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Category Archives: Wedding Band

What to ask before booking a Wedding Band

Your wedding or civil partnership is one of the most memorable events of your life and it should be celebrated in style! Many couples can spend up to 12 months planning the big day and so we thought we’d help out a little when it comes to hiring perhaps us or any wedding band. Live bands for weddings have become an essential part of the celebrations and add a fantastic focal point to any party. But, not everyone has experience of how to book a band and the things to look out for and check. So, we thought we’d provide a basic set of questions to what to ask before booking a wedding band:

  1. How many weddings have you previously performed at? Performing at a pub and performing for a wedding are 2 very different things and so you should always check how much experience a band actually has of performing for weddings specifically.
  2. Can we see some references from previous wedding customers? Always ask to see testimonials from other weddings where the band has performed.
  3. Do I need to hire any equipment? Most couples aren’t sure of what they need to provide in order for a band to perform and the best people to advise of this are the band themselves. Pop of Ages are fully self-contained and bring all their own PA equipment and stage lighting.
  4. What happens when you aren’t playing? Be sure to check this as the last thing you want is deathly silence as the band finish to take their first break. Most bands will provide some form of recorded music through the PA but it’s always wise to ask just in case.
  5. My venue says you need insurance and PAT certificates, do you have these? Just about every venue will need Public Liability Insurance and PAT certificates for electrical equipment that the band are using so you will definitely need to make sure the band has these.
  6. Is there anything I need to check with the venue? A band will advise you specifically what you will need to check for but it will normally consist of asking your venue if they have enough space for a band to perform in, if there is adequate power located near the performance area and if there are any restrictions on noise levels. This last question doesn’t mean that the band are looking to play at ear-splitting volumes, but, some venues have decibel limiters installed that make it impossible for some bands to perform no matter how hard they try.
  7. How long will you play for? Again, this can vary with different bands and different styles of music. For example, high energy acts such as a Latin band may only perform for 2 x 45 minutes, whereas a rock and pop cover band will perform for 2 x 60 or 3 x 40 minutes. Finding this out will help you to plan the running order of your evening.
  8. Do you have a rider? A rider is a list of things that the band will need extraneous to the performance itself. For example, a band may require a meal, soft drinks and a lockable changing room for the duration of their stay at the venue.
  9. Do you have a contract? Great question! A contract will give you peace of mind and reassure you that you have the band secured for the day. Just make sure you check all the details of the contract to ensure that they are correct and read through any associated terms and conditions.
  10. What happens if someone is ill on the day? Musicians are only human too and it could easily be the case that one of them falls ill and can’t make the wedding. Many bands will have deputy (or ‘dep’) musicians who can cover but it is always worth asking the question.

Hopefully, these questions and gaining the answers will help you pick the perfect band for your wedding or civil partnership celebrations. However, if you want to avoid this work and just jump straight in and hire one of the most popular, experienced and best wedding bands in the UK then just get on touch.


At Pop of Ages we ensure that we have answered all of the above questions and we go above and beyond to answer even more of them!

You may also like visit our FAQs page to see answers to other common questions or just contact us any time for free expert advice.

Cornwall, Volkswagen vans and Gibson guitars…

So what does Cornwall, Volkswagen and Gibson have in common?

The answer is Pop of Ages’ band manager Dave, and here’s why;


This month we have been mostly… sat in the van on the M5!
Traffic is appalling and these days when planning journeys from our base in Swindon to venues in Cornwall we have to factor in traffic jams, motorway delays and tailbacks. We’ve got to every venue on time, and have had the pleasure of performing in various Cornish locations for a myriad of events this year, especially during August!

FACTOID: Pop of Ages were the first band (in fact the first anything) to perform at The National Maritime Museum, Falmouth.

One of Cornwall’s premier visitor attractions, the museum’s build was only just completed and it hadn’t even been opened to the public when our four piece band performed for a wedding reception – guests danced the night away in historic maritime surroundings. Happy memories.

Our band manager Dave is the main point of contact for band bookings – this August Bank Holiday weekend the band travelled to Kennards House, Trethorne Leisure Park, Launceston for a Birthday Party celebration. After packing down and loading the van we then popped down through Truro to Falmouth to stay overnight with my parents. We all had a spot of lunch at the Halfway House pub on the way from Penryn to Helston. Then we’re back up to Harlyn Sands near Padstow for some Holiday Camp cabaret fun, own beds after that then onto Bridgwater Somerset to perform for a Cancer Research Fundraising dance. Exhausting but thoroughly good fun and plenty of positive feedback received from our customers.

