Weddings sometimes run the risk of being quite stiff affairs, especially if a lot of the guests have never met before. If you’re worried the conversation might not flow (at least until after the reception drinks!), it might be worth hiring some entertainment. Singers, musicians, conjurers and so on will help break the ice and give your guests plenty to talk about. Large and small budgets can be catered for – here are a few suggestions…
Try before you buy
Most bands or entertainers will offer a free consultation to give an idea of exactly what you can expect on the day. Wedding band Cut the Cake, for example, put on free showcases so potential customers can see them in action. Use this sort of service to check out your shortlisted acts.
Love music but can’t afford a band or a DJ? One of the most popular ways to save money these days is to compile a playlist of your favourite songs on an iPod or laptop. All you need to do then is hook it up to speakers and get dancing. (It’s always worth locking the screen to stop any wannabe DJs swapping your disco classics for a bit of Iron Maiden.)
Ask your family to collect old games such as Connect Four, Jenga and Guess Who. These can then be placed on guests’ tables or in the bar area of the reception. They are certain to spark conversations, as well as bring back memories and keep younger guests entertained. Or why not ask a friend to compile a Love Quiz and get each table to work as a team to answer it? Nothing brings people together like some healthy competition!
Friends and family
If you have a friend who can sing or an uncle who is a blast on the bagpipes, don’t feel cheeky by asking them to provide some free entertainment – in fact, they’ll probably be delighted to give you this as a wedding gift, saving you some cash in the process.
Under £500 »
Try something a little different from the usual wedding band. Stewart Wilson can play at your big day from as little as £275 – and this includes a home demonstration where the choice of songs will be made. Stewart will play during the ceremony and before the dinner and provide up to two hours of live music on sax with carefully selected vocals on certain songs. He can also provide a disco with a top sound system and lighting from £325. Stewart Wilson Saxophonist, 01506 492286.
Don’t think your budget will stretch to professional fireworks? Think again: the spectacular wedding pyrotechnics provided by 21cc Fireworks starts at just £220 but look like you’ve spent a lot more. Geoff Crow, 21cc’s director, says: “Clients regularly write to us after their show to say that the display was far larger and more spectacular than they were expecting. On two occasions, we have even had clients send us a cheque for more than the display cost!” 0131 331 4509.
The wedding singer
Leona Corio sings in a wide range of musical styles, from jazz or contemporary ballads in the daytime to dancefloor fillers in the evening, and is happy to tailor the playlist to your specifications. She charges from £150 for the ceremony to £250 for the ceremony plus the reception, and can even take care of the whole day’s entertainment. 07745 845958.
Hit the floor
If you think there’s no better way for a wedding to end than with a disco, 1st Dance Wedding Disco might be just what you’re looking for. Prices start at £350 for up to five hours of classic dance tracks, as well as a consultation to discuss requirements. With added perks such as an online planner and the latest equipment and lights, 1st Dance will have you waltzing or boogying till dawn.
Could it be Magic
Fill those unavoidable lulls (such as when you’re having your photographs taken, or between courses) with Billy Reid Magic. Billy performs dazzling sleight-of-hand tricks with an energy and humour that’ll amaze all your guests, whatever their age, complementing the proceedings of the day. From £300 for two hours. 07817 824040.
I scream, you scream…
Bring a little bit of sunshine to your big day regardless of the weather with Ms Pepperday’s Tricycle Treats. This vintage 1950s ice-cream bike can be hired for £299, which includes a personal selection of luxury ice-cream, wafers and toppings and a server in vintage costume. Ms Pepperday can also supply a fully decorated and lit gazebo for an extra £60 – ideal for the Great British Summer. 01592 771218.
As seen on screen
Add an extra element of fun to your day and create a lasting memento at the same time by hiring a video kiosk. A Guest Factor Wedding Video Guestbook Kiosk won’t take up much space at your reception, leaving plenty of room to party, but it will certainly make a big impact on the night, providing hours of entertainment for your guests – and for you afterwards. The price of £395 includes delivery and collection of the booth plus unlimited use of it at your event, along with a presentation DVD of all the messages chosen from your personal gallery. 0800 978 8148.
