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Choosing Music For A Wedding Reception

Choosing Music For A Wedding Reception

Helpful hints and tips to guide you through choosing the right live music for your wedding reception. See more wedding soundtrack ideas and inspiration on our 'Ultimate Guide to Wedding Entertainment' here.

These days the wedding reception/party is as important a part of the wedding day as the ceremony itself. The happy couple want to let their hair down and celebrate their wedding day with friends and family and what better way to do so than with a superb live wedding band.

All of Alive Network's wedding bands are of the highest calibre and will entertain guests of all ages. From a smooth jazz band which your friends can mooch and smooch to through to a funky 70's band or rock/pop party band who can keep your guests dancing the night away, we guarantee you'll have the night of your life!

Choosing the right style of music

When selecting a band for your wedding reception you should consider the atmosphere you'd like to create.
Do you want a party atmosphere where dancing is top priority or would you prefer a more laid back approach?

You may like to use the following as a guide when choosing music for your reception:

  • Fun and dancy: Rock & pop covers band, soul & R&B band, rock n' roll or swing jive band, tribute band, 70's disco or funk band, Latin & salsa bands
  • Smooth & sophisticated: Jazz band, swing jive band, latin & salsa band, classical ensemble, piano and violin/sax
  • Light background music: Jazz band, classical ensemble, solo or duo guitar, vocal guitar/piano duo
  • Something different: Steel band, Irish band, Latin & salsa band, swing jive band, world music ensemble, interesting tribute artist, barber shop quartet
  • Formal: Jazz band, string quartet, classical ensemble, solo or duo guitar, singer or choir, piper
  • Traditional: Irish band, ceilidh band, bag pipes, classical ensemble, singers or choir


Most of the artists listed above are capable of adapting their music to fit a wide range of atmospheres so please feel free to put forward any questions or requested when you make your enquiry.

Consider your friends and family

When selecting your band you will need to consider the tastes of your guests, their age group and whether or not they will want to dance or listen.
Some bands can be quite loud and it is well worth taking the touble to ask your friends and family what they'd like.

We can use the following as a guide:

  • For an audience of all age groups: Pop Rock covers band, swing jive band, soul band, pop tribute band
  • For a middle aged audience: Pop covers band, selected tribute bands, 70's and funk bands, Soul & R&B bands, swing jive bands, Latin& salsa bands, jazz bands
  • For a mature audience (50+): Jazz bands, rock n' roll bands, ceilidh bands, swing jive bands, selected tribute bands, Latin & salsa bands, 60's & light pop covers bands, classical ensembles


If you are at all unsure about a bands suitability for your wedding, please feel free to give us a call first.

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Repertoire and your first dance

By the time you have chosen your band you will probably be familiar with the music they play as their repertoire information is listed on their profile page within our web site. In most cases it's best if the selection of songs which they play is left to their discretion. They are in the perfect position to suggest the ideal selection of music from their repertoire, based on their experience of playing at many other weddings.

However, should you have a specific piece of music or song in mind that you want played, especially for your first dance, you are perfectly welcome to make requests and in most cases the band will try their best to accommodate. These requests should be forwarded to Alive Network well in advance of the event.

The following songs have been selected as good suggestions for first dances as they can all be played relatively easily considering the instrumentation of most party bands:

  • 'Angels' by Robbie Williams
  • 'Can't Help Falling In Love' by Elvis Presley
  • 'Close to you' by the Carpenters
  • 'Every Breath You Take' by The Police
  • 'Groovy Kind Of Love' by Phil Collins
  • 'Have I Told You Lately' by Rod Stewart
  • 'How Deep Is Your Love' by Take That
  • 'I Got You Babe' by Sonny and Cher
  • 'I'll be there for you' the Rembrants
  • 'It Had To Be You' - Harry Connick Jr
  • 'In My Life' by The Beatles
  • 'Love Is All Around' by Wet Wet Wet
  • 'Love Me Tende'r by Elvis Presley
  • 'More Than Words' by Extreme
  • 'Nobody Does It Better' by Carly Simon
  • 'She's The One' by Robbie Williams
  • 'Stand By Me' by Ben E King
  • 'True Love Ways' by Buddy Holly
  • 'We Have All The Time In The World' by Louis Armstrong
  • 'Wonderwall' by Oasis
  • 'Wonderful Tonight' by Eric Clapton
  • 'You do something to me' by Paul Weller


Depending on the personalities of you and your partner you may prefer to go for a more eclectic choice of song. Many bands will agree to learn 'your song' if given enough notice.

