It’s not too tough finding an amazing venue for your San Diego wedding; you can kick a stone in just about any direction and find something unique or fabulous or breathtaking. But whether you’ve found your perfect San Diego wedding reception venue on a rooftop overlooking the skyline, a trendy hut tucked into the corner of a raw industrial area, a rustic farm, a classy yacht club or an unassuming community center, there’s one thing you can’t do without—music.

Since you’re here, we’d like to congratulate you on your very wise decision…to choose a wedding band for your big day. You may have had a nice long list of very thoughtful questions that you want to ask your band and that’s so smart! But there’s something even more important to do before you go ahead and pull the trigger to hire that band. You need a solid list of questions that you should be asking the wedding venue. Don’t worry if you hadn’t thought about it, we caught you just in time. Here’s what you need to be asking.

1. Are you allowed to have a live band at the venue?

That might seem like an obvious question, but most of us would probably assume that we could have whatever type of music we want seeing as it’s our day. Your wedding venue might have other ideas about that (and not really care what you think you can do on your day). It’s not only important to find out if you can have a live band, but what types of bands they permit (acoustic only, string quartets, full on 25-piece brass band, etc.)

2. Does the venue have an approved list of vendors?

Sure, they’ll allow live music, but there could be a catch—they’ll only allow live bands from their approved list. Ask if they have any limitations or guidelines and even if they don’t, they’ve probably hosted a boatload of events and can recommend a killer band that’s just the right flavor for your event.

3. Are there any noise ordinances to consider?

The venue allows bands and you can have your 2nd cousin Jerry’s death metal band play your wedding song for all they care, but does the city, town, or neighborhood care?  They just might. Noise ordinances may exist, especially if the venue is in or near a residential neighborhood. Find out if the music has to be stopped at a certain time (or if the volume can be lowered if possible, with a live band). The last thing you need your wedding to turn into is Wedding Crashers: The San Diego PD edition.

4. Does the venue have sound limiters?

Whether it’s due to city ordinances or their own preferences, sound limiters are becoming the hot new rage at venues allowing for music. These nifty little nuggets of technology detect the decibels being put out by the music (live or recorded, doesn’t matter). If the music is played louder than the set level for a few seconds, its sound out, power gone, party vibes killed.

5. Does the venue have any other sound or noise limitations

As if the other ordinances and limiters weren’t a big enough buzz kill, some venues limit the use of certain instruments like bass guitars and traditional live drum sets. Ask about any limitations as it may affect the band you choose.

6. What is the layout of the venue?

If you picture your wedding being small and intimate, will the band fit into that frame? A live band is a great idea until space issues have them playing 5 feet from guests just trying to enjoy their dang salads. Even larger venues may have space issues due to layout, so it’s always a good idea to ask the venue if live bands have played there before and where have they set up. Ask for pictures of other weddings if possible, in order to get a good idea of what a band might look like in that space and what size is optimal for the location.

7. Does the band need to bring sound equipment or does the venue provide it?

It’s easy to just assume that since a live band is simply playing their instruments that no further sound equipment would need to be involved or that they would just automatically bring their own. If you’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you shouldn’t roll the dice and chance that everyone is on the same page with that stuff, or you may end up with neither the venue or the band having the equipment necessary on the day that it counts.

Ask the venue about their sound system and if they have speakers, microphones, extension cords or other audio equipment a band might need. If they’ve ever had a band play their before, they should be pretty familiar with what a band might need, even if you aren’t (after all, you only ever needed to know what your 8th grade Guitar Hero “band” needed in order to play loudly over the tv and annoy your family or friend’s family).

8. Does the venue have electrical outlets for the sound equipment?

Huh. This might seem like an odd question, especially if you have a traditional venue booked (which by the way, may have limited or non-existent number of outlets in the location you need them to be in). But if you are taking a non-traditional route like say a farm field or a beach setting, there’s unlikely to be power generating pumpkins or cooperative electric eels to plug into. Even if the band needs very little in the way of electrical outlets, it’s good to be armed beforehand with the knowledge of what the venue has available.

9. When can the band set up?

Being amazing at playing live music takes time to set up. Ask the venue how much time they allow the band so when you discuss it with them later, everyone knows what to expect.

10. Does the venue provide any food, drinks, or “green room” space for the band?

Even the best bands are only human and are subject to crazy human needs like having to eat, drink, and rest. Talk to the venue about accommodating the band member’s basic necessities like dinner or even bottled water to quench their thirst. And although it’s not a requirement for must bands, it’s nice to know whether the venue can provide them a place to take a breather in between sets or events (like the time between the ceremony and cocktail hour).

Any wedding band worth their salt is going to know what they need, and they are going to ask you questions about your venue. Being equipped with all the facts ahead of time will make your interview run all the smoother, and you’ll both know if the band is right for your event.  And above all, you of course want to know that the venue has everything your band needs to help you party without a care in the world.

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