Pop of Ages’ Volkwagen T4;

Dave is the driving force behind the band – literally. We get to and from venues with Dave at the wheel in our trusty Volkswagen T4 van and it’s taken a real beating this year – particularly in August when we seemed to be touring Cornwall, Devon and Somerset literally every weekend. From Ocean Blue in Exmouth to a marquee in Lydford Gorge, a Golf Club in Plymouth to Walkhampton Village Hall in Dartmoor, we certainly get to see some beautiful scenery in this job.

Knowing a fabulous local car mechanic certainly helps keep it tip-top (and let’s face it, Dave is great at many things but is no mechanic) and we certainly racked up the miles with the various weddings, birthday parties and charity fundraising events in the last month.

Keeping everything in working order is an absolute necessity in this job. I’ll admit that occasionally someone (normally Dave) has to do a quick bulb change or mic battery replacement, but that’s nothing compared to breaking down on the way to gig – and it’s pretty much thanks to band manager Dave that has never happened, ever.

Gibson 335 Guitars

Our Dave has recently acquired a 1982 blonde Gibson 335 (from his father-in-law, my dad) which I think is a work of art.

This little beauty is so good to look at that my father had it on display, just like an old master, ever since he hung up his own musical boots in the 90’s. It hasn’t been played in earnest for 20 years so when Dave decided he wanted to ‘gig’ it, some serious TLC was required.

So… on the way to a Cancer Research Charity Fundraising Event near Bridgwater, Somerset, the whole band descended upon legendary guitar luthier Kim Webber to drop off the guitar so he could work his magic to restore this wonderful Gibson 335 to it’s former glory. Myself and Marc drank coffee outside in the van whilst Dave had a thorough consultation with Kim.

A lovely chap and luthier to the stars – the last time we met Kim he was in the process of building Jack Black’s ‘Tenacious D; The Pick of Destiny’ guitar so we obviously had to wait our turn. Thanks Jack, but that guitar did look mighty fine!

My own childhood memories include my dad’s on-stage sound – defined at first by his Cherry 1961 Gibson 335, then the blonde newcomer from 82 onwards. Full bodied, warm and woody – describing it’s sound is like trying to describe a fine wine but the tone quality of a 335 is part of my psyche and instantly recognisable.

Dad’s old ’61 cherry (I believe) is currently being played by the fabulous Robben Ford (shown left) who also regularly performs with the legend that is Larry Carlton. I couldn’t think of a better home for it than on stage with these two guys!

Dave currently plays a vintage Fender Strat and has done for the last 30 years and it’s the perfect workhorse for the band’s sound and music playlist. However I honestly can’t wait until the blonde Gibson 335 makes it way into the van, onto the stage and into Dave’s skilled hands. This time last year I honestly didn’t think I would still be performing in the band with Dave – let alone with him playing my dad’s Gibson – but my husband and Pop of Ages’ band manager has been cancer free for a year now and the future’s so bright we’ve gotta wear shades.

written by Kirstie
Keys, Vocals & M.D.for Pop of Ages

How to Get Wedding Guests on the Dance Floor

How to get guests on the Dance Floor

Having an empty dance floor is one of the biggest worries we hear about from brides and grooms, and I know it certainly cost me some sleepless nights before my own wedding.

I have provided my top five tried and tested tips to help you get your wedding guests on the dance floor…

Dim the Lights

Dimming the lights is one of the simplest and most effective ways of helping to fill your dance floor; no one wants to strut their funky stuff in a floodlit room. Add some disco / flashing or roving lights to help create movement on the dance floor. Speak to your venue about their policy for evening lighting and also to your DJ or band to see what they can provide.

Create the Perfect Space

Similar to the lighting, your guests won’t want to feel exposed on a huge dance floor, however, if there is no clear dance floor space it might put them off. Consider how many guests you have and the layout of the room. Have a clearly laid out dance floor area – I personally would go for it being slightly too small so it looks fuller rather than having it too big and feeling empty.

Choose Your Music Wisely

You and your groom may very well be into death metal but your guests may not be. Of course it’s all about you guys on your big day and so you should be able to play whatever music you want, but you can’t expect your guests to be comfortable with moshing out if it’s not their scene. You could ask your guests to choose their favourite dancing song in your invites and play these earlier in the evening, then have your choice of music towards the end. This will help them feel included in the arrangements and more compelled to dance when their song is played. You never know, you may be able to convert a few of your friends and family into your musical tastes by the end of the night.

Recruit a Dancing Committee

I’m not suggesting you have weekly meetings with agendas or anything in the weeks leading up to the wedding, but speaking to your bridal party or your most outgoing friends and asking them if they wouldn’t mind helping to get the party started on the night is a good idea. Being the first on an empty dance floor can be very daunting, but if you have a group ready and raring to go, the rest of your guests will be sure to follow.

