"Let's Talk" - Bill Sargent

Part 2: Wedding Professionals – Hiring The Right One While Avoiding An Amateur

Performing or playing music for fun and extra money on weekends does not qualify someone as a wedding professional.

This business is filled with amateurs and hobbyists. A person can go to Costco, spend a few hundred dollars on a camera set-up, post a few photos on an inexpensive website, and call themselves a wedding photographer. A laptop and a few hundred dollars at a music store can create a wedding DJ.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve seen at weddings:

  • Some bands come in with a pre-determined set list of songs in the order they are to be played; like they’ve got some sort of crystal ball? BIG MISTAKE! People are unpredictable. The mood of the audience is different depending on the weather or how the wedding ceremony went. I maintain the flexibility to work with my audience “in the moment”, observing them while choosing songs accordingly.
  • One band I know of played an entire evening of fast songs and played only one slow song the entire evening! Many men don’t dance a lot and they’re hesitant to make a spectacle of themselves on a dance floor. However, they are totally at ease snuggling up to the one they love for a romantic slow song. We provide a balance of dance music so there’s something for everyone.
  • How about the DJ I saw start the music at a wedding reception with the first song being “Runaround Sue”?

“Here’s my story, sad but true
It’s about a girl that I once knew
She took my love then ran around
With every single guy in town” !!!

Can we say clueless and tacky?

  • One bandleader did the “Hokey Pokey” and instructed the women to throw their whole chest in and their whole chest out!
  • There’s a well-known local band whose singer makes crude remarks and comes on to women in the audience all night; from the stage!
  • How about bands that do songs like “Margaritaville” or “Cocaine” when families with kids are present? Or the DJ who drinks gets obnoxious over the microphone?

How do these things happen? Amateurs who don’t know any better. As the saying goes, they don’t know that they don’t know.


Why a wedding professional is critical: WEDDINGS ARE NOT SIMPLE

A wedding is the very most difficult performance situation that exists. It is not something you want to trust to an amateur or hobbyist.

Here’s why:

COMMONALITY – At most musical performances there is an element of commonality; they are all doctors or lawyers, men or women, young or old. Weddings have none of that.

Most family and friends have very little in common. Typically, they have a wide variety of occupations, hobbies, and political interests. Some live locally while others have traveled from out of state and they usually range from 5 years old to 90 years old.

With such diversity, there are two main factors that come into play – personality types and musical tastes.

MUSICAL TASTES – This is where the wedding audience really separates itself from other audiences. As a group, the typical wedding has very little in commonality. Aunt Mary is an office worker at Northwestern Mutual and she’s into the opera. Cousin Jack works at Miller Brewing and is into blues bands. Uncle Fred owns a small restaurant is loves to polka. Your parents love the classic big bands and rock ‘n roll. Grandpa and Grandma love classical music and Dixieland jazz. Cousin Alice works at Allen Bradley and adores bluegrass and country music. Your friends may be into hip-hop or pop. A few may be superb swing dancers. Some may be Christian and are easily offended by lyrics of some songs.

PERSONALITIES – Within this odd mix of people, there are three distinct sub groups. The first group loves to dance and all they want is some exciting music, so they can move on the dance floor all night.

The second group are the social ones. These people want to converse and catch up on good times with family and friends all night long. They want to be able to hear and carry on a conversation without shouting. One of the worst things that can happen to this group are sub-woofers from a DJ or band that makes their clothes vibrate.

Finally, there are the passive introverts. These people are shy; they aren’t comfortable being social and they don’t dance. But, they want to enjoy themselves also. They are the people watchers. After a while, people watching wears itself out. This is where live musicians performing music comes in and saves their evening and good time. A DJ standing at a table just doesn’t cut it for them.

The key here is to put all these people in the same room at the same time and make sure everybody has a good time without offending anyone while keeping them there until the end.

People will stay for the free meal. They’ve invested their time and money, now they’re going to get their free meal. But, when the music kicks in, are they going to stick around? At many weddings, half the group won’t like the music and will leave early, some very soon after dinner leaving you with unhappy people and a half empty room.

Is this something you are willing to trust to an amateur or a hobbyist or will you enjoy your special day, with less stress, by hiring a wedding professional?


A not so classy band or DJ for a classy wedding

A big mistake brides make is they fail to take into account the aura, the atmosphere, of a wedding. They fail to realize that an elegant wedding is neither the same setting nor the same temperament that they are accustomed to on their nights out and typical parties.

