"Let's Talk" - Bill Sargent

Part 4: Wrong Reasons for Choosing a Band or DJ

Here are the most common ways that people choose the wrong band or DJ for the wrong reasons along with how to avoid these mistakes.

Wrong Reason #1 – SIZE

The SIZE (number of musicians) of the band has very little, if anything, to do with the volume of the band, or the amount of space needed, or the number of people in attendance

SIZE has nothing to do with VOLUME. Jimi Hendrix had 3 musicians in his band and could blow the windows out of any auditorium in the country.

In Milwaukee, in our big concert hall at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, the “band” (The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra) on stage could have as many as 72 musicians in it, and yet, if you sat in the balcony and sneezed at the wrong time during the music, everyone in the hall would hear you.

Most bands and DJs play everything at one volume all night long – loud. It becomes tiresome, boring and irritating.

SIZE has nothing to do with SPACE. Our Big Band has played in many places only intended for 3 or 4 musicians. It is the first 4 instruments that take up the bulk of the room: the drums, keyboard, guitar, and bass. With a band like mine, it’s only a matter of adding chairs. Our standard big band has the same minimum depth requirements as our small custom bands and only requires a few more feet of space, width-wise. Typically, people don’t use that extra 4 feet they saved for anything useful like another guest table.

SIZE has nothing to do with NUMBER OF GUESTS in attendance. REMEMBER – the music you HEAR is what you are hiring a band for. What you HEAR or your guests HEAR does NOT change due to the number of people who are in attendance. The band still sounds the same whether there are 40 people or 250 people.

The point here is very simple. Make your decision based on what YOU want to hear and see, NOT based on the size of the room or the number of people in attendance. If you want a small group of musicians and that is the sound you want, then that is what you should get. If you want a large group of musicians then there is no need to compromise.


Wrong Reason #2 – PRICE

THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE I see a bride or event entertainment chairman make IS shopping and buying based on price.

BIG mistake – BIG HUGE mistake !

You can price shop a cars and cameras with the same features. You can compare the same brand items between Pick ‘N Save and Woodman’s. You can also do comparisons between formalwear stores, invitations, flowers, cakes, caterers, and to some extent, reception locations.

However, you cannot do a price comparison on unique items. No two bands are alike. Even if they have the same instrumentation, they will be totally different. You can have the exact same musicians in the same combination and get vastly different results with different drummers or leaders.

The bottom line is this: The most expensive band is not necessarily the best band, and the cheapest band is not automatically the worst band OR vice versa.  You HAVE to make your choice based upon the qualifications, talent and track record of the bandleader. The biggest night of your life is riding on that person.

If the band is expensive to the point you think you are getting the very best, but it doesn’t provide you with the best, was it money well spent?

If you saved hundreds of dollars on one band over another band and your reception flops, were the savings worth it?




Some things are critical in creating a celebration while other things are simply nice enhancements. If you eliminate the critical in lieu of the enhancements, you won’t have a memorable celebration.

It would be nice if you can have everything you want. If that is you, that’s awesome! If that’s not you and you’re operating on a tight limited budget, here are a few reality checks for you to consider.

  • You could get married at the Justice of the Peace at the County Courthouse, and you’d still be married.
  • You could wear a nice suit and dress, and you’d still look great!
  • You could send out invitations on postcards, and your friends and family would still show up.
  • You could pass out disposable cameras to your guests, and you’d still have great memories. (Everybody carries cameras with them today anyhow)
  • Flowers are flowers. Some are more expensive than others and they look great, but they don’t contribute anything functional to your celebration other than atmosphere.
  • The cake is going to be cut into small pieces anyhow. The important thing is that it tastes great, not that it looks too good to cut.
  • People won’t complain about the food; it’s a free meal. Almost no one can remember what they had to eat last week Tuesday, let alone at someone’s wedding last year.

Whether or not your family and friends stick around AFTER the meal and celebrates is ALL dependent on how GOOD the band is. Music sets the atmosphere during cocktails. Background music during dinner helps to put people in a festive mood and helps to sooth the clinking of silverware and the drone of chatter. The band for dancing and enjoyment after dinner is what makes the party. Nothing else or that came before can do that. It is the ONE thing that people will remember, literally, for years to come.

One of the most foolish errors I have witnessed is a bride spending a ton of money on all the above things for her wedding reception and when it gets down to the band (the one thing that makes or breaks the party) they consider hiring an inferior band or even a DJ to “save” themselves a couple of hundred bucks. That’s bad economics.

If you cut couple of hundred bucks on the music for the reception, you may end up with a multi-thousand dollar disappointment that you, as well as everyone else, will remember for years to come. Hiring the right music, the right band is the MOST important thing you will do past saying “I DO.”

Your band is your insurance policy on your event.


Bill Sargent Bands . . .

Controls Volume and adds dynamic range

One of the things that we excel at is our volume control and dynamics. My bands play with a wide dynamic range so the music is interesting has meaning. I keep the music at a level that makes conversation not only possible, but enjoyable. Many times we have people seated at tables directly in front of my big band carrying on conversations without having to ask us to turn down our volume.

We play in some very small spaces, sometimes for small groups

My big band has played some of the smallest rooms imaginable; rooms you would look at and say, “There’s no way you’ll ever get a big band in here, or even a large band.” But, we do. And it goes excellently and we get rave reviews.

The Bill Sargent Big Band has performed for weddings as small as 40 people, and they totally loved it. The guests in attendance at that particular wedding felt truly special knowing someone cared enough to give them the best.

The reason why a big band exists is because it sounds better than a small band. Every time you add another instrument it adds another layer, another voice, harmony, and texture to the sound. It makes the music more beautiful, more interesting and awesome. It is a higher quality experience.

We are worth our price

You can’t price compare between Bill Sargent and another band, because there is only one Bill Sargent. Nobody else is even remotely like me. When you are buying me, you are buying my unique knowledge, expertise and experience as well as my unique musical talent, attitude and customer service. It takes a special talent to assemble the right combination of musicians and coach them through a performance evening.



Most wedding coordinators and facility banquet managers are accustomed to having 1 person, a DJ, in their room with a sound setup. Many that have accommodated bands have only had a 4, 5 or 6 piece band in their facility. They may tell you a big band won’t work. Don’t automatically believe them. I have yet to encounter a room we could not fit in. Remember, this is your wedding, the biggest day of your life, and you deserve to have it your way.


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

Keep Swingin’!
Bill Sargent
Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA


This is Part 4 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!

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

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

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

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


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