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Wedding Entertainment in Scotland
Bride and Groom

How To Choose Your Wedding Band in Scotland

When it comes to weddings, many people will spend a fortune on the dress, cars, venue, invites, flowers, photographer - and then scrimp when booking a wedding band. We would argue that this is a false economy.

Your wedding band is the essential part of the evening and choosing the right band can mean the difference between everyone having a sensational time or quietly wishing they could leave early.

So, while we don't suggest you go out and book the most expensive band you can find, we do suggest that you try to find a band you really like rather than the cheapest band around. If you really cannot afford a good band, then we would strongly recommend just hiring a DJ rather than a second-rate band.

We have lost count of how many bride-to-be have contacted us to say "I want a really good band - not like the one who played at my friend's wedding."

Wedding Bands are cheesy

Yes, a lot of wedding bands play "old favourites" as well as more modern songs. However, the thing to remember is what's cheesy to you could be great for someone else. There are lots of classic pop songs considered "cheesy" that are guaranteed to fill any dance floor. So, don't rule out a "bit" of cheese.

Keeping everyone happy

A wedding band is not like a gig or tribute band playing one type of music. Weddings are special events where the band must not cater for just one genre of music (e.g. rock, pop, jazz etc) but be able to entertain a wide range of people of different ages and tastes.

So, it is hardly suprising that experienced wedding bands will play a wide range of music from the 50's to current chart hit, with some ceildh and swing thrown in. The brief of a wedding band is to keep everyone happy and the dance floor busy all night.

Although, you may want The Killers and The Kaiser Chiefs all night, that won't encourage everyone to keep dancing. Music is so subjective, that the only good way to keep everyone happy is to play a broad spectrum of music.

What size of band?

This will depend on your budget, how many guests you are inviting, and the size of the venue, and the band you like.


Generally the larger the band, the higher the cost. You either set a maximum budget and look for bands up to that price or look for bands that you really like and see whether you can afford them. Our own view is that you should start looking for bands that you really like and then weigh up how much you are willing to spend.

If you are really short of cash, then we suggest that you are better choosing a really good two-piece or three piece band rather than a mediocre five-piece pub band.

Amount of guests

If you are only having 40-60 guests, then a seven-piece band might be a bit overwhelming. You might be better going for a smaller band. Alternatively, if you have 100-200 people, then a five, six, or seven-piece band would be in proportion. However, this not set in stone and it is up to you.

Size of venue

You need to make sure the venue can accommodate the size of band you have in mind. When in doubt, just ask the venue. If they say they can accommodate up to a four-piece band, then there is little point trying to book a seven-piece band. Although it always pays to ask the band because they may have played at that venue before and managed to "squeeze in".

You should also make sure the venue can meet the band's technical requirements. For example, how many 13 amp, wall sockets and what floor space does the band require? Can the venue provide a room for the band to change in? Will the venue provide that for free or charge you more for it? Most good venues do not charge for a changing room.

What type of band?

Do you want mostly pop covers, ceilidh, swing, or jazz.

Pop Cover Bands

These bands will do mainly cover versions of pop songs from the 50's to current chart hits. Some, can also do a little Swing and ceildh.

Ceilidh Bands

Choose this option if you want a tradition Scottish wedding with ceilidh all night.

Swing and Jazz Bands

Choose this type of band if you would like the music to be more Swing or Jazz orientated. However, many good Jazz band can also include some pop cover and perhaps some ceilidh, if you want it.

Pop and Ceilidh

There are some Ceilidh bands who can do a 50%/50% split of really good ceilidh music and Pop covers.

If you look at each band's playlist or repertoire, you can see exactly what they play and work out whether that suits you.

How to choose which band

Do some groundwork and make a shortlist. This will save you a lot of time in the long run. Spend some time and reading about the bands. Listen to their sound samples and read their playlists. You can then begin to make up a shortlist of bands that you like. You can then ask us to get the lowest quote we can from the bands. Then you can decide which bands suits your budget and we can arrange viewing dates for you to see them live.


Always ask around and make sure the band is 100% reliable and will not let you down. If you are booking through a booking agency such as The Magic Agency, this is less of a problem. You know the band has been tried and tested and has proven reliable. You also know testimonials are real and can be checked with the person who gave them. A good agent will also warn you if a certain band is currently having "problems" which may affect their reliability in the future.


Wherever possible you should sign a contract with the band, which assures you the booking is secure. When you book through The Magic Agency both you and the band will sign contracts, so you are covered. Booking a band by telephone or email does not offer this security. There are no terms and conditions agreed, so the band may cancel your wedding if they get better offer. Every year we have people phoning us at the last minute because they have been let down by a band. We have kept a list of these bands and we will not use them.

Of course, some people don't want to sign a contract with the band because they want the freedom to cancel the band if they find one who is cheaper or better. However, they also run the risk of the band cancelling the booking. So, good luck to them.

Paying the band

Most bands will expect you to pay a deposit at the time of booking and the balance either before the wedding or on the night. It really depends on the band. At The Magic Agency, we ask for approximately a 10% deposit and the balance is payable to the band on the night.

However, some of our bands ask for more, so always check with us.

First Dance

Assuming the song is not already in their repertoire, most bands will promise to try to learn one new song for your first dance. However, it will depend on whether the song suits their style. There is little point in asking an all male band to learn "Man I Feel Like a Woman". You would have been better hiring a band with a female singer.

If it is imperative that the band must learn a particular song for your wedding, then you should always ask before booking them.

Having said that, many brides get round this by having the first song played from CD or MP3 through the band's PA system becuase thay want the original version.

Public Liability, PAT testing, and Risk Assessments

Many venues in Scotland will now ask you to provide a copy of the band's Public Liability Insurance and PAT certificate. Some will also ask for a Risk Assessment to be done. If you are booking through The Magic Agency, then we will do this for you. However, if you have booked your band directly, then you must obtain these documents from the band and give them to the venue.

Sound Limiters

More and more venues are having these installed and it is a nightmare for live bands. They will cut off the power to the band if they exceed a certain noise level. While it is easy for a DJ to turn the volume down, it is a bit more difficult when you are in a live band.

Some songs are sung louder than others. It's a bit hard to sing the Whitney Houston version of "I Will Always Love You" without it being louder than a ballad. Always check before you book a venue whether it has a sound limiter and make it known to the band.

Some bands will not play in venues with a sound limiter, while other bands can work around it.

The Band is Too Loud

This is the opposite of Sound Limiters and probably why these devices were introduced in the first place. This is where a band plays at 140 decibels regardless of the size of the room or people's wishes. Every gig to them is Hampden Stadium and they are incapable of reducing the volume.

A good wedding band will want to adjust the sound to an appropriate level to suit the size, acoustics, and the amount of people in the room. It should never be so loud as to cause distortion or hurt your ears.

Always make sure the band assures you that they will adjust the level to suit the venue. We expect that from our bands as a matter of course.

From walking down the aisle...to going on your honeymoon, let The Magic Agency entertain your guests!

Winners Of Wedding Band Prize Draw!

The winners of our prize draw are Rachel Black and Matthew Lee, who have booked Waterfront for their wedding on the 4th of May, 2012. The Magic Agency will pay 250 of their balance payable to the band.

Tips For A Super Wedding

Super Wedding Planning Tips Ebook

Tips For A Super Wedding is superb collection of information, ideas, tips, and advice on many of the most important aspects of planning your perfect wedding. Published by The Magic Agency, it condenses our years of experience in helping to plan weddings into a concise and authoritative guide.

Price 10.

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