Anyone would agree that the atmosphere of a reception is crucial to the enjoyment of guests and the happy couple. Dancing, singing, and celebrating together in a lively manner marks the perfect entrance into married life for newlyweds, so selecting the right entertainment source is incredibly important.
We interviewed Editors Circle member Bonnie Foster of Bonnie Foster Productions to get an insider's look at how to book your entertainment with confidence and ease.
Photo by Pam Scott
Inside Weddings: What inspired you to get into the business?
Bonnie Foster: I was brought up in an entertaining family business, with a blind pianist for a father and a multi-instrumentalist/singer as a mother. I was inspired to start my own company after being part of the family business for over 25 years, as I wanted to duplicate what I saw that worked and eliminate what didn't. I feel passionate about the many aspects of producing music for special events and weddings.
IW: What is your full list of services?
BF: Live bands, dance orchestras, DJs, hybrids, string ensembles, gospel or diversity choirs, latin guitarists or ensembles, ethnic talent, to provide musical entertainment for ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner reception, and after-party. All production elements related to the music such as video screens, live feed cameras, backdrops, custom dance floors, custom staging, custom wardrobe, dance shows, stage lighting, MCs, ballroom, latin, swing or hip-hop dancers, specialty and name acts, original music and lyrics, and music consultation.
IW: How far in advance should couples book their entertainment?
BF: The average time a couple books a live band before their wedding is between 9 and 12 months; however, with a band that is available, experienced, and rehearsed, a few months or even a few weeks notice will work.
IW: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced for a wedding?
BF: When the bride had too much Champagne on an empty stomach and she could not even enjoy her own wedding. I encourage a big breakfast on the wedding day, and go easy on the alcohol since the nerves can add to dehydration and the negative effects of drinking. Also, stay hydrated.
IW: Is it better for a couple to have a strict song list, or have very little idea about what music they want?
BF: With a fabulous band, it is much better for the couple to allow the experts to decide what music to play, as long as they have shared their top five favorite artists, genres, and songs. Great bands know what songs really make a wedding reception fun, and too much control over the band can deplete them of their creative juices, and some songs that may be favorites of the couple may not be the best party music or may not appeal to all ages of their guests.
IW: In your opinion, is there an ideal genre order that works best with a wedding?
BF: Not really. However, classic sounds like Sinatra, Bublé, Dean Martin, etc. typically are played earlier in the evening to include the young at heart. Playing pop hits early in the evening is also important to foreshadow what's to come and inspire guests to stay and dance all night.
IW: How many staff members do you typically bring with you to a wedding?
BF: The band will vary in size based on what the couple books, and typically we have three to four support staff who handle sound engineering, lights, wardrobe, set up and strike at the end of the evening.
IW: What are your two major "dos" and "don'ts" regarding wedding music?
BF: Two Major Dos:
1. Do play upbeat dance music early in the evening to establish good energy and participation by guests.
2. Do mix the genres and eras of music to appeal to the two or three generations at the wedding.
Two Major Don'ts:
1. Don't have guests sit too long without giving them reason to get up and dance, which keeps the energy level in the room high.
2. Don't let the band play too loud. It chases guests out of the room, but instead play music at the perfect volume so guests are inspired to get close to the stage and dance.
IW: What’s the most common song featured on “do not play” list?
IW: Do you have a funny/interesting story from a wedding you’ve worked that you’d like to share?
BF: There are plenty of silly stories about weddings I've done. The entire groomsmen party jumped on stage and did a strip tease down to their panties and they say it's a long-term family tradition. Here is something interesting: I am working on two weddings and the brides' parents had my parents' band play their wedding 30 years ago. So the second generation will be entertaining the second generation from the same families.
IW: Do you have any specific tips for couples regarding booking entertainment?
BF: Try to meet with the leader or producer in person. Allocate a reasonably balanced amount for the band from your budget if music is important to you. If you can afford great live music, there is an added element of interest by guests when musicians and singers are making live music. Book true pros with experience and a long history in the business, then defer to them for producing the best mix of songs that will make the party fun for everyone. Share your favorite genres and artists early in the planning stages with bands that customize their playlist to reflect the taste and style of the honorees and their guests. Last bit of advice, on the day of the wedding: let every bit of control go and give it up to the band or DJ to make things successful.
Photos courtesy of Bonnie Foster Productions