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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.

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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!

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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.

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With your venue secured and wedding date firmly in the diary, it’s now time to start thinking about the music! Along with photographers and the wedding dress, live music is often considered one of the most important aspects of the day, from the unforgettable moment as the bride enters the room, to the first dance and final singalong of the night. Whilst there’s always the option of an mp3 player, nothing quite compares to the spine tingling sensation of a string quartet or harpist to really get the emotion in full flow.

If this is your first time taking on wedding planner duties then you’ll no doubt have a long list of queries on everything from schedules and logistics to band requirements and more. Having worked in the wedding music industry for the best part of 15 years, there are certain questions that come up time and time again and so to set you off on the right foot, we’ve put together this simple infographic focusing on budgets, timings and musician requirements.

Infographic by Bands For Hire, an entertainment agency in the UK specialising in wedding string quartets, solo harpists, pianists, guitarists and live wedding bands.

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It’s never been easier to have the wedding YOU want – be that a festival-inspired party, a woodland celebration, an farm or barn wedding – traditional venues are almost a thing of the past! And over the years our appetite for sunny weddings abroad has become more and more apparent. Perhaps our unpredictable English weather plays a large part in that, but for others it could be the sometimes misconceived notion that a wedding abroad is less expensive that a wedding in the UK.

Destination wedding photography Mexico Benjamin Toms (11)

Photo credit: Benjamin Toms – see full feature here

Whilst a wedding abroad can often work out cheaper, many couples do still choose to fly out their favourite wedding suppliers in order to achieve their dream wedding day. As the owner of a live music agency, I’ve had the pleasure of organising a number of live bands and musicians for clients getting married abroad; at first it can seem fairly overwhelming for the couple, but the process needn’t be stressful if you know what to expect in advance.

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Where do you even begin to choose your first dance song? It’s kind of an important decision to make as a couple… but if he’s into Frank Turner and you’re more Take That, who gets to decide?! How about a little inspiration from other couples to help you choose…  Join Adam from Bands for Hire for a proper nosey into the top first dance songs of the last year – it’s all kinds of fascinating!

A Cheshire wedding inspired by Kew Gardens, with the most beautiful dress you can imagine... (36)

Images in this feature all by the fabulous, highly recommended Vickerstaff Photography in Cheshire. www.vickerstaffphotography.co.uk

Having been in the wedding industry for the best part of twelve years, first dance songs are a big part of the conversation with many brides and grooms-to-be. With infinite choices and other factors such as song length, tempo and dance routines to consider, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

There are certain songs that become the go-to ballad for a particular year, and then fall out of favour and are never to be heard again, but, there are also hundreds of golden oldies that are here to stay… and some that just won’t go away however much we wish they would! (Amazed by Lonestar anyone?).