A Perfect Complement to your Wedding Reception!

We've been providing music for wedding receptions since 1976.  We've seen it all!  And we can help you plan for that special occasion.  So take a look at the ideas, suggestions, and tips presented below in the form of answers to frequently asked questions...

Need more info?  Call us at
(410)744-1719 or email us directly at SBOmail[at]shades-of-blue[period]com --  (Please convert to standard email address link.)

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  • From your experience, do you have any thoughts on how long the reception should be?

Although the reception can "fly by" quickly for the bride and groom, the overall day can be a long one for your guests.  With the wedding ceremony, travel to and from each location, and the reception, guests can be engaged for better part of a day.  In our experience, a reception should rarely be longer than 4 hours.  We have found that guests begin to "poop out" by the fourth hour of the reception celebration.  Of course, this is just a general observation.  Perhaps an old entertainment adage applies here -- "Always leave 'em wanting more!"

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  • Should I have music for my entire reception or for just a portion of it?

Just as your desire may be to set various moods during your reception, music is often the prime tool for establishing mood.   You may have an agenda which includes social time for receiving your guests, a more subdued time for dinner, and, of course, the celebratory time of music, dancing, and wedding reception traditions.  A band such as Shades of Blue can provide music in different styles and varying moods to complement the progression of your agenda.  For example, light but upbeat music is excellent for social time and receiving of guests.   More reserved, background music is in order for the dinner.  And the full effect of the Big Band is an outstanding statement as the reception celebration moves into full swing.  You may opt for no music during the receiving of guests or during dinner.  Or you may choose a smaller ensemble (which we are able to supply) for these times.  Our aim is to provide the finest musical complement to your wedding celebration.  We welcome the opportunity to consult with you as you plan. 

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  • Live music or DJ?  Your thoughts...

Although many talented DJs exist and provide musical variety, all of the music is played from tapes and CDs.  And even though some would argue that their favorite songs are played from "original" recordings, the music often comes across as "canned" and uneventful.  In contrast, there is an energy, a vitality, a freshness, and a connection to your guests generated through a live musical group.  The keys to a memorable event are the sights and sounds generated as the celebration unfolds.  A live band is stimulating -- it is visual, original, active (unlike passive "canned" music), able to generate energy that the audience can feel, and composed of a group of "real" musicians that your guests can celebrate with.  On top of this, Shades of Blue is a Big Band.  Our repertoire is extensive, we offer a variety of musical styles and sounds, the instrumentation is appealing if not exciting, and rarely does anyone go away saying they did not hear something they liked.

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  • Your group costs significantly more than a DJ.  Is live music worth the difference?

Absolutely!  Not only is live music worth the difference in cost, but a Big Band can be such an outstanding complement to your reception.  It provides elegance, energy, exceptional entertainment value, and ecstatic guests!

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  • How important is the selection of a music group when considering the composition of the guest list?

It could be one of the most important decisions you make regarding your reception.  In many respects, music is what "glues" the components of the wedding reception together.  As stated earlier, the music sets the mood as the event unfolds.  As well, guests come to an event such as a wedding reception looking forward to music that matches their personal tastes.  In an effort to host a wonderful party, you want to satisfy their musical interests as much as possible.  It is important to note whether the composition of your guest list is generally older, middle age, or younger.  You at least want to provide music that pleases the largest segment of your guest list.  Nevertheless, you will probably find that your guests are of varied ages and backgrounds.  With family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc., in attendance, the audience is typically very mixed.  Hence, you really can't go wrong with a band that can effectively perform a variety of musical styles and selections.  We would suggest avoiding groups that play mostly in a single musical style such as country western, rock, latin, etc.

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  • What other considerations are there in selecting a live music group?

Use caution in selecting a band that has a reputation for putting on a show for the audience.  Chances are their strengths lie in a high-energy, "look-at-us" type of entertainment.  Although this is an advantage in many performance venues, it is imperative to remember that this is the bride and groom's day.  You do not want a band that will take away from their luster.  The band serves to complement the day of celebration.  It should never be so brazen as to overtake it.

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  • What else might I need to know about timing and flow of the reception?

First, it is very typical that the course of events at your reception will lag behind your planned agenda.  In other words, things often take longer than planned.  Therefore, give consideration to an agenda that is not so "jam packed" with special activities and conventions.  During planning, feel free to do away with "traditions" or conventions that do not enhance the style of reception you envision.  If your reception agenda is "jam packed," make sure you have someone in charge who can keep the pace moving and force transition from one event and setting to another.  Another note -- the band should be scheduled to play a full set as dinner comes to an end (assuming a formal dinner and/or buffet time).  The guests are expectant at that point and if there is no music it creates a lull that is difficult to fill.