Hire a Professional Live Band or DJ

Professional DJs and bands perform at 2-3 weddings on a weekly basis and so know what songs are guaranteed to get people up on the dance floor and keep them there. I cannot stress highly enough the booking of a professional act. I know budgets can be tight but a £100 DJ or band from the local pub will have different experience to that of a professional wedding DJ or band. Do your research and check references because it could really make or break your night.

The evening reception is the last part of your day so make sure it goes out with a bang and not whimper – your guests aching feet the next morning will remind them what an amazing time they had!

Article by Tracey Warren of Warble Entertainment

Wondering how to Get Wedding Guests on the Dance Floor? Call Pop of Ages for friendly, free and experienced advice, so why not get in touch…

How much does it cost to hire a band for a party?

how much does band cost

Our most frequently asked question is how much does your band cost? – obvious of course but if you’ve never hired a band before for you wedding or party then this this blog will help you make the right decision at a price that suits you. How much does it cost to hire a band for a party.

The Pop of Ages band have been performing professionally at weddings, parties and corporate events all over the UK since 2000 and offer band line ups from a compact trio to a full 6 piece band with brass section and all options in between. This flexibility allows us to provide great live entertainment at a cost that fits nicely into most budgets.

Number of band members

This is an obvious one and can be one of the major pricing factors. If there are less people to pay, that will of course be passed on to you. 4-piece function bands are the most popular, expect to pay between £800-1200 for a professional band with a varied repertoire. Not only will they present and conduct themselves in a professional manner they will know how to fill your dancefloor and entertain your guests. Duos and trios are also popular, most will use some kind of backing to ‘fatten’ things up on stage typically drums and perhaps keyboards or bass guitar. This option will not only be cheaper at around £400-750 but will take up less space at your chosen venue and still provide a full live sound. If you’re looking for a larger band, you may consider a function band with a brass section, this quite often means a 6+ piece band and can increase the price so it’s really down to budget. As a good rule of thumb expect to pay between £200-250 per musician, this is cheaper per head than most DJs charge plus you are making your party that extra bit special by having live music (rather than some guy playing MP3s from a laptop with a few flashing lights!)

Seasonal prices / Last minute bookings

Friday’s and Saturdays in the summer are the busiest time for every wedding and party band and so there isn’t usually room for a discount. If you’re getting married in February and March or perhaps October and November some bands may quote slightly lower than they would in the summer months. Similarly, if you’re organising a last minute wedding and need a band in say, 4 weeks time, then you can expect bands without a booking to go in lower. Weekday or Sundays bookings can also save you money.

Travel Expense / Time Travelling

We are used to traveling and realise it’s not always easy to find a band in the same town, although diesel prices have fallen recently the cost of fuel is unfortunately passed on to the client. Most band will charge around 50p a mile outside of their local area.

Another thing to consider is that a couple of hours traveling there and back again can mean 4 extra hours work for 4 to 5 people. As with all professions musicians will take this into consideration before quoting therefore if possible try to find a band based in your local area as this will save you money.

Arrival Time / Finish time

With travel time taken into account, a band can often expect to work 12 hour days. This is based on a 5:30pm-6pm arrival time and so any earlier will often mean an increase in price. Quotes are almost always based on a midnight finish and so you can also expect to pay more for the band to stay until 1am. Remember you are not just paying for two hours of music.

Length of Set / Performance time

Bands generally perform 2 sets of around an hour. That’s just an average, some only do 2 x 45 minutes and some might do 3 x 45minutes. Some bands start their prices slightly lower for 2 x 45 minutes and then add on a supplement for longer sets. All good bands will also provide as part of the package a quality sound system (PA) lighting for the band and dancefloor plus recorded music in between the live sets. Pop of Ages can also supply professional ‘Black-Tie’ DJs to compliment the live music and play any requests.

Top tips

If you want your party to be a success only hire professionals, people who’s livelihood depends on providing a great service (don’t risk hiring that pub band you saw for a few hundred quid or a mate of a mate who plays a bit of guitar and drums – it will only end in tears!)

Try and keep local – this will save on expenses.

Communicate with the band leader – tell him or her what you expect and be clear about what you want.

Trust the band too – experienced bands really know what they are doing and are only interested in entertaining you and your guests – most bands get repeat gigs by recommendation so its in their interest to do a great job.

Look after your musicians – a little hospitality on the day will pay dividends, tea or coffee, a bite to eat and most importantly arranging a private dressing room for the band will keep them happy, energised and willing to go that extra mile for you (at no cost!)