Add an elegant, romantic and, dare we say it, cinematic element to your wedding day by releasing a pair of white doves. Doves of Love’s packages start at £135 for a pair of doves in a display cage to greet guests before the ceremony, which are released after. Or choose the Bridal Party Celebration package where each member of the party releases a bird – it makes for a spectacular photo opportunity. And don’t worry about the stars of the show – the company prides itself on the welfare of its birds. 01875 824774.
Don’t leave it to chance
Let your guests try their luck at cards or roulette with your own casino as part of the reception. Premier Casino Hire offers games such as poker and blackjack, complete with tables and trained croupiers, from £200. The firm can also supply fun personalised ‘play money’ printed with pictures of the bride and groom. 01698 251092.
Mix it up
Don’t save the cocktails just for the hen night – a professional mixologist can bring style and glamour to the wedding reception too. Mixology provides expert cocktail makers and equipment from £25 per hour to thrill your guests with a showstopping selection of sophisticated drinks. The alcohol and juices will cost extra. 020 7221 2544.
Over £500 »
The Singing Waiters are trained in the art of subterfuge, disguising themselves to play an unforgettable part at your reception. They can masquerade as waiters and waitresses, chefs, porters, banquet managers, policemen, paramedics, firemen, security staff or even extra guests! Having spent the evening serving food and drink, and interacting with your guests, they suddenly burst into song to the utter amazement and delight of all present. Singing waiters cost from £950 to £2500.
The sky’s the limit
Celebrate in style with a professional fireworks display. Saltire Fireworks will tailor-make the show to your exact requirements, whether you want specific colours that will match your wedding theme and complement your venue, or for the bangs to be set to music. Prices start at £750.
Over and out
Five-piece band The Receivers can go from Coldplay to ceilidh seamlessly and for £950 will provide reception entertainment. The band will also invite the bride and groom along to a live event or showcase before booking, and will discuss playlist ideas to keep guests dancing all night. 01698 457180.
Professional guitarist Martyn Rapley can provide a full day’s music, from classical pieces or some traditional romantic Spanish guitar music during the ceremony to something more upbeat in the evening. By singing and playing guitar over professionally produced backing tracks, Martyn generates an authentic full band sound. For £600 you’ll get five hours of tunes from a large playlist that includes modern pop and golden oldies.
Make a lasting impression by hiring a photobooth for your reception area. Your friends and family will have a ball creating fun pictures – and with a box of props to play with, the results will be hilarious. The wedding package from Silly Snapz costs £550 and includes a four-hour hire of the booth, set up and dismantle, a personalised message on the prints and a full online gallery.
Hollywood Band are a well-established Ayrshire-based wedding band who can play a fabulous selection of songs from 1960s right up to today’s hits. They’ll talk you through your ideal playlist, including first dance and backing music for when guests are enjoying the buffet, and provide all the necessary lights and equipment, all for £950. 07810 054234.
Roll up, roll up
Fancy a bit of old-fashioned magic at your wedding? How about renting a big top from Circus Sensible? The blue-and-yellow-striped circus-style tents come in three different sizes and are available to hire with entertainment such as magicians, balloon modellers, circus workshops and DJs, starting at £875. 07958 780246.
Over £1000 »
Piece of cake
An extensive repertoire is the only way to please every guest from flower girl to grandmother of the bride. Cut the Cake, a popular and appropriately named wedding band, know exactly which songs will work at what time to get everyone dancing and enjoying the party. They play all kinds of music from swing to rock and ballads to ceilidh. Prices start at £1200, and they offer a free consultation, no-obligation quote and an invitation to a live show or showcase. 07736 115138.
If you are looking for a band that stands out from the rest, the versatile Revolution 7 may just fit the bill. They are a seven-piece professional covers band with three excellent vocalists (male and female), so your guests can enjoy a real variety of different songs and styles. Revolution 7 also boast a complete horn section and a fiddle player for ceilidh sets – they have to be heard to be believed. Their guide price is £1350, dependent on the venue. 07983 408909.
Want the sounds of the Red Hot Chili Pipers but can’t quite stretch to their superstar fee? Bags of Rock, fronted by ex-Chili Piper ‘G Man’ McPhie, might just be the answer. The five-piece group consists of two pipers, two female dancers and a rock guitarist, plus some splendid backing tracks. From £1500, the band will ensure guests are rocking out to classic favourites such as 500 Miles, Smoke on the Water and Layla, or more contemporary songs from acts such as Lady Gaga or Franz Ferdinand.