We caught up with Lauren & Tim from Next Level Music to talk about their winter wedding at the Old Finsbury Town Hall in Angel, London. They share their top tips and secrets that they’ve picked up during their careers in the wedding industry, and put into practice for their own wedding.
Wedding Top Tips and Secrets from Wedding Vendors’
About Next Level Music
Lauren and Tim, newlyweds from High Barnet, London run Next Level Music – providing London’s best musicians, bands & DJs for weddings & events in the UK & worldwide.
Wedding Vendor Secrets: How to get the most out of your big day
Secure the best wedding food and entertainment for your budget
The things that made our wedding experience so special were definitely the entertainment and the food – we were so lucky to have such incredible live music playing pretty much all day long.
Our advice to all the couples we speak to at Next Level Music is to invest in good food and live music because that is honestly what people remember afterwards.
Some DJs are great, but you can’t beat the personal interaction that a live band creates.
We had dance offs, conga lines, limbo and were made to feel like celebrities all because of the incredibly talented and experienced singers we chose to lead our bands.
So many of our guests remarked that it felt more like a concert than a wedding which is just fantastic and we were so proud for our friends and family to see what we have worked so hard to create these past few years.
We chose La Freschco to provide us with an Indian feast – and they absolutely smashed it! Everything was perfect.
It’s definitely the music and food that people remember, if you can nail these things you’ll have nailed your wedding.
Go to Town with the Wedding Music
Our ceremony was full of incredible music:
A solo performance by Vivienne Chi, singing her track “Hard to Be Happy”.
Kate Threlfall-Beaney playing piano & singing Angel of Mine, during the signing of the register. Our guests all spontaneously sang softly in the chorus, it really was magical.
A bridesmaids (bridesbabes, as we named them, to include Joell our fabulous bridesman) choir, who happen to be some of the best session vocalists the UK has to offer, singing “Ain’t No Mountain.” They were absolutely incredible.
As well as musical performances we had a beautiful reading, a very personal poem written and read by Tim’s sister Chloe.
The song choices were so personal to us and they seemed to really resonate with our friends & family – so many of our guests have commented that there was a real tangible feeling of love in the room – even the registrar was holding back the tears.
Be strict with the guest list
Only invite people you love (and who love you back)
Writing your wedding guest list can be very tricky. Who do you want there? Who can you afford to have there?
The list can quickly spiral out of control. Our pro tip is to only invite those people you really love, and who love you back. We did this at our wedding and it really paid off – there was such a feeling of warmth and support in the room, nearly everyone we’ve spoken to since has mentioned it.
Be Savvy with Bridesmaid’s Bouquets
If you’re budget won’t stretch to expensive bridal flowers for the whole wedding party, don’t be afraid to cut costs.
Some of the quotes we had for basic wedding flowers were absolutely ridiculous. Some were around 400% more than the cost of the same flowers for any other event so it’s worth shopping around and don’t be afraid to ask florists which flowers are cheaper in your chosen season.
We used Hydrangeas for the bridesmaids bouquets as they are large enough that it took only two of them together with Eucalyptus to create the look we wanted. Using the same greenery and binding as the bridal bouquet tied it all together really well and we saved approximately £30 per bridesmaid than if we had used a smaller flower.
Top Tip: Once the ceremony and group photos are done, the bridesmaids bouquets can be put in vases to brighten up less eye-catching areas.
We purchased two large vases and our Maid of Honour put the bouquets in the ladies’ toilets for us which saved on buying additional flowers specifically for that space.
Lighting can Transform a Venue
We’ve seen some very basic looking venues totally transformed with a bit of clever lighting.
Uplighters can work wonders on a space by setting the mood and offer the added benefit of colour changes. We started off the day with a warm golden light which complimented the twinkly lights in our centre pieces and the candles we had scattered around the room but when guests re-entered for the evening reception, the colours had been changed to fabulous pinks and purples which looked incredible.
We also added a disco ball which really set the party scene.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice all the aspects of your wedding which could go a little bit wrong. Your entrance, your first dance, your vows. Anything you can do to make yourselves more comfortable, DO IT!
We were sent our vows a week or 2 before our wedding and getting to read through the words really put our minds at ease for the big day. Don’t underestimate how much nerves can affect the simplest of tasks on the day.
Take Some Time Out
Even the most meticulously planned wedding is a long, hectic day. Everyone wants a piece of you, particularly once the drinks are flowing. It can get pretty intense.
Make sure you have some time for just the two of you, away from the photographers and guests, to process what’s going on and keep your feet on the ground – it’s a very surreal day and it’s great to reconnect with each other for a moment.
Don’t Give in to Wedding Tradition Pressure
We didn’t want a wedding cake, for example, so we didn’t have one. We felt that cake cutting pictures are generally a bit awkward and that the hundreds or thousands of pounds people usually spend on a cake could be better spent on things that would bring our guests together and increase the love in the room… so we got a photo booth instead.
The pictures are absolutely BRILLIANT. So worth the money. We highly recommend Open Booth, they were GREAT!
We also had cheese included in the grazing table for our evening food so we made it a five-tier cheese stack and were able to have a custom cake topper on that.
We also served doughnuts and cookies as sweet treats so we found a way to have our cake and eat it.
We didn’t want to have kids there on our big day either, so we didn’t. Kids are awesome, don’t get us wrong, but they totally change the feel of a wedding.
We were very pleased we took the decision and, to be honest, so were a lot of our guests.
It’s your day, so do what you want to do! Don’t feel pressured into doing anything just because you feel you should.
