Choosing music for a wedding or special event can be a fun yet complicated process. Your first instinct is to select the music you want to hear during the event but does that serve your other guests’ musical tastes entirely? And is it appropriate for the event? It is hard to figure out what to consider when choosing event music. Use this article as a guide and use the following questions to assist you in the decision-making process.
What are Your Event Goals?
Before you do anything, set your event goals. Goal setting is the most crucial factor in planning an event. Goals help to steer the ship, especially when there are multiple ways to execute an event. It can get cloudy and, in some ways, be tempting for a planner or committee to try to use tactics that have worked for other organizations or couples, but event planning is not one-size-fits-all. And when you throw music into the mix, you do not want to take a one-size-fits-all approach, or you could end up with classical music playing at the company barbecue.
Sit down and discuss the event with your client, CEO, or spouse and think of the top 3-5 things you want to see happen during your event. Ask yourself how you want your guests to feel. What do you want them to say long after the event was over? You can then frame your music choices around these goals.
What Type of Event Are You Hosting?
After setting your event goals, you will have guidelines for the type of event you want (or should) host. Understanding the different categorizations of events should steer music choices because your music will serve as a backdrop of the atmosphere. Superevent.com says,
The type of event you are throwing will also influence your music choices. It’s important to play music that’s appropriate for the occasion. You will make people uncomfortable if you play music that doesn’t suit in the event, even if they like the music in other settings.
For instance, a corporate meet-and-greet requires music that is light and calm. It should play softly in the background, so it doesn’t distract people or interrupt conversations. A company picnic, however, should play music that’s lively and upbeat. Notice how both of those events would include the same people, but require different kinds of music.
As mentioned above, your event goals will help you to frame the type of event you should host, which drills down to the kind of music you choose to provide during your event. Another critical factor is always budget which brings us to our next question.
What is Your Event Budget?
Budget – the topic no one likes to discuss, but the one factor that creates opportunities and limitations for executing your event. When it comes to music, the average person spends between 7-10% of their event budget on music for a wedding or event. If you find that you have room to splurge on a live professional band or famous DJ, you won’t be sorry. If you need to cut corners to stay within budget, we recommend a small musical ensemble if they fit the event’s theme. Recorded music via a curated playlist is also an option. You may miss out on live musicians’ interaction, but some music is better than no music.
What Will Your Guests Think?
Guests and their thoughts about their experience are always an important factor in music choice during an event. These are literally the people whose opinions matter most. That said, it is important to read and evaluate your guests and their music tastes so you can hire a band or DJ that fits. Most people love music that was popular in their teen years and early ’20s, so if you have an idea of your guests’ age demographics, take a trip down memory lane (for your guests) and choose songs that reflect that timeframe. Wondering what to do if you have a mixed crowd? You can entertain everyone if you mix the playlist up and include various tunes that include Oldies, Top 40, 90’s Pop, Hip-hop, and Country.
What Will Your Venue Say?
Have you ever been to an event and randomly heard inappropriate or unrelated announcements or music? While that time may have made you uncomfortable for a second, sometimes a misstep like this may bring a violation of contract and legal issues. Some venues have restrictions on the type of music you play during an event and often have limitations on how loud or long you play your music. Our company is based in the middle of two major cities (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.). Some of our local event venues tend to be located in residential areas with strict noise ordinances. Many outdoor venues have rules about music with explicit language to protect people who may be within earshot of the event.
Review your venue contract before signing to ensure that you understand the venue’s guidelines and rules. If there is a “no-play” list or noise limitations, ensure that your entertainment vendors adhere to those rules throughout the night.
Please note that venues often define guidelines in decibels when it comes to noise limitations (dB). When a band is playing, the bandleader or musicians may not have a way to monitor decibels of sounds. Still, an experienced band will have a sound engineer who can do this, especially if they have current and state-of-the-art equipment. This is a great reason to hire a professional group or artist – it will offer you peace of mind to plan well and make adjustments on-site as needed. Anything can happen at a live event, and it is important to have experienced professionals who can respond in a timely and efficient manner.
What Can Your Vendors Do?
When you plan a special event or wedding, we encourage you to reach for the stars and land on the moon. This means that we want you to have the event of your dreams, but it is vital to manage your expectations. Some factors are out of your control, but either way, they affect your ability to execute your event. These factors include budget, timeframe, and vendor availability. When it comes to choosing music, you have to be realistic about what a band or DJ can do. If you want a themed event, like an 80’s event, and you decide to hire an 80’s cover band, you should do your research and ensure you are getting a band that is experienced and comfortable with your requests.
Once you can answer these questions, you will be better positioned to choose the best music for you and your guests. You will be one step closer to planning a fantastic event.