When it comes to wedding receptions, probably the first thing most couples think of is: partying and dancing until the wee hours, right? There is no celebration like it and everyone hopes they have the party the guests remember – for all the right reasons.

So, when choosing your musicians, whether it’s a band, DJ, classical quartet, or a combination of all three, it is such a big investment you want to get it right. First and foremost, you should know that your bandleader or DJ is familiar with all of the traditional components if wedding receptions: intros, first dance, toasts, cake ceremony etc. Even if you don’t consider having a ‘traditional’ format, you’ll want to have someone who can guide the evening along with various announcements and to keep your guests engaged. Another thing to consider is the ‘type’ of music you choose. It’s important to remember that there are going to be a number of guests who are older, most likely friends of your parents and they would like to dance, too!

Very often, the wedding ceremony and dancing will be in separate locations, so you’ll want to know that the musicians have adequate wiring (sometimes heavy-duty wires and generators are required) and that they have enough wireless mics and speakers so that that they can set up in more that one place. If you’re hiring a band, ask how much space they need to set up – the larger the band, the larger space; this affects the size of the room or tent you order.

As a Wedding Planner, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have professional musicians. A few years ago, a couple had their good friend as their DJ. Unfortunately, he forgot that he was not a guest and started drinking. Needless to say, by the time it was apparent, it was too late and although the evening was not a complete disaster, the couple was not very pleased.

Be sure to decide what you’d like the musicians to wear: formal, smart casual or casual – this should be written into your contract – and they are NEVER allowed to drink alcohol!

Where I live in California, island weddings are a popular choice, especially in the summer and fall. Any time you’re crossing water with a band or DJ equipment, there are many logistics to take care of, such as transportation: ferries and other vessels run to their own timetables and your musicians should be experienced in moving their instruments in a safe and timely manner – almost always, they’ll need extra time to set up, allowing for travel.

All musicians care about their instruments and if they’re playing outside, most will want to have a canopy or tent to protect them from sun and sprinkles. Classical musicians especially are very strict about this rule and will usually have it written into their contracts; keep in mind that the canopies are at the expense of the couple.

With so many bands, DJ’s and classical musicians around, there’s no shortage of fine music and fun partying – so do your homework and enjoy a spectacular evening – your guests will love you for it!