bands. You sit down to review a stack of band material and assume the SONG LIST is the most important, right? Meh….

SONG LIST:

Jokes aside, the song list is relevant (not to be confused with the play list, more on that below). But song lists are also one of the least helpful tools when reviewing bands. Here are the top 3 reasons you should take song lists with a grain of salt:

1) You don’t need to peruse thousands of songs to verify whether a band knows your first dance! Any legitimate band will learn several new songs for you or will have the capability to DJ music.

2) The most highly rated general business bands perform roughly the same music. Top 40, 2000s, 90’s, 80’s, Classic Rock, Country, Swing and Jazz are all genres employed by reputable Boston Wedding Bands. As such, the difference between one song list and the next isn’t earth shattering.

3) A band performs 38-44 songs max in a 4 hour dinner/dance reception. So when one band has 100 R&B songs on their list, and another has 250 R&B songs, what does it matter? If they played 10 R&B songs, that would be 1/4 of all the music at your wedding!

PLAY LIST:

Play list is a term used to describe the body of songs that a band actually performs at an event. You should ask the following of any band you’re considering:

How do you manage your play list? What kind of input will I have?

With the exception of formal dances, most bands reserve the right to select the songs they perform, with your preferences in mind. They want a lot of feedback so they can accommodate you. They may play as many as 10- 15 of your specific favorites. But they also require you place trust in their ability to call songs throughout the night.

Let’s face it, when you read a review that says “ THE BAND PLAYED THE BEST MUSIC AND HAD EVERYONE DANCING ALL NIGHT”, it wasn’t because they recreated the groom’s favorite mix tape. And sometimes, bands have to play music that guests respond well to, even if it isn’t the bride’s favorite song.

And if the above doesn’t work for you, that is cool too! You just need to have an open dialogue with each band you consider to ensure they meet your needs.

NUTSHELL: what we’ve seen work best is a compromise between two parties. You trust the band, and the band promises to take your tastes into account.

– The BWB Team

Live Videos: Is Anything Actually “Live”?

The answer, no. Unless you’re watching a band with your own eyes, it isn’t live.

___________________________

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a band made a video that featured footage from a wedding or private event, instead of a sound stage or a performance studio. They edited text across their video that read “NON PRODUCED, NON LIP-SYNCED, LIVE VIDEO”. Thus, the age of “live” video was born.

Warnings began popping up on entertainment websites:

“Beware Of Fancy Videos!”

“Non-Produced Videos Only!”

“Luke, I am Your Father!”

…ok, maybe not the last one. But bands who didn’t have the resources or inclination to direct costly video productions devised a new tactic and drove a wedge through the industry.

In truth, “live” videos are anything but. What the warnings don’t mention is “live” videos are still recordings. And to record their music, the band brought in a recording engineer. This engineer operated a sophisticated multi track mixing system, often capturing multiple takes. Later on, they mixed the recorded music in a studio. In some cases they even overdubbed additional parts.

What’s wrong with this?

Nothing! You can’t hold it against a band for putting their best foot forward. When Corvette unveils a new hotrod, it isn’t covered in mud. And when a band attempts to capture the essence of a live performance on video, they present their best self. HOWEVER, the concept of “live” video is an illusion. Unless you’re watching a band with your own eyes, it’s not live. To say otherwise isn’t very cool. And to scare people into believing one video is legit while the other isn’t, well, that’s disingenuous.

In the end, band videos (of any kind) are simply a glance into a group’s personality; just one piece of the puzzle. Band videos must be judged in the context of referrals, reputation, reviews, customer service, tenure and many other important factors. Ultimately, if you have the chance to see a Boston wedding band in person, THAT is where the rubber meets the road. You should take every opportunity to see bands at showcases or clubs.

Over and out space travelers, may the force be with you.

-The BWB Team