Many brides and grooms across the UK are currently thinking, “will Coronavirus affect my 2020 wedding? Will I need to postpone my wedding? Can I uninvited Coronavirus?” They are good questions with no easy answer, but we suggest that as we all wait for government guidelines regarding the loosening of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and what that means for weddings, you should be prepared to postpone to 2021. Maybe we should allow ourselves a little perspective. Last year, wedding musicians and other service providers were wrangling with the potential effect (good or bad) that Brexit would have on their industry, but now that seems less important than the very real impact on the health, wellbeing and economy presented by Coronavirus. It’s an all-pervasive game changer for everyone on both sides of the wedding and events industry, with brides, grooms and other event planners wrestling with the various ramifications of rescheduling their big day (close to 100,000 of 2020 weddings have already been rescheduled, while live wedding bands look at their 2021 booking calendar with consternation and just hope that they don’t double-book any dates!
Let’s just take a moment to spare a thought for entertainment agencies. When we started HARD TO HANDLE BAND back in 2007, we knew that in order to advertise our services we need to approach entertainment agencies and ask them to list our band on their website. (For the uninitiated, an entertainment agency is a third party wedding band booking business. Their websites often feature hundreds of live bands. You choose your band, pay the agency a commission and then pay the band.) There were three large agencies offering function band hire and all of them were keen to “sign us up”. Fast forward to 2019 and there are a plethora of wedding music entertainment agency websites, some marketing themselves as being large and trustworthy (the less said about which the better…). The result is that brides and groom find it a lot harder to hire a wedding band direct because most website search results will show agency websites first. The market is saturated, so agencies have had to increase their advertising spend in order to get you to take notice of them.
And then, boom – just like that, they find themselves financially exposed with little or no income in 2020 due to the ban on gatherings imposed by the government as a result of Coronavirus, and until we know more, enquiries for 2021 are somewhat in limbo. Sure, things will not always stay like this – normality will resume; weddings and parties will take place. But when the dust settles, it’s a fact that some businesses and services operating before the pandemic will simply no longer exist. And if you have already decided to hire a live band for your wedding reception through an entertainment agency, this may apply to you. If you haven’t already got the contact details of the band you have hired, our advice is to establish contact with them now – otherwise you may find the agency in financial trouble will stop answering your phone calls, emails will bounce back and their website will disappear with no way for you to contact the band you have hired, which will be especially heartbreaking if you have already paid the agency!
OK, so let’s assume that you have been able to reschedule your big day for a date in 2021 and all your service providers are onboard and have agreed not to charge a cancellation fee; all great news. But what happens next? While it’s true that we are all sailing into unchartered territory, here are a few thoughts on how the wedding or party of the future may be affected, and what we can all do to ensure that your party takes place responsibly.
Venue size and parking
There’s an old saying: “cut your coat according to your cloth”, which means that it makes sense not to buy more than you need. Many wedding and event venues hold functions in various size rooms, the greater the number of guests, the larger the room. The potential problem with this is that if your venue has placed your wedding or party in one of their smaller rooms, will there be enough space for the event to take place if we are still required to observe social distancing rules? If your wedding is due to take place in summer 2021 and the room has access to an outside area, some or all of your guests might be required to rotate from indoors to outdoors, and there may be other practical requirements for you and your guests to observe during the wedding reception to ensure that the room size works in your favour. If social distancing is still, a thing next year, it’s likely that some of your guests will be arriving in separate vehicles. You might wish to ask your venue if they have any contingency plans in this scenario.
Your guests and table plans
This is the big one. Imagine that your wedding reception, party or business event is taking place this weekend. Your guests are all in place, seated according to your original table placings. People talk to other people, new friends are made and your older guests are in proximity with your younger ones. It’s a recipe for disaster. So it’s highly likely that you will be required to slim down your guest list; the reality of which is to ensure that more vulnerable loved ones will not be able to attend. After all the preparations you have made, it’s going to be heartbreaking to have to leave some people at home. You can guarantee however that the remaining guests are going to make sure that you have an unforgettable night by turning into party animals – and we’ll help facilitate that!
Food and drink and going cashless, masks and gloves
Wow, what a mind field. No more evening finger buffets, no more cash at the bar. Buffets in some form or other have been the staple of wedding receptions for generations, but in the post-Coronavirus world, you are probably going to need to rethink how you feed and water your guests. Unplated food and cash are going to have to give way to individual servings and card payments, with hand sanitiser dispensing points everywhere there is food and alcohol being served. Of course, your venue will have already worked through these issues and will be able to present solutions which minimise the risk of the spread of infection, but it will be up to you and your guests to observe the rules. On your RSVPs, it might make sense to remind everyone to bring their own masks and gloves (expect to see trendy designer versions on display!), but again, your venue is likely to be able to provide extra PPE should the need arise.
The size of the band you hire to provide entertainment for your wedding reception will depend on a few factors – how the band sounds, how much they cost, what style of music they play, and if the quality of musicianship is good, a three piece band can sound better than a larger band. But how is a large function band is going to perform at many wedding and function bands in the Covid-19 environment? Even under normal circumstances, the more musicians you add to a band, the more space they will need. But in large wedding bands, if the singers need to maintain a two metre distance from each other, and each member of the brass section (who normally stand together) two metres of space, and the bass player and guitarist need…you get the picture. For brides and grooms and other event planners who have hired a large function band, how on earth is the venue going to find a space which will allow the band to set up? Most of these venues simply won’t have the available performance space, so someone is going to have to compromise. What form will that compromise take? Will these large events bands have to spread out and have some of their members performing on the dance floor, meaning less space for the guests to dance? Will they have to dispense with the services of some of their musicians, and if so, will they still require payment? If that happens, the bride and groom will have paid for a large band but have to settle for smaller band performing.
…all of which makes us think that hiring a professional three piece band such as HARD TO HANDLE is the perfect solution to the demands on your wedding entertainment plans made by Coronavirus. We’re much more cost effective than a large events band (great news if you are finding that rescheduling your wedding reception is costing you more than the original date), we are more likely to be able to set up in existing performance areas while still observing social distancing rules, and unlike wedding couples who hire their wedding entertainment through a wedding booking agency, when you hire us via this website, you hire a band direct, and not only are you saving money for that wedding budget but you can also talk to the band without having to go through a third party. And while none of us know what 2021 weddings are going to look like, we think it’s reassuring for you to know that your band is thinking of proactive ways to make your wedding reception work for you and your loved ones.
So let’s do this. Hire us for your big day. Call us on 0796 433 5657 and find out how HARD TO HANDLE BAND is working with brides and grooms to achieve an amazing and unforgettable night for everyone!