Most members of The NC Revelers have worked in providing music for special events for years. We have performed for just about every type of public and private event you can imagine. From small private parties to huge conventions, we have just about seen it all, including a president and a few governors. Many of these events have been carefully and even professionally planned but mixed in with those is the occasional "train wreck" . Since many people only plan one or a few big events in a lifetime, We thought we would summarize some of our hard won experience in our part of of the entertainment business for your use. It may not be everything you need, but it will give you a few things to consider as you start the planning process.
If you are planning a large big event like a fund raiser or corporate , we suggest putting together a committee to plan your event starting at least 6 months and preferably a year ahead. This is particularly true of reunions where it may take some time to track down all the potential guests. Decide on the time of year and survey what else is going on in that time period. With only 52 weekends in a year, some already taken by holidays, there are a limited number of potential dates. While some conflicts are inevitable, careful consideration and a "save the date" card to your potential guest list will make a big difference especially your top contributors in the case of fund raisers. These are usually the businest people and you want them to know about your event first.
We should mention here that if you plan for people to pay money to come to your event, whatever the cause, live music is very important. While there are some very nice people in the DJ business, a top flight event is not the sort of gathering one usually associates with a DJ, and that includes those with the big out of town reputation. Basically a DJ is going to amplify his music to the point of ear pain, which prevents conversation. The very people you are trying to get to contribute will be the ones leaving after dinner with a headache. In the case of a wedding, people who have traveled many miles to honor the wedding party cannot communicate across a table. Live music is not only music but also entertainment. While a big band can play loudly, there are frequent soft passages for contrast and the various combinations give color and interest to the music. Conversation is not only possible but there is something visually interesting happening to talk about.
The budget for your event is an important consideration. Decide how much you need to spend to get the event off the ground. This should include ballroom rental, food, decorating and of course the entertainment which we naturally suggest should be US. Also to be considered are minor rentals, catering and bartenders, advertising and ticket printing. Large family events such as weddings frequently require almost as much effort as a large corporate event. If you don't have a staff to draw from, at least make extensive lists of what you will need and draw up a timetable for getting everything in place.
Is there a Theme for the event? This is the focus of your party. Some suggestions: Cabaret night, Hollywood Ball, Las Vegas Show, USO show,Fitzgerald Follies, Capone's Speakeasy, Casino night etc. The idea is to come up with a theme that your potential attendees will find glamorous and entertaining. Some people even extend the "theme" idea into very large weddings. If you do this remember any family sensitivities or concerns.
Location, Location, Location!
Reserve the hall. Good ones are booked far in advance. Don't wait and find out you have no place for the party. The hall should suit the theme, you don't want a 21st century theme in a 1930's hotel, nor do you want to book a cabaret dance in a glass tower if you can help it. Decoration can make up for this, but walking to an old mansion ballroom adds a LOT to a theme based on F. Scott Fitzgerald. As part of this you need to make sure you have enough room for the projected attendance as well as service, seating and the Orchestra.
Book The Band
It is not a good idea to splurge for the food and skimp on the entertainment. Next year, guess what your audience will remember? Will it be the food and flowers or the best musical entertainment they had heard in years? The best bands are not cheap and you are more likely to have a successful event. Of course we suggest the NC Revelers Orchestra which will give you more show for your money than any other.
Contract with your caterer for food service. You may wish to obtain bids from several reputable caterers. Needless to say the better ones are as busy as the best bands. Many of them can help you with decorations and other necessities and sometimes they know about halls or bands.
Tips From Experience
No matter what your decorator tells you do not separate the band from the dance floor! If you do,the band loses communication with the audience and becomes a jukebox. Make sure the dancers are right in front of the band. Also speaking of decorators, remind yours that the band will need to USE the bandstand and that there must be room for the band AND its equipment and lighting. All of this should be coordinated with the entertainment and planned for and incorporated into the "vision" for the event.
We have seen more than one decorator become upset at necessary changes to allow the band to do its job, such as potted plants being moved in favor of necessary lighting or sound equipment. It is always better to work together from the beginning than have disputes arise the day of the event. We will be happy to work with you to see that your event and our part of it goes smoothly.
Make sure your hall is the right size for the event. If you have a hall for 1000 and have 200 at your party they will spread to the walls and will not enjoy themselves. The best parties are held in a hall with no more seats than people. Just ask the social chairman of any fraternity or sorority. In larger rooms it is a good idea to set the room with tables layered very near the dance floor and place the bar and food in back so that traffic to the bar and food service does not cross the dance floor. This helps concentrate the guests near the entertainment and as the audience fades near the end of the evening, the dance area is still concentrated and the remaining guests have a much better time.
Publicity is a big key to a successful event. In general, ten people need to be aware of the event for every one ticket sold. Keep your ticket prices fairly reasonable unless you are really going for "exclusive". If a thousand people attend this year and it's a success two thousand will WANT to attend next year and you can raise prices. The same reasoning applies between one hundred and two hundred attendees. If you need help with publicity we can advise you on the basics as well as provide contact information to professionals who can help you.
You may wish to provide a "wind down" time near the end of the event and serve coffee after the bar closes. There is a great emphasis on "designated drivers" these days and promotion of the safety of your guests is important.
If you have a program other than dancing, make sure it starts at a normal band break time unless you need the band to particpate.The NC Revelers Orchestra can provide fanfares, short marches and other musical "fills" for a program if this is coordinated in advance. Coordination of scheduled activities is particulary important at weddings where there are toasts and speeches. This can be helpful for several reasons. Not only do you get the maximum music from a live orchestra, but tight scheduling can prevent "Uncle Fred" from monopolizing the microphone and turning a simple toast into an unwanted marathon speech.
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