If you would like a quote for your event or have any questions please get in touch

Corporate Function Band

Corporate Function Band Pop of Ages are a great choice for companies looking to hire a professional band for staff parties or for any special company event.

Recently we were delighted to be booked again to perform in Bournemouth for oil and gas company ‘Perenco’ at their annual staff corporate event. The company parties took place over two successive weekends on the 14th & 21st February at the Marriott Highcliff Hotel.

This is the fourth year in a row they have booked us, it’s always a lively affair with great food, awards, presentations and of course live music and dancing.

To kick off the evening’s entertainment, Kirstie and Mat our piano and sax jazz duo provided some cool tunes during the champagne drinks reception in the bar and then later moved into the ballroom to continue during the meal.

Once the guys had finished the cocktail music a well earned break was in order. The client kindly provided the band with a nice dressing room and a hot meal of lasagne and chips along with plenty of coffee and soft drinks – the fuel of champions!

They had chosen to hire our 5 piece line up for their evening party and at 10pm we kicked off our first 1 hour set playing a selection of stonking tunes from our setlist

At around 11pm, after a very lively set, both the band and guests took a much needed break. We tend to play most of our songs as non-stop medleys in group of 3 or 4 songs joined together, this is the best way to ensure the dancefloor is full all of the time.

After our break we hit the stage again for our second and final set, we played some old school classic party favourites as well as some of the biggest chart hits of recent times including ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘Happy’ and of course ‘Uptown Funk’.

Mat Sibley our superb sax player – we are also able to add trumpet making a 6 piece band with brass section, sounds and looks superb!

A bit more about us…

Pop of Ages provide a reliable, personal and bespoke service that simply cannot be offered by large corporate entertainment agencies. We promise to work hard to ensure your corporate event, party or celebration is exactly how you want it, and, of course, to provide the very best in high quality live music entertainment.

Our standard entertainment package includes a professional sound system (PA) suitable for up to 200 guests, LED lighting for the band, Disco lighting for the dance floor area and pre-recorded music on either CD or iPod during our breaks. You are also welcome to provide your own music for us to play through our PA if you wish.

For large scale events We can also supply sound systems for up to 2000 people, state or art concert style lighting systems, LED dancefloors, mobile festival staging and professional and recommended ‘black tie’ Disco’s and DJs.

If you would like to more information about hiring us for your corporate event or party please get in touch…

We will learn your First Dance for free

Wedding Songs First Dances

For many wedding couples kicking off their evening celebrations with the traditional ‘first dance’ as husband and wife is an important part of the day. Having your song performed live by a band can make this a very special moment to be treasured. It can be a wonderfully romantic love song, a 30 second shuffle around the dance floor, a full on dance routine or perhaps a stonking party song to get every one of your guests bopping on the dancefloor.

Pop of Ages would be honoured to learn and perform your first dance for FREE, after all we want to make it extra special for you.

We will of course need time to learn and practice your song and therefore ask for around two months notice please.

In almost all circumstances we can learn and play your special request. On the odd occasion though we do have to say no – please don’t be offended! This is normally because the choice of song is beyond what a live band can do justice too. If this is the case we can of course play a recording of the original song you know and love through our sound system and then kick off straight afterwards into the live music.

For more information about first dances, wedding music and the band, do not hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

Farewell civil partnerships – hello gay weddings!

Everyone loves a wedding, but did you know that gay couples will be able to marry legally in England and Wales as from 29th March 2014?

Same sex couples must be overwhelmed with happiness and excitement at the prospect of finally having equal rights and being able to ‘get married’ just the same as any other engaged couple.

Gay rights campaigners have worked tirelessly for this landmark change to the law. The introduction of Civil Partnerships in 2005 was looked upon as a positive step in the right direction, but in essence continued to highlight and impose the differentiation between heterosexual and gay marriage.

So as from the end of this month gay couples can tie the knot and can start planning their big day – a Gay Wedding rather than civil partnership.

Traditional family party, fun and feathers, a themed wedding, outrageously camp – what are you planning? Having performed for many civil partnerships since 2005, (and literally hundreds of weddings!) Pop of Ages are proud to offer our live music entertainment services for gay weddings.

We’ll learn and perform your first dance for free, learn special song requests and will include as many of your favourites as we can – just drop us a line or give us a ring, let us know what you have in mind and we’ll go that extra mile for the perfect end to your perfect day! We now have a dedicated webpage for gay weddings, so take a peek and see if we’re the right choice for your big day!

What is the REAL difference between an amateur band and a professional band?