Plan Your Time Together
Try not to be apart for more than 10 minutes at a time
This may initially seem over the top but your wedding day can end up being incredibly hectic and though your guests mean well, all the well wishes mean that you are sometimes circulating separately. If you both end up in different conversations, you may find that you are spending more time apart than together which was the case for us at our engagement party and we didn’t want a repeat experience on our big day.
A few weeks before the wedding, we decided on a phrase that we could say to people if we wanted to exit a conversation and reunite with each other. Something simple like “Excuse me, I’m going to find my husband/wife” works perfectly as your guests will love your new titles and it comes across as playful where it could appear rude.
We sneaked off for a few minutes, just before our first dance, for some evening photos in a nearby market – it was a beautiful setting and a great way to have some fun just the two of us.
Get a Master of Ceremonies
We see far too many brides and grooms running around trying to organise everything on their big day, which is stressful for them and takes away precious time they could be spending with loved ones. Let someone else do it so you can fully enjoy your day and spend time with your guests.
Get a MC, fill them in on all the details of your day so that they can keep the day flowing and keep an eye on timings. This can be anyone, a professional or a guest but not a close family member as they will be needed elsewhere at times. Also, let immediate family, bridesmaids and groomsmen know in advance what you want them to do and when so they can keep things moving and take any stress away from you both.
Research Sound Limiters & Curfew Times at the Venue
We chose The Old Finsbury Town Hall because it’s such an incredibly beautiful place first and foremost, but also it’s one of the few remaining venues with no sound limiter – very important for anyone who wants a serious shindig.
Also, they have a license until 1am and allowed us to bring our own caterer – letting us have our favourite food on our wedding day, our delicious Indian curry banquet.
We always advise our clients to check if their prospective venue has a sound limiter.
These things are MASSIVE party poopers and any with a limit under 92dB should be avoided at all costs.
Sound limiters are devices installed by local councils to ensure that noise levels stay below a certain amount. They are often set to ridiculously low sound levels for a venue hosting weddings and can cut off all power which ruins the flow of a party.
We’ve seen the power cut to a venue because guests cheered too loudly – nightmare!
When viewing venues, do ask if they enforce sound limitation as many venues won’t tell you this off their own backs.
We’ve heard of several venues telling client’s porky pies about sound limiters, or not telling them about them at all – so be vigilant before making a final decision on your venue. If in doubt, contact us – we’re happy to advise you.
For our evening entertainment we put together three bespoke bands made of the very best musicians and entertainers we know. Our aim was and always is to create a unique and electric atmosphere that appeals to all ages and it was fantastic to see our friends, parents and grandparents all on the dance floor enjoying themselves together.
We started the evening with Disco, Soul & Motown classics, to be as inclusive as possible for guests of all ages. Everyone was on the dance floor – young and old alike. The party was raging from the get-go.
By the time the older guests had retired from the dance floor our second band was ready for action. A full-scale dance-floor-war ensued, with women on one side and men on the other, resembling something between the Haka and the video from Run Dmc & Jason Nevins’ “It’s Like That,” or at least we thought so!
The band finished their set with a request from the bride, a favourite song of hers – “Shut up and dance” by Walk The Moon, which went down a treat.
Top Tip: We were careful not to be too bossy with the song choices – it’s very important to let the band, particularly the singers, play to their strengths – that’s the way to get the very best entertainment possible.
The musicians we book at Next Level Music are seasoned pros who really know what they’re doing, so our advice is to put your trust in the band – they know what works best.
Other bands may cost less, but you really do get what you pay for… These bands may be made up of students, new graduates or hobbyists – all of whom will lack the experience, confidence and finesse to put on the kind of show we do at Next Level.
The final band played all the best RnB and Hip-Hop classics from the 90s and 00s.
They were absolutely incredible! Lauren and the bridesmaids instantly became Beyoncé on the dance floor, having the time of their lives.
We finished off the night with DJ Mark, who played all our favourite Garage, RnB and House hits – it was nostalgic, immersive & so much fun.
Mark ended the night with our request, “All My Life” by K C & JoJo, which was magical.
Even though it was more effort for us to organise our own music rather than hire another band, we trusted in what we’ve built at Next Level Music and knew that the show element we offer was exactly what we needed to impress and entertain our friends and family. And we were right. We put on a show that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. It really was incredible!
We believed so much in Next Level Music that we booked our own musicians for our wedding.
Here’s a video of our flagship band, the Next Level Show Band playing at various events including a wedding at the Natural History Museum & a headline set at a music festival. The video showcases various lineups available and plenty of the types of music that we can play for you on your big day. The band can do everything we had at our wedding and more – just get in touch and we’ll put together the perfect entertainment for you and your guests on your big day.
We have London’s finest DJs, singers and musicians – from solo pianists and string quartets, small party bands to large super impressive show bands – we’ve got an incredible roster for any event. We often put together bespoke acts for events, just let us know your vision & we’ll put together something superb just for you! Get in touch with us today, we look forward to taking your big day to the next level.
Shout outs to our wedding vendors
Music: Next Level Music
Make up: MUA Team London
Flowers: Meadows Florist
Photo: Kirsty Mackenzie Photography
Video: Special Occasion
Evening Video: Theodore Swaddling
Day food: La Fresh Co
Decorator: Dress it Yourself
Evening food: Gourmet Dinner Lady
Venue: The Old Finsbury Town Hall
Suit: Swatch To Suit
Dress: Anna Sorrano
Photo booth: Open Booth
Minimoon: Bethnal & Bec
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