People do not act the same in fine dresses, beautiful gowns and tuxedos as they do on Friday nights out. An elegant bridal gown will make you feel different and act different; a guy’s temperament changes in a fine tuxedo.

The Friday night hip-hop will not have the same effect at your wedding as it does on Friday night. It is a clash of cultures. Most brides don’t want things to be the same as the usual Friday night out. Much money and effort has gone into to making this day once-in-a-lifetime special and unique. The music and entertainment must reflect that.

Some music subconsciously causes people to drink more than others. You may want to avoid a “big drunk” party. That can be embarrassing while creating hard feelings and bad memories.


Hiring a band or DJ that puts on a show

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER that the night you’ve dreamed of your whole life is all about YOU. This is YOUR night. It is not about an egotistical singer or DJ who is trying to put on a show and garner the constant attention of your family and friends. It’s not about a light show designed to hold the attention of everyone in the room all night long.

Your wedding night is about the beautiful bride, her handsome husband, and the love and adoration of their family and friends. THAT is where the focus of the evening should be.


Hiring a band or DJ that uses a brand name

Be wary of those bands and DJs who use a “cool name”. Names like:

Music on Wheels
Have Music Will Travel
Rockin’ DJs
The Black Tie Orchestra
Night Moves
Disco Men

Under the cover and protection of a brand name, a DJ or band can give have a bad night or incident, they can screw over a client, they can “no show”, they can cancel at the last minute; all things that would ruin and finish anyone else’s career. With a “brand name”, they can change their name, and they’re back in business the very next day as a new act like nothing ever happened. Their lack of character and integrity won’t change with a name change.

I receive many last minute calls from brides who have had their band cancel on short notice – even ones who had contracts. The sad part is, by the time the band cancels; all the real good options are already booked.

How do you avoid this? Hire someone whose name is on their product and their reputation is on the line. I HAVE to give my best, give excellence, perform well and keep my word; my real name is on every performance I give – Bill Sargent. I can’t change my name; I’m stuck with it for life.


Why Bill Sargent Bands are your best choice

In my entire career, I have never cancelled an engagement, nor have I not shown up, for any reason. My career has been focused on building a reputation for quality and excellence and that’s not going to change.

I provide my brides with an evening of class and elegance; of fun, smiles and romance that can be enjoyed by all ages, families, and guys who don’t dance well. If they’re not in a good mood when we start, we’ll change all that and they’ll go home happy with great memories. Best of all, you’ll be the one who gets the credit for hiring such an awesome band.

My musicians are the very top musicians in Wisconsin; the best around. They are all top-notch professionals.

As wedding professionals, we play music the whole family, of ALL ages, can and will enjoy. There will not be any songs of questionable content. Everyone will be able to easily carry on conversations. For those who don’t want to converse or dance, they’ll have an entertaining group of enthusiastic musicians to watch and listen to.

If you give people a natural, unobtrusive atmosphere they will, each in their own way, enjoy themselves.


Why am I better at this than anybody else?

  • Because I’m the drummer. Over my career, I have performed with a lot of famous people nationally. I have studied dancers and tempos like with the best. Dancers dance to the drummer; the rest of the instruments and voices simply make everything pretty and enjoyable. It’s the beat and it will always be the beat.
  • Drummers ALWAYS have the best bands. The drummer is the fire, the spark plug, the dynamics, the mood, and the natural musical director of the band.
  • Finally, I am a wedding professional with more wedding reception experience than anyone else in Wisconsin. While I started doing weddings in 1976, my band business has just celebrated its 37th year of making brides and their families very happy and their special days unique, designed just for them. I am playing better than at any time in my life and my band is better than it has ever been before. I and my fellow musicians care about what we do, and it is all about excellence.


If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 414-777-0100

Keep Swingin’!
Bill Sargent
Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA


This is Part 2 in a series entitled, “The Biggest Mistakes a Bride Makes When Purchasing Music and Entertainment For Their Wedding” by Bill Sargent

Read the whole series:

1: A Band Or A DJ – Which To Choose? Choose Wisely!

3: Entertainment Agency – Should I Use One Or Do It Myself?

4: Wrong Reasons for Choosing a Band or DJ

5: Mistakes and Problems – How to Avoid Them when Hiring Entertainment

6: Booking Entertainment – Things To Consider When Booking Your Band Or DJ


©Bill Sargent. All rights reserved.