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The green and pleasant hills of North West England are idyllic for tying the knot! Its countryside and scattered villages are sprinkled with magic and folklore, and you’ll find historic cities home to unmistakable architecture and stunning wedding venues both traditional and modern – unrivalled romance in every corner!

But the North West isn’t just the home of awe-inspiring architecture; rich in history and culture, the region is renowned for its musical legacy, inspiring momentous bands from The Smiths to The Stone Roses, Take That to Oasis and, of course, The Beatles. The region’s thriving wedding scene is similarly bursting with creativity. Choose from an abundance of sensational live wedding bands and masterful musicians in myriad styles – pop bands, soul bands, folk bands, string quartets and rock ‘n’ roll bands to name a few – to add sensational live music to your special day.

Naturally, Manchester and Liverpool are the live entertainment hubs in the North West, but you’ll find live wedding entertainers distributed all across the region, in Cheshire, Cumbria and the Lake District, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. While you might be tempted by bands from farther afield, consider the benefits of hiring local:

Wedding bands - photo by Lucas Allman
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Header photo by Lucas Allmann

Planning the entertainment for your wedding can be stressful at any time, but a Christmas wedding? How do you strike the right balance? Do you go fully Jingle Bells, or ignore the festive feeling and stick to the songs and sounds that matter to you? The thing is, with those blazing log fires, mistletoe, and frosty weather – all the better for snuggling close – winter is an incredibly romantic time of year. So, whatever theme you choose for your wedding, it has the potential to be magical. Your wedding entertainment is that little sprinkling of fairy dust on top, that makes the whole thing sparkle.

So, grab some spices, mull some wine and have a little read through our guide to choosing the best entertainment for your winter wedding.

The Earcandy Christmas Band

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The South East is glorious place to get married: it’s home to countless fabulous venues, from majestic stately homes, to rustic converted barns, to dramatic coastal retreats, to ultra-chic cosmopolitan spaces in the nation’s capital.

The South East also happens to host a thriving wedding music scene. There’s an abundance of awe-inspiringly talented wedding bands and musicians located throughout the region, all competing with one another, driving the standard of performance ever higher.

As you’d imagine, London is the heart of this vibrant live music scene, but you’ll also find local wedding bands for hire for venues in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Why is hiring local musicians important? It isn’t crucial, but by opting for a local South East wedding band you’re getting some very real benefits:

  • Your band won’t have had to endure a mammoth journey to get to you and will thus be fresh to give their best performance
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One style of wedding music we’re seeing explode in popularity is the authentic rock ‘n’ roll wedding band. We’re not talking Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, or The Killers here, we’re talking about the original pioneers of the genre – the Elvis Presleys, the Buddy Hollys, the Little Richards – the legends who blew away the stuffiness of the post-war era with their tumbling piano runs, slicked-back quiffs and jaunty, jangly guitar riffs.

Arriving on the back of the vintage wedding trend, rock ‘n’ roll wedding bands are simply perfect for pretty much any wedding scenario: their smart retro attire and quirky style fits in beautifully at historic venues and boho, festival weddings alike; they’re a hit with every generation (often throwing in a few more modern tracks for the youngsters) and their music is just perfect for dancing to!

There’s a surprising diversity of old-school rock ‘n’ roll wedding bands out there: from purists who only perform the originals to those who relax the rules and throw in “modern” stuff by the Beatles, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones, not to mention bands who stray into related genres like blues, rockabilly and swing.

Nicola Norton Photography on the English Wedding Blog (59)
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Header image credit Nicola Norton Photography

We’ve talked extensively over the past few months about live wedding bands in their glorious diversity – pop and rock wedding bands, soul and Motown wedding bands, festival wedding bands, even vintage-inspired postmodern wedding bands – but about other forms of wedding entertainment? We’re talking wedding entertainment to make your special day unique, entertainment that’ll drop jaws and get people talking.

Here we present a selection of alternative wedding entertainment that’ll make your wedding stand out and, best of all, keep everyone entertained during those afternoon lulls. While you’ll most likely spend it in a whirlwind of hasty congratulations and meticulously posed photos, the time between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, and then between the wedding breakfast and the speeches and the evening reception, can stretch out endlessly for guests. But what are you meant to do apart from ply them with copious amounts of wine?

A gorgeous castle wedding by documentary photographers York Place Studios (9)
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Everyone wants to offer their guests a wedding party to remember. But with so many options on party planning out there, what’s a sure fire way to achieve a party with a pop? It’s easy – pick a class live music act and hit the right note for everyone! Live music creates a sizzling party atmosphere – and offers everyone an opportunity to strut their stuff on the dance floor! When your guests realise they recognise the songs, they can enjoy singing along together! Live music freshens up a daytime wedding party and for the evening, a professional function band or tribute act will know how to work a crowd and get your party into gear.

