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how much should a wedding band cost

Couples' FAQ, Song Selections, Weddings

Top 10 First Dance Songs – September 2016

September 28, 2016

photo // Anna Schmidt Photography

Before I begin, let me say this. I don’t think you can go wrong picking your wedding song. Whether it’s old or new, upbeat or slow, it’s really all about what the song means to you. The song will take on special meaning for you as you dance to it, as well as your guests as they watch. I’m often surprised by the songs our couples choose as their first dance (“How are we going to make this one work?!”), but the rule seems to be: the more interesting or unique the song choice, the more special the moment. So, get creative! And even better…if you have a band play your wedding instead of a DJ, you can ask them to adjust the song to fit the mood you want to set. They can slow the song down, add instrumentation, take out percussion, or create a nice build of energy as the song goes along (my favorite technique).

Here are some cool songs we’ve done in the last 12 months.

1. Slide // Goo Goo Dolls (slow version) – We did this one for Jess & Brad at Oak Canyon Ranch on 5.21.16. This is a 90’s throwback if I’ve ever heard one, and definitely a unique choice for a first dance. To be honest, I had never really listened to the words until I learned it for them, and it turned out to be a very touching first dance. Brad and Jess choreographed a dance to it and had us play it a little bit slower than the original recording. It was pure magic.

2. These Arms Of Mine // Otis Redding – You can never go wrong with a little Otis Redding. This particular tune has just the right mix of soul and 50’s doo-wop, which made this moment meaningful yet light. Georges & Nicole planned their wedding to have an intimate and welcoming feel; with a guest count of under 40, they wanted each of their guests to feel part of what was happening. This song made it easy for us to invite all the other guests onto the floor with them before transitioning into our dance set.

3. When I Get My Hands On You // The New Basement Tapes – So sexy. So smooth. This song is really slow and simple, so it’s great for couples that want an intimate moment they’ll never forget. For Johnny and Emily’s first dance, this was an opportunity for us to back off and let the bass guitar do all the talking. We didn’t try to speed it up or complicate it with extra instrumentation, and the empty space really allowed guests’ attention to rest on the couple.

4. Thinking Out Loud // Ed Sheeran – Don’t shy away from it just because everybody’s heard it a thousand times! We’ve done this for maybe 10 different couples in the past year, and you know what? A good song is a good song! Guests will be able to sing along while they shed a little happy tear for the two of you. Tried and true.

5. Our Love // Gary Clark, Jr. – Another smooth R&B tune that I had never heard before. I thought this one was a really nice tempo – slow but not too slow, with a really classic beat that seemed to fit the sophistication of the occasion. This song also has a nice build of energy, which makes it conducive to invite guests to join you towards the end of the tune. This song is especially great if you have a horn in your band!

6. Your Song // Elton John – A classic, and a great choice no matter which way you spin it. There are many ways to do this song – completely acoustic with a piano, mid-tempo with the band accenting here and there, very soft and gentle with a violin. You can’t go wrong with this one, because the lyrics are timeless and the melody floats beautifully.

7. It Had To Be You // Harry Connick, Jr. – I love this one for ballroom weddings with a real high-end feel. This song keeps the mood light and playful and just a little bit sexy (just listen to the way Harry Connick slides into those notes…) The Sinatra version is great too, but it doesn’t have the sultry swing of Connick, Jr.’s version.

8. The Way I Am // Ingrid Michaelson – Everybody knows this one, but it’s definitely an interesting choice for a first dance. It opts out of the traditional image of romance, charmingly addressing the finer aspects of a life spent together. (“I’ll buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair.”). For the right couple, it’s super charming. Min & Rune danced to this at Beltane Ranch in October, and it fit their unique love story perfectly.

9. Budapest // George Ezra – This song is getting more and more popular with couples, who love it for its simplicity and undeniably happy feel. This is an “all smiles” first dance – for the couple that wants to celebrate their first dance with a bit more joy than traditional selections allow.

10. You Are The Best Thing // Ray LaMontagne – It’s never going to go out of style. This song works so well because it’s an upbeat song you can still slow dance to it. It’s romantic, but it’s not so intense that you’ll make everybody cry. And most importantly, this song is the easiest of all the songs we do to get your guests to join you towards the end of the song. I particularly love the bridge of the song because of the way it builds excitement leading into the last two choruses. I’d highly recommend either having a horn player or a keys player than can play a horn line!

