Real Couples’ Advice: How to get the most from your wedding band

Published by Claire Gould on

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There is SO much to organising a wedding, isn’t there?!! And with each little item on your wedding checklist, there’s a small army of sub-items to check too! For example, planning when your band will start to play, or if you’ll need a DJ afterwards, and how all of that ties in with food! (Because as much as we love a dance, we really can’t wait for the meal, right?!) So here are some real couples’ top tips for getting the most from your wedding band, courtesy of our lovely friends at the fabulous Alive Network.

Alive Network and Live Wires, image credit Brett Symes Photography (3)

All images are by Brett Symes Photography at

So you’ve weighed up the options, done your best Simon Cowell, and chosen the live wedding band that’s going to give you and your friends the hands-in-the-air party of your life. Good work!

But getting your perfect music match doesn’t end there. The very best artists and agencies should work with you to truly tailor your celebrations, helping you make the band experience your own.

From timings to set lists, we asked real newlyweds who’ve ‘been there, done that’ with one of the UK’s best wedding bands, Live Wires, for their top tips on getting most from your band.

Alive Network and Live Wires, image credit Brett Symes Photography (2)

1. Be chilled about the set list!

“When it came to the set list, I was initially a bit over prescriptive! I wanted to pick every track they played. The band convinced me to let go of the reins a little… They were right. Who knew Footloose would be the biggest floor filler of the night?!”

~ Lucy & Jacob

“If you’re not sure which tracks to choose, give your band an idea of the artists that you love so they can get a feel of your tastes and tailor their set to you.”

~ Lottie & Chris

“Live Wires achieved the impossible and managed to get our young teenage guests happily dancing amongst their parents and adult friends – no mean feat!”

~ Ruth

Chances are you’ve checked out your bands’ repertoire in advance and generally like what they play. So do go through it and give them a list of your top picks – as well as a ‘do-not-play’ list. But try to resist being too rigid. A great professional band will know how to build the party and should feel able to add a track or two they know works if the crowd aren’t feeling it.

They will also work with you to nail a set list that’s great for everyone. Unless you’re sticking to a particular style or genre, your band should provide a wide range of song choices to keep everyone happy – from grandparents to Emo-loving teenage guests.

2. Ask your musicians to multi-task

“We actually saved some on the budget by asking Live Wires to play an acoustic set during our drinks reception. We were looking at getting another artist in, but it worked out far cheaper to ask the one band to do both day and evening. They played a chilled out acoustic set in the day and three party sets later. We put what we’d saved behind the bar – a popular decision!”

~ Gareth

If you haven’t yet considered music beyond your evening party, you’re missing out. Live music really ramps up the emotion and atmosphere at your ceremony, drinks reception or wedding breakfast. Get more band for your buck by choosing an artist that can offer ceremony performances and low-key daytime sets, as well as a lively, full band party performance.

Likewise, most professional bands offer a DJ service for late night dancing. You’ll save a packet by getting the band to multi-task instead of hiring in someone else. Plus you’ll have fewer logistics to deal with.

3. Avoid a bar-party split!

“We picked our venue because the bar was at the back of the function room. I’ve been at weddings before where it feels quite flat and quiet when everyone’s queueing for the bar, and I didn’t want that. I wanted everyone in the same room, having a laugh and a dance and joining in with the party!” 

Lily and Pete


Booking a venue where your band and your bar are in the same room will guarantee a party atmosphere all night. If guests aren’t on the dancefloor their chat can still fill the room and create a ‘buzz’. Plus, bar-goers are more likely to be tempted onto the dancefloor when they hear a song they love if they’re actually in the same room to hear it!

4. Don’t start the party too early

“If we could do it again, we’d have the band start later. We didn’t leave enough time after the meal, so everyone was a bit too full and a bit too sober to party hard come Live Wires’ first set!”

~ Jess & Andy

“If you’re anticipating a sunny day or have a venue that tempts people outdoors, mention it to the band in advance so they can be flexible on performance times. We had to start a bit later than we’d planned… it was such a beautiful evening and we wanted to enjoy a few drinks outside in the last of the summer sun. They were really accommodating and after the sun went down, everyone was ready to party!”

Verity & Sam

After the wedding breakfast, allow a bit of time for your guests to relax before the band strikes up. Most people need to warm up post meal, perhaps have a few drinkies, and get dancefloor-confident before getting down! Likewise, on a lovely summer evening, it can be a big ask to pull your guests in from the outdoors before the sun goes down. A professional band will be happy to be flexible.

5. Upgrade your First Dance

“Rather than playing your first dance through an iPod, ask your band if they can play it live. It really makes a difference. Our song (The One by Kodaline) wasn’t on Live Wire’s repertoire, so they charged us a small fee to learn it. Worth every penny! It’s definitely one of our wedding highlights.”

~ Gill & Rich

Live Wires’ Tom Odell rendition for our first dance was amazing. It will live with us forever.

~ Quintin

This is one of your big moments. And it will be such a big memory. Delivered live, your first dance song is even more emotional. Ask your band if they can perform a live rendition of your chosen song, and check what they can offer with their line up (they might not be able to reproduce a full strings section, for example!). It will take your first dance to a new level.

6. Music vs food!

“My top tip would be to make sure the food is not being served at the same time as the band start to play. Our times slipped so their first set wasn’t really watched or made the most of. The second [set] was brilliant. It’s my only regret because everyone loved them!”

~ Adele

If you want everyone to enjoy your band to the max, serve your evening food before or in-between sets. For hungry wedding guests, Beyoncé herself could not compete with a buffet table or pizza oven, and there’s nothing more appealing to a British crowd than a queue for food!

Alive Network and Live Wires, image credit Brett Symes Photography (1)

7. Enjoy it!

“Many of our guests commented on how fantastic the band were and they managed to get everybody up and dancing. Our only regret is that we didn’t really get to see too much of them with everything else that was going on.”

~ Beth & Paul

Live music is such a wonderful part of your wedding day, so remember to enjoy it and be a part of it. Losing yourself in the music, good times with your friends and family, and the incredible feeling of each moment is what you’ll remember. Don’t fret about the small stuff – just get on that dancefloor and show them how it’s done!

Alive Network is the UK’s biggest and best loved wedding entertainment agency. To check out the brilliant Live Wires and more of the UK’s best wedding bands visit them here.

For more musical ideas and inspiration, take a look at Alive’s gorgeous (it really is!) new Ultimate Guide to Wedding Entertainment.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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