Most wedding receptions start in the evening around 6pm. Their duration is between 5 and 7 hours. This varies with the time of year, day of the week or venue. Usually a hotel is less strict since the staff is ready to work “clean-up,” well after we leave.
Depending on system size, amount of lighting and distance from loading dock to performance area, I desire usually an hour and a half cushion to be ready. Especially if the banquet captain opens the doors early to ease congestion among groups or for fire code in a small lobby.
This puts my timeline now arriving at 4:30pm. To be cautious, and always allowing for traffic delays, bad weather and just because I don’t like to be doing a “cold sweat,” I add about another half hour to what my MapQuest tells me. If it has been a while since my last performance there, I don’t want to be surprised, like I was when one hall made everyone, all three companies, go through one small entrance. This was done because someone else had been careless and shattered very elegant crystal glass panes in the easier front door access. Nothing like one bad apple… (I do carry liability insurance to insulate us all from those situations.)
Most of the time I am leaving about an hour ahead, so now 3:30pm. I like being early, but sometimes you can be too early if another event is not yet done, or the facility is locked. This is why I ask for a name and number, possibly email of your contact. It never hurts to plan ahead. Usually this is a Saturday; so many situations arise to be negotiated. I never want to be ill-prepared.
About noon, I do a once-over of the file created about your event. I insure all the music details and logistics are in place. More than enough equipment, cables, and provisions are packed. If I don’t have any other last minute things to do, I have my tuxedo, shoes, and necessary items to freshen up after my load-in. I have a healthy meal and then rest until about 2:30pm. After showering and a nice close shave, I load my last items into the van and make my way.
Maybe I’m a bit ahead of schedule or really stop for an errand, but I’m never rushing. I’ve either picked up my helper or they meet me at the hall. I casually walk in with my garment bag, contract file and greet the banquet captain or manager to gain access and confirm the logistics.
Once granted the go ahead, everything necessary is brought in and staged near the performance area. Two of us keep everything safe and secure until all is loaded inside. Once that is completed, we move our vehicles and then proceed to set up the sound system first. Lighting is for later, so that can be done during dinner if we encounter any delays.
Testing the sound board, all speakers, wireless microphones and sources, taping of any exposed wiring is done to insure safety for those walking near us. After the lighting is aligned, focused and operating, we again secure those cords. For fun we leave some music on for the staff setting the tables. It usually gets us some smiles, maybe even a request for a card.
We take turns freshening up. Sometimes the hotels we stay in allow us use of the locker room or an unused room to even shower on those warmer days. Once in our tuxedos and all clean, we begin to arrange and sort out any requests, or the key songs we want to have ready. We do a full test of the system, nearing the level dance music in about 4 hours will reach. Once we see the chandeliers vibrating, we are good.
If we know there is no space for the two of us, during your meal, we do a fast dash to McDonald’s or such, and prepare for Taco Bell on the way home. If you do have reasonable expectations of our joining you, we simply saunter over to the bar. Asking for at least water, we sometimes are treated to a coke. Never do we drink alcohol while “at your service.” This is bad for business and personally as we value our health, life and driving privileges.
We never sit down, except to eat and the music never stops until it is time to pack up. It is now about midnight, maybe later. The lights go up; the remaining die-hards are getting on their jackets and shoes. We smile and begin to pull up the tape, coil cords, close cases and stack equipment ready for the load out. In about half the time of setup, we are heading out the door.
Saying our good-byes, we venture into the night. Within a couple of hours, we call it a day, 12 hours or so, smiling again at another successful party. One that will have lasting memories for you, your families and friends as well. We will do it again soon, and hope to see you in the near future.
P. S. Send us a honeymoon picture postcard!
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