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  • What wedding reception "traditions" do I need to consider and plan for?

As far as accompanying music goes, traditions of your choosing may include the First Dance, Bride/Father Dance, maybe Groom/Mother Dance, Last Dance, cake cutting, throwing of the bouquet, and retrieving/throwing of the garter.  For ethnic receptions, traditions may include special events such as the Apron Dance, circle dances, and the like.

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  • What about introduction of the wedding party?

You may choose to have formal introduction of the entire wedding party either as a procession or perhaps in place at the head table.   Or you may choose only to formally introduce the bride and groom (and maybe parents of the bride and groom).  Or you may dispense with formal introductions all together.   In any event, the Shades of Blue conductor can serve as MC or announcer.  To allow for smooth flow of introductions, a written "script" (with name pronunciations) is essential.  Also, the conductor often serves to introduce those who may be speaking such as the Best Man for a toast or a member of the clergy for blessing of the meal.  These names and pronunciations should also be included in the "script."  Overall, if there is a way that we can help do wedding party or other introductions, let us know.

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  • What decisions need to be made concerning our "First Dance?"

The First Dance is a time when all eyes are focused on the bride and groom.  It makes sense to make that setting as comfortable for the wedding couple as possible.  Are you comfortable dancing in front of a large crowd?  Do you prefer a slow dance or something more up tempo?  Do you want the First Dance to be exclusively for the bride and groom or do you want others (parents, wedding party, guests) to be invited on the floor as the song progresses?  As far as the music goes, the band will do its best to accommodate your song selection.  If a published or custom arrangement is unavailable, you may need to choose a different selection.  You also have the option of dancing to an original CD or tape recording of your special song.  Although this may seem somewhat "tacky," this can be enjoyably and seamlessly blended into the flow of music.  We welcome the opportunity to consult with you on music selection.

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  • Do you have suggested songs for the First Dance?

Some wonderful slow songs include Star Dust, Moonlight Serenade, I've Got A Crush On You, and It Had To Be You. Some more contemporary slow songs include Can't Help Falling In Love, Endless Love, And I Love You So, Always, and Through The Eyes Of Love (Ice Castles).   Faster songs include The Way You Look Tonight, Night And Day, This Guy's In Love With You, Time After Time, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, and Fly Me To The Moon.

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  • Suppose we have a specific song in mind for our First Dance?  How can you accomodate us?

Our current repertoire and overall library are chocked full of some of the most popular and enduring standards.  If you have a specific song in mind that you do not see on our lists, we'll do our best to accommodate you.  We have numerous sources for published music for Big Band ensemble.   But 'published' is the key word.  If we are not able to find a published arrangement, we can sometimes assemble our own arrangement.  There may be a charge for a custom arrangement provided by the Orchestra.  Please let us know what you're looking for and we'll do our best to meet your needs.  The greater the lead time, the greater the chance that we will be able to come upon an arrangement to satisfy your request.

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  • What other special music/dances need to be considered?

These are outlined under wedding reception "traditions."  As well, you may have some special family or friends-related music traditions that you would like to consider.  For example, "no wedding reception in the Jones family would be complete without..."  Let us know how we can help.

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  • What other thoughts may be helpful to us as we plan?

Weddings, like many other formal events, are tremendously exciting and stressful at the same time.  The opportunity to reduce the planning stress and to enjoy the event as bride and groom is maximized by selecting top-notch providers of top-quality services.  Proven track records, excellent word-of-mouth referrals from friends and relatives, and demonstrated experience and success are essential as you select those that you will entrust with the handling of your reception.  Over forty percent of Shades of Blue Orchestra engagements since our 1976 inception have been wedding receptions.  We offer an outstanding musical entertainment product, a proven track record, and a long list of delighted customers.   It has been demonstrated over and over that bands that play the widest variety of music are those in the highest demand and those with the best success rates.  The Shades of Blue Orchestra is not only in this category -- it sets the highest of standards for others to aspire to.

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  • Can you hold a date for us while we decide?

Unfortunately, no.  Holding a date means that we must assign that date to our musicians in order to have them committed and available for that event.  Therefore, we must have a signed contract and a deposit in order to reserve a date.

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  • How far in advance should we book your band?

It is not unusual for us to have bookings up to a year in advance.  It is advisable to book the band as early as possible to insure that the band of your choice is available for your event.


Need more info?  Call us at (410)744-1719 or email us directly at SBOmail[at]shades-of-blue[period]com --  (Please convert to standard email address link.) 


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