Want more ideas? Want to bounce an idea around? E-mail ben@benmallare.com for more first dance real talk.

Couples' FAQ, Weddings

The Bottom Line: How much does a good wedding band cost?

April 16, 2015

There is a lot of misinformation online about the cost of a solid wedding band. It’s not hard to see why, though. Many of the individuals and companies that know the answer don’t really want to provide you with a number until they think they have a shot at your business. Some of the numbers you’ll find from a quick Google search will look a little too reasonable – $800 – $1,500 for a 5-piece band! And you’ll also read about that massive show band that charges over $20,000 for a performance.

So, what’s the bottom line? How do you put a price tag on the experience you want to receive? Of course, the answer isn’t as cut and dry as you’d like it to be. Why? Because you CAN book a band at virtually every price point. Let’s break it down by the dollar amounts.

Amateur Hour | Price Range: $250 – $1,000

Call your local university or high school – I guarantee you can find a few music students to do your wedding for $500 or less. Depending on your vision for the event, it could be just what you need. They should have the musicality required to play the music well. They probably also have little to no experience working in private events, which could be the indicator of an incredibly tacky, unpolished and awkward experience for everybody. If you choose to go this route, vet your musicians very carefully and be sure that both parties know what you’re getting into.

Mega-Band | Price Range: $5,000 – $20,000+

Call a top rated entertainment agency in your metropolitan area and ask for pricing information on one of their oldest, most well-known show bands. Don’t be surprised at how casually that five figure sum rolls off his or her tongue. Will you get what you pay for? Maybe. When dealing with the older bands that formed at a time when big band was huge, you’ll find that they’ve acquired an incredible amount of overhead over the years. Technical directors, salespeople, talent coordinators, accountants, so on and so forth. Don’t get me wrong – if you’re looking at a band that has updated their look and sound each year to stay at the top of the game, that $10,000+ will absolutely be money well spent. If you don’t believe me, go to a showcase or talk to somebody you know who has booked a band like this. You’re getting Aerosmith quality – but way better than Aerosmith could ever deliver it (and probably for a longer show than they’d ever play). However, if you’re dealing with a band that has been playing the same old songs for the past 10 years, with an outdated look and musicians that are just going through the same old corporate motions, you’re just paying for a ton of people on a stage, a company name and a vague promise that your needs will be met and requests fully attended to.

Small But Mighty | Price Range: $1,500 – $5,000

The space between, of course, is where most of you reading this will find yourselves. You are budget conscious, but you understand what live music can do for your wedding – and you just want it to be good! The bands that fall into this category are the small ensembles consisting of 2-6 members each. You won’t be getting the fancy staging, lights and costumes of the show band, but you can count on top-caliber talent and sound. Most importantly, you can find a band in this category that has proven themselves again and again for their clients – check the reviews! Nobody can describe an experience with a wedding vendor better than somebody who has already paid for their services.

So – you’re back where you’re started. There are many options when it comes to wedding entertainment – and that’s a beautiful thing! Do your research. Spend some time sifting through bands, and don’t just look in your area. Many bands (us included) can travel less expensively than you might think. Come up with a solid list of at least 5 bands, and contact each of them asking for information about what they can offer you. GigSalad, Borrowed & Blue, and WeddingWire are all great resources to find top talent bands.

 

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Ben Mallare

An Annapolis, Maryland native, Ben Mallare has provided live musical entertainment for hundreds of couples, families and companies since 2012. In 2014, Ben developed Ben Mallare Events & Entertainment into what it is today: a full-service private events entertainment agency with over 35 musicians performing 75 weddings and events each year. The company is a natural result of Ben’s aptitude for musical performance combined with a deep love of personal service. Ben currently lives in Glendale, California and most looks forward to the new brides and grooms he’ll get to meet in the coming year.

Looking for unique, live musical entertainment that will fit both your vision and your budget? Get a quick quote from Ben at www.benmallare.com.