Here are some examples of how tribute acts can be the ideal entertainment to suit your wedding day and add a dimension of drama and sparkle to your party. No matter what your taste or style, there are consumate performers available, ready to help you create a truly memorable wedding day!

Documentary wedding photographers in Dorset, Linus Moran Photography, Kings Arms Boutique Hotel (1)
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A guest article by English Wedding Directory members Last Minute Musicians

At Last Minute Musicians, we asked ourselves a question – what are the most popular cover songs being played by the wedding bands on our directory? As such, we recently carried out a survey of over 2500 bands to find out what was on their wedding set list.

We came up with a list of 60 of the most popular Rock/Pop hits, and 40 of the most popular Jazz and Classical pieces and it’s from this list that we’ve picked out twenty favourite cover songs other brides and grooms have requested, to help you with the process of selecting music for your big day!

  1. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
  2. Rolling In The Deep – Adele
  3. At Last – Etta James
  4. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
  5. Aint Nobody – Chaka Khan
  6. American Boy by Estelle
  7. Dancing In The Street by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
  8. Good Times – Chic
  9. I Feel Good – James Brown
Outdoor wedding at Priston Mill watermill, with images by Martin Dabek Photography on the English Wedding blog (26)
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I couldn’t get married without live music – it’s just a very personal thing, and if you’re a music lover you will totally get what I mean. Whether you love jazz or pop, indie, swing or soul, you’ll know that the buzz of a live performance is uniquely and beautifully suited to a wedding – so imagine booking your venue, only to be told you can’t have live music… it would be heartbreaking.

Before you book your venue, music lovers, here are 5 essential questions to run through with your band and your wedding venue. This article is a collaboration with the most experienced wedding musicians we know – Down for the Count have performed at well over 600 weddings in the UK and internationally, and at a huge range of venues. They say whilst the vast majority of venues are well suited to live music, they occasionally come across one that isn’t. Here are their 5 essential questions to ask your wedding venue  before you book!

Images by Bristol wedding photographer Martin Dabek Photography

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A challenge for you: picture a dance floor heaving with guests ranging in age from bouncing toddlers to groovy grannies. What music is playing? Which artists immediately spring to mind? We’re betting you’ve pictured at least one legendary soul and Motown artist, someone like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Otis Redding, Gladys Knight – the list is seemingly endless. There’s nothing quite like this enduringly popular style of music to encourage guests of all ages onto the dance floor at a wedding reception.

The irresistible grooves, the flashy costumes, the velvety vocals, the immortal tunes; it’s no wonder soul and Motown wedding bands are always in such high demand. Soul wedding bands specialise in giving you and your guests a fun-packed night of dancing and singing that’ll leave you all sore-footed and hoarse-voiced – and loving it. It’s not all high-intensity dancing either; there’s nothing like a smooth and soulful ballad to create a moment of pure romance.

Down for the Count - professional, experienced and insanely talented wedding musicians - UK & international performers (2)
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These guys are not only insanely talented musicians, they know exactly what works on the dancefloor at weddings – ALL the weddings. Between them and in their various lineups they’ve performed at well over 600 weddings in the UK and internationally, making them true professionals, experts and most importantly brilliant entertainers for your best day ever! I’m delighted to have Down for the Count listed in the English Wedding Directory – read all about them here and get in touch or follow them via the links below!

Down for the Count - professional, experienced and insanely talented wedding musicians - UK & international performers (1)

Down for the Count are a collective of professional musicians who perform in a range of different line-ups – meaning they are perfect for any style, and any size of wedding!

The line-ups can booked separately or you can build a whole-day wedding package with live music for each part of your day.

Our top party bands such as the Swing and Soul Band and the Motown Collective are guaranteed to fill your dancefloor; or the Swing Orchestra is great for vintage events.

find string quartets for your UK wedding
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Whether you’re getting married under the arched beams of a church or in the serene surrounds of a stately home, there’s nothing like a wedding string quartet to provide the perfect romantic soundtrack to your quintessential English wedding. Just imagine the moment you walk down the aisle – or watch your spouse-to-be walking towards you – as a quartet of classical musicians take up their instruments and perform an achingly beautiful piece of music. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

The harmonies created by expertly played violin, viola and cello stir the emotions like no other instruments. For centuries composers have taken advantage of the magic created when these musical instruments are performed in unison, giving you a treasure trove of gorgeous music to choose from to accompany your wedding ceremony.

If you’re not classically inclined, that doesn’t mean you can’t hire a wedding string quartet. Modern string ensembles are made up of versatile musicians who play arrangements of pop, rock, jazz, film and TV music just as well as they play the classics. This versatility means you can customise your wedding music to suit your theme, tastes and personality as a couple.

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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 www.brettsymesphotography.co.uk

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.