Most popular wedding entertainment ideas for 2017

26 Jan 2017

Make sure your wedding entertainment is the right choice; here are some of the top offerings for 2017 - from Alive Network

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There’s no doubt that live music and entertainment makes a fantastic addition to your wedding day, painting colour and emotion into your ceremony, breaking the ice at your drinks reception – and calling guests to the dance floor for an evening party you’ll never forget.

Entertainment agency Alive Network looks at the most popular types of wedding entertainment being booked for weddings in 2017 – including tips on how to use these ideas to make your big day even better.

What's hot?

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(Figures based on 10,000 wedding entertainment bookings made through Alive Network in the last 12 months)

Party bands and solo singers for your evening reception

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By far the most popular choice of live entertainment for weddings, a great party band or singer will play classic and contemporary rock and pop hits that all your guests will know and love dancing to. The most popular (and affordable) format of band is a trio or four-piece and for a fee of between £1,000-£2,000, you can expect two hours of fantastic live music, with songs spanning classic Beatles and Rolling Stones through to Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, The Killers and Daft Punk.

If you’re on a budget or strapped for space, a solo singer or singer/guitarist is another popular choice, playing a similar repertoire – often to pre-recorded backing tracks for a bigger sound. Solo singers average around £500. Bands and singers will provide all their own sound and lighting equipment and well as covering background/DJ music between their performances and up until midnight. 

Jazz bands

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Ideal for your drinks reception (or evening party where you want to keep things sophisticated) – jazz bands play a wide variety of jazz standards and easy listening music. If you’re not a jazz fan you’ll be surprised how many tunes you’ll recognise, with bands tailoring their repertoire with a wide audience in mind. Think Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra and Gershwin through to Van Morrison, Nora Jones, and Jamie Cullum. A really popular and exciting trend is jazz bands who play popular music but in a vintage jazz style, often dressing in black tie and ball gowns for an authentic Great Gatsby 1920s experience.

Another popular sub-genre, ideal for feel-good summer afternoon receptions, are acoustic Dixieland bands who can wander as they perform. Jazz bands can be booked in many formats, from piano/vocal duos through to larger 10+ piece swing jazz bands. Trios and quartets are the most popular format as they’re affordable and will fit into most spaces, including performing outdoors.

Magicians

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Close-up magicians provide the perfect opportunity to break the ice and get guests talking. They’ll wander around your reception or wedding breakfast performing sleight-of-hand and illusion tricks that will have guests open mouthed and gasping in amazement. Modern close-up magic is akin to something you’d see performed by David Blaine or Dynamo. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s interactive and it’s genuinely astonishing. Expect to pay in the region of £400-£500 for two hours of magic from an experienced act.   

Wedding DJs

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Thanks to online music libraries the professional Wedding DJ has access to pretty much all the music in the world, so your decision about who to hire should probably focus more on their experience, style and their equipment. A more expensive sound and lighting system is going to sound and look much better than a cheap system, so if you want to enjoy listening while you dance, it’s worth paying for a decent set-up. Good quality wedding DJs cost between £400 to £600 for an entire evening's music.

Pianists

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A solo pianist is the perfect accompaniment for your wedding breakfast as well as an excellent choice for your drinks reception. Their repertoire is so versatile that they can switch from jazz to classical to swing to contemporary pop in the blink of an eye. If your venue doesn’t have a grand piano then they can provide their own electronic piano keyboard and amplifier, with some acts also offering a baby grand ‘shell’ to make their electronic keyboard look like a real piano.

Pianists are often happy to take requests from guests, making their performance interactive and engaging – and you can also tailor their performance in advance by requesting your favourite songs. Costs range from as little as £200 for an instrumental pianist up to £600 for an experienced singer pianist, based on around two hours of music.

Caricaturists

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Another great ice-breaker for your wedding drinks reception, a caricaturist creates amusing sketches in the likeness of your guests. Subjects sit or stand for only a few minutes while the caricaturist works, often with other guests observing (and laughing) as the picture takes shape. The finished masterpiece is then taken home by the guest as a memento of your wedding day.

A good caricaturist can draw around 10-14 guests an hour and are usually booked for up to two hours. If you want to ensure all your guests get their picture drawn, it’s quite common to book several caricaturists. Some caricaturists also offer digital iPad drawings, sometimes with the option to project the sketches onto a projector in real time so other guests can see what’s going on. Expect to pay around £325 for an experienced artist.

String quartets and string trios

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Quintessential wedding musicians, a good string quartet creates a sound so enchanting that you can almost see the sound colour the spaces between and around your guests. They’re the perfect solution to literally paint the atmosphere that you want for your ceremony or reception. The sweeping violins playing in harmony over the rich foundation of the cello is a sound which touches every part of the listener, and you can tailor the music from a huge choice of genres beyond classical.

String quartets rarely require amplification so they’re easy to move around and accommodate from the church to the venue grounds at your reception (they’ll need cover from sun and rain if outdoors) to your wedding breakfast. Expect to pay around £500 for a string trio or £700 for an experienced local quartet.  

Rat pack and swing singers

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When Robbie Williams released the Swing When You’re Winning album back in 2001, the traditional swing singer/crooner saw a titanic resurgence in popularity which has continued to the present day. Boosted further by the popularity of Michael Bublé, today the term ‘Rat Pack Singer’ is used to describe a wide range of music commonly associated with the sound of Frank Sinatra and his famous ‘rat pack’ of singers and actors. Expect songs from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davies Jnr, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Harry Connick Jnr, Matt Monro, Micheal Bublé and Andy Williams.

A swing singer is a great addition to a drinks reception or early evening entertainment before a DJ or party band. They perform songs which most of your guests are going to know and love, and while most will perform to pre-recorded backing tracks, you will usually have the option to upgrade to a full live band if you want a little more impact or if you want them to take the role of the evenings main entertainment. Expect to pay around £500 for a solo singer through to £1,600+ for a singer with a five-piece band.

Classical guitarists

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The romantic sound of the classical guitar is the perfect partner for a wedding ceremony or wedding breakfast. It’s a more delicate and intimate sound than a string quartet, but bolder than a harp. Most guitarists offer repertoire much broader than the traditional classical or flamenco choices, including arrangements of everything from jazz and easy listening through to contemporary pop and rock.

Most classical guitarists will amplify themselves with a small speaker so they can be heard over conversation, but they take up very little space and make a wonderful background music option. Expect to pay around £300 for 90 minutes of playing.

Harpists

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Our final artist is perhaps the most beguiling and enchanting of all. The harp is a large instrument and takes some strength to unload and install at your venue, but that size is deceptive as it’s sound is delicate and magical in equal measure. A great harpist sounds like a fairytale incarnate, with their shimmering sound radiating around a room like a spring breeze. Chances are you couldn’t name a single piece of music that was originally written for the harp, but that doesn't matter when your wedding harpist offers a choice covering light classical, Disney/film themes, Broadway, jazz, Asian, folk and pop.

Perfect for your wedding ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast, expect to pay between £300-£400 for a 45-90 minutes' performance from an experienced harpist.

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