Couples' FAQ, Weddings

Band or DJ? 5 Questions To Consider

February 27, 2015

When it comes to your wedding reception, your decision about music entertainment can go a long way. Fortunately, there are tons of great options at almost every price point, especially in California. Perhaps you’re considering a band or DJ referred to you by a friend, a group you saw at somebody else’s wedding, or found online. Maybe you don’t even want to go that far and just figure you’ll plug an iPod in and see what happens! (Hint: don’t.) In any case, here are 5 important questions to think about when making your choice.

mumford-and-sons-wedding-band

1. Who’s behind the mic?

You’ll want to think carefully about who’s steering the direction of your wedding reception. Any solid band or DJ will allow you to use their wireless microphone system to make speeches, but who’s behind the mic the rest of the time? This person will introduce the wedding party and toast speakers, call the bride and groom to the dance floor, corral your guests to the proper areas throughout the event, and (don’t forget!) encourage your guests to get down with you when it’s time to turn up the music! Ask your band or DJ about their experience as master of ceremonies. If you want to see that they really know what they’re doing, ask about a time they had trouble getting guests out on the dance floor. Which songs did they play and why? How did they bring the energy back?

2. Rock Show or Dance Club?

Although some wedding bands are so versatile that they can play songs exactly the way they sound on the original recording, most bands will bring their own unique flair to each tune. Vocalists sing extra runs, drummers play extra fills, songs are clumped together into medleys, etc. If this appeals to you, don’t miss out on having a performance that is unique to your wedding. If you and your guests would be happier with that full, produced radio sound that only a DJ can provide, you’ll want to invite a DJ to pump the jams.

3. What is your space like?

Because there is very little guest interaction with a DJ as opposed to a band, DJs work best in a large, dark, enclosed spaces with lit up dance floors. Your guests will feel slightly more exposed dancing for a DJ than for a band, so be conscious of the atmosphere. You should also be cautious of the size of the room. For smaller rooms and outdoor venues, an acoustic band might be more appropriate for the theme and dynamic level of the event.

Girls Dancing - Dana + Harry

4. How important is the presentation of the entertainment?

Consider where you and your guests will be positioned in contrast to the entertainment. If you have more than 100 guests, you may want to think about having a band to bring the room together. A great looking band can really fill the room and add that extra aesthetic element to the event. If your wedding is a bit smaller and there really isn’t any room for a large band, having a small band or DJ in the corner might be more appropriate. If you are hiring a DJ for a larger venue, be very particular about the presentation of the DJ’s setup. If it’s just a guy at a turntable, it’s not going to do the room any favors.

5. What do you want your guests to remember about your wedding reception?

Perhaps the most overlooked factor in making this decision is how you and your guests will remember your wedding after it’s over. Your memories will consist primarily of your interactions with your guests – the cousin who moonwalked to “Billie Jean”, Grandma and Grandpa who danced cheek to cheek for “Wonderful World,” the friends who smiled and told you what a great time they were having and how happy they are for you. Attached to each of these memories will be a soundtrack – whatever song was playing at the time. Consider whether you’d like that soundtrack to be a song played in a certain way that you’ve never heard before – perhaps by a singer with a unique voice, or a band with an interesting configuration of musicians. Or perhaps you’d like the soundtrack to be your favorite song, exactly the way you’ve always known it. Trust us, this will make a difference in how you remember your event.

Whichever direction you’re headed with the music, WeddingWire is a great resource to select a great vendor. Pay special attention to the reviews past clients have written about the act – nobody can classify them better than somebody who has already paid for their services.

Tamara+Josh-Reception-0513Courtesy: Hewitt Photography

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Ben Mallare

An Annapolis, Maryland native, Ben Mallare has provided live musical entertainment for hundreds of couples, families and companies since 2012. In 2014, Ben developed Ben Mallare Events & Entertainment into what it is today: a full-service private events entertainment agency with over 35 musicians performing 75 weddings and events each year. The company is a natural result of Ben’s aptitude for musical performance combined with a deep love of personal service. Ben currently lives in Glendale, California and most looks forward to the new brides and grooms he’ll get to meet in the coming year.

Looking for unique, live musical entertainment that will fit both your vision and your budget? Get a quick quote from Ben at www.benmallare.com.