Questions Pros Ask Me about Wedding and Party Music
By Robbie Schlosser www.magnoliajazz.com
Music has a magical effect of helping people enjoy whatever they are doing. In particular, music is an essential part of weddings and parties.
I have found that the best event professionals plan and coordinate their music by asking just a few questions — but the right ones. Just a few “preliminary” questions, followed by all the necessary “detail” questions.
Since 1975, I’ve been providing music for thousands of celebrations. Whether it’s music for a wedding or for a party, the planners usually ask me many of the same questions, which involve all the professionals working in the event.
Whether I’m talking with a new bride-to-be or a veteran wedding coordinator, a first-time company event planner or an experienced hotel catering director, in my experience the best planners work systematically and usually ask the best questions. Especially at the beginning.
Let me describe several preliminary questions I often hear. I’ve found that answering these questions first is the hard part — creating the “blanks” to fill in later with the event’s specific details. This second part usually flows more easily.
Done well, the preliminary answers help everyone involved get the greatest benefit from working with the music. And our clients enjoy a wonderfully smooth event.
“Preliminary” questions: First of all, “What kind of atmosphere do I want to create?”
• Will it be casual, laid-back, and mellow?
• Formal, elegant, and sophisticated?
• Upbeat, lively, and rousing?
• For a ceremony, or conversations, or dancing, or all three and everything in between?
Next, “How do I want my event to look and sound?” Planners will involve all their guests’ senses, of course — including taste, touch, and smell, but the music will affect mainly sight and sound. “What do I want my guests to see?” “What do I want my guests to hear?”
Next, “Will a theme unify all parts of the celebration?” The event’s purpose often suggests the ideal theme (birthday, wedding, awards, anniversary, grand opening), but a planner can use hundreds more. For example: colors, holidays, locations, holidays, stories, movies, history — the sky’s the limit.
“Detail” Questions: Finally, the planner is ready to ask “How will the music create what I want?” “What music will I select?” “One style or more?”
Thank goodness we have a ton of options here. I’m sure we have hundreds of special events every day in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they involve a great variety of music — jazz, classical, rock, top 40s, “easy-listening”, R&B, disco, mariachi, country, or ethnic — and musicians, bands, and DJs.
Next, the planner often asks additional questions, like "How will I select special songs?", “How will I schedule the music?”, and “Where will I locate the music?”
“Coordinating” Questions: Finally, the planner asks “How will I coordinate all the event's “moving parts” with the music? Here’s where we all come in.
It’s helpful for all the pros involved in any event to understand how the planner answered these preliminary questions and what the overall plan envisions.
Most special events involve a number of professionals, as well as musicians. Everyone — the planner, facility, caterer, musicians, DJ, florist, photographer, and everyone else — plays an important role and has responsibilities to all the others.
All the pros need to work together to know what to expect from each other. For example, the musicians ought to check in ahead with everyone they’ll need to coordinate with.
And the other pros — especially caterer, videographer, and photographer — ought to plan any landmarks in advance with the musicians. And with each other, as well. We just need to ask each other how we can help with dozens of highlights — like lighting the cake at a birthday, presenting the awards at a company banquet, and announcing the champagne toast at a wedding.
Planned and coordinated well, by asking the right “preliminary” questions, followed by all the necessary “detail” and “coordinating” questions from the planner and all the pros, assures that the music makes every special event memorable.