KirstyFirstly, I would like to reassure any readers of this entry that I am not trying to malign any hardworking amateur musicians or bands out there. Far from it, and if you continue reading you’ll understand why.

Secondly, I would like to emphasise that I have a great love and admiration for amateur musicians – I was one myself until I was 14, and I probably will be one again for the last 14 years of my life, and I’m fine with that! Just because you’re an amateur does not mean you are unskilled or unprofessional.

Thirdly, my reasons for writing this particular piece are twofold ; a) to help anyone out there who is thinking of booking a live band for any type of event and b) to recount a story which made my blood boil and clearly highlights the difference between an amateur band and a professional one.

So let’s start with the story and we’ll go from there;

Rob (my friend & an excellent agent) received a phone call at 7.00pm New Years Eve.

A rather agitated gentleman (lets call him Jim) informed Rob the band he’d booked for his ‘do’ hadn’t turned up – he was phoning the agency to ask for an urgent replacement.

Rob asked Jim a few obvious questions including how much he had agreed to pay the band. Jim replied £300.

Rob responded he wasn’t surprised the band hadn’t turned up. “What do you mean”? Jim retorted. Rob explained that the price agreed was ridiculously low, and that any band willing to work on New Years Eve for £300 without a signed contract would more than likely not turn up, espcially if they had been offered a higher paid gig.

Angry manJim was offended and asked (in a fairly aggressive tone) if Rob would at least help out and phone around. Rob replied “No, I’d be wasting my time”. Jim became livid, and demanded to know why Rob was being so facetious.

Rob explained he wouldn’t be able to find any band that would perform on New Year’s Eve for £300, he wasn’t willing to offend his bands by asking, and the best he could provide was a local amateur DJ for £550. Jim slammed the phone down.

The story ends there.

There may be people out there who don’t understand the moral of this tale, so let’s re-ask the question ‘What is the real difference between an amateur band and a professional band?’

Mmm, I think we need some definitions from The Collins English Dictionary to help us along;

Collins English Dictionary ‘Amateur’; (n) A person who engages in a pursuit, esp. a sport, on an unpaid basis; (adj) Engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional; amateurish; dilettante; (syn) Dilettante – dabbler – lover – fancier.

Hang on- just because a person is an amateur, it does not necessarily mean that they are untalented, unskilled or unqualified. By definition, they just don’t earn any money from their pursuit, or make a living from it.

‘Professional’; Of, relating to, or connected with a profession; (n) A person engaged or qualified in a profession; (adj) vocational ;occupational (syn) pro – practitioner – specialist.

Aha, but with the glove on the other foot (!) just because someone is ‘a professional’ and earns their living from their profession, this does not mean they are ‘professional’. We’ve all seen Cowboy Builders and Rip Off Britain where so-called professionals have done shoddy work or have been unscrupulous in their business practices.

So where does that leave us in terms of bands? Confused I expect! Well, I guess the answer lies in the adjectives and synonyms, not the nouns…

An ‘amateur’ is a non-professional, a dabbler, a fancier, a lover of the pursuit, even perhaps a future professional, but ultimately is not a professional.

The ‘professional’ could be called a pro, a practitioner, a specialist. Their trade is their vocation, their occupation – their living.

In terms of bands, a “professional band” earn their living from performance, and provide a service by performing for the client. Therefore a professional approach is paramount. A professional band’s livelihood is wholly dependant upon their reputation and quality of service. Living in today’s social media climate, it’s even more important to maintain high standards and consistently deliver beyond client expectations. If they are amateurish in any area of performance or business, they won’t survive.

An “amateur band” may play for free, or for a fee, and may be good at what they do, but ultimately they will play for their own enjoyment and purposes. They are not in it for the money (as their main wage comes from elsewhere) nor to consistently provide a high quality service of any kind. They do it for fun, and for the love of performing. If they get paid, it’s a bonus, and if people enjoy what they do, then that’s great too.

Don’t get me wrong, professional musicians love performing too (let’s be honest – we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it), but it’s a whole different ball game when you ‘go pro’. I’ll save that for another day…

My advice is to do your research. And then some more.

If a band is cheap, ask yourself why. If a band seems expensive, ask yourself why. Don’t expect something for nothing, pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys (or not, as in the case study above) and don’t pay a stupid amount as high quality professional bands will always remain competitive in their market. Always ask for a quote, and always ask for recommendations.

At the end of the day, hiring a band is no different to buying any goods or services – you get what you pay for.

Sybil’s statement in one of my favourite classic ‘Fawlty Towers’ scenes sums it up perfectly; “Honestly Basil, if you want a professional job done, you should hire professionals”.

There’s plenty of us out there. 🙂

Thank you for reading.