Your venue: setting up, space and volume

For a complete guide to 'Live Music & Your Venue' check out this article.

You'll need to check with your wedding reception venue that live music is permitted. Most venues have no problem with bands but it is worth checking all the same. In particular you should check the size of the room you're hiring and the area the band will be playing in. Most venues will specify where the band should play so once you have these details you'll know what size band you can hire.

Most wedding bands have 3 - 6 members and will be suitable for most venue sizes. However, certain styles of music such as Soul/R&B, Latin/Salsa & 70's disco feature much larger bands with approx 7 to 12 members and you will need quite a large amount of space to accommodate them. Again check with the venue first as you may be able to re-arrange the layout of the room to accommodate a larger band.

It will also be worth checking if the venue has any restrictions on arrival and set up times for the band. Set up time ranges from 60 to 120 minutes depending on the size of the band and how far the equipment needs to be moved. Setting up involves not only carrying the equipment into the room but also running through a few songs to balance all the instruments and get a good sound. It is best if this happens before your guests arrive or whilst they retire to a different room.

One more thing to check with your venue is if they have any restrictions on volume levels. Some bands are louder than others and if the venue has another function going on next door they may place restrictions on what time the band can sound check, perform & finish.

In all cases the band will play at a volume suitable for the room and adjust according to your requirements. Party bands are by nature louder than a disco and the natural unamplified sound of a live drum kit is quietest volume that a party band can play at. If you think their will be any issue with volume of the band you choose please consult your Alive Network agent or consider a more laid back style of music such as jazz.

Your budget: what will a band cost?

Check out this article for 'Wedding Entertainment Prices: What Can You Get For Your Money?'

Band fees vary wildly depending on the style of music, how many members are in the band, how successful they are, how long you want them to play for, what time they need to arrive and the travel distance involved to get your event.


As a general guide, you can expect to pay the following fees for a good quality act, based on 2 hours performance time and including travel:

  • String Quartet: £500 - £700
  • Tribute band: £700 - £1800 (band)
  • Pop Rock band: £900 (Trio) - £1700+ (4-6 piece)
  • Jazz band: £550 (Duo/Trio) - £1500 (8 piece and larger)
  • Soul band: £1200 (6-7piece) - £2000+ (10 - 12 piece)
  • 70's band: £1100 - £1500
  • Rock n' roll & Swing Jive bands: £800 (Trio) - £1500 (5-6 piece)
  • Latin & Salsa band: £800 - £1400


The lower fees shown represent newer bands or bands with only a few members. The higher fees represent more established bands or bands with more members.


Band fees increase if they have to arrive and be set up particularly early in the day, if they are needed to perform for longer than 2 hours, or if they have to travel more than 100 miles.

Bands charging less than the fees shown above may be inexperienced, using inferior equipment, quoting for shorter playing times or not including other expenses.

Quality vs expense: There is no doubt that quality should be your main concern. Alive Network will be able to recommend the best choice of quality artists in your area. It is NOT worth risking the success of your wedding day by booking a cheap pub band. All Alive Network bands use top quality professional equipment, are well experienced at performing at weddings and have a professional attitude to match their outstanding ability as players.

Also bear in mind that every booking with Alive Network is backed up by our customer service guarantee. This means that should the worst case senario happen and the band you book are unable to fulfil the booking, we have thousands of other bands to call upon as replacements. You have the piece of mind that your Alive Network agent will always be available at the end of the phone and that we will be ensuring that the live music at your wedding runs to perfection.

Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Entertainment

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