‘Will the band be too loud?’

‘Will the band be too loud?’ There’s a question I hear a lot. The straight answer is no, not if you book your band through The Jazz Agency. I can sum up, in one word, the reason why our bands will never play at an inappropriate volume: experience. With experience comes wisdom, and wisdom tells us the band isn’t there to steal the show or hog the limelight.

A lot of couples hire a jazz band for their actual ceremony. A band will provide ambience when the guests arrive, play a song for the bride’s arrival, something apt whilst the register is being signed, and another piece after the ceremony as everyone leaves. This set will either be purely acoustic or very slightly amplified – it’s all about setting the mood. People will be chatting on the way in, and the band will want to accommodate that. Then, as the bride arrives, the focus will be on her, so the music will likely be something of her choosing, and played at a volume that sets the emotional tone, but doesn’t steal the focus.

After the ceremony it’s fairly standard to then have the same band relocate to the champagne reception area and provide more background music whilst everybody mingles. This is another situation where a loud band would be inappropriate. The bands we provide for both of these scenarios will never turn up with tons of equipment, like huge PA systems, lighting rigs and drum kits. Those things are simply not required. We’ve witnessed some horror stories: big function bands sound checking their equipment in the room next to the ceremony, DURING the ceremony, for example, is something we’ve seen many times. That’s the kind of thing that can happen when you hire an amateur or semi-professional band. It’s often tempting to hire one of these bands because they seem like a bargain, but there’s always a reason for that. When you use our bands, they are all professional musicians with years of experience. You don’t get to play at places like Buckingham Palace, The Ivy or Harrods if you’re playing too loud, or trying to be the centre of attention. These are some of the places our musicians perform at, and rightly so. We’ve earned their trust.

So, on to the wedding breakfast and beyond. Obviously, during the sit-down meal, a live band will be a nice way to set a certain ambience, but, again, just in the background. During this part of the day we often have guests approaching us to say something along the lines of “I know nobody’s applauding but people really are enjoying the music. It must be hard to play to people who aren’t listening.” Honestly, it really isn’t. We derive our pleasure from doing the job well, allowing people to chat and mingle, plus playing music well is its own reward.

After the meal, and into the evening, people will want to relax and perhaps have a dance. Decades of experience have taught me that even this part of the evening doesn’t need to be loud. Sure, jazz isn’t for everybody and to be honest, most couples will hire a function band to play Abba and suchlike, and that’s fair enough. These bands can really fill the dance floor, but I always wonder why they’re so loud. There will doubtless be some people present who would rather chat than dance. If you ask me these bands could be 50% quieter, and bring much less equipment. If you’re one of the couples that decides they do want a jazz band for the evening, first of all, thank you! Secondly, have a think about the purpose of the evening band. Do you want people to dance? If so, think about hiring the type of jazz band that has a consistent rhythm, like The Jonny Hepbir Quartet, for gypsy swing, or maybe Rockin’ in Rhythm for 1920s/30s swing music. If you’d rather have a quiet and classy affair, think about something along the lines of The Sara Oschlag Trio, or The Stacey Dawson Trio.

The long and short of it is this: our bands will never be too loud, that’s a promise.